Some people call churches “god’s house.” But a church is a building made by humans to honor god. The real god’s house is the 12,000 square miles of the Serengeti ecosystem. The sky is immense and seems to enfold the land and elevate it at the same time. Most of all, millions of animals live together there peacefully. In the same vista, you can see zebras, elephants, wildebeest and warthogs. And hyenas and lions and gazelles, and an endless variety of birds. Even humans seem to fit right in.
I just returned from 9 days on safari with two amazing tour guides from REI Adventures and 11 other happy campers. Before I went, I wasn’t sure how I felt about a safari because I resist joining tours. But, like North Korea, you can’t go on your own (although that is where the comparison ends) and having knowledgeable tour guides is essential to understanding the region’s natural history. The experience was magic.
We saw elephants (tembo) on the plain and in the forest.
This cheetah (duma) posed for us for a long time.
The black rhino (vifaro) lives comfortably with herds of wildebeest in the Ngorongoro Crater.
Zebras and wildebeest migrate together. The wildebeest sense the rain and know when to move, and the zebras know the way.
Thompson’s gazelles (paa) are everywhere and very photogenic.
Leopards (chui) are elusive, often camouflaged in the trees while they wait for prey.
Our tent camp in the southern Serengeti — we didn’t sleep much through the sounds of lions and hyenas, but that was part of the fun.
Zebras (pundamilia) and giraffes (twiga) enjoying dinner just outside our camp.
We saw lots of babies.
We were there during the migration to the south. Wildebeest (nyumbu) can delay giving birth until they arrive at their destination, but this one didn’t.
At Lake Manyara we saw thousands of water birds (ndege)…
…and a few drama queens like this saddle bill stork….
…and crown cranes
A common site — Isaac (bwana) with his long lens even after everyone else was too tired to stand.
The lions (simba) were not nervous about us.
Cape buffalo (nyati) are dangerous to humans but they like each other.
Our tour guides, Rama and Joseph, were so knowledgeable and a lot of fun, even at the end of 8 hours of off-road driving.
Hippos (kiboko) do not want you to get between them and the water, where they feel safe.
Masai herd their cattle near the wild animals at Ngorongoro Crater.
Hakuna matata. Wart hogs (ngiri) everywhere.
Before sunrise on the Serengeti.
“We are family. I got all my sisters with me.”
Zebras are so architectural
Lots of baboons (nyani) and monkeys (tumbili) at Lake Manyara
Sunrise over the Serengeti
Leopard or cheetah? Cheetah because they have round spots.
Rama’s seat cover is (faux) leopard.