The ABC’s of Kate and Charles’ Safari Experience
A- Amazing. First, a big thank you to everyone who helped us make this possible. Both Kate and I were incredibly excited about this portion of our trip; both of us had no idea what to expect; and both of us walked away completely awestruck by what we saw and the experience in general. Thank you for helping make this amazing experience possible. It was simply one of the top travel experiences we've had the chance to enjoy.
B- Baboons- How long can you sit and watch a troop of baboons? Answer: a very long time. On our last day we came across of family of over 60 baboons, the smallest of which were estimated to be only a few days old. These were some of the most fun animals to watch and incredibly to see them playing and taking care of each other picking the burs off each others fur.
C- Cheetah. Sadly the one animal that we did not see; though it was not for lack of trying!
D – Dangerous. Potentially the walk to and from dinner in the tented camps where they required a staff member to escort us and safeguard us from any 'wild' animals...
E- Elephants. Kate’s other favorite animal (in addition to baboons) to watch for hours on end. They are huge, expressive, funny and fascinating. The first of the Big Five we saw and still one of our favorites to see close up.
F- Food. We’re pretty sure the only things we did on safari are (1) sit or stand in a car, (2) watch animals while taking pictures, or (3) eat lots of food. Who knew you could get so hungry when you sit in a car for 10 hours a day?! Whatever weight was lost earlier in the trip is now put back on. And then some.
G- Giraffes. Surprisingly fascinating animals to watch up close and personal. They grow to 5.2 meters so they are huge. And somehow, when they run, they look funny and fast, all at the same time. (You were right, Sarah Grace!)
H- Hippos. Grow to weigh 3 – 4 tons, yet can swim up to 35 KM an hour. Spend most of their day floating in their own feces in shallow lakes. Will roll onto their backs to periodically expose their pink bellies and feet in the air. Grunt. A lot. Really funny to watch for a bit. After that you realize you're watching animals float in the water.
I – Itchy. Charles after the long dinner and drinks at Oliver's Camp the last night of our safari. Even with long pants, he managed to get 50+ bug bites on his feet and ankles. Shockingly, he did not notice getting bit as we sat, drank wine and talked to our hosts until the late hours of the night.
J – Jam. Celine Dion. Our driver and guide Godwin's favored music of choice. I mean who doesn't want to jam out to the Titanic soundtrack while in the midst of the Serengeti?
K- Kilimanjaro Beer. You want to know what’s great? Drinking a beer, standing up in the back of a Land Cruiser, driving through the Serengeti, looking for your next lion to watch. When is it too early to crack your first beer while on safari? Rhetorical question: It’s never too early. What else do you have to do today? Take some pictures?
L- Lions. Lots of ‘em. Our favorite to see. Especially the males with their full manes and their regal, usually sleepy, look.
M- Masaii Wanderings. Our fabulous guide and driver from Masaii, Godwin, showed us the ropes of safari and never let us down. He spotted the impossible, always got us the best photo shot and kept us laughing at dinner. A great guide and a recommended company if you’re interested in trying out the experience.
N- Ngorongoro Crater. We spotted a Black Rhino here to complete our Big Five on the tail end of our safari. The night spent at the Ngorongoro SOPA Lodge at the rim of the crater was amazing and perfect way to end a tough day sitting in a car.
O- Oliver’s Camp. It was our last night on safari and we could not have ended at a better place. This place brought a whole new level of luxury to camping than anything I had ever dreamed of, complete with beautiful outdoor shower, cushioned lounge chairs overlooking the savanna and coffee/hot chocolate (or beer, YES Charles had a beer delivered at 6 AM after a dare from the hostess) delivered to you in bed- oh and I forgot to mention the gin and tonics before dinner around the camp, an amazing three course meal, free flowing wine and our gracious hosts Jackie and Justin who we stayed up far too late with us, drinking and sharing stories.
P- Pictures. Oh yeah we took almost 900 of these. Less than 20 with had either of us in them. That's a lot of animals (or a lot of pictures we took of each animal...).
Q- Quick. How our guide, Godwin, drove. Somehow, when you are cruising over the bumpy two track road at 80 KM an hour, the bumps seem smaller. Or smoother. Not sure which. But makes perfect sense, right?
R- Ridiculous. This is how you feel when it’s at the end of the day and you just saw your 10th lion of the day and you think, “Uh. It’s ok. Another sleeping lion. I’ll take a picture again.” You take a picture, sit down and the guide starts to drive and then it hits you. You realize, “When else do you ever come across a lion sleeping on the side of the road? Where are we? How is this situation all of a sudden normal?! You just drove 10 FEET away from a LION ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD!!! THIS IS NOT NORMAL BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION!!!”
S- Serengeti National Park. Our favorite park. We arrived to find out that the annual migration had occurred, unexpected, a few weeks earlier than normal. That worked out fine since neither of us knew anything about the migration, so no harm, no foul. That being said, it was our favorite park to safari in. (Is "safari" a verb?) We saw the most animals in the most amazing circumstances.
T- Tarangire National Park. Or last stop on safari. Elephants galore. A great stop and the spot for our last night's stay at Oliver's Camp.
U – Unfit. This describes Kate who was sore from a 10 minute hike following the safari. Did we mention that we did nothing but sit, eat, and take pictures?
V- Vultures. Ugly, huge birds. (Who clean up a lot of messes.)
“X” – This is Kate’s likely veto for every other time we ever think about going camping again after staying in the tented lodges in the Serengeti. “Charles, if we camp again, will the tent have 12 fot vaulted ceilings and a double bed with 300 count cotton sheets? No. Hmmm… Will there be a hot shower, solar powered electricity and a full en-suite bathroom in the tent? No. Real. Hmmm… Will there be a food tent with a 3 course meal and full bar just down the lantern lit walkway? No? Well… I don’t think I really feel like camping again then.” What am I supposed to say to that?!
Y- Yes. If you ever consider the question, “I’m thinking of going on safari, should we? Is it worth it?” This should be your answer. Neither of us considered ourselves to be “animal people” before this experience, and neither of us will claim to be afterwards. That being said, this is such a unique and interesting experience that the chance should not be missed if you have the idea and the means. Very highly recommended.