I have spent some time describing Wellness travel. Now we are changing flights and going on an adventure. Travel with me as I describe the excitement of visiting the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater on a camping trip I did in 2013.
Serengeti & Ngorngoro crater.
After an overnight stay in our campsite close to Kilimanjaro, we had another early morning rise to travel to the next campsite called Snake Park in Arusha. We got there about 3pm in afternoon after making 2 stops for food and gifts. Here, we spend the afternoon enjoying a Masai village walk to see how they live. It last about 2 hours and it was very informative. But before the village walk, we visited the Masai museum and learned more information about the Masai tribe. How they survive, what they wear, how they communicate with each other and many more things. The village that we visited the Masai man had 10 wives and 50 children. Each of his wives had their own little house for her and the children. We also found out that once babies are born with a wife that the husband does not sleep with the wife anymore. Imagine that scenario in the western world?
Different clothing that is worn in the tribe
Inside a home of a Masai
One of the Masai women in the village we visited, in her hut preparing food
One of the 50 kids in the Masai village
Another hut belonging to another wife
Here is the view from our walk. The area is pretty desolate but has many Masai’s living in the area.
After our village walk the Masai’s did a dance for us for about 15 mins. It was great. The Masai’s do more chanting and jumping up in the air continuously and then stop suddenly with their knees bent and holding the pose on the floor. These guys can jump very high. The dance was only done by the men and I got told that the women’s dances involved more shoulder movement than jumping. Once they completed their dance the men got us to jump with them as well as take photos of us doing it. This was an interesting challenge.
During the evening we were given a traditional local meal for dinner which consisted of green bananas which was cooked in an interesting sauce, vegetables and Impala. Yes, we ate an antelope. It was very good as it tasted a bit like lamb.
The next day we had an 8am departure for the Serengeti which was quite a reasonable time and our group had to separate into 2 4×4 jeeps.
Here were our tour guides: Manuel (left ) and Pierre (right)
Safari HQ briefed us about safety when we get into the park, what things may happen and where were staying. As we drove to the Serengeti we saw many Masai villages in the middle of what looked like the desert. Also we saw many Masai’s herding their cattle along the sides of the road which consisted of the men and younger boys. What was going through my head was, would the Masai want to know about the western world if they had a chance to? Would they want to get out of the tribe? Could you? If you had a choice would you like to go school or herd cattle? What a different world!
Men herding their cattle along the road
Another Masai village
Masai man walking along the road
Our first stop before the Serengeti was at Ngorongoro Crater. This took us about 4 hours to get there. I was not expecting the journey to be that long to our first destination. The crater itself is occupied by many Masai tribes but without livestock. So they don’t live a very traditional life of living off their cattle. They have to go to the village to buy vegetables and meat but maybe have opportunities to sell their own crops that they grow. The view of the carter was amazing as it was very vast and showed several colors inside it.
View of the Cater from above
Lunch was served at a picnic spot near the crater and we were joined by a couple of zebras who were grazing in the field. Whilst we were eating a black kite was flying above us. We were advised to be careful when eating as they could take your food out of your hands. Just to see how quick the kite was we threw some chicken away from our group to see what it would do. In one swoop the bird grabbed the meat and then flew off. After about 5 mins of us throwing the chicken on the ground the kite can down and took a man’s food out of his hands whilst he was sat quietly eating. It was pretty scary to the point to I decided to leave and sit back on our truck.
Once we finished lunch we headed to the Serengeti. This was another 2 hrs drive as the roads were pretty rough. We saw more Masai villages and animals on the way. The landscape really looked dry, as you can see below. The road would also change colour, instead of it being a dirt stoney road it would turn into a red dusty road. Again a different sight.
View on the way to the Serengeti
The dusty and rocky roads
The road changing color
Once we hit the Serengeti sign I was very excited and I was eager to see some lions!!!
Hot air balloons in the park
One entrance point to the park
Scenery in the park
Our late afternoon game drive started off quite slowly. For about 40 mins all we saw were gazelles and impalas. However all at once we then saw animal after animal. Elephants, Masai giraffes crossing the road (they have different spot pattern than the giraffes we normally see. They are reddish in colour) and a few lions. The biggest sighting was a leopard in the tree with a kill, a baby gazelle.
Our campsite was based in the Serengeti, so it was interesting to think that wild animals could wander around our tents at night. Before we turned into our campsite we spotted 2 buffaloes just relaxing in the grass. So the question in my head was…would they wonder wander our way? The answer was No. We had security guards patrolling the campsite at night who were trained deal with the animals, so that made me feel somewhat safe!
Our Campsite in the Serengeti
The next morning our departure from camp was early, 6:30am. If the goal was to see some lions or lions capturing prey, we had to be prepared to wake up as early as needed!
Our driver, Pierre, kept our tour lively all times. When we got to a certain areas of the park, he would say ” I smell lions”. After about 5 mins he was right. We spotted a female lion on look out. As we drove further down the road we saw a whole pride, about 12 male lions. We must have spent an hour just watching these lions as they moved, laid down, played, ran etc. At one point they were seriously on the move, and we followed them, as there were sightings of gazelles in the distance. At that point we were all excited that there might be a kill. Well it was all very quick but one of the lions made a bad attempt at killing a gazelle as they all ran away. After about another 30 mins, the lions were on the move again and we followed them to the point that they were walking beside the truck. It was amazing to be that close to them. Some of these lions were pretty beaten up. One had a ear missing, one had a massive gash on it back. Still, they were the king of the jungle!
The pride of lions
Continuing our tour of the park we saw more lions. However the best part was they were planning on killing a wart hog. I know it’s kinda barbaric to watch this but it was amazing to see these animals hunt in the wild. There were 3 lions sitting up on a rock watching a warthog in the grass. The female lions decided to move to the left side of the grass to corner the hog from the left. Then another lion went to the right side to the hog and then the other was in front of it. My eyes were solely on the warthog and then back to all the lions to make sure I could follow every move. The female lion then made an attack on the warthog and all of a sudden the warthog was sprinting pretty fast to the other grassland across the road. All of our eyes were peeled on the lion chasing after the warthog. During this time another warthog in the original spot appeared and was running as one of the lions was chasing after it. This all happened so fast and was so intense. One lion was successful in getting the warthog and once it got it all you heard was a big squeal. Horrible but thrilling at the same time. Then the other two lions joined the other lion and started devouring the food. The lions faces were all red and all you saw were bits and pieces of the wart hog being thrown up in the air! Ewww. A few times the lions were fighting over the meat and one lion actually took a piece from the group and walked with it and sat down. Barbaric, yes, exciting yes, part of life, YES. The fact I got to see this topped off my tour. Never in my wildest dream would I ever think I would get to see something like that. Even our driver Pierre stated to me that some people who organize five day safaris sometimes don’t get to see half as much as we did in 24 hours. I guess we were in the right place at right time.
The set for the killing of the Warthog
As we only spent 24 hours in the Serengeti, we made our way back to Ngorongoro crater to camp out for the night. We were all still on a high after our day events and we kept on talking about it over dinner.
In the morning it was another 6.30am start as we were traveling to the bottom of Ngorongoro crater to see more wildlife.
On this game drive we saw a variety of animals: wildebeest, zebras, another type of antelope, more lions, hyenas, buffaloes, flamingos and elephants. This crater is HUGE. It used to be an active volcano but now the Masai live in it with these wild animals. It was funny to watch the animals, especially the wildebeest and zebras as they fell in lines around the crater. These animals are not part of the great migration that occurs in the Serengeti, so they just soley move around in the crater. However some do try and migrate and they have to travel over 600 km to the Masai Mara. It is so interesting that some of these animals have that GPS system every year to migrate to greener grass in Kenya. Obviously some do die along the way due to being old, drowning when crossing the river or get eaten by crocodiles when crossing the river. So really it a dangerous trek back and forth.
Our game drive lasted until mid-day and then we headed back to our camp site in Arusha. Even though the journey was long, this was the best way to finish off my tour. I saw more than I expected and I was very thankful that I had this opportunity.
We returned back in Arusha at about 4pm and it was sad moment as this was where I had to leave my tour. Whilst I was packing it was hard to not think about the whole trip, as I had started in Johannesburg and ended up in Tanzania. Traveled nearly half the continent. It was definitely a trip of a lifetime. Africa had definitely touched my heart and plan on returning very soon.