• Spike

The Serengeti

Updated: May 17, 2020

Safari

If you're in Tanzania then I'm sure you'll want to see the wildlife. A safari is most likely going to be on the top of your list of things to do whilst in Tanzania. It's hard for me to suggest the best parts of the safari, as you never know what you'll see, so I will write about my experience.

As Dom had many connections in the country, we got an amazing deal on the safari. We spent two days exploring the Serengeti and stayed for two nights, one camp by the gates to the national park, and the second in a beautiful tented lodge inside the park.





Roaming animals

We arrived at our first camp quite late in the evening, but we made it in time for dinner and then it was a case of getting an early night ready for an early morning start. At this camp there were small rooms spread out just before the entrance to the Serengeti National Park.

I was warned that sometimes wild animals will wander around, and to be cautious in the morning that there was nothing dangerous around.

Well, at the crack of dawn I was woken by a mooing noise, at one point right outside my room. I was then convinced it was a wild buffalo that was waiting outside my room. I planned to wait until the mooing seemed further away before making a run for it to the main building! I grabbed my bag, opened the door slightly and as I was ready to run, I came across another obstacle! A hornets nest with some angry looking hornets! I made a run for it and escaped the hornets, I looked back to make sure the wild buffalo wasn't chasing me only to see a herd of cows. There was no buffalo.


Monkey business

After breakfast we made our way to our vehicle ready to depart. We had to wait around for our permits to enter the park which our driver was sorting out, so we left the vehicle to look around. There were several monkeys in the area. At one time I loved monkeys. I can now say that since my visit to the Serengeti and also coming across them in various Southeast Asian countries, I think they are vicious little things which are best avoided! I much prefer gorillas!

We had pack lunches in the car, and we had left a window open so it didn't get too hot inside. Then a sly monkey took it's chance to jump in through the open window to steel our lunch! It knew exactly where the lunches were stored!

We tried opening the doors, shouting and stamping our feet! In the end Dom opened one door and I opened the other, hoping it would be scared and run out. Well, I was the one that ended up scared. I tried shouting whilst getting closer to it, but nothing comes between a monkey and food and it raised it's claws and bared it's teeth ready to attack me! Not wanting to be bitten and having the risk of going to hospital in case of rabies, I backed away in terror whilst treading on Robyn's foot. It was then that our Driver returned and scared the monkey off.


Seriously, if anyone thinks monkeys are sweet and cute little things, they're really not and can be quite dangerous. Take a walk through the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali, and you'll understand. Many tourists end up with stolen items or bites and scratches. Once the issue with the monkey was sorted, we piled into the vehicle and set off to explore the Serengeti.

Stubborn as a buffalo

Although I felt reasonably safe with our driver, due to his knowledge and experience of the Serengeti, there was one time in particular we all panicked.

We stopped the car to check out a lone buffalo standing on a hill, not too far from us. He was simply stood there staring, and I think he could see us staring at him. Well, he wasn't happy in the slightest and all of a sudden her began to charge at us. At first we were exciting and found it amusing, but then he got closer and closer, and we were expecting our vehicle to move before he got to us. But nope, our driver was sat in his seat laughing as our faces turned to panic! To which we began saying "I think we should go now!" but still he remained still with a smile on his face.

Thankfully the buffalo stopped withing inches of hitting us. I imagine it was a show of dominance and a warning, he didn't actually intend to hit us.

Wildlife

Throughout the day we saw various types of animals. Lion cubs, zebras, wildebeests, impalas, giraffes, hippos and various monkeys amongst other animals.

The lion cubs in particular were adorable, just chilling out in a tree. However I'm fairly sure that the mother wasn't far away, although we didn't spot her, there were a lot of gnawed bones from various animals scattered around.


After a full day of spotting some amazing creatures we headed back to our lodge.

We had to be out of the park by dark, but we came across a car stuck in the mud. Our driver wanting to be the hero decided to bump the car out. Which I was a little worried about, I didn't want to be stuck in the Serengeti over night. Thankfully after several tries we got the car out of the mud and made it out of the park in time without becoming stuck ourselves. It was quite an amazing day, and the tented lodge we stayed at was simply amazing!

Paradise on the plains

Kirawira Serena Camp is situated in the western Serengeti and had some beautiful views of the Serengeti itself. I did have a slight panic whilst it was still day light at the camp as I was taking a shower. Yes although I was staying in a large tent, there was a shower inside.

I was silly enough to leave my tent unzipped and then took a shower. Whilst in the shower I heard some type of animal outside, some growls too. There were reports of a leopard on the site, which then made me panic. I was naked, soaking wet and far away from the entrance to the tent. What if the animal outside was the leopard? What if the leopard was now inside my tent? Slowly I edged out of the shower, looking all around the tent to make sure there was nothing inside before running to the entrance and closing it!

As it was still light we spent some time in the pool sipping cocktails and admiring the views. It was a paradise, and as the sun was getting lower, it was a truly spectacular sight seeing the plains of the Serengeti in such a light.


I should also note that on my way to the pool from my tent I saw a very young deer of some type, and was able to stand and admire it for some time before it ran away. It got very close, and although this wasn't one of the more popular or different types of animals I encountered on my trip, having deer in the UK, it was still quite a special moment for me. We had to leave the pool before it got dark as wild animals sometimes visit the camp and the pools for water.


Once darkness arrived we had to have a chaperone to take us form the main lodge building to our tented accommodation. This was due to wild animals that may be stalking us in the darkness. We made it to the main lodge building and watched the sun go down over the Serengeti. If you ever get the chance to do it, it'll be one of the most beautiful sunsets you'll ever see!

We were the told that the leopard which was on the site had recently given birth and could be seen hiding in some bushes with it's cubs. One guest was ecstatic that he'd just seen them at such a close range. I asked a member of staff to take me to see, although I was warned this was dangerous as it could quite easily jump out and attack. Yet my fear had abandoned me and I went along anyway.

The only problem now was that it was not just me but around 20 other guests with torches all trying to see the leopard and the cubs. The leopard obviously didn't hang around. So I didn't get to see such a sight.


Later we enjoyed a delicious three course meal, and then there was some traditional African music for entertainment, which I was enjoying, but the others wanted to sleep as we had a very early start. As we needed a chaperone back to our tents, I decided to get an early night too.



The Big Five

The next day we were up and ready to go at day break. The earlier we set off, the more animals we were likely to see. There are safari animals which fall under the "Big Five", this is in relation to the most difficult to hunt (which I'm totally against), but are also often the most popular animals to spot.


Lions, Buffalo, Leopards, Elephants and Rhinos. So today was our chance to spot the ones we hadn't so far, except for Rhinos which are super rare and are usually only found further south in the Serengeti. But when I return to Africa, I will pick a country where I have a good chance to see rhinos in the wild.

Unfortunately Alex had an upset stomach so wasn't able to join us on the second day, he stayed at the lodge to chill. Not far out of the gates our driver spotted a leopard in a tree. Leopards are a lot bigger in real life than I had ever imagined. Our driver had a brilliant eye for spotting animals, but I guess living all of his life in such an environment, he knew where the animals were most likely to be. It was around now that I swore to myself to get a decent camera for my future travels, as any photos I took were very poor quality. Still, the memories are the most important thing, and I still have them in my mind.

An elephant never forgets. Neither will I.

The one animal I was desperate to see were elephants, I have a real love for them.

They are the only other animal in the world to bury their dead, and they also work together as a family to help each other, such as building bridges from trees to help the babies cross rivers. And like humans they can be friendly, or they can be aggressive, their moods change and can be very dangerous, but they have also saved humans lives.

As we hadn't seen any elephants the day before I had no idea we'd see so many on the second day. They were everywhere! And I think they were still my favourite animal to have spotted. Some babies would play around in the dirt with each other, whilst others would hold onto their mothers as if shy or insecure. The adults were huge and are truly magnificent animals!

We also had an altercation with an adolescent elephant who appeared to have a fifth leg. I've never seen a sexual organ quite so big or long, it was dragging along the floor. He was chasing a female elephant, whom was running away from him.

Our vehicle seemed to be caught in the middle of this. There were a few close shaves when he got very close to us at quite some speed! We narrowly avoided being crushed by him and his huge swinging penis!

Once bitten

I didn't suffer from this myself, but the others were constantly being bitten by flies. I think most of us were wearing mosquito repellent or deet as it's otherwise known.

I was lucky to not be bitten once by a mosquito for the whole trip, although the others were. But in the Serengeti it wasn't mosquitoes that were the issue, it was the tik-tik flies. Thankfully they didn't get me, but the others were being bitten all over and you could actually see blood being drawn where they were bit.

These flies can sometimes carry a parasite that causes sleeping sickness. You'll have to google sleeping sickness, as it's not straight forward to describe. I dressed for the occasion by wearing natural colours, greens and greys. Apparently the flies , even though they are brown and not blue are attracted to blue clothing, so that may be why the others were bitten and I got away without a scratch.

More wildlife

We got to see some adult lions, crocodiles, giraffes and many other animals we'd seen the previous day. We only saw one hyena and one warthog, neither of them hung around for very long. We also spotted several smaller creatures, but I'm not so sure what they were, they looked similar to meerkats but I think they were something else. There were also several colourful birds, and some not so colourful such as vultures. It was a given that we wouldn't see Rhinos due to where we were exploring, but the one popular animal we didn't see was a cheetah. Apparently it's likely these were roaming near to where we were, but they are very illusive and hide well.

Toilets

A note about toilets, there are none in the Serengeti. If you need to go, you have to go in the wild. Our driver kept watched any time we needed to, but we still had to be very aware. I actually decided to go in some tall grass, but I'm not so sure that was a good idea. There could have been snakes or smaller predators in there. It's probably better to pee in the open, just away from any other tourist vehicles.

There are toilets at the entrances to the park, but sometimes these are just a hole in the ground. So if you need a number two, I suggest getting it out of your system before you begin the day.





Homeward bound

After a long day of exploring the Serengeti we picked Alex up from the lodge and made our way out of the park. As the sun was going down we were back at the gates to the park. We had a toilet break before our long drive back to Mwanza. There was a lot of noise coming from above, and looking in the trees, there were crowds of baboons shrieking and shaking branches. It was a little scary as they looked quite aggressive. Much more so than the small monkey that broke into our vehicle.

We were all exhausted and the ride back was quiet, maybe due to us all being tired, or at least in my case, quiet due to reflecting on the amazing experience we were returning from.

Final thoughts

Since my experience in the Serengeti and also since my time around animals in other countries, it's changed me quite a lot.

I was never very much into animals, I was usually scared of them or just not very interest. Being so close to nature has taught me it deserves so much respect and also so much care. I'm now a lot more passionate about saving and protecting animals. I have a real passion when it comes to helping elephants, but that's another story that can be found in my Thailand blog.


One thing in particular that has really changed is my view on zoos. Most people love zoos, they are a normal attraction in most countries of the world. Children are brought up visiting them, and it's a place where people can learn about animals.

But for me, I don't actually see the point in them, and I believe it's cruel to keep animals in zoos. If it's a zoo that has rescued the animals, they are endangered species and it's designed for breeding or if it's an insect, then I have no problem. But the majority of animals shouldn't be in zoos.

The world we live in now has so much of a connection to everything. We can learn about animals online, we can see documentaries of animals in the wild. Why do we need to put them in cages? I think we're now in a world where the question needs to be asked a lot more "why do we put animals in cages?".


Be sure to check out my Overview on Tanzania and Guide to Zanzibar.

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