Mar 1 - The Birthday Big 5
Our plan worked to perfection as we were rewarded with one of he first entries into the park. The road winds its way through the lush rainforest up the side of the volcano and comes out at the rim where we were treated to a stunning sunrise and a massive view into the 100 square mile caldera below - a virtual garden of Eden...the fog rolling down the cliffs over the rim reminded me of Sausalito the way the fog fingers it's way down he ravines to the bay. Not ten minutes
from the view point we encountered a solitary leopard on the road returning from his evening hunt. The setting was classic in the early morning mist and we were lucky to get to see him out in the open for several minutes before he darted into the bush. Leopards are one of the rarest cats to be able to see so we felt ally lucky to have encountered this beauty so early in the journey. The descent into the crater was idyllic...rolling gentle green hills led down to the plains with the lake in the background. We saw a herd of Cape buffalo crossing the road which foreshadowed one of the highlights of the day - believe it or not we saw the Big 5 all in one day...just incredible and quite rare. The big 5 are the legendary "most dangerous" animals from the time of the great hunters...lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, and elephant. I really don't know where to start as each encounter just got better as the day went on.
After the buffalo we saw 2 huge male lions and a female who walked right last the window of our car. I could have reached out and touched her she was so close. Next came the elephant crossing a nearby ridge and then endangered black rhino on the plains among the zebra, wildebeest, and gazelles. At one point we had an elephant, rhino and zebra all in the view line...just a great day and the first time I have ever seen the big 5 in one day.
This group seems to be lucky...spent the night on the crater rim at the beautful Serena Crater Lodge which is reminicent of the and celebrated one of our guests 50th birthday in grand style as the entire kitchen staff came with a suprise cake and sang her several birthday songs in Swahili...we could see tears of joy in her eyes. How cool to celebrate with a Big 5 in one day...