Looking back on the four days spent in the Serengeti and at the Ngorogoro Crater, there is too much to even put into words. Before leaving for the safari, I could only imagine what it would be like to see so many wild animals in one place. The idea of lions and elephants being five feet away from me never seemed like a possibility; however this all changed this weekend.
Saturday afternoon, as we approached the Ngorogoro Crater, I could not believe my eyes. Everyone in my safari vehicle began taking pictures of everything they saw, but we had no idea what we had to come. I remember looking down into the crater thinking that this is something you only see in movies and that it could not be real, but we were lucky enough that it was! The view looking down from the first viewing spot of the crater was one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen. At that moment it really hit me that we were here and how amazing it was going to be. Saturday in the crater we saw more animals then I thought I would see the whole trip! We saw hundreds or zebras and wildebeest and it eventually got to the point that we did not even look at them anymore. This seemed pretty crazy that a wild animal became familiar to us!
After a wonderful stay at the Serena Lodge for the night we were off for another day on safari. Today we were headed to the Serengeti in search for more animals and in hopes of maybe seeing some lions or cheetah. The drive to the Serengeti was even filled with animals to see! I took hundreds of pictures of the animals along the way, with new friends, and of new sights like the signs into the parks. Our first day in the Serengeti was a success! We saw so many animals and had some amazing encounters. We all got to see a large family of elephants bathing in the mud, while alongside them were two lions sleeping. This was one of the most exciting things I saw throughout the safari and helped lock in elephants as my number one animal by far! It was incredible to see the animals in their natural habitats and see how they work together as a family and do what it takes to survive. My second favorite part of the day came at lunch time, and it was not because of our lunch boxes! When we arrived at the rest stop to eat lunch for the afternoon a family of elephants had taken over the area around the restrooms. It was definitely a sight to see! I could not believe the safari drivers let us get out of the cars to go to the bathroom still, but really we wanted pictures. We all got super close to these elephants and their babies…about five feet away! It was a little scarry when the elephant starting walking towards us and abdole was yelling and telling us to get back. We thought it was going to come after us or something, but we got back and the elephants went back to eating peaceful for about a half hour. This was my favorite part of the trip by far and something I will never forget.
After a night in the luxurious Serena Lodge Huts we were off for another day in the Serengeti. Spending the night in these “huts” was a really cool experience and a fun way to bond with new people and also the people we already knew. We had a beautiful view of the Serengeti from our porch and could see animals running outside. The next day we saw tons of animals as well. It was very exciting when we saw the wildebeest migration! I could not believe these animals could organize themselves in such a way. It was so amazing to see so many animals of the same species run freely together! That night I was able to watch a performance done by local people in the Serena Lodge. These performers showed us the dances that are done in their tribes and it was very insightful to see and entertaining.
Tuesday was our last day on Safari and I was so sad for it to come to an end because it had been one of the most wonderful things I have ever experienced, however it was nice to know on Wednesday we would be back at school with our students! We ended the trip seeing two adult male lions very close, it seemed like we could have ran over his tail. It was a great grand finale and I hope one day to be able to return to Africa and go on another safari!