Want to experience a really great adventure? Make it a point to go on an African Safari at least once in your life. It’s a great adventure most people would really enjoy, especially on a custom designed safari like I went on. It was specifically designed by Safari Kay to put us right there in the great African Serengeti with the wildest of animals in Tanzania Africa.
After an exciting two day stay at Ngorongoro Crater where we saw lots of wild animals we left from Lake Manyara en route to Grumeti air strip for our next safari camp. Once we boarded the plane, the near hour flight to Grumeti Airstrip just flew by. Upon landing, we were met by the camp representative, and our driver. We then rode to a luxury mobile tented camp run by Didas Godfrey. He was in charge of the operation of that specific Conservation Corporation Africa (CC Africa) camp.
Our particular camp, CC Africa Under Canvas — Serengeti is a mobile tented camp that follows the semi-annual migration of wildebeest and zebra. That’s where we were staying for a few days. It’s on the Serengeti and happened to be within driving distance of their other permanent tented camp.
Located in north-western Tanzania the Serengeti ecosystem extends to south-western Kenya. It spans some 30,000 sq km or nearly 12,000 sq mi. The Serengeti hosts the largest and longest overland migration in the world, a semi-annual occurrence of over a million wildebeest and some 200,000 zebra. This migration is considered one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world. The region contains Serengeti National Park and several other national parks and game reserves. Serengeti is derived from the Maasai language, Maa; specifically “Serengit”, meaning “Endless Plains”.
In the morning we would get up early, leave our tents and head off for a safari adventure with our guide and driver Frank Kivuyo. Frank is a native of that general area. In fact, Frank is a Maasai that has been fortunate in having a great job doing what he likes best, being out in the wild experiencing nature and the animals in their full and natural glory. Most Masai live in Masai villages scattered over Tanzania and Kenya. They have resisted integrating into the surrounding society and prefer to keep living in their native and traditional ways.
Frank is one of the exceptions to that tradition, although he indicated that could change. He is currently planning to study more about the animals, conservation, and ultimately do some serious research in that field once he finishes college. He will be finalizing his college choices this September (2008) after a few personal interviews he has arranged.
Had Frank stayed with the traditional Masai ways he could be herding sheep or possibly become a Maasai Warrior (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_warriors). That doesn’t seem like the Frank we grew to know, but who knows, tradition is a very powerful influence.
We would load up in his “office”, his trusty Toyota Land Cruiser and head off wherever Frank thought the best chance of spotting something interesting or new. All eyes were looking in the bushes, trees, and for any hiding animal in the tall grass.
Every so often it seemed one of us would blurt out — “look over there behind the bush” or “What’s that over there?” etc. We got so good at spotting all sorts of things that were not animals that Frank, our guide, would say “That’s an A-L-T”. It’s pronounced as letters, not a word. That’s a term Frank had coined. An A-L-T was an “Animal Looking Thing”.
We had already seen many of the animals that roam the Serengeti, but each outing we would see something new. We would also learn a bit of history and habits of the animals from Frank who was intently interested in the animals, especially elephants. We had gotten used to seeing elephants, hippos, crocodiles, impala, Thompson’s gazelles, wildebeest, zebras and the like, but each sighting was still something new and different. That’s why every time you go on a safari, even to the exact same place, it’s a new and different adventure.
We even made up a game of sorts, where someone would brag they would be the next one to spot a specific animal. They were usually wrong and of course they would be chastised for it. That little game went on the rest of our safari. I’ll bet overall we must have spotted over a hundred A-L-Ts. Now you may wonder how that could happen. You will find out right away if you go on an African safari and scan the Serengeti or other area in search of an elusive leopard, cheetah, or other hard to spot animal.
Continued in Part II