I have always wanted to go on an African Safari; this week my dream came true and exceeded all expectations. Katie and I were a little nervous because our safari would not be during the time of the Great Migration but we were able to see all we hoped too and more. The best part of being on safari at this time is that all of the animals had newborns and it was incredible seeing the baby, and very little, zebras, elephants, giraffes, wildebeests and warthogs. Throughout the week we saw The Big Five: Leopards, Lions, Elephants, Rhinoceroses and Buffalos, passed through a myriad of terrains, visited Oldupai Gorge and visited a Maasai village among many other things. We spent the entire week standing in the truck with our heads out of the popped roof and our hair blowing in the wind. The first two nights of the trip we spent camping, the two nights after were spent in luxury camp tents and our final two nights were spent in resorts; each accommodation was so special and it was fun having a mix of lodging. Each park we visited was very different from the others and each site had an abundance of animals grazing, migrating, fighting, and mating.
Day 1: Tarangire National Park
Within minutes of being in Tarangire National Park we were surrounded by hundreds of impalas, elephants and giraffes. The Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania and is filled with large, beautiful baobab trees and termite mounds. After lunch I mentioned to Katie that I really wanted to spot a lion and within five minutes we spotted our first lion, I was jumping with joy.
Day 2: Lake Manyara National Park
It took less than ten minutes after entering the park before we spotted a leopard sleeping in a tree 30 meters away from us. I knew it was going to be a good day. Lake Manyara National Park felt like ten parks in one, we passed through forests, grassy plains, acacia woodlands and forests willed with mahogany trees. In this park we saw a lot of baboons and monkeys but one of the most exciting parts of the day was when a heard of fifty elephants passed in front and behind our vehicle. The heard was filled with babies, teenagers and really old elephants.
Day 3: Maasai Village, Oldupai Gorge, & Serengeti National Park
Before arriving at the Serengeti National Park we made two stops to a Maasai Village and Oldupai Gorge. The Maasai Village was very interesting and we were able to participate in traditional dance and learned about the life of a Maasai. The Maasai are a tribe that inhabit Kenya and Tanzania and have been known for their nomadic life although in recent years they have become more settled. The Masaai are able to have many husbands and wives and on our way to the village we passed the Chief Maasai’s village; he has 96 wives and 103 living children and has built a school in the village just for his children. In the village we were able to enter a house, which takes one month to build, and I was shocked by how dark and small the space was, especially for 6 people to live in. The Maasai only get around by using donkeys for transportation and survive by eating the meat and drinking the blood and milk of their cattle.
After the village we took an off-road shortcut to Oldupai Gorge. Oldupai Gorge is one of the most important locations in the world for understanding human evolution. We had lunch looking out over the Gorge but had to move along quickly to get half a day in at the Serengeti.
Day 4: Serengeti National Park
Over the course of a day and a half in the Serengeti we saw almost 50 lions and lionesses all within very close range to us. We saw three separate prides enjoying their kill and many lions mating. On our way out of the park a full grown male passed our car ten feet from where I was sitting.
Day 5: Ngorongoro Crater
The Ngorongoro Crater is a volcanic caldera that is the home to thousands of wildebeests, zebras and flamingos, one hundred lions and nine rhinoceroses. In the crater we saw our first kill, a lion taking down a wildebeests and three of the nine rhinos. We finally saw all FIVE!