It’s been three days with no phones, no TV, no internet/email/facebook…no contact with the outside world. Just Rich, myself, Ally and our dream. I wish I could adequately describe the Serengeti. Best way I know to put is 14,760 square miles of raw beauty. I am in awe!
Day 1 – Safari begins
Our trusty ADS welcoming crew, Marthius and Timan, picked us up at 7:15 for the short ride to the Arusha airport.
The ride through town was an adventure in itself and the airport did not disappoint. Small and a bit strange, but
I was so excited I could have cared less. Our guys got us right through security with NO luggage weight issues…
whew hoo and we were set. We took a small 12-seater plane, along with 6 others to an even smaller airstrip in the
Western part of the Serengeti. The strip was paved, but that’s about it (you’ll just have to look at my photos).
Our guide Ally greeted us at the plane and walked us to our home away from home for the next 10 days…an 8 seater
Land Cruiser with the top panels out. As we climbed in, Ally said “As a welcome to Africa, we give you a free
African massage!” And boy did we ever! The roads through the park are either grated gravel or mud with ruts from
the rain. I couldn’t wait to climb up with my head out the top. Off we go…
Little did we know when we left the hotel earlier that day that our safari would begin immediately from departing the plane. Ally asked what our interests were and we both said lions. The more the merrier, the closer the better. I told him if he could make that happen, he would make all my wishes come true. He said “your wish is my command”.
Within 45 minutes, my first wish was met. We pulled up to a huge male lion, standing over a fresh buffalo kill. In the grass beside the road were two lionesses (one still covered in blood from the kill). The big male walked off as did one of the females. The other lioness walked among the cars looking for a little shade and finally even laid down in the road against the side of one of the jeeps. As cars started to move around, she got up and approached the kill to eat. I so wish this post could really give you an idea of what the smell and the sound was actually like. At one time, she was shoulder deep inside the body cavity of this huge buffalo. You could hear the sound of her crushing the bones effortlessly.
Within the next few minutes we were in front of a leopard in a tree. Breathtaking! She gracefully climbed down the tree and made herself out to the road then gradually disappeared into the tall grasses.
Within the next little bit we were in front of a herd of 20+ elephants (lots of babies). They crossed the road right in front of us.
All in all, we had seen 3 of the top 5 in less than 2 hours of our safari.
Later in the day there were an abundance of Giraffes, Wart Hogs, Thompson Gazelles, Impalas, Buffalo, Topi, Birds, Ostrich, Zebra, Hippos, Hardebeest & Hyena and I’m sure I have left something out. On to Seronera Sametu Camp.
Arrived at 4:45 and we were greeted with a wet rag to wipe our face (heavenly!) a glass of fresh squeezed juice and a warm smile from DC and JJ (stands for something but they knew we couldn’t pronounce it let alone remember it). They showed us around the camp, explained the rules, we got a drink and got the schedule for the rest of the evening. Showers at 6 and dinner at 7. Our tent is amazing (see photos), complete with net drapped canopy beds, full bath and a view that would knock your socks off. Having grown up camping and somewhat familiar with tents – this would be my way to camp!
At 6:00 we heard a voice say “Your shower is ready” – as they hand tote hot water to fill the tank for your showers. Nicked named the talking shower…LOL! No hair dryers allowed here so off to dinner at 7 with a wet head but who cares here!
Did I mention that Rich and I are the ONLY ones at this camp for three days? Well, yeah we are. So talk about being catered to. JJ is our (for better terms) personal waiter. If we need it he’s Johnny on the spot. Dinner table is set and we are joined by Ally. Food was great, conversation was great…couldn’t be better until out comes the 4 other staff members with a birthday cake for me and singing happy birthday! I have NO IDEA WHY they thought it was my birthday other then that I had told the sales person I booked the trip through that this was a trip I promised myself I would take before I turned 50. My cake said Happy 50th! They even gave me a necklace made by one of the local tribes (see pictures). How could this day get any better?
Dinner is over and we are off to the tent where we are zipped in until tomorrow morning. They arm us with a walkie talkie if we need anything AND inform us they are not armed!!!! What??? Are you kidding me??? They claim it is not necessary here, that if wild-life comes around (which it always does) they would not bother us unless they are provoked! Plus they actually said…they know us. Ok then…so feeling all secure now, we are zipped in. To our pleasant surprise, during dinner, they had come to our tent, turned the beds down, dropped the mosquito netting AND put a hot water bottle under the blankets. Never seen that before, but what a fabulous touch. It’s now 8:30, no TV…LOL so we played a quick game of Gin before calling it a night.
Under the covers and lights off and within 2 minutes Rich says “a Hyena just passed in front of our tent” (keep in mind the entire front of the tent is open, just netted and zipped closed). I said no way and we both jumped out of our beds and grabbed the night vision goggles Aaron just swore I needed to buy for the trip and sure enough just outside our tent, about 25 feet, was a hyena chomping on some bones. We could see him clearly with the goggles. OMG!!! Are you kidding?
Back to bed all giddy like little kids. I laid there for what seemed like forever listening to the least little sound. Beside me was my flashlight, phone, walkie talkie and the night vision glasses (just in case). Call it nerves, anxious, excited, whatever I couldn’t sleep. Finally dosed off but woke up to what I thought was a moth or something inside the tent of my bed. Tried to find it with the flashlight without waking Rich up. No luck. Back to bed and figured out it was on the outside of my net between the net and tent. Most of the night it was hitting my net but finally fell back asleep. Around 3 am I woke up to the sound of a struggle just to the right of our tent (well it sounded like it was just outside but was probably 1/4 mile or so away). I could hear the lions and just knew they had taken something down. I jumped up to run look out the window in the bathroom but couldn’t see a thing, even with the goggles. The sound only lasted for about 15 seconds and I thought maybe I imagined it. Rich was still sleeping so I couldn’t ask him. Went back to bed and laid there, listening. About 45 minutes later, happened again. Really loud this time. I woke Rich up to see if he heard it but he didn’t. Checked again and nothing. But just as we were going back to get in our beds, there it was again but this time Rich and I both heard it. Couldn’t wait to check in the morning. By now it’s 4:30 – wake-up call at 5:15 for 6:00am drive so we just stayed up. End of day 1.