It’s been almost two weeks since I went on a safari in Tanzania, which was hands down, one of the best things I have ever done! Still experiencing a serious case of the safari blues, I think maybe it’s time to have a recap and tell you all a little bit about it…
On the first day, our driver from African Scenic Safaris, Rasheed, picked us up from the hostel in the safari jeep, and then drove us to the Tarangire National Park, Tanzania’s third largest park. On entering the park you are surrounded by tall trees and a contrast of emerald green and brown grasslands – it provides the perfect backdrop for photography…however no picture can do the amazing landscape any justice.
One of the first things you notice when driving through the park are the huge baobab trees, which can hold up to 120,000 litres of water in its trunk. During the dry season, elephants like to eat the bark of baobab to get water from the trunk’s reserves, and if you looked close enough, many of the trees bear deep gouge marks where the elephants have been ravaging them with their tusks (…eeer move over David Attenborough).
Capturing a glimpse of our first elephant on the safari
We didn’t have to drive long to see our first elephant, which had its back to us as it drew water from the ground with its trunk. We stopped there for a while eagerly waiting for this huge majestic animal to turn around, and all I could hear amidst the silence of the Tarangire was the “click, click, click” of everyone’s cameras. Between us we must have taken thousands of photos of this one elephant’s bum, perhaps for fear of not seeing another one – but how wrong we were! We soon learned that the Tarangire is, after all, known for its unusually large population of 6,000 elephants.
We saw an abundance of wildlife that day, including zebras, baboons, gazelles, wildebeests, little pumbas, ostriches….and much to our amusement, some monkeys with blue balls! Despite their height, giraffes are actually incredibly hard to spot as they graze among the tall trees. That said, we did manage to see a fair few and this had to be the animal I was most excited about. I mean, what other animal has the ability to use their incredibly long tongue to pick its nose and clean its ears, yet still look cute?!?
After a whole afternoon of game drive in the blazing African sun, we camped overnight just outside the park, but still close enough to see the occasional giraffe or herd of elephants passing by. It really did feel like we were in the heart of the African bush, and sleeping in a tent was certainly an experience I won’t forget. Through the sheer silence of the night, all you can hear is the sound of crickets and other unknown animal noises, which was a little unsettling at times! I must have been awoken several times by what I’m convinced was a hyena.
Venturing into the heart of the African bush…
The next morning we packed up our tents and drove to the dusty plains of the Serengeti, which hosts the largest mammal migration in the world (although it was unfortunately the wrong time of year for us to witness it). On the way we passed several Masai villages, whose warriors are distinctly recognisable by the red or blue shúkàs they wear wrapped around their bodies.
As we got closer to the Serengeti, the landscape became scattered with the classic African acacia trees, and the never-ending plains really do make you feel incredibly small. No amount of words can describe how vast the land is, and without sounding too clichéd, it really does make you realise just how big this world is!
As we made our way down the bumpy, dusty tracks of the Serengeti plains, we unluckily got a flat tyre, which meant we reluctantly had to get out of the Jeep while they changed it. As I looked around at the endless landscape, I began to wonder whether there were any lions lurking in the bush, eyeing us up for their dinner. Lucky for us we were only accompanied by a couple of ostriches and impalas, but after a few minutes of being back on the road we got a glimpse of our very first cheetah….which was literally heading in our direction! Phew!
Searching for lions in the Serengeti…
The Serengeti is renowned for its large lion population, but after a few hours of driving around, we were beginning to wonder whether we would get the chance to see them that day. But just as the sun was setting and we were about the turn in for the night, we spotted a pride of lions lounging around in the grass.
This was probably one of the most memorable sightings of the day – it truly is incredible to see them in their natural environment…I could have stayed there for hours watching them. It also felt strange how nonchalant they are about your presence. I asked Rasheed why they weren’t bothered by us, and he said that it’s because they see the Jeep as another animal. If we were to set foot outside of the safari jeep, then we would probably instantly be seen as dinner!
That night we camped in the Seronera, which is right in the centre of the Serengeti, so it was no surprise that we spotted both a buffalo and a hyena on the campsite that night! So as you can imagine, I didn’t get much sleep that night either. The next morning we woke up at 5am to see the sunrise and to try and catch sight of more lions before they retreated away from the blazing sun, but more on that in my next post!
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