BigWorldAndSmallWorld Blog

Into Africa’s Serengeti

Posted in Travel and Adventure by Administrator on the December 4th, 2011

Located in Tanzania, Serengeti is Africa’s largest plain. In Swahili, Serengeti means endless. We saw and loved this typical African scene: animals rest and eat peacefully; powerful lions and meek impalas happily live together on the same land; sausage tree stands alone on a vast land under the sun; at sunset, Serengeti is so beautiful. This is what draws our human beings to Africa.
Two things are must when people enter Serengeti: open-top jeep and plenty drinking water. We bought 24 bottles of 1.5 liter water for five-day’s supply. Our tour package included a driver and a cook. The driver is also the guide. All vehicles entering Serengeti are modified Toyota SUVs either Land-rover or Land-cruiser. They are tough vehicles perfect for the rough roads. We had a good cook who cooked three meals daily for us. Considering he was cooking on charcoal at camping sites in the wildness, we were surprised by the delicious and variety of food the cook prepared for us. Lunch was usually something easy to take on the road such as sandwiches, fruits and drinks. For breakfast, we had eggs, sausages, toasts, coffee and tea. For supper, we had rice or potato or noodle, the main dish usually was a stir-fry dish with beef or chicken and vegetables. We had fruits like baby banana, mango, orange, papaya and watermelon. Eating under the African stars in the evening was a real treat for us. The meal service was English style. The cook set up plates, forks, spoons and cups on a table with nice table cloth. And he served our meals with polite manner. What a luxury! We would not have imagined this kind of service in the wildness. The cook also would put up the tents for us and we would help the driver take down the tents. The driver guide not only knew the roads well, he also was very knowledgeable about animals and plants in Serengeti. To be a driver guide, one has to go to special schools for a couple of years to learn.
Sleeping under the Africa sky was the most memorable experience for us. We chose camping on this trip so that we could be closer to the nature. At night we could hear animals’ sounds, it was wonderful but also scary at the same time. Knowing there is wildlife out there, I was afraid to go to bathroom at night. Clark said every time he went outside the tent, he would shine flashlight around to spot any eyes staring at him in the darkness:). Camping was also the cheapest accommodation among others such as sleeping in fixed tents, huts or in lodges.
Road conditions and toiletry conditions were pretty bad. Every day we were dusty from head to toe. It was hard to comb my hairs. Camping sites did have outdoor showers. We had to be brave to endure the coldness to take a shower. To our surprise, one place where we camped at the rim of a creator we even had a hot shower. It was the coldest place where days and nights were foggy. Africa has two seasons: wet season and dry season. We went there in August, it was their dry season and also winter. Morning and night were cool while daytime under the sun was warm. Travelers can enter Serengeti only in the dry season; otherwise jeeps would be stuck in the mud during the wet season. Human is not allowed to get out of vehicle in Serengeti. While we were at the bottom of the creator, a few hundred meters away from seeing a lioness under a rock, our jeep broke. It would not shift gears. The driver guide had to come out and work on fixing the car. We were worried. Time seemed frozen and we felt we had waited forever. Eventually we got a few other cars’ attention and they stopped to help us. Nothing bad happened and we were able to drive away with a temporary fix.
Africa is animals’ heaven. We saw baboon, zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe, hippo, hyena, buffalo, crane, impala, wildebeest, cheetah, leopard, ostrich and many kinds of birds. We had a very close encounter with a cheetah lying on top of a termite mound. He/she was relaxing but seemed stay alerted. The thought of the possibility the cheetah would jump on to our jeep was frightening, but it never happened. A huge male lion was also in close view. We could see his strong body powerful and beautiful. This fearless creature indeed had the king of the jungle manner. He walked confidently away from us towards a few female lionesses resting under a tree. My favorite was zebras and wildebeests. They were in great numbers.
We also saw native Africa tribe people Maasai. Like American Indians, they love nature. Some sleep in the wildness with surrounding bushes and sticks as temporary shelters, some sleep in fixed huts. The huts were made from mud, straws and cow pup. The main foods they live on are cows and sheeps. The cows we saw in Africa all were very skinny. The Maasai people rarely take shower. They wear red or purple robs, holding a stick in hand. The guide told us even lions could recognize Maasai and the lions don’t normally get too close to Maasai people.
Kenya and Tanzania people look poor and live a simple life. They live in shabby houses. The roads were dusty, muddy and bumpy. The Chinese are building roads in Africa. Water is a precious resource in Africa. Tuesdays and Saturdays are market days where people can sell or buy all kinds of produces on the market. Our guide told us his monthly rent was $15 US dollars and his monthly grocery was $20 US dollars. Tanzania shilling is worthless. 1 US dollar is equal to 1600 Tanzania shilling. The largest bill in Tanzania is 10000 shilling and the smallest bill is 500 shilling. People there like to receive US dollars because they can get good rate by exchanging them to shillings. When the tour ended, we gave tips to the cook and the guide in cash. We also gave them our nice sleeping bag, ropes, blankets and flashlights. They appreciated these good camping equipments because they did not have much stuff.
Our Africa trip is the hardest vacation ever. We met three Chinese people from Guangzhou in the beginning. They were to climb Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. It borders Kenya and Tanzania. I would think climbing Kilimanjaro would be a harder trip than our camping trip. They had to backpack everything themselves and sleep in tents on the mountain where base camps were set up. I asked these young people why they choose Africa and why climb Kilimanjaro? They told me they want to challenge themselves. What a terrific answer! Luckily after returning to USA, I was able to connect with one of the Chinese. They did climb to the peak and got a certificate. I liked one of their photos a lot where the moon seemed so close, the snow peak was within reach and the sky was so deep blue. Africa, you added another continent to our travel log. Kilimanjaro, we wish to climb you the next time we go to Africa.
You can watch our photo video Dailey’s Africa on YouTube at