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Pamela MacNaughtan

You know you watch too many Disney movies (or animated movies in general) when you refer to animals by their animated names. Such was the case during my 2-day safari in the Serengeti National Park.

After a full morning (and mid-afternoon) in the Ngorongoro Crater, we were off to the Serengeti National Park. Some of us were a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to see Giraffes or Elephants in the Ngorongoro Crater, but we appeased ourselves with the prospect of seeing them in the Serengeti. We were going to be bush camping there, after all, we’re almost definitely going to see them. We ignored the very bumpy road from Ngorongoro to the Serengeti as we chatted excitedly about what we might see.

It was close to dusk when Bachu pulled our jeep up alongside a female Giraffe and her calf.

“OMG! It is sooooo cute!” We all cooed at the baby Giraffe and marveled at how close we were. It was like being with the Zebras, but better. So much better. I watched as the mother and her baby used their long grey tongues to eat the tiny leaves off the tree in front of us. The baby was shy & not sure what to think of us, but the mother just ignored us and continued eating. It was such a fabulous introduction to the Serengeti. Bachu had turned our jeep off and we continued to watch as the father gracefully walked over to the mother and baby. To see one Giraffe was incredible, to see a family that close to us was enthralling.

Our luck continued as Bachu drove us through the Serengeti. As I write this post I still can’t believe what I saw and experienced.

After seeing a family of Giraffes, the next animal we were dying to see were Elephants. I’ve seen Elephants before, at the zoo and in Thailand, but I wanted to see them in their natural habitat. On our first morning in the Serengeti, we were lucky and came across a bull Elephant walking through the trees and across the road. He was huge! The Elephant’s tusks were long and his body was big and bulky. We followed in our jeep (as did the other jeeps) to where he was headed for the water, however, Bachu backed off when we realized that the Elephant was getting a tad upset.

At first, I was disappointed that we had to leave the bull Elephant behind, but my disappointed quickly disappeared when we came across not one, not two, but a herd of 11 Elephants (which included about 4 babies). Bachu was now the best damn driver in the world in our minds as he pulled up close and turned the jeep off. The Elephants were close, very, very close. In fact, they were so close that at one point we couldn’t talk or take photos as it would upset them. I could have reached out and touched them. The whole experience was mind-blowing.

I wanted to take a baby Elephant home with me as I watched the smallest one walk slowly behind its Mother, trying to grab her tail with its trunk. It was so damn cute. I had scenes of the Jungle Book running through my mind and could hear the voice of the tiny Elephant from the movie in my mind as I watched the herd in person.

Bachu explained to us that the head of the herd was a female Elephant called a Matron and that she is generally the largest one (Dear Disney, please correct your movie, The Jungle Book, to reflect this). I watched as a mid-size Elephant bent its head under a tree branch and begin to scratch its neck and back. I just about wet myself when one came so close to our jeep that I could see its eyelashes. I was more than satisfied. If I never saw an Elephant again, I would be okay. I had seen 11 of them up close and personal (as it turns out I did see more. We came across a herd of 32 towards the end of our first day).

Trees full of Baboons, Jackals hiding in holes and Hyenas in search of food were common sights as Bachu drove us around the Serengeti looking for bigger animals. We told Bachu that we wanted to see Lions, Hippos, Rhinos, and Leopards. We knew there was a chance that we wouldn’t see all of them, but we thought we’d ask (and then proceed to playfully bug him about it).

On our second day of the safari, Bachu pulled the jeep over and pointed to an Acai tree in a green grassy field. Sitting under the tree was a lion and on the far right side of the field were herds of Zebras, Wildebeests, and Gazelles, very alert and aware of his presence. We watched for a few moments, waiting for the male lion to attack, but he didn’t appear to be too hungry. I’m not sure why we were so obsessed with seeing a lion attack something.

Bachu truly was the best driver. He handled the roads with ease, he took us to see whatever animals were out by the roads and he always gave us the best view. When his phone rang to tell him there was a Cheetah nearby, Bachu immediately started the jeep and sped off. The roads were bumpy and I braced myself for the ride as he tried to get us there in time to see it. Unfortunately, we were late and could only see the Cheetah in the distance. Although I was upset at the time, my mood changed on the day we were leaving the Serengeti as we happened to come across a pregnant Cheetah who walked right passed our jeep. Never in a million years, did I think I would ever see a Cheetah up close, but I did. She was so graceful, and her spots were beautiful.

During our time in the Serengeti, Bachu delivered on almost all of our ‘demands’. Whatever animal we saw in a distance (with the help of binoculars), we saw up close later on. On our last day of our safari, we saw a pride of 11 Lions in a field, looking for breakfast, we saw a pregnant Cheetah and we found a pair of Lions mating (well, they were having a break before starting again). It was absolutely epic.

The Serengeti National Park was everything I hoped it would be and more.

Thinking of traveling to Africa?

Traveling in Africa, solo, can be a scary thought -especially for solo female travelers. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it can. What I am saying is that there is nothing wrong with joining a group tour.

For 45 days I traveled from Kenya (Nairobi) to Cape Town with Intrepid Travel. This was my very first group travel experience. At first I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into, but as time progressed, I began to relax and fall in love with this type of travel. In fact, I would definitely travel with Intrepid again. 

 

Comments:

  • August 8, 2011

    Wow! Your trip sounds so amazing. I am totally itching to book a ticket to Africa now!

    reply...
  • August 8, 2011

    Ahhhh I need pics!!!

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    • August 9, 2011

      Wifi was SOOOOOO slow that one photo took like 30 mins to upload. I’ll try adding more now 🙂

      reply...

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