“I heard the lions calling periodically through the night, and on our morning walk, we encountered their tracks very near our camp. We actually were up at 5 AM at first light, so that we could watch the endemic Hamadryas baboons depart from the safety of their night roost on the volcanic cliffs. They spend the night on the vertical rock walls to avoid predation by a serious enemy: the leopard.Just before sunrise, the baboons began to flow from the cliff top, virtually dripping off the rocks in their numbers, spilling out onto the grassy flats where hot spring water flowed, forming a narrow, clean and warm creek. We sat on a log filming the procession of the troop, numbering 210 in total! When they crossed to the far side, Tsheger (our park scout, pronounced Chegger) and Girum (our guide), and Dee and I began our “follow”.The baboons moved rapidly through the scrub, fanning out to feed on leaves, small berries and big, hard palm nuts. After an hour of continual movement, they settled down to rest and groom one another. It was quiet time in the troop. Adventurous youngsters climbed and goofed off, moms nursed tiny babies, and the big males acted as over-lords to their group. One big male sat in front of us, perhaps 4 meters distant, avoiding the light rain by sitting under a palm tree. Tiny toddlers climbed all around him, but he sat with tired eyes, eventually allowing his chin to rest on his chest as he dozed sitting upright, elbows relaxed on his knees. Another big male lay on his belly in the ground, sleeping solidly. The drizzle kept the temperature reasonable for us, making the entire morning very pleasant.The troop eventually moved off in a huge group, and we followed them for some time across the savannah. They eventually disappeared into the forest, making our continued follow impossible.We were back in camp by 10:30 am for breakfast, still enjoying the cooler overcast conditions.We relaxed during the heat of the day, and later in the afternoon, we hiked the 30 minutes to a pool formed by another hot spring in a doum palm oasis for a picnic lunch and swim. The crystal clear lagoon was 3 meters deep, perhaps 15 meters across, and at 45 degrees C, too hot for crocodiles to live in. It had a perfect entry and exit point with a bowed palm tree trunk at water level! It was very hot, but totally refreshing. Another hidden gem of Africa! Hippo footprints were found as we departed the area, and Tsheger mentioned that they are common in other cooler pools in the area. None have ever been seen in the hot pool.We spent the final hour of the day putting to bed the Hamadryas baboons on the cliff once again.”
Brian set up his iPad to do a continual video of the Hamadryas baboons assembling at sunset on the cliff edge. He then stepped back to watch. He plans on using the clip in an upcoming City TV Breakfast segment, presently slated to air “live” on the morning of October 21!