It took us a long time to climb into our sleeping bags, the sky overhead was unlike anything we had seen before. We spent ages just staring up at the thousands of stars so easily visible without any light pollution for miles and miles. Camping in the Serengeti was a lot of fun.
It wasn’t just the stars that made camping in the public camp site so enjoyable though, throughout the night you could hear all the different noises from the wildlife around, most notably hyenas. When we’d driven into camp the night before it was amazing to see just how much life was so close, wildebeest, zebras and buffalo were all wondering around nearby and we even spotted lions within a 2minute drive when leaving the next morning. Thankfully all food and waste is locked away in a special area before everyone goes to bed and the chefs completely wash down the cooking areas as well so there’s nothing enticing to encourage any unwanted guests too close.
Our actual game drive in the Serengeti began much like the previous two days with loads of animals we’d never previously seen in the wild. By this point we’d become so accustomed to wildebeest an zebras that they barely got a glance, it’s coming up to the famous great migration time and they both fill pretty much all the empty space in the Serengeti.
Our guide kept it interesting though by explaining their roles, the zebras act as guides for the wildebeest as they’re blessed with far better senses including eyesight, hearing and smell. When approaching a watering hole for example the wildebeest will stop through fear of crocodiles or other predators, they sit back until the zebras have had a look and moved forward after deciding it’s safe. The plus side for the zebras is the safety in numbers and the hope their not so intelligent friends might end up as food before them.
Their biggest fear of course is the lions patrolling the Serengeti plains and we were lucky enough to come across some more later in the day just relaxing beneath a small tree. Sitting in the only spot of shade visible from where we were the lions were clearly content with just avoiding the mid-day heat, zebras and wildebeest were all around but with so much food available there was no need to waste energy when it was so hot unless their was an opportunity too good to turn down.
One of the most enjoyable parts of our day didn’t involve any impressive predator or even one of the big five but the very easy to find baboons. Despite seeing many around the parks over the last couple of days we drove past one group and saw something that made us stop right away. Running around with more energy than the rest was a baboon that according to our guide couldn’t have been more than a couple of weeks old. As we said before baby anythings are cute but this little baby trying to copy its brothers and sisters jumping between rocks was just plain adorable, often falling over or not being strong enough or tall enough to make the gaps but he definitely got an A for effort.
After lunch it looked as though a storm was coming in and our guide took us off in a completely different direction away from most of the other groups. Apparently the conditions were perfect for cheetahs to hunt so we were searching the long grass and wide-open plains to try and tick another one of the main sights off what had already been an incredible safari. Unfortunately it turned out our luck had all been used up the day before with the leopard and our search was unsuccessful. The disappointment was short lived though as we soon came across a female lion and three cubs before finding a large male lion 50 meters further down the road.
The next morning was the final part of our 4 day safari and we were to end up in Mwanza on the edge of Lake Victoria that afternoon. The day however started back in the Serengeti and just outside camp we came across hyenas again but this time running off clearly excited by the smell of something in the distance.
We came across yet more lions, again with cubs but this time perched high on some rocks overlooking the surrounding areas. One of them may have been busy during the night as we soon came across a dead zebra missing a leg right on the edge of the road. It wasn’t the only reminder we came across that day of the tough life that many of the inhabitants of the park lead. By the side of the water were two wildebeest carcasses from a not so distant crocodile attack, one of them barely touched and obviously being saved for later.
We were leaving the Serengeti via the western corridor which had a very different feel to the rest of the park, with much more water around the land was far greener. Instead of stopping for lions or zebras we saw warthogs running through the trees with their little families trailing behind and stopped by the waters edge to see hippos bobbing up and down and tried to spot crocodiles hiding along the waters edge.
All that was left of our safari was a long drive to Mwanza and a chance to reflect on an incredible four days. We’d seen almost everything we could have hoped for, enjoyed the company of our guide and the space of a 4×4 to ourselves . 4 days fly by when there is so much to see but I’m sure the memories will last a lot longer.
Have you been on a Safari in Tanzania or anywhere for that matter? How did it compare?