I’ve lost track of what day it is, but about three days ago we took a small propeller plane from Arusha to the heart of the Serengeti for an African safari. We made stops in four tiny dirt airstrips with no airport; the jeeps just pull right up to the airstrip and you get in and out. The flight was spectacular, with views of the great migration – thousands of zebra and wildebeest running through the vast open plains. We went straight into our safari as soon as we got off the plane – comfortable in our huge Land Cruiser with an open roof so we can stand. Driving through the Serengeti, we saw a myriad of different birds, some tiny and bright as jewels, glittering in the scorching sun; others huge and ominous, lurking in the tall grass. We reach a small lake with about 20 hippos frolicking in the murky water, wriggling their ears and snorting. A wide variety of antelope are grazing nearby – the impala are my favorite; sleek, beautiful animals with long, straight horns. As we drive on, we find a pride of lions lounging in the shade. The male is upside down on his back like a lazy dog wanting his neck scratched. Next, there is a leopard high in the treetops, giraffes grazing on acacia, herds of elephants playing in the water, and monkeys everywhere. The buffalo and ostriches were a lot bigger than I imagined, and all the animals went along with their business like we weren’t there. The names of the animals from The Lion King are actual Swahili words, and I can’t help but laugh when my guide says, “Look to your right, there is a pumba.”
Dusk approaches quickly, and the sky is lit with deep hues of orange and red. There is a storm approaching in the distance and thunder cracks as we race back toward the lodge over bumpy dirt roads. All of a sudden we are in the violence of the storm and gigantic raindrops pelt the windshield in the darkness. A herd of gazelle dart wildly in front of the headlights and the driver slams on the brakes, barely missing them. Hail crashes down, the size of marbles, cracking the windshield, as flashes of lightning illuminate the savannah. The driver can’t see, so we inch along slowly, and finally make it to my lodge...
africa, safari, serengeti, travel
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