Standing at the entrance of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania was a dream come true. I have wanted to see this vast landscape and the wildebeest migration for about ten years now; ever since David Attenborough talked about it so eliquently in the documentary “Africa”. Its an intimidating thing to realise that you are now entering one of the most dangerous places on earth. It has no fences and there are some of the planets apex predators just strolling around watching your every move………”I guess they wouldn’t do these tours if they were that dangerous?!” was the line running through my head at the time.
As the truck rumbled roughly across the plains and the animals started to make semi-regular appearances I realised that what I was seeing was far more incredible than anything I had previously imagined. The Serengeti (“endless plain” in the Masai language) is 14500 km square and is a preservation area.
It was the wild and untamed greatest show on earth! Seeing all of these creatures was a “bucket lister”. Lions, Cheetahs, Leopards, Thompson Gazelle, Topee, Zebra, Mongoose, Giraffe, Hyenas, Jackal, Nile Crocodile, Cape Buffalo and Elephants, as well as a variety of birds that were truly incredible.
When we arrived at the camping site and there was an air of excitement about what our first day had produced and I have to say my expectations were truly blown to pieces.
As part of the tour expectation we all had to pitch in and assist with the meal preparation, clean the truck, wash dishes etc etc…. a roster was created and adhered to fairly well the majority of the time. Our cook Sylvia was in the middle of preparing our first campsite dinner while we pitched our sturdy canvas tents; yep! Tents in the Serengeti!!!
Julius our leader called a meeting a 6:30pm (I think) and we sat down for a very serious briefing about safety and what animals we were to expect around camp. I have to say I was a little anxious to say the least……..Hyenas, Buffalo, Elephants and possibly Lions…….oh fucking great! But this is what we all signed up for and it was happening Here and Now!
When you are out there in it, it becomes apparent that you are no longer the strong, you are no longer capable of survival and you are no longer an apex predator like you think you are. The Serengeti greets you with an acute awareness and feeling that says “welcome back to the bottom of the food chain”.
The first night sleep was a little rough for everyone as the sounds of the Serengeti interrupted your slumber and stepping out of your tent was not even on the agenda. People said they weren’t anxious and nervous however people also put on a brave face and try to be tough when they should be asking questions about their environment……….we are a snack food for some of these creatures.
I was awakened at about 2am by some very large snorting and breathing and it was not my tent mate snoring. This was a large animal right outside my tent and I was shit scared to say the least. i sat up quietly to see the shadow of a very large buffalo wandering past look for something to eat……please keep walking, please keep walking 🙂