So..safari. Oh my gosh, it was the most amazing experience I will probably ever have in my whole life. Not only did we see a ton of different animals (I will create a list at the bottom of the post, but we also had the chance to see the landscapes of both the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, and the Massai tribe. Everything that I saw in the four days exceeded my expectations and was so breathtakingly beautiful that pictures could not do it justice.
On the first day of safari, we drove through several towns, including Karatu (where they held the Amazing Race), Massai villages, and a little bit of the rim of the crater. We were so excited to take in all of the scenery that we were snapping so many pictures, most of which I deleted later after getting much better animal and people pictures. Who knew that it just wasn’t necessary to take 114239 pictures of giraffes and zebras? Anyway after finishing our trek into the Serengeti, we began our safari. We saw impala, gazelles, zebras, giraffes, buffalo, baboons, and even saw several prides of lions. It was the most amazing first day that I could have ever imagined and I was not expecting much more on the following days. To my surprise, however, on the following days, we got to see even more! We saw elephants, lions, buffaloes, zebras, and giraffes crossing right in front of our safari jeeps. It was crazy to see how close everything was getting to us and it seemed like they couldn’t care less that we were snapping pictures and making animal noises to catch their attention. The only animal that ever seemed to have cared was the elephant, who when crossing our path, glimpsed over at our car, gave a death glare and grunted, and then continued on. Another crazy sighting was a leopard in a tree with a gazelle carcass propped up on a higher branch, and Rasta (Joseph) our safari driver, explained how the animal normally drags its dinner up with it into the tree. I loved learning about animals, Tanzania, Massai, etc. from Rasta, Abdul, and Maluta. They had so much knowledge and were so willing to give us interesting tidbits of information, or answer our questions. Abdul even found us endangered black rhinos in the Crater! He explained to us that there were only 25 black rhinos in the crater and we got to see three of them! I know that I am forgetting a billion details about my animal spottings, which I am sure I will remember later, but there was just so much at every turn that it is hard to write about it all right now.
-gazelle, impala, buffalo, zebra, hyena, warthog, giraffe, elephant, rhino, lion, dicdic, hippos, crocodiles, baboons, other type of monkey, leopards, ostriches, birds, flamingos, and probably way more that I can remember.
On to talking about the lodges. So both places we stayed at the Serena Serengeti and the Serena Ngorongoro Crater were absolutely beautiful. The Crater Lodge was by far my favorite because it had the most spectacular views of the mountain, water, and animals found in the crater. It was so nice to experience the warm showers and huge meals again, however, it was kind of a tease after I finally got used to the food and showers at the Outpost. The crater even had a small Massai market in it, where I bought three beautifully beaded bracelets and a necklace.
Lastly, the Massai tribe. So on our way to the safari we were glued to the windows checking out the huts and villages of the Massai people. They build little huts in a circle around a huge thorn branch to keep predators (lions) away from their cattle. While the villages are beautiful and fascinating, the people are the ones that really draw my eye. They wear the most beautiful pieces of clothing mainly in red and blue with jewelry hanging from every imaginable body part. They look so beautiful and our safari drivers talked with us a lot about their culture and their tribe. At age 13, the boys become men by getting circumcised, leaving their tribe dressed in all black with white face paint, and learn to hunt for themselves. After three months, they return back to their tribe ready to hunt. On our drive to the Serengeti, we had the privilege of seeing some of these men dressed in black and it was absolutely breathtaking. While we were fascinated with the customs of the Massai, we also learned some of their hardships. We learned how the children are often always starving because most of the food is given to the strong men. Abdul let us know that we could save the leftovers of our lunches on safari (which were always way too big to eat in the first place) and give it to the Massai children. So after our long day at the Serengeti, we held onto our food and gave it to a lot of children in the Ngorongoro Crater. It was at this time that our whole safari car became overcome with emotion. To see the bony little boys and girls running as fast as they could at our jeep was the most heart wrenching thing that I have ever dealt with. It was so sad to see how the desperately snatched our food as soon as they could. Some were even trembling as they grabbed it from our hands. This is when we started getting out our backpacks and grabbing all of the snacks that we could find to give it to these poor children. After we gave out all the food we had in our car, all of the girls in the car including myself started to break down. It was so sad to see how little we could do for these children and all we wanted to do was to be able to give more and more. It was so sad to know that I would be returning to a 5 star lodge pigging out and these children would be fighting to survive. The next day, our whole car only ate one item from our lunches and we saved the rest for the children. While it wasn’t much, it was the most we could for these kids and we knew that they needed it much more than ourselves. It was so sad when it was time for us to leave because while we did the most we could, it may still not be enough for these children to survive. I will never forget this experience and I feel that I have learned so much from this encounter.