Walking with Elephants

Karibu! 

  We made it out of the Serengeti alive! For the last four days my group and I have been traveling through the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. We were able to stay in amazing hotels and see animals galore! My science brain was ecstatic about what I was seeing. Our Safari started with traveling through the Ngorongoro Crater on day one and staying in a hotel on the craters edge. We then traveled to the Serengeti on day two and finished the day at a lodge in the Serengeti. Day three was another adventure through the Serengeti and we finally headed home on day four. It was a trip for the ages. 

  I am going to set this blog up as a “top ten moments of the trip” list. I promise I will blog more about the school experience, but I need to write about the safari ASAP.

Safari Top Ten Moments

  1) Standing Next to an Elephant

  • Waking up on day two from the Ngorongoro Crater lodge I was well rested and ready to see more animals. Day one was fantatic and I expected less of the Serengeti than I did of Ngorongoro. The hills of Ngorongoro became flat and gazelles appeared in the tall grasses. After about two hours driving we arrived at the gate to the Serengeti where a Tanzanian official checked vehicles and paperwork. As we drove up the the complex ready for a bathroom break, we saw them. Elephants in the middle of the hill less than 25 yards away from the bathrooms. Of course we all pilled out of the safari vehicles and started snapping pictures. The Elephants continued to eat form the bushes and moved closer to us. I stood 6-8 yards away from a full grown elephant! I could not believe my eyes. Even the guides seemed to be in aww at how close we were to these magnificent giants. Elephants in person was a once and a lifetime moment I am so thankful to have experienced. 

  2) Waking Up Papa Lion

  • My day two group in the safari vehicle had a blast! Even after all of the amazing animals we saw, the one animal that had evaded us up to that point was a male lion. We saw some teenage male lions, but they didn’t have the majestic mane that we were looking for. To find Papa Lion became our mission. Day four came around and we headed home. Still in the Serengeti, we had a chance to complete mission Papa Lion, but our dream was slipping away. Just before stopping for lunch, we saw a great deal of other safari vehicles parked near a lone tree in a sea of endless savanna grass. My driver, Abdul, brought us close to the tree and we saw him. Papa Lion and his brother Uncle Simba were both under the tree sleeping away. All of the commotion eventually woke up Papa  Lion so we were able to see him sit up and look us right in the eyes. Our Safari Vehicle was 5 feet from the king of the jungle. I could not believe how lucky we were to see this magnificent creature in such close quarters.

  3) Hyena Hunting

  • The Ecology student came out of me on this one. The whole crew was driving through Ngorongoro on day one and came across a hyena. Hyenas may be a bit ugly and not so nice, but it was very interesting to see. Then we noticed the amazing aspect of this lone hyena. He was following a sick or injured african buffalo all alone. Moses, our driver for the day, told us about how the hyena will follow the injured animal until it is very weak. The hyena will then call for his family and they will attack the buffalo together. It was amazing! I called the situation red light, green light because every time the buffalo would move, the hyena would move. Every time the buffalo would stop moving and look back at his follower, the hyena would stop as well. Viewing this hunting method in action was sensational. 

  4) Mr. Rhino

  • Rhinos are simply not around anymore. Most people who go on a safari never get the chance to see a black rhino. We got lucky! While in the crater on day one we discovered a rhino about 100 yards off of the path. Mr. Rhino had some birds perched on his back and seemed like he was having a great Saturday. Though not the most exciting aspect of the trip, it was very cool to see an animal with the aura of the black rhino.

  5) Elephant Bath

  • Day two, Serengeti, around mid day, we saw a heard or family of elephants who seemed to be very hot. We drove up to them and saw the whole family charge into a mud pit. The scene was hilarious. Mud was flying, elephants were flopping in the mud, and baby elephants were getting covered in the cool mud. I will try to post a video showing this amazing site. Priceless.

  6) The Great Migration

  • The great migration was the goal of day three. It was not as exciting as I had hoped it to be most likely because I wanted to see a wildebeest stampede like the one on the Lion King. You know, the stampede where Mufasa dies. Anyways, there were not lions holding on for dear life, but there was thousands of wildebeest and they did stampede a little bit. Honestly, wildebeest are very dumb and kind of run around in any direction. The locals call them comedians because of how funny it is to see them run around like a chicken with their head cut off. Still, thousands of wildebeest anywhere is pretty cool.

  7) Two Brothers

  • Right after seeing the elephant bath, we noticed on a hill right outside the mud pit was two male lions watching the show. Come to find out these lions were brothers that have not finished maturing into papa lions just yet. They were so cool to watch though. They were almost scouting out the elephant family to look for an elephant who was weak. We didn’t stick around to see any action, but it looked like the elephants were quite safe from any lion altercations.

  

8) Monkey Model

  • While leaving Ngorongoro on our way home, our caravan stopped to go to the bathroom and things. There was a large family of baboons waiting for us there. We ended up getting very close to a young baboon and watching it pose for us as we talked to it and took pictures. Our model monkey should get a career in the  fashion field that is for sure.

  9) The Break Up

  • Moses was my driver during the trip through Ngorongoro. He was a bit of a dare devil when it came to getting close to animals. At one point in the day we came across two elephants who were obviously friends of some sort. Moses cut one of the friends off from his companion. He was nothing but pleased. As the elephant ran to try to get around us, Moses drove our vehicle along by his side. We were so close to the elephant and moving along with it. Unimaginable.

10) Dr. Jones

  • For any of you have watched the Temple of Doom, I felt like Indiana on day three. There was a part of the Serengeti where there was an old rickety bridge that crossed a river. Below the river was a number of hungry crocodiles. As I crossed the river on this rickety bridge I could not help humming the Indiana Jones themes song out loud and thinking of the scene where the evil priest falls to his death. Thank goodness this bridge didn’t break!

  Thanks for reading! I will try to write another blog with more information about the school experience. 

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