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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Let's Safari!

Bernard and Edward showed up at our hostel about a half hour late (which is actually pretty early by African time, this is something that Mama would soon learn) and we were raring to go! Bernard was to be our guide/driver and Edward, our cook (chef, really!).

With our belongings secured on the roof, we piled into our very own land cruiser...complete with pop-up top ofcourse :) and headed toward the Serengeti. The drive provided Mama with her first real look around since she had arrived. It was fun seeing everything for the first time again, through her eyes. From the bustle on the streets, to the rural huts, to the loads being carried, the markets, the animals, the transport, the roads, the sights and the sounds all sort of mingling and coexisting. It had become routine for us and it was fun to experience it all again, seemingly for the first time.

We soon ran out of pavement and the road to the Serengeti had us bouncing all over (no seatbelts ofcourse). I kept looking at Mama who was trying to hang on for dear life and the fact that she was laughing hysterically at the same time made it even more difficult. Troy was trying his best to hold his position on the bench seat in the back. On safari, laughing out loud with two of my favorite people, hard to believe it could get any better.

The following days spent in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater were incredible! We wasted no time in seeing animals and were more than thrilled to see lions, elephants, and giraffes on our very first day. We got right into the swing of things pulling out our binoculars and cameras and even safari hats (when in rome...).

Bernard was a whiz at locating game. No sooner would we voice a desire to see something and he would make a quick left, or right, and there it was!

While each animal sighting is exciting the first time, the big game continued to be our favorites. Especially the elephants. Finally, elephants! We had seen two on our first day, up close, and we marvelled at their shear size.

We wrapped up an early morning game drive the following day surrounded by a herd, cooling off in a mud hole, actually rolling around in it and spraying themselves and each other. They didn't seem to mind the audience, except when I climbed on the roof...

An elephant at the Ngorongoro Crater camp was particularly friendly. And thirsty. He was not shy to walk up to the water retention tank, and settle in to satisfy his thirst.

Watching the giraffes, so graceful in their movement, never seemed to get old.

Not sure what it was about the lions but we always seemed to catch them when they were feasting, or relaxing following a meal. Whether it was gutting out a water buffalo or munching on a giraffe, it felt like we were watching The Nature of Things. It was a family affair, from cubs to mamas and papas, noone was left out.

We learned how to tell the difference between cheetahs and leopards and were lucky enough to see a few of each. While the lions always seemed to be eating, the cheetahs seemed to always be hunting. We sat and watched from a distance as they stalked their prey. No kills to be witnessed though, weird that this was actually disappointing at the time, how morbid... We found the leopards lounging in trees, I guess hunting must be tiring work.

The zebras and the wildebeests are chummy and while most are migrating this time of year, there are resident herds in the Ngorongoro crater who stay put. Thousands of them! It was quite a site to see, the zebras and the wildebeests, just chillaxin'.

The hippos were also among the favorites and we stayed at a hippo pond for quite some time watching them wake up.

Seeing the animals by day often made my heart pound but sleeping among the animals (literally)by night provided a whole different kind of adrenaline rush. Not sure if Mama knew exactly what she had signed up for when she agreed to join us. There were no lodges, no warm towels with which to wash up after a dusty day of game driving, no lounge chairs, and no fine dining. We were camping. Keeping it basic. Roughing it.

It hadn't occurred to me at the time that, while she often camps in her horse trailer, she probably hadn't slept on the ground in a tent in a while, up close and personal with nature. She was a trooper though and each morning we would debrief about the animals we had heard during the night. The lions just outside camp, the hyenas dragging around the garbage bins, the zebras munching on grass outside the tents...

Yep, up close and personal alright! I wouldn't have changed a thing though and I don't think she would have either.

I wasn't the only one out there in the wild roughing it with my Mama though. We were in good company...


  1. Soooo awesome! What an experience and to share it with your mamma! You are the good daughter, how can Aim and I possibly compete? The wildest thing she sees when she comes to my house is...Scout! Ooo, scary! He he!

  2. Awwwwwwwww.... You brought tears to my eyes!! Mama. It doesn't matter how old we get we always love our mama's. Glad you guys are having an awesome time and we miss you. Love Lyle, lori, paige and brie.