To complete our visit to Mwagusi, we combined an animal drive with our trip to the airfield. Our goal for the day was to find the elusive leopard. When we got to the safari truck, Festo was really excited. He had been talking to his network of park guides and someone had “spotted” the leopard. So off we went at a good clip, faster than we had been traveling in the park. No stops for animals…our goal was to see the leopard before he left. We headed to high country, where the mountain and all the rocks were. There he was, on the top of a ten foot boulder, our elusive leopard. He was adult male and about 155 pounds.
We could not tear ourselves away; this was National Geographic up close and personal. He seemed to be posing for the cameras as he changed positions so we got a good look for all sides, even the backside! Then his tail started to flick and we knew that was a sign he was about to move. Off he went but not before we were able to see him in full view. This was an unusual sight as the leopard is a solitary and shy creature. We were indeed fortunate to get the opportunity to see him.
After the leopard sighting, there was no more to see so we headed for the airfield, spotting one last pride of lions asleep under a tree.
A description of the airfield is in order. It’s a dirt runway with the concrete blocks for distance markers. Before an aircraft lands, one of the safari jeeps chases any animals off the runway.
While we waited two hours for our plane, we could even visit the curio shop with fifteen items in it! Our plane finally arrived; it was a 12-seat puddle jumper with a trainee as a pilot. There was no stewardess…no drinks, no peanuts, no bathroom facilities. But we landed safely in Dar es Salaam after an interim stop at Iringa.