Serengeti National Park
After two days in the Kilimanjaro region, it was time to head to Serengeti National Park. The drive from Moshi to Serengeti Park is a long bumpy haul so we opted to speed things up and travel by air. We chartered a very small, ten seater prop plane that took us safely on an exciting ride into the Serengeti game reserve. Landing in the Park was a different experience for us as we had never landed on a dirt runway before. Liam had the best view as co-pilot. The airport was small, easy to get in and out of, and our Safari guide Danny, from Access 2 Tanzania greeted us with the familiar "Jambo!" Our safari jeep was easy to spot and we were on our way.
Our Safari Camp in the Serengeti
Our Safari Camp in the Serengeti was called KatiKati camp. This camp was park of a bigger chain called Tanganyika Wilderness Camps. Thankfully, the park has really restricted what can be built in order to help protect the wildlife but on the flip side, this means there are very limited accommodations within the park. We decided to go with Katikati camp as we wanted to try a true tenting experience while in Africa. In all honesty, these were not typical tents that we had to pitch ourselves, sleeping in sleeping bags on the hard ground, with no functioning toilet in sight. These were luxury tents all the way. The camp consisted of ten, army style tents, with comfy beds, a bathroom, and a bucket shower. There was a large common tent for eating and a cooks tent behind. Each night we were invited to watch bush TV before dinner (for a moment my children's heart skipped a beat when they actually thought there would be a tv brought out into the bush to watch) where the staff served the kids hot chocolate and popcorn. After dinner, it was mandatory to be walked back to your tent by a staff member in case of an encounter with a lion. Oh my!
The dining area was in two large tents in the middle of the camp. All the meals were really well prepared and the service was top notch. The staff at Katikati camp could not have been nicer. Everything about the camp was very peaceful, except at night. It seemed turning our lights off for bed was the signal for all our nocturnal friends to start making their noise. The boys and I lay in the dark trying to identify what we were hearing. Each night, we also heard the lions and hyenas rustling around our site. It was a little intimidating, but nothing that kept us from falling asleep.
There are two main options on how to plan your safari day. One, go on your game drive from early morning straight through until sundown at six o'clock (taking a box lunch in the jeep with you.) Or two, get up early and go on your game drive until roughly 1 pm, go back to camp for a hot lunch and rest, then back out from 3-6pm for the rest of your game drive. As Rob was very tired from many long weeks traveling for work, and the boys had just finished an exhausting end of school year, we decided on the slightly less rigorous day and went for option two.
Dining Tents and Bush TV
The Landscape of the Serengeti
We were prepared, or maybe we were focused, on seeing exotic wildlife but we were not prepared for the vast beauty of the Savanah on its own. Driving around the game reserve for hours looking at the golden orange hues of the blowing, long grass was mesmerizing. The skies changed from shades of purple, pink, and blue in the morning to dark amber colours in the evening. Combined creating a very dramatic backdrop for the animals.
The Animals of the Serengeti
We climbed into our Safari Jeep and were excited to start the hunt for the big five we had heard so much about. Lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalos, and leopards were on our mind. Little did we know that every animal we came across would leave us speechless with its beauty. Not only was each and every animal spectacular but to see how well they adapt and blend in with their environment was simply amazing. Most of the time, the animals were so well camouflaged that we didn't notice them until we were practically on top of them.
We immediately came across our first animals in the wild- the Thompson gazelles. They were so beautiful. Dozens of them right in front of us. We thought it couldn't get better than this. Oh boy, it got better. Much much better! (Even the fact that we missed seeing the great Wildebeest migration by one day seemed irrelevant with all the majestic animals surrounding us.)
Thompson and Grant Gazelles, Impala, Topi, Hartebeest
The Funny Baboons
A Few Birds
Hippos and Crocodiles
Lizards, Mongoose, Hyrax and the Jackel
Zebras (but no Wildebeest)
The Massive African Buffalo
The Very Sleek Cheetahs
The Mysterious Leopard
The Scavenging Hyena
The Elegant Giraffe
The Kids Favourite- "Pumba" (AKA the Warthog)
The Lovely Ostrich
My Favourite, The Magnificent Elephant
The King of the Serengeti, The Lion
The Drive from Serengeti National Park to Ngorongoro Conservation Area
On our last day in the Serengeti, we had to wake up very early and start our drive to the Ngorongoro Crater. Honestly, this drive was pretty exhausting. It took most of the day, driving on very rough, bumpy roads to get to the crater. It was incredibly dusty as we were driving on unpaved roads so it was impossible to roll the windows down for fresh air. The landscape was pretty much barren for the entire drive. Occasionally Masai people would appear beside the jeep, herding their sheep, dust circling them. We took one pit stop at the small tourist centre as we were leaving the gates of the Serengeti Park, otherwise, we were in the car for many hours.
Once at the crater we made the climb up and around its rim. The drive was getting more nerve-wracking for me. Thankfully we reached our hotel at the Crater and it was beautiful! The drive was pretty much forgotten (until the next day when we had to drive the crater again.)