In April of 2019, our colleague Anne-Sophie went on her first safari in Africa. Read about her experiences below.
It is not easy to put words on paper for describing a safari, but I will try my best to share my thoughts. I am lucky enough to work for Afrika-safari and like many of my other colleagues, I have been sent to Tanzania to try our best-seller safari.
I have been back for a few days now and the “feeling”, this thing you notice deep in your gut when traveling in an utterly different destination, is starting to fade away now that I am back in my comfort zone. Everything was so very real and authentic around me, yet so far from my own reality that I now sometimes think it might all have been a dream, or that I was in a parallel universe.
There is one word that comes to mind when thinking about my trip: overwhelming. So many things were just so overwhelming. I knew I was going to witness lots of sharp contrasts, but it still doesn’t mean I was ready to assimilate them right away. The first day for example was slightly shocking to say the least. All my senses where just triggered all at once: hearing people chattering happily in Swahili “Jambo! Karibu! – Hello ! Welcome!”, the earthy smell of humidity and rain, the taste of fresh sweet and sour mangoes, the beads of sweat in the blazing heat, and the sight of so many women everywhere walking in their colourful clothing, holding baskets on their heads on their way to the local market. I had plenty to see and feel on the many hours we drove that first day.
Driving by a local market on the side of the road.
And then the next day, after driving through chaotic and bustling villages with people and cattle all over the road, I finally met the wild animals. In their natural habitat. Everything is so quiet and still when you are in your safari car on a game drive. Then suddenly you witness a migration of thousands of zebras and gnus quickly crossing your path. When driving through their land, you can’t help but realize that us humans, are just guests passing through. You spot a few lions sleeping in the shade, undisturbed by your presence.
A cheetah in the tall grass gazes into the distance and you stare at it in owe through your binoculars, too afraid to make a sharp movement that would break the spell the cat has you under. A few hours later a hyena bathes its hot paws under the midday sun in a pond by the side of the road, looking cautiously at you. Giraffes and elephants stroll unhurriedly around, and the notion of time here seems irrelevant. And finally, on this second day, you let go of all the accumulated stress from back home and enjoy the hours and the days as they unhurriedly go by.
While on a safari, you will drive for countless hours, from deserted places (you can go on without seeing human beings for hours and just be surrounded by thousands of wild animals) to lush green landscape filled with baboons and migrating birds. I now know precisely where our European white storks spend their winters 😉 You will also stay in luxurious safari tents and lodges throughout the safari, quite a contrasting experience after visiting the barest Maasai mud huts in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, all just a few kilometres away from you. The luxurious wild camps in the middle of the Serengeti are visited at dusk till dawn by many animals. You may be lucky and hear the roaring of a lion in the close distance, which I have unfortunately not witnessed myself. But I had enough sensations with zebras, giraffes and hyenas running just a few meters from my head at night, with just the tent between us!!
Sunset at the Serengeti Wild Camp, shortly before the animals start running freely around.
You never know in advance which animal you will see, and that is what makes spotting the animals so special, specially the rare ones. I saw through my binoculars 4 black rhinos (an endangered species because of poaching and black-market trafficking) in the Ngorongoro crater. I couldn’t however see a leopard, but these are typically harder to spot as they are a shy animal. I will have to go back and try my luck again!
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