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An African Safari in the Serengeti

More African Safari tales:
Nakuru Park
Amboseli Park
Ngorongoro Area
Other African Tales:
The Masai Tribe, Kenya
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Lalibela, Ethiopia
African Tribes in Ethiopia
Blue Nile Gorge, Ethiopia
Bahir Dar, Lake Tana

Herd of wildebeests and zebras in the Serengeti
For many tourists, an African safari in the Serengeti is the major reason to come to Africa. Most of the nature documentaries are shot here, and the migration of the herds of wildebeest from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara is very famous. But there are more animals in the Serengeti, and everybody who has been camping between the wildlife here, has got some Serengeti stories to tell.

On our way to the Serengeti we stop just before the Kenyan-Tanzanian border to make camp at a local family. The family of one man with three wives and many children and grandchildren live in a number of clay houses in the countryside. Each wife has a house, the husband has none. The oldest children have a house with their families as well, and there are a few huts for the live stock.

Landscape and typical houses in TanzaniaWe enjoy the company of the many children, we sing with them and they show us their homes, crop fields, cattle and goats. We learn about traditional life in the Kenyan/Tanzanian countryside, and have a good time. The family gazes as much at us as we do at them. We share dinner with the family, and sing with the children around the campfire, before we go to our beds.

Early next morning we say goodbye to our hosts, and head for the border. After the formalities we enter Tanzania, and we are amazed about the difference with Kenya. This land is much less populated, and the houses are more traditional, no zinc roofs. The people are more friendly, the country just has a better feel to it.

Bad weather

Rain and flooded roads in Tanzania, AfricaBut in the afternoon, it starts raining. We have left the paved road on our way to the Serengeti, and as it starts pouring, little rivers of water flow along and over the road. At a river crossing we see a parked car. The Mzungu (white men) with it ask us to pull them since it won’t start. But after a short examination the diagnosis is that the motor is blown up by driving through high water. We can’t help them, and are driving in the wrong direction (away from civilization). The can do nothing more than take shelter in their car, and wait for someone who is going in the right direction.

Around 5 PM we reach the place where we would like to camp. But the terrain is way too wet for our truck. The truck digs deep into the grass, and after 10 meters we are stuck. With joint forces we manage to dig it out, and decide not to camp here. So we drive along until we find a police post where we are allowed to stay the night. We can sleep in a building, so all is well that ends well.

Spotting wildlife in the Serengeti

Crossing a river in the SerengetiWhen we wake up it’s time to head for Serengeti National Park. But at the gate, we are not allowed to go in, since the water in a river we have to cross is too high. But after some debate, and a second opinion of another ranger, we may enter, and cross the river without problems. Once in the park we start spotting wildlife, preferably from on top of the truck, for which we take turns.

The northern part of the Serengeti has a lot of vegetation, which is extra green because of the rain. This is bad for spotting wildlife, but yet we see zebras, impalas, Thompson and grant gazelles, elephants, hartebeests, hippos, ostriches, warthogs, baboons, and vervet monkeys. A Marabou stork in a dead treeAnd then, our guide spots a lion in a tree far away. Very unusual, but a lion is a cat, and they don’t like water. Although we can hardly see it from a distance, it is our first predator in the wild. Although the numbers of animals we see aren’t very large, we see a lot of variety, and are content with our first day in the Serengeti.

Camping between the animals

We make camp in the middle of the Serengeti on a non secured campsite. We have instructions not to leave our tents at night. Yet, we hear the barking of the hyenas, and our guide tells us our camp was visited by a lion. But nobody has seen anything, so these are just nice breakfast stories.

Giraffe crossing our path in the SerengetiWe wake up at 5 AM since that’s the best time for spotting wildlife. It doesn’t take long before we see dik diks and a jackal, followed by a herd of giraffes. And we see the same species as we saw the day before, in larger numbers this time. A special sight is a cape buffalo on the run, followed by a couple of vultures. We guess it must be wounded and wonder what happened and will happen with it.

Serengeti plains

We move to the east, towards the plains where the Serengeti is so famous for. The first animal we see there looks like a hyena, but when we have a closer look, and with our animal guide as a reference, we learn it’s an aardwolf, a rare lookalike.

We arrive at a checkpoint in the park, where we need to show our tickets. After that point, we see the large herds of wildebeest and zebra. There is no migration going on, but it’s an amazing sight to see so many of these animals. And where there is so much prey, the predators cannot be far away. First we see a mother lion with three cubs. Hyena in the SerengetiThen two times two male lions, and later two more who are eating a zebra. Around them is a group of hyena’s, waiting for a chance to get some. And the vultures are circling above, waiting for their turn. It’s just like a nature documentary, but live.

After two days of driving through and spotting wildlife in the Serengeti, we have seen almost every species of animals here. An African safari in the Serengeti is a must for every visitor to eastern Africa, because of the herds of animals, and the predators they attract. Even when there is no migration of wildebeest going on, you will always return with some Serengeti stories to tell.

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