Seven Days in the Serengeti. Day Six: On the hunt for the elusive Rhino.
Naona Moru, our tent camp, is quite new and quite isolated. It is in the middle of the plains with small bushes around. It is a series of large tents equipped with two queen size beds, draped in mosquito netting. There is a couch and two chairs around a solid wood table. Through a flap is the bathroom – a double sink, a toilet and a shower.
Small touches hint at luxury, the carpet that covers the rough ground, mirrors, lamps, cushions. The finishing touch is a chandelier hanging from the center of the tent. It is more than comfortable and more than roomy.
PHOTO COURTESY OF nasikiacamps.com
A lantern-lit path leads to the central dining lodge, a larger tent where we gather for our meals, carefully prepared, delicious and generous. Alongside a second tent serves as a lounge or meeting place. Here we meet for our photography coaching in the afternoons or visit over a glass of wine in the evening.
The service at Naono Moru is exceptional, our every need anticipated and met. Guides with flashlights stand ready to escort us back and forth after dark, in case animals wander into our camp, not an uncommon occurrence.
As darkness approaches the staff ready the tents, lowering and zipping the outside flaps. It is safe and cozy inside. At night the sounds of animals can be heard around the camp. Monkeys or baboons shrieking. Footsteps around the tents- maybe hyena, perhaps even lions. They do not bother the tents, they are just at home in the nature around.
Our alarm goes off at 5:30 again. As the sun rises we head out for another early morning game drive. The animals will be out, heading to the watering holes and hunting before the heat of midday.
At the top of our list today is the rhino and the leopard. Both are elusive and there are no guarantees, only anticipation and optimism.
Here and there rock formations jut out from the flatness of the plains. We are told they are ancient volcanic remains which have eventually surfaced as the ground erodes. The structures are beautiful and provide a lookout for animals. From here the predators can watch for prey and gain cover needed to stalk their prey.
In the distance our guide spots a rhino. We move as close as we can but are limited to the roadways. Off roading is not allowed. Tanzania has very strict rules which restrict vehicles from following the animals off road.
The terrain is a bit greener here, perhaps from the recent rain. A family of elephants is making its way toward the rocky outcropping.
We stop at one such spot for a picnic breakfast. The rhino is visible in the distance.
As we follow the roadway we are able to get a little nearer to the rhino. Thank goodness for the big daddy lenses now. I capture a few images, stretching the long lens to its max. Certainly no award winners here, but I will have a couple of photos to share.
Rhinos are very protected in Tanzania. They have been over-hunted for their horns and are now carefully monitored. We are told that here, in the Serengeti, each rhino has a warden and a jeep assigned. They are always watched to make sure that no one hurts them or bothers them. Over-zealous tourists and guides can not approach them or intrude on them.
We are grateful and excited to have seen the rhino. It is certainly not to be taken for granted.
Herds of zebra graze nearby and long-legged giraffes mingle with families of elephants.
A herd of giraffe pass by nibbling the thorny branches of the acacia trees as they move along.
Tick. The rhino is off the list. That leaves only the leopard. There is another day. We head back to camp.
As evening approaches we capture this lone elephant high on a rock, silhouetted against the setting sun. Perfect end to a perfect day.