Tuesday, January 24, 2012


After listening to the sounds of hyenas, bush pigs, and elephants parading through our campsite all night we woke up excited to continue our safari to the much-anticipated Serengeti Plains.  Our professors surprised us with a stop at Oldupai Gorge. The Gorge is a site where thousands of archeological remains including relatives of Lucy, the first homo sapien were unearthed.

During our trek through the Serengeti we made a few exciting stops.  Our first was to climb the shifting sands, a mound of black volcanic ash that moves as a unit through the open plains. 

When we stopped for lunch, we came across the skeletal remains of a Grant’s gazelle in an acacia tree. It appeared that a leopard had eaten here before we did.

 When we entered the National Park we could not imagine what was in store for us. Less than twenty minutes in, we drove up to a pride of twelve lions, including two full-grown males.  The moment we had all been waiting for had arrived!  Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better we spotted two leopards napping in a nearby tree.  A few moments later a third leopard walked inches from our truck and sat down to survey the plains. 

That night we were fortunate enough to camp within the park’s boundaries.

The next morning we battled each other for the title of Tent Olympic Champion.  We were judged based on speed and precision of packing the tent.  The champions were Erin Cordiner and Morgan Fiore.

On our way out of the park we came within arms reach of a herd of elephants and stopped at a pool where we saw two hippos fighting. 

We left the gates of the Serengeti Park and ventured to our lodge on the shore of Lake Victoria.  More to come!

1.     1.Photo by Matt Grasso
A Lilac Breasted Roller perched on an Acacia tree in the Serengeti Plains

2.    2. Photo by Stephen Pope
(From left to right) Chris Stejskal, Erin Cordiner, Aileen Hearn, Emma Rando, Preston Klinke, and Katie Yost leaping off the shifting sands of volcanic ash. The wind in the plains keeps the large pile in a horseshoe shape and moves extremely slowly through the Serengeti

3.     3.Photo by Chris Stejskal
Two hippos in an intense act of aggression in the Serengeti

4.     4.Photo by Emma Rando
 A lioness awaking from a cat nap

5.     5.Photo by Mel Cleary
A leopard sunning itself on the branch of a Sausage tree.

6.     6.Photo by Preston Klinke
The skeletal remains of the Grant’s gazelle lodged in an Acacia tree where we stopped for lunch.


  1. Unbelievable! It just keeps getting better! Sam I hope you are taking tons of pictures and video!

  2. Wow! It sure is amazing! The pictures are great! The gang jumping is awesome! I am so happy for everyone. This seems to be a trip you will remember your entire lives! Keep enjoying! Jen I might just have to suck it up and take those shots!!!!

    Love you!
    Mom and Dad

  3. We just love waking up to more news and pictures from you!
    Mom and Dad

  4. Incredible! You certainly are seeing it all. We're so happy you're posting more frequently. It's like we're there with you.

    Love to Mel from Mom, Dad, John and Daisy xoxoxo

  5. Truly, what an incredible stay In the Serengeti. The photographs are world class. I cannot believe you were that close to lions and leopards.

    I still remember how thrilled I was when I first learned about the Leakey family, Lucy and Oldupai Gorge when I was in elementary school a few decades ago. Then, I just visited the Evolution exhibit at the Smithsonian earlier this month. It is incredible that you were actually at Oldupai. Wow!

    I have a question for the adventurers, how hard is it going to be to leave Africa?

    Cheers to all and lots of love to Meg! Mom and Dad

  6. Amazing, what an experience. Getting the updated blog, it's a great way to start the day!! Continued safe journey to all. Enjoy the rest of your stay.
    Love you Holly,

  7. Since you've reached lake Victoria I presume you will get to meet Dr. Livingston.

  8. Of course you guys would win tent putting up! I seriously miss you guys.

  9. Emma, We didn't see the cage around the lion !!! This is all too amazing. Can't wait to squeeze you next week. Keep on jumping!

  10. Wow...can't wait to share with my classes. You are so lucky to have had such phenomenal experiences. Kelsey - hope you have been getting lots of photos. My classes are looking forward to seeing and hearing your stories, as are we!!! We can't wait!!! Hope you all continue on a safe journey. Take care,
    Love and Hugs to Kelsey,
    Mom, Dad, Wes, Chester, and Penelope

  11. WOW! There aren't enough superlatives to describe these experiences! I can't imagine how thrilling it was to have all of those animals at your campsite! The Serengeti looks and sounds unbelievable ~ the lions and leopards and the elephants within arm's reach! Stay happy! I hope your spot on Lake Victoria is every bit the island paradise it is expected to be. Emma, we loved seeing you jumping and seeing your beautiful picture of the lionesses! Sending you much love.

  12. erin and morgan I knew you could do it. Tent packing champs, whats good!? You da best girls. Its nearly Guiness O'clock...

  13. A message sent to me via email when Lizzy could no longer access the internet from her own home.

    Day 3

    Dead Count: Jon Stave, and Chris and Errica have gone missing.

    It was a brutal day today. Many others had the same idea of going to Public Safety and retrieving weapons, so least to say, all we ended up acquiring was a small pistol, a police receiver, and some sweet police vests (might come in handy, you never know). As for the grocery store, more successful journey, but that's where some of our troops went awry. We split up to cover the different isles, trying to make our visit as quick as possible. Remember that scene in Zombieland, when they're in the grocery store and suddenly there's a hoard of zombies? Well since everyone went to the grocery store once the apocolypse occured, that's where the zombies went as well.

    Jon Stave was distracted in the beer isle, which led to his horrible death. Chris and Errica went into the back to check out if there was anything in backstock no one had taken, and we haven't seen them since. I'm pretty confident about them though, I think they're doing just fine in this zombie apocolypse.

    We were able to get a good amount of food though, so so far it's down to just Brian and I, which I really think means that we win the badass contest of our friends. But you know, surviving is nothing compared to seeing 3 leopards, which I'm not bitter about at all because it's not like I was begging to go to Serengeti National Park or anything, so don't worry Jon and Bowman, it's no big deal and I harbor no resentment.

    ANYWAY with only a week till you come back, hopefully zombie things will clear up by then. Brian and I will do our best!

    Alive and not bitter about the leopards at all,

  14. It must have been awesome to see lions and leopards. Reading your stories along with see the fantastic photos makes me feel like I'm going through the journey with you all. Every siting of an animal that you have encountered brings an anticipation and thrill to me to want to jump on an airplane and join you all!! Looking forward to more to come!! Special hugs for Megan...

  15. P.S. Maple thinks the lioness would make would make a great friend :) !