Do you remember that feeling as a kid the night before Christmas, where it was really hard to sleep because you were so excited for the next day? Well that is precisely what it felt like before our three day safari into the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Crater. The morning we entered the Ngorogoro Conservation Area was cloudy and cool, and the heavily wooded, muddy, winding road looked like we were heading into something like Jurassic Park.
About two hours later we arrived at the outskirts of the Serengeti, and the landscape was totally different. The sun was out, and endless grassy plains stretched as far as the eye can see. After waiting about an hour to get our permits inside the park, we were inside the park by late afternoon. We got to see a unique collection of animals at this time of day: a leopard hanging out in a tree, hyenas, and a golden jackal. The sunset came quickly and before we knew it we were off to our campsite to get ready for a 5 am start the next morning.
There was a lot of anticipation to see some crazy stuff the next day, and the pictures do a much better job of explaining, but I’ll do my best to narrate. Just past sunrise we saw two hot air balloons that float over the Seregeti in the background while a watering hole filled with hippos was right in front of us. A few minutes later we saw our first three lions of the day, hanging out under some acacia trees. A lone hippo waddled past us, rare because they usually stay submerged underwater during the day. After that, a herd of elephants walked right in front of the truck, made their trumpeting sounds and stamped their feet. All of these things happened in the first hour of the safari that morning!
After about a half hour later, we came across a cheetah, lurking around in the tall grass. As our driver positioned the Land Cruiser so we could see it better, the cheetah crept on top of a rock pile and posed absolutely perfect for the next half hour. Right after that, we found a lioness with two of her cubs next to a small watering hole. I could easily run out of adjectives to describe just how incredible these moments were. Being in the presence of these wild animals was such an amazing experience. But while we were in the Serengeti, before we saw the animals on this morning, I was really nervous because I knew that we weren’t guaranteed to see anything out there. It was one of those moments that Dana and I felt really lucky to be on this trip.
We will have Part II posted on the Ngorogoro crater tomorrow… meanwhile, check out the flickr photos on the right side of the blog to see more pictures of our amazing adventure into the Serengeti!