An African Adventure: Safari in the Serengeti

Posted on Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 2 Comments
Lions and Tourists
Serengeti Safari

I landed in Dar-es-Salaam after a great flight on Emirates where I actually met a Lithuanian flight attendant. We had a brief chat in Lithuanian after which she very generously hooked me up with an outstanding cheese plate from first class. I keep telling everyone, it pays to speak Lithuanian. Someday Lithuania will be a super power to rival the U.S. and China. Or not.

Being that I am clever and worldly and highly intelligent, I’d done next to no research about Tanzania. Zero. Zippo. Nada. I was pretty sure it was located somewhere on the East side of Africa. Besides, who wants to know exactly where they will be sleeping after they disembark from a grueling 14 hr flight? No matter how accommodating the flight attendants are or how tasty the cheese platter is, when you’re in coach, 14 hours is a long time.

Giraffe and Friends
Giraffe and Friends

Of course, it’s not like I didn’t plan anything. I mean, I knew I wanted to go on a safari and I knew I wanted to visit Zanzibar (not this Zanzibar.) Just because I didn’t sign up for any specific safari or even check how much they cost or what not, that shouldn’t present any sort of challenge, right? I figured the itinerary would sort itself out.

After a few days of stifling heat and mid-day rains that came and went within an hour, I decided I’d spent enough quality time dining on savory Ethiopian cuisine, exploring the waterfront and being swarmed by local taxi drivers the second I stepped out of the hotel. It was time to head North to Arusha and organize a safari. After all, I needed a driver.

Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro Crater

Arusha is near Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. That is if 4 hours on bumpy dirt roads is what you consider near. Being thusly positioned it is the home base of most Safari tour companies.

As it turns out, if you simply walk down the street in Arusha, you will be approached by any number of friendly people who, it just so happens, will have a brother, sister, mother, father, uncle, daughter, cousin, best-friend, roommate, neighbor, etc… who runs a safari company and since you and your new acquaintance have so quickly become such good friends, you will be offered an incredible discount on the safari of your choice provided this new friend can make the introductions. Lucky me.

Now, I don’t blame anyone for the hustle. Certainly not Iceberg Slim, nor anyone else that is just getting by in a third world country. But even if you’re being good-natured about it, being hassled everywhere you go does eventually become tiresome. Regardless, I managed to find a good tour company on the interwebs and simply walked myself over there without the assistance of one of my newly found best friends thus circumventing the discount (or rather upcharge) of having a personal introduction. Safaris are expensive enough as it is without having to pay extra.

The driver arrived nice and early to my hotel and after tossing my bags into the back of the heavily retrofitted range rover, we were off to seek out the big five. For those who are new to safariing, the big five are: The African Elephant, the Rhinoceros, the African Buffalo, the Lion, and the Leopard. Originally, the big five was a term coined by hunters to describe the most difficult game to hunt on foot, not the biggest animals. I do not in any way shape or form condone the hunting of animals for sport. Perhaps if the person was using a spear instead of a high-powered rifle and they needed the hide and the meat of the animal for survival, then I could understand. But just to collect the animals’ head or tusks or hide as a trophy makes me think this is a sport for men with small peckers. Needless to say, no animals were harmed on my safari adventure, although I considered writing a strongly worded letter to the two lions who were laying five feet from the road and refused to get up and have their photo taken. Did they not realize I’d flown across the world to see them!

Chillin' with the Masai
These Masai Actually Fend Off Lions with Those Spears

Watching the Animal Channel did not in the slightest prepare me for how bumpy the roads would be or how many flies there would be everywhere. Not that I’m complaining, the safari itself was amazing. My photos are average at best, as I was not over the moon about photography like I am now. My previous travel photography philosophy was that I preferred to remember things as they were instead of trying to disrupt the moment by constantly documenting or trying to capture things with a camera that I knew would look inferior due to my subpar photography skills.

 

Oportunists
These Little Dudes Grabbed My Food When I Wasn’t Lookin’

After traveling extensively, I’ve completely changed my travel photography philosophy and would love an opportunity to go on another safari with a better camera and much improved photography skills to capture some images that can portray the wild African animals with more detail.

In the meantime, I will have to accept the photos that I have and use my memory to recall all the amazing things I saw and experienced on my safari, including the crazy little creature below.

Hyrax
Hyrax. Can You Believe This Little Creature is Related to the Elephant?!


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Comments

  1. Nice birthday post Algis! You’re right – the trip probably looks a lot better without the flies & bumps! It still looks pretty cool though!! Hope you guys are having a great trip!!

  2. Jealous! African safari has been on my list of things to do for years.

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Hi, I’m Algis

Algis

I have an insatiable wanderlust which takes me to some crazy places where I try strange foods, pretend I'm a local and talk with elephants. Keep reading...

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