For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to go on an African safari. Elephants are my absolute favorite animal, and the opportunity to see them in the wild, as well as lions, zebras, giraffes and all number of African animals, is a big bucket list item for me. So when Amy and I decided to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, I knew we would need to make the most of our time here. Tanzania has so much land set aside for animals to live protected, where tourists can go to enjoy them in their natural habitat. We choose a 7 day trip through Good Earth Tours that takes us to Tarangire, Serengeti, and Lake Manyara National Parks, and the Ngorongoro Conservaton Area.
We’re picked up at 8am by our guide and driver Abdul and head to Tarangire National Park, where we’ll officially start our safari! The drive takes about 4 hours through relatively flat terrain.
This area is largely populated by the Maasai. We frequently pass their villages and see them herding their cattle and other livestock alongside the road.
We pass by a market where they trade cattle for the things they need.
We arrive at the park entrance and have a quick boxed lunch while Abdul fills out the appropriate paperwork to allow us to enter.
These little blue superb starlings are everywhere. They like to hang around humans, hoping for a scrap of food to fall on the ground, but they’re so colorful that I don’t mind them at all.
After we eat, we walk around the visitor center. Tarangire is considered the home of elephants and they have a few bones on display so you can see how big they really are. This is a skull next to a turtle shell.
As we walk around, we see a bunch of monkeys playing on some stairs.
Then we’re off to officially start our safari! Abdul pops the roof of our truck so we can get better views.
This is a Lilac-breasted roller. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I didn’t know colors like this occurred in nature.
And then we see our first zebras and wildebeests!
We’re so excited by these on the first day, but by the end of the safari, they’re kind of a dime a dozen. There are literally thousands of them! But for today at least, we’re thrilled to see them.
The neat thing about Tarangire is that the animals are so close to the road. I feel like I’m in an episode of Nature or Wild Kingdom. Or maybe the Lion King.
You know, I’ve never really noticed how cool giraffes are before. They aren’t like any other animals and those long legs and neck are so graceful!
And is that…an elephant? Finally! I’ve been waiting to see them in the wild all my life! We drive a little further up the road and spot dozens of them. I’m literally in my happy place.
I could sit here for hours. And unfortunately for Amy, I think we do spend more than an hour just watching them exist.
And oh my gosh the babies! Somehow, I manage to keep from crying with joy.
At one point, they get so close to the car, Abdul has to move us away.
Eventually we have to move on. There’s always more to see, and chances are good we’ll see plenty more elephants on this trip. We stop to watch a couple waterbucks sparing, spot a baby giraffe and a family of banded mongooses.
And then we see telltale signs of wildlife nearby; a bunch of safari vehicles pulled over to the side of the road.
It’s a male and female lion, sleeping in the tall grass!
Another group tells us the lions are mating and if we hang around long enough, we might see it happen again. Talk about hitting the safari jackpot! We wait for about an hour while Abdul tells us that lions mate for 7 days, during which time they separate from the rest of the pride and don’t eat at all. This is why sometimes they can look really skinny. These 2 are hard to see since they are lying down, but soon, the male wakes up and gives us a few good yawns.
And then it’s time for the action.
It only lasts maybe 15 seconds and when it’s done, he struts around giving us a good show, before lying back down to rest up for the next go round.
With the show over, it’s time to go. The park closes at 6pm and we have to be out by then. But we’ll be back in the morning for one more game drive before we head to the Ngorongoro Crater.