It’s taken us a bit to actually post about our whole safari experience, not because we didn’t want to, but because it was so fantastic we wanted to make sure we did it justice!
We’ve been having so many other adventures that we just couldn’t keep up. Not a bad situation to be in, that’s for sure. Now, though, we welcome you (karibu, in Swahili) to our second safari with Cowabunga Safaris – this time to the Ngorogoro Crater, the Serengeti, and Ruaha National Park.
Who would have thought our second Tanzanian safari would be as much about the humans as it was about the animals? We returned to safari with sky-high expectations and TZ did NOT disappoint!
Real quick: If you’d like to scan back at all our 2015 safari posts, you can find them under our Places – Tanzania tab or starting here.
On the first day our organizer, and all-things-Africa-expert, Brian, splits us into groups for the first leg of the trip. Kind of like being picked for a team in middle school, you really hope you get in a good jeep (actually a Land Cruiser, but jeep is so much easier to say). Brian split us up beautifully and I dare say every jeep had fabulous chemistry. Ours though, has some of the BEST group dynamics we’ve ever experienced. We didn’t call ourselves the Fun Bus for nothing!
We were in a jeep with our friends Josh from Seattle and Lynn from the 2015 safari.
Also in our jeep were Connie, who was celebrating her birthday with the safari!, and Bridget, sighter of sleeping lions. They both brought a wonderful sense of adventure, humor, and smarts to the jeep.
So this is the group we spent a LOT of time with – who knew an engineer, a project manager, a tax accountant, a cell biologist, an artist, and a University retiree could have so many belly laughs together? Other jeeps could hear us coming and my face hurt from laughing. No one warned me about that!
There were also eight wonderful others on the trip, including a number of women who went to school, got married, had kids and then went back to school and started professional careers in science and medicine. Very cool! Also a number of retired military people, including Judy — a retired master sergeant, and a few very long lived marriages. Experts in history, art, science…I mean, the dinner conversation just went on and on. What interesting lives people lead. So when I say the people made the safari – this is what I’m talking about.
“What about the animals?” I hear you cry. They couldn’t hide from us! Apparently our laughter didn’t scare them away. Thank goodness. As opposed to 2015, we only caught the very tail end of the Great Migration, so not nearly as many zebras and wildebeest. In trade, it was definitely Big Cat Week in the northern parks (Ngorogoro and Serengeti).
There were cheetahs…
And yet more and more lions!
Oh, and more cheetahs!
I think you’re getting the idea. Just big cats everywhere. Aaron spotted both an extremely rare daylight view of a caracal (they are nocturnal…and no, I had never even heard of one before Brian called out it’s name!) and one of a serval, earning the nickname Hawkeye for it – they were both there and gone so fast that folks glimpsed them, but no photos.
Our guide, Goodluck, was always on the lookout working with his team to help find great sightings. Somehow he could drive, scan the horizon, answer our million questions, and still joke around. Amazing! Wondering about his name? He is the youngest of eight and the only boy, so his father named him Goodluck.
Life on safari is a group activity. Pretty much everything is done together — eating being as fun as game drives. The food was gaaaa-ooood!
If you’re curious about the type of place we stayed in, they were all right out in nature in the middle of the parks. No going outside at night in these spots!
One morning we woke up to this view:
Josh, Aaron, and I were the only folks not yet retired, which made us the young ones on the trip. Not often that happens anymore. Guess that must have been why Brian always put us in the furthest tents from the lodges. Couldn’t have been any other reason! 🙂
Whoa! This is getting long. So much left to tell. Let’s stop here and next up we’ll get to the non-cat animals and lots of birds.