It was a tremendous privilege to be so close to such wonderful animals in their natural environment and to sit and observe them with no pressure on our time.  Billie's knowledge really came into it's own here because not only could he tells us about the animals - showing us with some how to tell their ages - but also talking about their behaviour & traits.
Aside from Baboons & Monkeys, one of the first large animals we came across in Lake Manyara park were the Giraffes.  Throughout the week we were constantly amazed at how such large animals could appear and disappear, almost from nowhere!  A little later, we came across our first family of lions.  Unusually, a large male taking interest in his cubs, although these seemed more interested in mum's milk!
The Ngorogoro Crater gave us pretty much everything and was our first view of the massed numbers of Wildebeest & Zebras.  As Billie told is, these two species have a strong symbiotic relationship.  Wildebeest are great at finding food but can easily wander into predators!  Zebras have acutely tuned sensors for danger - one instance in the Serengeti saw a herd of Zebras around a watering hole when one saw a Hyena across the other side.  There was an almighty squawk, resulting in the whole herd bolting and taking the attendant Giraffes with them.  Whilst the latter are beautifully graceful animals in "walk" mode, all grace is lost when the pace picks up & they become the most gangling animals on this planet!
One of the things we noticed in the Serengeti was how well the predators camouflaged themselves in the plains grass!
You'd be forgiven for thinking that in a space so massive & open as the Serengeti, it might be difficult to spot animals.  It may have been but it was far easier to spot the jeeps!  There's a code between the drivers that if they find something, they'll  give you a little time to view but then call the sighting in on their CB radios for the rest of the safari population but it also works the other way in your benefit. One day in the Serengeti we were lucky to find a family of Cheetah's first - mum & three cubs who weren't very old.  We had a few minutes alone with them before Billie felt he had to call it in but we then followed them for a while, almost loosing the cubs in the plains grass. On another afternoon, we benefitted from the drivers' club as one of the others had found some lions sheltering form the sun under a tree right by the side of the track.  Billie's experience was able to tell  us that they were all young lionesses ( spots in their fur under their belly for the first couple of years) and,  from the engorged nature of their bellies, that they'd relatively recently fed!
We had a further lion watching moment the next day when we first saw a couple of male lions asleep under a tree.  Shortly after spotting these, a lioness' head popped up from the plains grass, followed by several more; having spotted a procession of Zebras on the horizon.  Gradually, five of these ladies moved out into a line and, one by one, began to advance steathily towards their prey with a sixth lioness behind them, literally covering their rear!  A seventh had been left behind to guard the cubs.  Although the Zebras were too far away for an effective attack (apparently Lins are quite lazy), we could see how this would unfold with the left flank lioness looking likely to break through the line before turning back to force the Zebras onto her waiting partners lying low in the plains grass.
On our last evening, our drive to the Grometi River was specifically to see Hippos.  These large animals find the daytime too hot & so generally spend their days sleeping in the water.  Late afternoon sees them beginning to wake & become rather playful, prior to emerging form the water late evening to spend most of the night eating.  Whilst watching these animals, we became aware of a sole lioness who broke the tree-line to our left heading for rock pools.  She gradually worked her way to be right in front of us before finding one that she liked. After satiating her thirst, she walked right down the side of the Jeep & we then followed her for a while.  Again, with Billie's knowledge, he was able to tell us that she was a) young (still had the spots) b) pregnant, c) must have done something to upset the pride & be kicked out to be out alone & d) would have a difficult time raising her cubs.  Eight years on, I still find myself wondering what happened to her and her cubs!  
ET phone home?
ET phone home?
Mother & baby Baboon
Mother & baby Baboon
Always time for some grooming
Always time for some grooming
Giraffe on the open plains of Lake Manyara Salt Flats
Giraffe on the open plains of Lake Manyara Salt Flats
Our first Elephant
Our first Elephant
Golden late afternoon light playing on the Zebras fur
Golden late afternoon light playing on the Zebras fur
A safe place to gaze?
A safe place to gaze?
Flamingo on Lake Manyara
Flamingo on Lake Manyara
Yes? Can I help you?
Yes? Can I help you?
Grooming is very definitely " whole body"!
Grooming is very definitely " whole body"!
Just love the expression on this guy's face
Just love the expression on this guy's face
Impala, Lake Manyara, Tanzania
Impala, Lake Manyara, Tanzania
Giraffes blending in with their environment
Giraffes blending in with their environment
Buffalo, - apparently the largest killer of humans in Tanzania
Buffalo, - apparently the largest killer of humans in Tanzania
Beautiful coloured birds - Lake Manyara
Beautiful coloured birds - Lake Manyara
Plenty of food for these guys in fairly exclusive high territory
Plenty of food for these guys in fairly exclusive high territory
Thornier the better for Giraffes
Thornier the better for Giraffes
Was it an itch or a tender moment between these two?
Was it an itch or a tender moment between these two?
Give us a lift mum!
Give us a lift mum!
Great Camouflage on the little guys
Great Camouflage on the little guys
Baby Elephant, Lake Manyara
Baby Elephant, Lake Manyara
Early morning shafts of light on Wildebeest, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
Early morning shafts of light on Wildebeest, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
Our first glimpse of a Wildebeest heard
Our first glimpse of a Wildebeest heard
Playing or fighting?
Playing or fighting?
Where there's food........ Hyena in the Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
Where there's food........ Hyena in the Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
Open space, almost plains like; you could be forgiven for forgetting that you were actually in a volcano
Open space, almost plains like; you could be forgiven for forgetting that you were actually in a volcano
Beautiful mature Elephant
Beautiful mature Elephant
If I stretch, I can just reach those really juicy leaves!
If I stretch, I can just reach those really juicy leaves!
Milk time, mum
Milk time, mum
Hippos, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
Hippos, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
Black-headed Heron, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
Black-headed Heron, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
the first sighting of "massed" numbers of Wildebeest, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
the first sighting of "massed" numbers of Wildebeest, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
Pelicans, Ngorogoro Crater,
Pelicans, Ngorogoro Crater,
And Raptors too!
And Raptors too!
Never miss an opportunity drink!
Never miss an opportunity drink!
Wildebeest & Zebras in all directions in this part of the Crater
Wildebeest & Zebras in all directions in this part of the Crater
Grey-crowned Cranes, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
Grey-crowned Cranes, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
Thompson's Gazelle, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
Thompson's Gazelle, Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
A bold Ostrich
A bold Ostrich
Zebras, always on the alert for predators
Zebras, always on the alert for predators
Yep, just the really thorny bit!
Yep, just the really thorny bit!
Even the starlings are colourful in Africa!
Even the starlings are colourful in Africa!
Lion stalking a meal
Lion stalking a meal
Vultures in the Serengeti
Vultures in the Serengeti
Maternal protection of the young
Maternal protection of the young
Classic head on Elephant view
Classic head on Elephant view
Bet that skins could tell a few stories?
Bet that skins could tell a few stories?
Beautiful Pose from this lioness
Beautiful Pose from this lioness
Topi, Serengeti, Tanzania
Topi, Serengeti, Tanzania
Hyrx
Hyrx
High noon shade for these guys
High noon shade for these guys
Cheetah family, Serengeti
Cheetah family, Serengeti
Young Cheetah, Serengeti
Young Cheetah, Serengeti
Mum, always alert to protect her cubs
Mum, always alert to protect her cubs
Classic Cheetah pose
Classic Cheetah pose
Cubs learning the benefit of staying alert even at an early age.
Cubs learning the benefit of staying alert even at an early age.
Male Lions, classic pose!
Male Lions, classic pose!
Time for lunch? The stalk begins!
Time for lunch? The stalk begins!
Zebra spooked by a Hyena at the other side of the watering hole
Zebra spooked by a Hyena at the other side of the watering hole
Classic African shot, Elephant reaching into the tree
Classic African shot, Elephant reaching into the tree
Leopard camouflage is even good when in the tree
Leopard camouflage is even good when in the tree
"Pumba" & babies
"Pumba" & babies
Spooked Giraffes
Spooked Giraffes
Post lunch siesta for these girls
Post lunch siesta for these girls
No more that 200mm lens to get this great head shot
No more that 200mm lens to get this great head shot
Lilac Breasted Roller. Serengeti
Lilac Breasted Roller. Serengeti
Young elephant staying close to mum
Young elephant staying close to mum
Just love these classic African views!
Just love these classic African views!
Always danger lurking in the grass!
Always danger lurking in the grass!
This guy had just spotted the lions in the previous shot, just across the track
This guy had just spotted the lions in the previous shot, just across the track
Zebra crossing - Tanzania style!
Zebra crossing - Tanzania style!
Ever watchful male Lions
Ever watchful male Lions
Yep, that prickly stuff again!
Yep, that prickly stuff again!
Even we habe to stretch sometimes!
Even we habe to stretch sometimes!
Giraffe family, Serengeti
Giraffe family, Serengeti
Crocdiles, just visible in the Grumeti River
Crocdiles, just visible in the Grumeti River
Crocodles on the banks & edge of the river, Serengeti
Crocodles on the banks & edge of the river, Serengeti
My favourite lion shot, Grumeti River, Tanzania
My favourite lion shot, Grumeti River, Tanzania
Same girl, different pose, looking majestic in the low evening sun
Same girl, different pose, looking majestic in the low evening sun
Hungry Hippos anyone?
Hungry Hippos anyone?
Such large animals ad yet so graceful, in the water!
Such large animals ad yet so graceful, in the water!
Hippos playtime
Hippos playtime
Bit of Hippo grooming before we go to eat?
Bit of Hippo grooming before we go to eat?

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