Tanzanian Camping Safari: Day 4


The fourth day of our safari didn’t start as early as the others. We had been up before dawn on each of the first three days, but on this day we slept a bit later, then got up, had breakfast and prepared to depart our campsite and the Serengeti altogether. After taking the tents down, and loeading up the Land Cruiser, we struck out onto the road once more.

That morning we had a destination in mind from the moment we broke camp. We were going in search of the Great Migration, which our guide Ben had heard was in the area the day before. The Great Migration is an annual event on the Serengeti in which huge heards of animals travel between Tanzania and Kenya. In the Spring, the heards move North and in the Fall they move South. Whie we had seen some very large heards of zebras and wildebeests, the Migration consists of litrally hundreds of thousands of animals. We all crossed our fingers that this amazing event would still be going on when we arrived.

The morning drive was a long one. We moved out into an area of the Serengeti we hadn’t visited yet, and along the way we saw plenty of animals, including giraffes, zebras, elephants, and countless impalas. But at this point we had seen plenty of those animals, and were a bit desensitized to them. While we did enjoy the view, we weren’t so quick to break out our cameras while we rode.

After a couple of hours of driving we arrived at the location of where the Migration was reported to have been the day before, but on this day there was nothing to be seen except for a few straggling zebras and wildebeests, and millions of hoofprints in the ground. Ben announced to us that the Migration had moved North, andsince we were moving South, we wouldn’t be able to follow it. We were a bit disappointed, but knew that seeing the Migration at that time of the year was a hit or miss possibility, and we had seen so many amazing things already on the trip, that our disappointment was a fleeting thing.

As we continued our morning drive, we did come across another interesting sight. We found a dead impala stashed thirty feet off the ground in a large tree. Clearly a leopard was hunting in the area, and had stored his lunch out of the reach of other predators. The leopard was not where to be seen, but we were assured by an overzealous adolescent in a passing safari vehicle that he would “be back soon”. Out time on the Serengeti was coming to an end however, and we couldn’t stay to greet him on his return.

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We began heading South once more, which meant we were on our way out of the Serengeti National Park. But before we left, it held one more amazing treat for us. As we drove, we came across two young male lions, one on either side of the road. The pair were most likely driven off by the alpha males in their pride before they could grow large enough to become a threat. Now the two of them hunted and traveled together, and as we watched, they were stalking a group of wildebeests about a hundred yards away. As I sat in the vehicle, one of these lions was less than 10 yards away off to the right side of the truck, while the other was probably 10 feet to the left. It was simply amazing to watch these big cats up so close.

The two lions got low in the grass and were very slowly making their way towards the wildebeests. At one point, the lion on the right side of the road crossed to join his brother, and they continued to patiently stalk their prey, all the while we watched intently. However, the wildebeests caught wind of the lions and decided that it was in their best interest to find a new place to graze, and left the scene in a hurry. The two males, finding their lunch and exited the area, did what two house cats would do – they started to play. We watched for a few more minutes while they playfully swatted at each other, one pouncing on the other as they wrestled like kittens in the grass.

From there, we continued South, stopping at the gate of the national park to have some lunch before proceeding once more. Our destination for that day was the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where we would spend the night camped on the rim crater. It was still a few hours drive to the campsite, and along the way the endless plains of the Serengeti gave way to the rolling hills and highlands that surrounded the crater. I couldn’t help but feel a little sad for leaving the Serengeti behind. It was a place I had always dreamed of visiting, and it had met all my expectations and more. I wasn’t ready to move on after all the wonderful experiences I had had and sharing them with such great companions.

We arrived at the crater in the later afternoon and quickly unload the truck and went to work setting up our tents. It wasn’t long before we had established our sleeping quarters but we weren’t ready to call it a day just yet. We asked Ben if we could visit a near by Masai Village. It wasn’t long before we were back in the truck and on our way. Throughout the day it had sprinkled rain off and on, but as we approached the village rain began to fall steadily.

The Masai people were quite friendly, as they watched us with curiosity. Some of the more bold ones stepped up to try to sell us a few traditional tribal items, including a five foot long metal spear that left me wondering how the heck I’d get that on the plane and past Homeland Security. We were told they had some beer for sale, which of course peaked our intrest, and soon we were shuffling into a small, dimly lit shack where we were able to order a couple of Kilimanjaro beers. As we drank, we chatted with a young man from the tribe who told us about his people and their traditional way of life.

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After our brief visit to the village, we returned to the campsite. The steady rain began to dissipate and we were ready for some dinner before calling it a day. On our return to camp, Remy the cook, had prepared a very nice meal for our last night on safari. The four of us enjoyed the meal and a great conversation, each of us knowing that our time together was coming to an end, but not wanting to think about it too much just yet.

After dinner, it was time to turn in, but as we walked back to our tents in the dark, the sky over head had cleared and their were literally millions of stars to be seen. It was the clearest night sky I had ever seen, and it was an awesome view. Making it even more impressive was the fact that all along the horizon in ever direction there were still storm clouds and lightning, while over head the stars shone brightly. It was an amazing sight to see and one that I’ll always remember.

We turned in that night knowing we would be up at the break of dawn the next morning for our final day of safari. While we looked forward to the day in the Ngorongoro Crater, it was also a little sad that things were coming to an end.

Kraig Becker

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