Safari

On Saturday May 11, we left for a journey that I will never forget. We packed up our suitcases, loaded the safari vehicles and left for the Serengeti. The safari vehicles were spacious and comfortable with windows that opened at each seat. In my car, there was Brandi, Emily Z, Aeriel, Jeremy, Devin, Amanda, and I. The journey was starting with all of these wonderful people and I couldn’t have been more happy.

The ride to the Serengeti was about 6 hours plus times that we had to stop for the bathroom and lunch. We drove through a lot of little towns with shops and people out on the streets working and relaxing. We stopped at a place for lunch that was a huge gift shop with tons and tons of items. We ate our boxed lunches outside in the picnic area and then continued on our way. As the drive continued, more scenery was appearing. After this spectacular view, we drove to a spot where the driver had to get a pass to go into the Serengeti and the Crater. At this stop, there were baboons everywhere! They were all in a line walking towards the road that we just came from. I got some really good pictures of those guys! 🙂

Continuing on our journey, we had to drive on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater and through the Ngorongoro Conservation to get to the Serengeti. The view was absolutely breath taking. We stopped for a picture and on one side, we could see into the Crater and on the other side of the road, we could see how high we were up and the view from where we just drove from. So amazing!

As we were driving down the other side of the rim to get to the Serengeti, the first animal we saw was a zebra! They were right next to the side of the road eating some grass. It looked so weird at first to see a zebra in the wild because it almost looked out of place. It was still super cool! We noticed too that 2 zebras always stand together; one is facing one direction and the other is facing the other direction. Our safari driver told us this is because they are watching out for lions; they are protecting each other. The next animal we saw was a giraffe. These animals are always easy to spot so we found a whole group of them in the Conservation. As we were driving, we were getting closer and closer to the entrance of the Serengeti. We stopped to take a picture in front of the sign and all cheered as we entered the Serengeti.

Right away we saw gazelle, more zebras, and wildebeest. The zebras and wildebeest are always together because as my safari driver put it, “wildebeest are stupid and they need the zebras to help them.” So whenever we saw zebras, there were always wildebeest! Then about 10 minutes later we spot about 4 hyenas laying in the grass taking a nap. Hyenas in the Serengeti look just like the ones in the Lion King; weird and ugly.

We stopped at another rest area and we were able to climb up a little hill called “Rocky Hill.” This hill is “emerging from the plain and is floating in the sea of grass called the Serengeti Plains.” The view at this stop on top of that hill was absolutely beautiful. I could have stayed on top of that rock for a long time just looking on both sides of the Serengeti. There was a ton of cute birds there that are blue, orange, and green. They got so close to us and let us take their pictures!

We continued on and we didn’t see much but zebras and wildebeest until I spot something in the grass that looks like a baby cheetah. I yelled to my safari driver to stop and reverse to find out what type of animal that was. It turned out to be a Serval Cat which is really really rare in the Serengeti…and I found it! How cool!! It was getting darker but we still had a long way to go to get to our hotel. We drove on and spotted some Jackal, more giraffes, and a few hippos in a little watering hole. We made it to our hotel just in time for dinner.

We stayed at the Serena Hotel which had little huts for each room. We had to get a guard to walk us to our rooms because there were no fences between the hotel grounds and the Serengeti. They also spot a lot of leopards there and they just want us to be safe. Our little hut room was so nice and had the best shower ever!! With hot hot water!! Dinner was just to die for…it was buffet style with more food than we could ever eat. It was delicious.

The next morning, Sunday, we woke up and went out on the Serengeti for the entire day. We left around 8am and didn’t get back until 6pm. We were able to put the tops up on the vehicles and stand to watch for animals all day. The first thing we saw on Sunday morning was a family of elephants in the bushes. There was a mom, dad, and baby elephant just eating some leaves. We drove a little way and BAM there were more elephants standing by the side of the road. We watched them eat and walk for about 15 minutes just because it was so cool to see that. I can’t believe how big these creatures are but when they walk, you can barely hear them. They are beautiful animals to watch. We continued to drive and our driver gets a radio call from another driver and all of a sudden we are racing through the Serengeti to go watch a cheetah who is about to attack a group of gazelle. We made it just in time and all of a sudden, the cheetah takes off and chases the gazelle into the fields. Just when we thought the cheetah was gone, it popped up right in front of our vehicle and walked back to its spot under the tree. The cheetah didn’t catch anything, but to witness something like that and have the cheetah come that close to our vehicle was unbelievable!

Then another unbelievable thing happened to us; about 8 lions crossed the road right in front of us. There were males and females there going to the other side of the road to go hunt. These animals were so calm walking by all of the vehicles. It was so cool to see that happen!

We continued to drive and I sat in the front seat for a while so I could stand up easier and look for animals; my whole car was relying on me to spot the animals since I was really good at finding them! 🙂 We saw a bird called the secretary bird. It is called this because it uses its claws to chop up its prey so it looks like the bird is typing. We then found a female lion hanging out in the tree and stopped to take pictures of her. We stopped for lunch then headed back out for more excitement.

There were 2 cheetahs that passed in front of our car right after lunch. They were crossing the road and our safari driver said that they were going to hunt. After that, we saw more elephants in the fields and some of them even crossed the road right in front of us. Then we came across more giraffes but this time, 2 of them were about to fight! It was such a strange thing what they were doing because they were standing side by side but hip-checking each other every once and a while as if they were just playing. Then all of a sudden, one of the giraffes swung its head and hit the other giraffe right in the neck. The other one walked around in a circle and started to hip-check the other giraffe back. They hit each other one more time and then decided to just stand side by side for a few minutes after. I can’t believe that I witnessed that! How can someone say that they have watched 2 giraffes fighting in the Serengeti? That is like watching the Discovery Channel but we were actually there! We headed back to our hotel and had a great dinner again and they hotel service people that were working in the kitchen came out to us and sang us a goodbye song and gave us a goodbye cake! We rested up and got up early for a sunrise drive in the Serengeti.

We drove along and stopped more animals on Monday morning and drove straight to the hippo pool. I didn’t know what to expect so when I got there, I was amazed at hot many hippos were all in one area. There were so many!! There were hippos underwater, partially out of the water, and outside of the water. I thought it would smell bad, but it didn’t at all! We watched the hippos for a while and it was so cool. There were many times where you could tell when one hippo got in the way of another hippo because there would be commotion in the water. There was grunting, pushing, and even a few mouths play-biting other hippos. I really liked seeing the hippo pool!

After the hippo pool, we kept on driving and drove to a spot where there was a male and a female lion laying in the tall grass. We waited until they got up and saw them, but then right away they laid back down. It was still cool to see these two lions together all alone. Then we continued driving and passed a few really cool rock formations that we kept calling Pride Rock. One of them we named Pride Rock because there was a male, female, and a few cubs on this rock formation. They looked right at us and I snagged some great photos!! It was totally like the Lion King!!!

After that, we continued driving and came across 2 paths in the road a head of us…one of the paths had water, and the other path didn’t. Our group being the awesome group, told our safari driver to take the path that has all the water on it. Well…he was in 2 wheel drive and we got stuck. So as he was trying to get us through this mud puddle, he yells to us, “YOU TOLD ME WRONG ROUTE” and started to laugh!! He kicked the gas and sure enough, mud came in through the top of our vehicle all over us!!! We laughed and cheered for our safari driver because it was so much fun!!

We drove more and spotted ostrich, more jackals, buffalo, and another lazy lion. We were about to leave when we had to pass through a sea of zebras and wildebeest. This sea of animals is called the Great Migration where the zebras and wildebeest move from south to north towards Kenya. It was the coolest things I have ever seen. If you looked out into the horizon, you couldn’t tell where the animals stopped…there were that many animals. I took a few videos of the zebras running and playing because I like the sound they make. I have never seen so many animals all in one spot and that was a pretty spectacular moment. Our driver was telling us that if we were to come to this spot about 2 days later, we would miss all of this. I am so glad we got to see that and drive through it! On our way home, we got a flat tire but it was all good because all of the safari vehicles have 2 extra spares! Our drivers drove us to our next adventure which was the Ngorongoro Crater.

Overall, the Serengeti was a beautiful place with marvelous animals that I was able to see in their natural habitat. They were so majestic and breath taking to see them up close. I feel as if I am in a dream and don’t ever want to wake up. Safari will be something I will remember for the rest of my life. I can’t describe how lucky I am to be here in Africa with wild animals!!

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