Serengeti : The endless plain of endless experience

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Serengeti: “There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne — bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.” – Karen Blixen, Danish author known for “Out of Africa”

As I mentioned in my previous post that I would like to talk about Safari in a different post, here I go. The reason for having a separate post is that it is not just the safari, but the experience and how to get the most out of it. It is obvious to book through a safari tour company but there are significant factors to consider while booking through the tour company to make it a forever memorable experience. Some insights for making it a remarkable experience are at the end of this blog.

We booked through Hekima Safaris, one of the small(but customer satisfying) tour companies in Africa. I am glad that after some negotiations we decided to go with them. It is not just a tour company but a family. Hospitality is one of their biggest strengths. 

Our troop into the wildlife exploration with the men that matter the most. Extreme right: Safari Guide Mr. Juma ; Second from left: Elizah- Man behind Hekima Safari

Apart from Serengeti, Africa has numerous national parks and sanctuaries such as Lake Manyara national park, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire national park to name a few. Ngorongoro crater is a must visit place since it is the only place where one could spot Rhinos. Also, the camping on the rim of this crater is a stay one should never miss.

Our campsite at the rim of the Ngorongoro crater.

 Apart from Ngorongoro crater, we had Tarangire national park in our itinerary, which is a trailer to the big film – Serengeti. The Kenyan part of the Serengeti is called Masai Mara. Serengeti means “The endless Plains” in Tanzanian language, the plains where your eyes can hardly spot any tree or a small mountain on the horizon.

So, to begin with the Safari we arrived at Hekima house in Arusha. Next day we left to our first safari destination with our binoc-eyed guide named The Juma. As said this was the trailer with herds of zebras running around, giraffes relaxing in the shadows, elephants struggling to bring down the tree and many such live acts. 

Herds of zebras spotted everywhere in the Tarangire National Park. The park is famous for giraffes, zebras and elephants.
 
It makes one wonder about the beauty of nature where every zebra has a distinct stripe pattern, every giraffe has a unique texture. Just amazing! We were also fortunate to spot an Orix, one of the rare species still existing.
Our keen guide searching for the name of some species that we spotted in Serengeti.
 
After the trailer, it was time for the movie, where we were expecting no. of wild cats, big five and the wonder of nature- The Great Migration. The great migration is the one where herds of wildebeests migrate in search of fresh grass all through the Serengeti and Masai Mara. Everything seems to be an episode on the National Geographic or Discovery channel.
One can find such huge herds of Wildebeests all through the Serengeti and Masai Mara. It depends on the time of year where to find this migrating wildebeests.
 
Some miles away from the entrance you start getting glimpses of these huge endless plains with herds of ghazels and deers seizing their moments having no clue which would be their last breath.
Ghazels strolling over the endless Serengiti plains no sure when it would be their last day.

It is a human tendency wherein our eyes start hovering over the endless plains and rocky hills for big cats. We were lucky enough to have spotted a cheetah and a lion on the very first day in the Serengeti. It was a wow and a scary moment at the same time while photographing a cheetah just 10m metres away.

Cheetah spotted at a distance of 10m. Today, Cheetahs are found only in the sub-saharan Africa.

After spending the second half of the day in the Serengeti it was time to reach the camping site and put our tents. It was hard to believe that we were going to camp in the Serengeti in the middle of all the wildlife that exists on the earth. After having a meal, we were sitting beside the campfire and Juma was briefing us about our next day’s schedule. We were quietly listening to him and suddenly we were greeted by a surprise guest – none other than a Hyena. We all got freaking scared but believing in the law of nature “No one will disturb you until you disturb them” we remained unmoved and the Hyena went ahead to grab some leftovers.

Vultures flocking on the carcass most likely of the Wildebeest. Bones of the carcass forms the primary part of Vulture’s diet. Vultures can not smell dying animal. They have to rely on their eyesight for their meal. Thermals help these birds to reach incredible heights and thus keep an eye on the carcass.

Next morning we left at 6:00 and travelled 120km towards the west to find the migrating wildebeests. On the way, we stopped at Grumeti river to notice a crocodile with its jaws wide open as if it were just expecting us. 

Crocodile welcoming us with a wide open jaw. They open their jaws to cool themselves because they don’t have sweat glands. Crocodiles don’t chew their food. They tear apart flesh and swallow large chunks of meat.

Watching the wildebeests migration was a blissful sight to the eyes. End of 3rd day was marked by a scene where a  Leopard came down the tree to hunt a Ghazel and was successful in taking the prey back on the tree.

A ghazel hunted by a Leopard on an evening in Serengeti. Leopards are able to climb trees, even when carrying heavy prey, and often choose to rest on tree branches during the day. They run up to 58km/h and can leap 6m horizontally and 3m vertically.

The next morning we again left early in the morning to spot big cats since they are active in the morning. And this time a group of Warthogs were clever enough to confuse the lioness who had her eyes on them.

On the way to Ngorongoro crater we visited the tribal village of Masaai tribe. This is one of the many tribes in Africa who have still preserved their culture and traditions, offering tourists a glimpse into their culture. They rely solely on cattle as their primary source of food.

After Serengeti it was time to camp at the rim at the crater with temperatures of 6°C, which quite unlikely for African weather. It all ended with the spotting of a rhino from a far distance through a binocular in the Ngorongoro crater. To catch the beautiful glimpses of this safari and more follow me on Instagram.

Lions walking in pride in the Ngorongoro crater. One can understand that they are used to such visitors and they don’t give a shit about that. Interestingly, they all seemed to be malnourished and the reason for this is the difficulty in finding the prey in short grasses of Ngorongoro crater.

Important Insights:

If you want to see the wildebeest migration check this guide or this guide. Be sure with your Safari company that they would take you to the place where the Wildebeests are migrating in that month of the year.

Booking the Safari:

Depending on your budget ask for quotations. More importantly check the reviews on trip advisor, Instagram and Facebook page or any other valid channel. Usually, the big banner Tour companies have pretty expensive packages and are not flexible to your interests. Better go with smaller but passionate tour planners where they do customized tours. Negotiation works. So try that out. Ask them about the food they are going to offer throughout the Safari. It depends on your budget.

The tour guide is the most important part of the Safari tour. His visual skills and experience would be the deciding factor of your Safari experience. So be sure with your Safari company that you get one of the experienced guides. This is not any kind of advertisement but I strongly recommend Hekima Safaris.

This Safari, was part of my 2 week trip in Africa which included Tanzania and Zanzibar. Check out my blog post about Tanzania as well.

Also, check out this guide about Tanzania, wildlife and the Tanzanian culture.

Some inspirational quotes

Note: In my last posts I recieved suggestions about mentioning the costs. In case of Safari, I would like you to get into it and negotiate as per your requirements. You can ask me for approximate prices.

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5 Replies to “Serengeti : The endless plain of endless experience”

  1. Rucha Kulkarni says: Reply

    Very exciting article! It surely encourages me to visit the place.

    1. Thanks Rucha.. Surelz a trip to plan 🙂

  2. Nice initiative Sourabh! Well-curated blog that gives a sense of actual visit! Keep it up 🙂

    1. Thanks Shriyas. Will keep you posted!

  3. […] To whoever is reading this post, Zanzibar was the reason for this blog. This trip dates back to exactly a year when six friends decided to meet in another continent, Africa. The first leg of the trip was Tanzania which I have written about in my previous blogs. I am sure you would consider Tanzania as your next travel destination on reading this and this blogpost. […]

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