Tanzania Wildlife Safari and Chimpanzee Trekking Dispatch
January 4, 2017 – Here Kitty Kitty
Dispatch by Nancy Souza
We departed the enchanted Neptune Lodge with childlike excitement knowing we were headed toward the renowned Serengeti for days 5 and 6 of our Safari adventure! Little did we realize the unique beauty we would experience in route as we made our way through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) - the only place on earth where mankind and wild animals are permitted to coexist in harmony - and it was one of the most breathtakingly, beautiful countryside we have ever, ever seen!
The government permits multi use and the huge expanses of savannah, forest and bushland are home to many Maasai Bomas (communities) whose brilliantly-colored clothing stands out against the colors of this fertile area. It is truly remarkable to see Massai cattle, goats and sheep grazing right alongside zebra!
Side notes: Two other unique parts of our four-wheel drive across Tanzania is that the roads are all dirt with only a rare appearance of a main road - and they are so bumpy and dusty and rocky and winding! Second – there are no vehicles along the roads (outside of towns) except for other jeeps and supply trucks.
Once we left the tree laden, hilly savannah of the NCA lined with fertile pastures we were then introduced to the plains of the Ngorongoro and Serengeti areas of the crater where volcanic activity in the Paleolithic period left a concrete-like "hard pan" layer that doesn't allow for trees to grow – hence the vast grasslands as we made our way into the Serengeti and started our game drive for the day!! And what a day it was......in this wild and open country, we not only saw giraffes, elephants, hippos and the great lions in a new habitat – but we also had the opportunity to see the famed Serengeti Wildebeest migration! It was a remarkable sight to see tens of thousands of wildebeest (of the 1.5 million annually) making their way along with thousands of zebra "chasing the rains!" In dramatic fashion, similar to the racing of the bulls, they raced their way past our jeep headed toward the water that they knew was within their reach! IT WAS AMAZING!
Coupled with this we saw incredible families of animals including the famed cats of the Serengeti - the Cheetah and (only a quick glance of the) Leopard! We also casually stumbled upon our first full-grown male lion while searching for a lunch spot. Let's just say, we didn't choose his spot! As our guide Simon so aptly put it - this was a "campground for many animals" and we couldn't be more excited to view these powerful felines in their natural habitat.
Day 5 ended with our arrival at the throwback 1930s-modeled tented lodge - the Pioneer Serengeti Camp; a small, intimate, ideally situated tent Camp in south central Serengeti National Park. Our arrival was welcomed after a classic dusty day in the bush as we truly felt like the "early explorers" that this Camp fashioned. But nothing prepared us for the view when we climbed the stairs to the main open lodge on top of kopje (mini mountain granite rock formations) that provided a 180 degree view overlooking the Serengeti's vast open plains! "WOWS" and gaping mouths were followed by silence as our cameras went into action!
Afterward we luxuriated in an outdoor candlelit, dining experience under the star-laden skies with the neighs of zebras and the roars of lions wafting through the night air. We toasted to all the joys of the day with anticipation for our early morning balloon ride over the Serengeti on our sixth and last day of this "dream of a lifetime" safari experience.