Safari!Posted: May 20, 2013
WOW! I do not know how to explain a 4 day safari in a short blog. I will let you know this; we saw all 7 main animals in the Serengeti including one special animal in the Ngorongoro Crater.
The 8 main animals are:
Rhinoceros (in the Ngorongoro Crater)
*Just so you know, there are only 5 big animals of the Serengeti but I am including all big animals.
The Journey to the Serengeti: We packed up our Land Cruisers with our weekend bags and granola bars. Each of us was able to have our own window seat. It was an interesting drive out of Arusha to see how people live just outside of town but there was more trees and land in between each village or people. As we got closer to the mountains, the agriculture started to change. There was more vegetation and larger trees. We could tell that the vegetation was getting rich soil from being so close to mountains as well as run off water from the mountains.
At a rest stop there was a tree that reminded me of the tree of life at The Animal Kingdom at Disney World. Our driver, Abdul told us that it was a Boabab Tree. This tree lives up to 300 years old. They grow on the east side and not on the west side of the Ngorongoro Crater. We snapped a group picture before we left!
Highlights of the Safari (in no particular order):
- We were able to pop the roof of the safari vehicle and the hood of the front part of the vehicle so that everyone could have a great view. We were also able to stand on our seats (shoes off of course). It was defiantly good for short people like me!
- Cheetah Sighting: Our driver got a call from another vehicle that sighted a cheetah. As we were standing in our vehicle, our driver took off! He was going 60 mph down a dirt road. He knew how important it was to get to that cheetah! Once we got to the area, all we could see was a little fur on the top of its head and a lot of gazelles. We waited patiently for 20 minutes and then the gazelles started dashing! It was chaos. Since there were so many safari vehicles there the gazelles split off into a “v” shape to get around the vehicles. Then the cheetah ran around a large tree bush and right in front of our vehicle! The cheetah just paused there for a second and then ran off to find its cub that was also there.
- Elephants: Majestic Creatures. This is my kind of animal. They eat all day and roam around to find more food. Sometimes they are with their herd and sometimes they are chilling by themselves…eating.
- Hippopotamuses: I could watch them all day. They mostly hang in their water whole, like a large swimming pool for them. We were able to see one hippo walking around in the grass. It was pretty far away but still cool to see it out of the water. We went to the main water whole the day we were leaving the Serengeti. It was preserved so that people could get out of their vehicles and see the hippos without harming them. There was also some information about the hippos and how they live. For instance, hippos live in their own toxic waste. As they go the bathroom, they are claiming their territory. I unknowingly took a picture of their tail wagging which happened to be the hippo splattering their poop. Did I gross you out? Hope not!
- Places we stayed: I felt like a princess. The first place we stayed was in the national park. To preserve the land and its animals the lodge was not able to have a fence around it. At night we had to get a guard to escort us from the main part of the lodge to our huts…think dome shape hut but build for a princess. Yup it was wonderful!
The second place we stayed was in the Ngorongoro Crater. It was on the upper ring of the crater. The view was breath taking. We could see the whole crater and even to the other side. The stars were breath taking. With the exception of the lodge and another lodge in the crater, there is absolutely NO light pollution in the crater. We saw many stars. For my family back home (or for the folk who have been up north Michigan), the stars in the North Channel are more breath taking then the ones in the crater. We had French doors to our patio so we left the curtains open at night to see the stars while we were in bed.
- Giraffes: As we were coning back from our first day of “Game Driving” (driving around the Serengeti to find animals) there was a cloud of dust we drove us to. After the dust cleared a little bit we could make outa tall figure with long legs. It was a giraffe! There was a giraffe right in front of our safari vehicle! We all popped up from our seats to take a picture. The giraffe then turned right to get off of the road. By time we passed the giraffe with our vehicle, we were about an arms length away from it. Every time I see and animal up close to our vehicle I am just in awe. They are much larger when they are closer to you!
- Elephant: Elephants are huge! It was Live up to 70 years old. Crossing the road. Just eating away. They get pretty scatter-y when people or vehicles are making lots of noises.
- Any baby animal was pretty stinking cute!!
- Lion: As we were driving along in the Serengeti, there was a long stretch of land where huge rocks and boulders were left behind from glaciers. Amanda was spotted a lion up in the rocks. Little did we know that there was also a lioness and three cubs! We were amazed! At first we only saw the back of the lions, we think it was because they were drinking water or eating. Once they were done, the lion and one of its cubs turned around facing us. We were lucky that there was a road leading around the huge boulder. In the Serengeti, safari drivers are not aloud to drive off of the road. Breaking the rule would result in a fine from the national park. We were able to snap some great pictures and also enjoy seeing lions so close to us. It is amazing when we took the time to think how we are observing them in their natural habitat instead of at the zoo. The lions went out of our sight so we decided to drive around the rock to see if they would come around on the other side, but they did not. So we went onto our next adventure of driving around to see what else we could find!
10. Great Migration: You could barely see the beginning of the migration and barley see the end of the migration of wildebeests. It was a once and I lifetime chance to see this amazing migration of animals. The Wildebeests and zebras migrate from Tanzania to Kenya. The migration time is mostly spent in Tanzania (6 months) and then one month in Kenya. As we were looking out we would sometimes see a group of wildebeests dash away from something. Just listening to the sound of 80-100 wildebeests and zebras run is amazing. You could also hear the sounds that zebras and wildebeests were making. We also saw zebras playing with each other and running after one another. Baby zebras and baby wildebeests with their families learning what to do.
11. Ngorongoro Crater: Breath taking. Was not expecting to see as many lions as we did. One lioness lying on the road by safari vehicles. I could touch one it was so close!
12. Rhino: Boooo Yaaaaa!!! After we ate lunch at one of the (small, think pond like) lakes in the Ngorongoro Crater we were off for our last game drive before leaving the crater. It was 1:30 and two vehicles were left in the crater, mine and another one of our safari vehicles. We decided to videotape each vehicle’s Harlem Shake. We did not have the music so we will have to do one editing later. Each vehicle had the background of the crater, another (small) lake, and flamingos. We watched our vehicles video later that day and saw a wildebeest running through! He wanted in on the fun. Back to the crater. As we were driving out, our diver, Maluta, spotted a rhino! We drove back toward the lake to intercept the rhino. Maluta stopped the vehicle because he said that the noises of the vehicle might scare the rhino and the rhino would change directions. After sitting and waiting about 10 minutes the rhino was headed for the road. Maluta started the vehicle and we were off! We took a hard left and then saw the rhino cross the road right in front of us. We were ecstatic! We got some pretty great pictures.
We then had one hour to drive out of the crater and then past the gate of the park. We were passing other vehicles and whipping around corners. I don’t think we heard Maluta breath one time until we got the gate! We made it with one minute to spare. If we did not make to the gate in time then we would have had to pay for one more day at the crater.