Travel

You are currently browsing articles tagged Travel.

The Serengeti: It’s one of the 10 natural wonders in the world and one of seven natural wonders in Africa. Derived from the Maasai word Serenget, Serengeti means “endless plains” which is an entirely accurate description. On our trip to Tanzania, I found the vastness of the Serengeti both awe-inspiring and panic-inducing, often at the same time. The Serengeti is known for many things, including being home to 70 large mammal and 500 bird species. It’s home to an extraordinary amount of lions, and boy did we delight in seeing them

Before heading to Tanzania, I didn’t know much about the Serengeti, had no idea what to expect, and I most definitely did not picture myself camping in the Serengeti. I’ll probably be saying it for the rest of my life, but our time in Tanzania almost feels like it didn’t happen, it was so special and different and amazing. Let’s start at the gate, shall we?

 

Serengeti National Park Gate

There are two memorable spots upon entering the Serengeti, the official Serengeti gate and the check in point. The gate, pictured above, defines the entrance to the park but is perhaps a more symbolic spot, ideal for getting photos. About 20 minutes in, there’s an official checkpoint for paperwork. Everyone entering and leaving the Serengeti needs to file paperwork and permits and things. Hopefully it keeps poachers out!

The Serengeti is known for its annual migration of wildebeests and zebras, and due to the rainy season being so incredibly dry, the migration happened while we were there, three months before it is supposed to. There were about 500,000 wildebeests, which are loud and hilarious looking and move in the funniest way. I love them. Zebras and wildebeests travel together peacefully. Wildebeests can smell really well and zebras can see, so together they find water and do their best to stay away from predators. They also keep an eye on each other when they are eating and drinking. It’s kind of cute how they stick together. The line of these animals was neverending. I wish I could do a better job of describing it. It was amazing.

Serengeti migration 2015

wildebeest

Serengeti migration wildebeests

Serengeti migration

zebras

Each day in the Serengeti, we went on a sunrise game drive, had lunch and some free time, and then did a late afternoon game drive. Each drive brought us different animals doing different things. I loved the graceful yet goofy giraffes, especially the babies.

giraffe in the Serengeti

giraffe in the Serengeti We saw lions just about every day. One early morning a bunch of lionesses were teaching a young lion to hunt. The way they crouched down and pounced was so similar to our cats’ behavior, on a much, much larger scale. We didn’t see a kill, which disappointed most of our group.

Serengeti lion Overseas Adventure Travel safari Serengeti lion lion  Baby zebras, which start out sort of brown and fuzzy, were pretty common and so incredibly sweet. Watching baby animals with their mothers was one of my favorite parts of game drives.

baby zebra

Serengeti zebras

 

dikdik

The adorable animal in the above photo is called a dik-dik. It’s a tiny antelope with a pretty funny name, and our group quickly became obsessed with them.

kopje

The Serengeti isn’t just home to animals, but also to beautiful landscape, different climate zones, and kopjes, large rock outcroppings. On one of the evening game drives, we climbed a kopje that was home of the gong rock, a rock that makes a musical sound when struck hard enough. Above is a photo of one of our guides “propping up” a kopje. And below is an endless plain with endless blue skies. Standing in this spot was quite unlike anything I have ever experienced. This was on the third day of our Serengeti trip, so I was more comfortable with our surroundings and able to fully soak this up.

The Serengeti

I wasn’t even scared when we encountered a hungry lioness headed in the direction of a lost baby wildebeest. We like to think the wildebeest got away and found its mama. . .

lion in the Serengeti

On yet another game drive, lions decided to take a rest in the shade of another safari vehicle. These lions were about three feet away from us. We could hear their breathing and they ours. As long as no one bothered them, they were just fine.

lions in the Serengeti

hyenasWe saw many hyenas on our journey and heard even more at night. Hyenas are kind of jerks, very mean, and slightly creepy, but I thought they were kind of cute. . . except for the time we saw a hyena with his mouth covered in blood, fresh from snacking on a kill.

Serengeti hippos

In addition to lions, giraffes, hyenas, elephants, wildebeests, and zebras, there were so many other animals, like lazing about hippos and the extremely endangered black rhino, which we saw from a distance. Rhinos will be gone within a few years, which is heartbreaking. I can’t even begin to think about what poachers are doing, all in the name of false claims of power of a rhino’s horn, which is basically the same material as our fingernails. Our time in the Serengeti made me wish that as a world we could respect the environment and our precious plants and animals more than we respect cold hard cash.
Serengeti sunset

The Serengeti is a magical, unbelievable, spiritual place, where everything that is happening in nature happens for a reason. It is a wonder of the world for a reason, and its beauty has stolen a spot in my heart forever.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Share

Tags: adventure, Africa, safari, Serengeti, Tanzania, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger

On our first full day in Tanzania, we had breakfast and a briefing at Moivaro Lodge, our home for the first two nights of the trip, and then we all piled into a bus for our day at Shanga & Riverhouse, about 20 minutes away.

Kindness About Shanga:

Set under the towering Acacia trees of Tanzania, East Africa, Shanga is a heartwarming project dedicated to supporting and empowering disabled community members. With breaking down obstacles for disabled Tanzanians and a commitment to environmentally sustainable business practises as its core values, Shanga is a for-profit company that raises standards. Now comprised of a bustling workshop, open-air restaurant, and three trendy boutiques, Shanga has grown exponentially from what started with one beaded necklace and a desire to help those in need.

Shanga is simply amazing. People with disabilities, some who might otherwise be tossed away or ignored by society, are empowered through art, and they make some beautiful things on-site using recycled materials. Trash is a big problem in Tanzania; people burn it, and there was plenty along the side of the road, so being able to channel that trash into beautiful merchandise goes a long way in keeping this beautiful country clean.

Before we took a tour at Shanga, we had a sign language lesson where we also learned some Swahili words. Our lesson was held on a sprawling lawn on pink and green couches made from old beds. It was a stunning, festive space, and we had a great time learning and laughing.

 

Shanga and River House After our lesson we toured Shanga’s art workshop areas and got to meet some of the artisans behind the glassware, beads, paintings, and fabrics for sale in the store.  Our guide Paul was kind and fun, and he really showed pride in the people working with him.

craft demonstration

recycled glass As we wound our way through Shanga, we marveled at beautiful decor like walls of recycled wine bottles that magnified the warm light and made a lovely noise when gently moved.

beads

Shanga Tanzania Shanga has people making beaded jewelry and cloth from recycled materials. We all fell in love with stuffed elephants made from mens’ shirts. I think we bought most of their supply for kids in our lives.

colorful cloth

weaving There was so much talent, pride, and focus in the artists at Shanga, and it was fun to watch them work.

Shanga and River House At the end of our tour, we had time to check out the on-site restaurant, which was to die for. I want to go back and have another wedding there.

River House

We left Shanga with hand blown glass Champagne flutes, stuffed elephants, and a beaded Christmas ornament to remind us of our travels, along with a major respect for the people living and working at Shanga. It was well worth the trip and an enchanting place to spend the day.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Share

Tags: Africa, art, charity, Tanzania, Travel, travel blog, Travel Tuesday

So up until a few weeks ago, I had never been camping. As luck would have it, my first time sleeping in a tent was in the Serengeti. Go big or go home? Oh my, in the months leading up to camping in the Serengeti, I wanted to go home. In my heart of hearts I wanted to be the brave travel blogger who wanted to do anything and everything, but man I knew my limits. So we arrived on March 4th at our Serengeti Camp, and I was in it for the duration. I guess the scariest part for me was no internet for four whole days. Panic.

Serengeti Camp

We arrived at our camp on a Thursday evening, which was overcast and cool, after a fun day all of the girls had ridden in the safari jeep together. I was pretty scared when we reached the Serengeti gate and there was nothing in every direction, for as far as we could see. I felt lost.  I really couldn’t imagine our remote home, and the lack of contact made me feel panic more than once. I wish I was braver then, but after conquering many fears, I feel stronger. I did so many things I didn’t think I could do; this trip was a huge place of growth and I am grateful for that.

campfire in the Serengeti

That said, I sucked it up and tried really hard to be at one with the Serengeti. We went on many sunrise and sunset game drives, which I absolutely loved. Seeing the sun rise and set in the Serengeti was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I soaked up every second. I loved our nightly fireside chats where we watched the Serengeti sunset, absolutely in awe of our opportunity.

Serengeti sunset

It’s hard to be afraid when nature is holding you so closely. Look at the photo below, the sunrise and moonset as we get ready for another Serengeti morning game drive.

Serengeti moonset

Serengeti sunrise

Serengeti sunset

Serengeti sunset

Serengeti camp snacks

Serengeti camping

Truth be told, our Overseas Adventure Travel Serengeti Camp was absolutely amazing and not exactly roughing it. Our tents were spacious and lovely, with full beds, flush toilets, showers, and an absolutely amazing staff. The tents were so comfy that even I, terrified at all of the wildlife sounds, slept most of the time fairly well. But wildlife was all around! Due to the lack of rain in the rainy season, our first night was marked by the moo of wildebeests, which sounded like 1,000 snoring men all night long. I thought that was annoying, but in the nights that followed, we were kept awake by lions, leopards, and hyenas. Each night, our camp staff walked us back to our tents, and they would shine a flashlight into the bush, revealing glowing eyes of very large, very wild cats. It was beautiful, exciting, but yes, scary. The first time I heard lions I was terrified. By the last night, I found myself hoping the lions would visit. In all honesty, I miss their low groans and roars.

Serengeti camp

We were truly spoiled at camp, with a staff so knowledgeable and attentive, comfy beds, and amazing food. On our final day we toured the kitchen, which pulled out multi-course meals with the help of solar and a generator for us every night. The food and wine every day were SO GOOD. Veggies, soups, and dishes like coconut chicken filled us and made us really happy. It was incredible what the camp staff did with so little, and amazing to see the acacia trees with thorns they used to keep wild animals away. There were literally hyenas and baboons hanging out outside our camp looking at the food tent waiting for something, but there was no luck for them!

Our Serengeti camp staff took such great care of us, from bringing us hot water before sunrise to wash our faces to helping us with our five gallon showers, to bringing us to our tents safely every night, surrounded by wild animals. By the end of four days they felt like family, and I can hardly express the love we felt for them. It wasn’t an easy task to make this city girl feel at home in the middle of nowhere, much less make her want to come back again and again, but that’s exactly what happened. I want to go camping in the Serengeti every year for the rest of my life, if camping is like this!

food in Tanzania

Serengeti camp kitchen

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Share

Tags: Africa, camping, outdoors, Serengeti, Tanzania, Travel, travel blog

« Older entries § Newer entries »

new restaurant
WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera