Safari!

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:

Giraffe

Cape Buffalo

Elephant

Lion

Cheetah

Leopard

Hippopotamus

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):

 

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.

 

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. Any baby animal was pretty stinking cute!!
  4. 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.

 

Kariebu (welcome)


Safari

I’ve been to some pretty cool places around the world but I have to say that the safari tops every other thing that I’ve done.  The Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater are two of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever seen.  This blog post and the pictures that I took just don’t do it justice!

We did the safari for about four days and saw the Big Five (lions, rhinos, buffaloes, leopards, elephants) and much more.  My favorite thing about the safari though was driving through the great migration.  This was such an incredible experience and there is really no way to describe how amazing it was.  Basically, we drove through a herd of thousands of zebra and wildebeest.  Our driver, Maluta, took the initiative to drive off the main road and directly into the herd so we were right in the middle of all of the animals. Seriously…it was so amazing.

I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go on a real safari in Africa.  We got to see so many animals (that we normally only see in zoos) in their natural habitats.  We also saw beautiful scenery that tops anything I’ve seen before.  Doing the Harlem Shake in the Ngorongoro Crater was pretty great too!


Lazy Lion

Lazy Lion


What we were al able to see first thing in the morning in the Ngorongoro Crater

What we were all able to see first thing in the morning in the Ngorongoro Crater


Safari

What an amazing adventure we just returned from! I did not know what to expect when we first left for the safari, but I was very pleased. Since Arusha was so different from what I was picturing before getting here, I thought the safari would be different as well. But was I surprised. Everything looked like the pictures; open plains full of grass with spurts of animals within.

During the safari my van group rode with Moses, one of the drivers. As we were driving to the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti he was sharing as much information as he could about Tanzania and all of the animals that we were seeing. It was almost like a mini history class for us, which was great. I learned so much from him, such as there are over 2 million animals that take part in the Great Migration each year. The first full day of the safari I was not feeling well, so I did not attend it, but I jumped right back in the second day when we went to the Ngorongoro Crater.

At the crater we saw the “Big Five” animals: rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion, and leopard. This was the first day of seeing most of these animals for me since the others saw them the day before, but it was still amazing! When we first got to the crater we drove to the one forest area there and saw a herd of about 50 elephants grazing. Our driver said that he had never seen that many in one area before. Also, there are only about 30 rhinos within the crater and our group was lucky enough to see two of them. This experience was one of the best in my life and I cannot be thankful enough to have been able to come on this trip.


Safari

This past weekend and early week, I went on a safari. I can’t even describe what I experienced. Amazing, stunning, beautiful, remarkable are just a few of the words to explain it. We left early Saturday morning and headed out of Arusha. We had about a 3 hour drive to the Ngoronoro Crater. Our drive there was beautiful. We passed African countryside that looks nothing like we have back home. We saw lots of green trees and flowers, hills and mountains. As soon as we got the crater entrance, we saw baboons everywhere. Surprisingly they came very close to us and our cars. We thought this was very exciting but little did we know this would be nothing compared to what we saw later in the trip. After we drove around the crater we had about another hour drive to get to the Serengeti national park.
It was very interesting driving past the crater to the Serengeti because the climate and environment were very different from each other. The crater was very green and lush with plants. The Serengeti was dry with tall grasses and random trees throughout. Our journey to the Serengeti was very bumpy. Most of the roads were dirt with lots of pot holes. I have multiple bruises from being bounced around, but it was still lots of fun. Our driver, Moses, was very entertaining and informational.
Our first day in the Serengeti was great. We saw elephants, zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, dicks dicks, gazelles, crocodile, and a black mamba snake. That night we stayed at the Serengeti Serena Lodge. It was a very nice hotel, with great food. All of the rooms were in little huts throughout the property. Because this hotel was in the middle of the Serengeti, at night we had to have a guard walk us to our room to make sure we didn’t come across any animals. The next day, Sunday, we headed off and had another great experience. We got to see a cheetah stalking some gazelles, a lion pride crossing the road, and a lion taking a nap in a tree. When our very bumpy and dusty day was over we stayed at the Serengeti Serena Lodge for one more night. I didn’t see many animals at the lodge beside some dick dicks, which are like mini deer.
On Monday we drove around the Serengeti again. You think after 3 days it would get old but it doesn’t. I could have spent a couple weeks there. We saw many more animals including, lions, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, and hyenas. We enjoyed lots of the scenery and tired to take it all in. We went to the hippo swimming pool and I could not believe how many hippos there were in a pretty small pool. They were very interesting to watch because they liked to fight with each other. However they were also very stinky. We enjoyed lots of the scenery and tired to take it all in. One of the coolest things we saw was the “great migration” of wildebeest and zebras. Every year around this time about 2 million animals migrate to Kenya for food. They return to the Serengeti again in September. It was so amazing to see so many animals in one spot. All you could see were wildebeest and zebras for miles and miles. It looked like something out of National Geographic magazine. Monday night we stayed at the Ngoronoro Crater Serena Lodge. It had the most beautiful view you could ever imagine. The hotel was right on the edge of the crater, overlooking the inside of the crater. I wish we stayed there more nights because it was so pretty.
Tuesday morning we drove down into the crater. We got a great experience with elephants. There were about 60 that pasted our car and came very close. It was an unbelievable experience. The zoo will never be the same. We also got up close and personal with some lions. We came across a pride that just got done eating. The lioness who hunted was very tired. She laid under our cars for shade. She was so close I could reach out and touch her, but I didn’t. We got to see a big male lion from a distance as well. It had a big mane and was about 12-13 year old. Later we got to see two black rhinos. They were pretty far away but you could still see just how big they were. In the late afternoon we headed back to Arusha. On our drive back we passed many Maasai villages. It was really neat to see people herding sheep and cows through hills and mountains. It was hard to think about how these people live out in the wilderness and survive on what they can provide for themselves. This four day safari is an experience I will never forget. I think it’s something everyone needs to do once in their life.


Safari

I just got back from a 4 day safari adventure and it was UNREAL! My experience was seriously indescribable. I am blown away at the majesty of our King!! I am left speechless by the beauty of the Serengeti, Ngoragora Crater and wildlife! I don’t know of any other adventure that I can take that will top this experience.

Here is the breakdown of our weekend 🙂

We left for the Serengeti Saturday morning. This was quite a long trip but we passed through the Ngoragora crater and did a bit of a game drive! I was so surprised to see the difference in environment between the Crater and the Serengeti. The crater looked more like a jungle forest. With lots of greenery and palm trees. It was very tropical. And then we went to the Serengeti where it seriously was the Lion King. Tall grasses, random rocks and acacia trees galore. We stayed at the Serena Serengeti Lodge right in the heart of the Serengeti. Right in the heart of the Serengeti. Where leopards, wildebeest, cheetahs and such pass through the property. This was wild! The lodge was incredible!!! Our rooms were little huts that were made out of grass roofs and solid wood. It was something that Hobbits would live in. Our view from our room overlooked the Serengeti where we were able to see a heard of elephants with our binoculars 🙂 Breathtaking!

I have to admit, the best part of this lodge was not only that we had super clean rooms but also we had awesome showers! The shower head was seriously a foot in diameter and it was HOT!! This was delightful 🙂 The food there was also top notch, especially because it was a buffet that catered to the americans. There was tons of potato choices were defiantly a nice change since I have been eating rice all day everyday. At night they had a acrobat show that was so legit. They but cirque de soleil to shame. I sat in the very front row and they got up close and personal. One man did a routine that ended with him doing a handstand on top of a wood table, two chairs, a board and 3 bricks on each side of his hands standing on their sides. All while doing a head stand. He was about oh…25 feet. To make this even more extreme. He quickly through the bricks to the side (so they fell on the ground) and he was still standing on his hands. Blew my mind! Haha Since we were living in little huts, we needed a guide to walk us from the main lodge to our rooms at night. This is because we are IN THE WILD where wild animals just roamed. One of our guides said that the night prior, he saw a leopard and her two cubs around rooms 5-15, and we were room 47 haha this hotel gets some action. However, our guides are not equipped with the best defenses mechanisms. All that they have his a jumbo metal flashlight to shine in the animals eyes. I guess that is all that it takes between death and life haha. Actually, our awesome safari driver Moses, spotted the leopard probably 100 yards from our room the next morning. It was crazy cool! For the next two days we explored the Serengeti! We got up close and personal to a bout 2 million zebra and wildebeest. We witnessed the Great Wildebeest migration where tons and tons of wildebeest head to the southern plains I believe, and the zebra tag along 🙂 There were miles and miles of zebra and wildebeest. We drove right through them all. We also saw lions, leopards, cheaters, impala, dicdic’s, elephants, giraffes (my favorite) and nasty baboons.

On the third day we left at 6:30 for an early morning game drive and made our way to our lodge at the Crater. Again, this lodge was breathtaking as well!! Our view overlooked the Crater where we could see flamingos in the water 🙂 We were also in love with the showers since they had water pressure! My hair has never felt so clean since I have gotten here!! These two lodges were seriously 5 star places. I was so spoiled and didn’t know what to do. Our waiter put napkins on our laps for us during our meals, the bell hop guy wouldn’t let us pick up our bags…and we never knew weather or not we had to tip haha During our safari ride in the crater the next morning we were able to see some rhinos from afar. This was a pretty cool thing since rhinos are becoming extinct and are only pretty much found in the crater. We also spotted 1 Mufasa and his lioness’s. One of the lionesses apparently got a kill, and as we were driving up she was laying in the shade of another safari vehicle that was watching the scene. It was crazy!!

This whole four day adventure was unbelievable and unreal! I still cant believe that I was in the heart of the Serengeti seeing all of these animals that we have only seen in the National Geographic photos, like the famous picture of the hippo pool and the lake with all of the flamingos…yep I got to see those in real life!! It was wild!! I highly recommend everybody to take this safari adventure! The places that we stayed at were soooo wonderful and accommodating and the safari drivers were such a hoot and knowledgeable. I learned so much about the wild! Haha

Well now I am back in Arusha preparing for the next 3 days of teaching then I will be off to another adventure, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro 🙂