Magical Experiences in the Serengeti National Park – Part II

Our second day in the Serengeti National Park were as wonderful and full of magical experiences as our first day. We had several close encounters with lions, only this time it was with a couple of different prides that had young cubs in addition to the adult lions and lionesses. We spent a lot of time watching the lions interact, hence we took a lot of photos of the lions on this day. We also had many different moments of watching the great migration as the wildebeest moved in the thousands ever closer towards the border of Kenya. Whether it was the lions, elephants, wildebeest, hippos, and many different antelopes, the various encounters were all extremely fascinating.

So Many Adorable Family Interactions
Young Elephants are Cute as Well
We Saw Many Topis in the Serengeti
Hungary Hyena
Hippos in the Pond
The Great Migration
Cub on the Move

When on safari and seeing the wildlife, it is important to understand that the animals go about their lives without any concern that they are being observed by humans. This means that whether they are hunting, eating their kill, mating, or other normal activities, you will likely come across interactions involving those things. Although not everyone may want to see some of those things, it is part of life and death in the Serengeti, so it becomes part of the interactions. One such moment during this day was when we saw a hyena who was finishing off the remnants of an antelope. In addition to getting up and close with the hyena, we had the opportunity to watch the vultures gather and challenge the hyena and then other vultures to finish what was left to eat.

Vulture Protecting It’s Food
Family of Elephants
No Day is Complete Without Giraffes
Impalas Were Everywhere in the Serengeti
More Cute Interactions
Helmeted Guineafowl
Pulling a Land Cruiser Out of the Mud

Driving around the Serengeti National Park can be challenging as the roads are very rough and at times they can be quite muddy. Our guide, Shabani, did a wonderful job navigating through these obstacles. At one point, there were three vehicles all moving in unison as we searched for different animals and one of the Land Cruisers got stuck and had to be pulled out by the other vehicles. One could only imagine what would happen if that would have happened when no one was around to assist. Getting out of the vehicle was not something that anyone wanted to do unless absolutely necessary as there are many deadly snakes hidden in the grass in addition to the predators that could be hidden there as well.

Lioness Licking Her Paw
Sunset Over the Hippo Pond
Serengeti Traffic Jam
Vultures in a Tree
Lion Cubs are Playful and Affectionate
Elephants in the Grasslands

There were several times where we literally had to wait for the wildebeest and zebras to cross the road as they sprinted towards their desired destination. We could have moved through and they would have worked they around the vehicle, but it is safer to just let them move through before moving forward. We ended our day by watching the sun set over a hippo pond that had at least twenty to thirty hippos all swimming or playing together. It was just another wonderful way to end a fascinating day in the Serengeti. We were thoroughly exhausted after these amazing days in the Serengeti, but also completely in awe of our safari experiences. The following day we would continue north to cross the Tanzania and Kenya border in order to go to Maasai Mara.

Hyena Eating
Vultures Swooping in on the Hyena
Male Lion
Watching the Sun Set
More of the Migration
Hippos in the Water
More of the Guineafowl
Cuddling Together
Impalas Kicking Up the Dust

Magical Experiences in the Serengeti National Park – Part I

After spending the day in the Ngorongoro Crater, we continued north to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. We would spend two nights in the park where we spend two full days driving around and seeing so many amazing sights. We would see the one missing animal to complete the Big Five as we would have several incredible encounters with Leopards that was the only animal missing as we’d seen lions, water buffaloes, rhinos, and elephants already. We would see much more than just the big cats and we would have many encounters that were up-close and personal. The Maasai word Serengeti means “land of never ending plains”, which is certainly apt as you can see the endless grasslands in every direction that you look.

We Were This Close to the Male Lion
The Zebras Aren’t Snuggling, It is a Defensive Mechanism to See Both Directions
Elephant in the Grasslands
A Pride of Lions to Start Our Day
Giraffes on the Move
View from the Camp

We stayed in the central part of the Serengeti National Park, which made it easy for us to get out and spend full days exploring the park. The sheer number of animals that live in the park is at times almost overwhelming. We were there as the wildebeest began the migration north towards Kenya, so there were times when thousands of wildebeest and zebras crossed the road in front of us with a distinct mission to reach their next destination. There were so many incredible experiences with wildlife that it is definitely a place that we will remember and cherish our time there forever.

The First Leopard Sighting
Hippos Charging Into the Water
Called a Sausage Tree Because of the Seed Pods
Lion Relaxing by the Road
Elephants and Beautiful Scenery
Leopard Climbing Down the Tree

We started seeing giraffes as we neared the park, but since the giraffes eat the leaves of trees, seeing them inside the park is limited to when they go from one location to another. We also saw a variety of elephants in the park, which didn’t use to be the case, but they have naturally migrated to the Serengeti over time as the populations in surrounding parks increased. It was, however, the encounters with the large cats that would be the highlight of our first day in the park. At one point, we saw a lion so close to our Land Cruiser that we could have literally reached out and petted him, but that would not have been a good idea. For the most part, the animals could care less about the people who drive up around them to take their photographs, but occasionally they shy away from our presence. We spent about twenty minutes admiring the lion before any other vehicles arrived, at which point he decided to wander away into the tall grass where he disappeared.

The Dik-Dik is One of the Smallest Antelopes
Secretary Bird on a Tree
Hippos Charging into the Water
Watching the Leopard was Fascinating
Red Hartebeest and Thompson’s Gazelles
Our Tent in the Serengeti

We saw leopards at two different points on our first day, the first being relatively far away and the second that was relatively close and was eating the Thompson’s gazelle that he had killed. We spent about an hour simply watching him climb around the tree and eating his dinner. We often describe some of experiences as being like a National Geographic special, but instead of watching it on television, it was taking place right before our very eyes. In addition to these encounters with the big cats, we also had a very unique viewing experience of hippos charging down a river bed and splashing into the deep water. Seeing the hippos out of the water was always a unique experience, but seeing them running down the river bed was truly fascinating and it was amazing to see how fast they actually can run.

Lion Walking Away
Very Unique Landscape
Hippos in the Water
Relaxing at the End of the Day
Regal Giraffe

Our first day ended with a wonderful sunset as we enjoyed a glass of wine at the Thorn Tree Camp in the heart of the Serengeti National Park. Being in such a remote location, our access to WIFI was limited, but that was perfectly fine with us as we left the “real world” behind and simply enjoyed the natural beauty of the savannahs. Although we don’t have any photographs of the night sky, it was absolutely stunning with so many stars that spread across from horizon to horizon. Once again, we were not allowed out at night without an escort as there were many animals that wandered amongst the tents. Our days started before sunrise at 6:00 am and usually ended around sunset at around 6:30 pm. We slept better than we have in many years as we drifted off to the sounds of animals all around the camp.

Sunset from Our Camp
Olduvai Gorge Monument Near the Serengeti National Park
Baby Crocodile
Glass of Wine to End the Day
Leopard from the Distance
Maasai Children at a Viewpoint Near the Park

As incredible as our first day in the Serengeti was, it was actually only the beginning of our time in the park. We know that because of the current travel conditions, many people either only visit Kenya or only visit Tanzania, but based on our experiences, we’d highly recommend doing the full safari circuit that takes you through both wonderful countries. We were definitely in the heart of our safari at this point and we had become experts at changing lenses quickly, learning how to use the telephoto lenses for both the camera and the iPhone. All of the photographs that we’ve shared here were just from our first day in the Serengeti. The Serengeti National Park definitely lived up to every expectation that we had as we investigated going on safari and was truly a magical experience.

We are in the Middle of a Few Days in the Serengeti

We are in the middle of the second day in the Serengeti. It is once again a completely different experience and magnificent in every way. We chose not to bring a computer in order to save on space, so we will have to wait until we get home to go through the 5,000 photographs that we have taken. With another five and a half days on safari and several days in Nairobi, the numbers will be staggering. Until then we can transfer from the camera, we are limited to pictures from our phones, but we still have thousands to choose from. We have already seen the “Big Five”, lion, rhino, water buffalo, elephant, and we saw the leopard yesterday. WIFI continues to be spotty, so we will post again at the next chance that we get.

One of two leopards that we saw yesterday
We have seen over 40 lions and we will get to see many more
Hawk on the top of a tree