God’s House in Tanzania

p1030617Some 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.

p1030378I 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.




Zebra crossing


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.




The end


  1. Wow, fantastic photos. Thanks for posting these. Sounds like good feedback on the REI tour, too. I have always been curious about “how to do” Africa. So you have shown a great first step.

    1. REI was great and not expensive (that is, compared to other safari options). Tanzania is a very good first Africa country too I think — besides the amazing parks, it is safe and friendly — and there is Zanzibar, where I am now! xoxox

  2. This is a fantastic article, thank you for posting it for the rest of us to get to see and read. I am going to reblog this one for you so that even more folks can get to see this beauty.

  3. Hi Kim, thanks for tor the great blog and photos of the trip! Jeff & I had a great time visiting friends in The Netherlands and are now at home in Seattle digesting the last couple of amazing weeks. Hope to see you again maybe somewhere in the Mediterranean??

  4. Hi! I found your blog post while researching the REI Tanzania safari tour. I usually like traveling solo and a planning my own trip, but safari is much harder as a solo traveler. I love the pictures and your summary of your experience. How was the lodging? There isn’t much on the REI site about it. Thanks!

    1. Hi There, I did a lot of research before I chose REI and, for the money, it was a great tour. The lodging was very good. Our final three nights at the tent camp on the Serengeti had a few small issues but overall we were very comfortable. The food was surprisingly good even for a vegetarian like me. I also chose REI because I assumed there would be like-minded people on the tour and it was a really good group for me — fun, engaged, upbeat. Have a great trip! Kim

      1. Hi, Kim–we also chose REI because we thought there would be like minded people, and we found you! So glad we were able to do this together. You brought so much and I an now following you–not as a stalker but as a fan! Hugs, Meryl

  5. Love your blog too, most especially of course OUR Tanzania section. It was a pleasure to meet you and I wish you luck on your trip. Wish I could join you in November. Maybe another time 😉 Be safe! Hugs, Carol

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