Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater & Tarangire National Park

Imagine driving along in your modified safari Land Cruiser, taking in all the greenery and wonderful landscape of Ngorongoro Crater, making small talk & getting to know your Tanzanian safari guide, minding your own business…You look to the left and BAM!

You see this!  It was so overwhelming, I almost cried!  No, really.  I’ve never seen a wild animal that close…and for it to be an elephant?  Wow.  I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated (shout out to my sorors!) and elephants are near and dear to our hearts.  So an elephant being the first animal I saw was a sign of good things to come.

Over the course of the weekend, I went to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park.  In the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, I was able to dance with the women of the Maasai tribe and even buy some of their custom-made jewelry.  I toured their homes (made of cowhide & straw, held together with cow dung) and watched them start a fire from scratch.  Quite the feat if you ask me.

Maasai Home

Maasai Home

We went to an area near Serengeti called Ndutu, which was great for viewing the wildebeest and zebra migration.  Many of the animals in Serengeti migrate with the wildebeests and zebras, so we had a tough time finding animals there.  In Swahili, Serengeti means “endless plains” and that truly describes the landscape.  There is nothing but flat lands as far as the eyes can see.

Migrating zebras & wildebeests

Migrating zebras & wildebeests

On our way to the Serengeti, we passed Olduvai Gorge, which is a site that holds the earliest evidence of the existence of human ancestors.  Super cool.

Us at Olduvai Gorge

Us at Olduvai Gorge

The next day we went into Ngorongoro Crater, which was ah-mazing.  We saw all of the Big 5: Lion, Leopard, Rhinoceros, Cape Buffalo and African Elephant.  The views and landscape of the crater are truly breathtaking.

Panoramic View of Ngorongoro Crater

Panoramic View of Ngorongoro Crater

Our last day and a half was spent in Tarangire National Park.  I like to think of Tarangire as the “Land of Elephants.”  We saw the most elephants in Tarangire because the grass is more nutritious, so they’re able to reproduce more successfully here than in other areas (by the way, kudos to our great safari guide Tumaini – Swahili for hope – who showed us everything from the big animals, all the way down to the vegetation and explaining how nature works together…so educational!).  We were almost charged twice by elephants, who apparently can’t see very well but have exceptional smell.  Over generations, they’ve learned to fear and attack humans because they’ve been hunted for their tusks.  So sad.

Each park was so different, but Ngorongoro Crater was by far my favorite.  Not only was I was able to dance with the Maasai Tribe, but seeing the Big 5 was my goal and I accomplished it. This may not seem like a big deal, but going on a safari isn’t as glamorous as TV would have you to believe.  You can spend hours driving through the parks and not see a single animal.

I could write paragraphs about my amazing weekend but I’m sure you just want to get to the pictures   Please note: I did not zoom in to take these pictures…I was that close to the animals.

Kufurahia! (Enjoy!)

Ashlee