Stella’s Tanzania Trip Report: Day 1

March 26, 2013  By: Gretchen

Stella blog cheetah day 1Stella spent a week earlier this month exploring every corner of the Serengeti in Tanzania. She’s put together a great trip report that makes us feel like we were there with her to share her excitement – enjoy reading about her adventures over the next few blog entries!

Day 1 – Arusha to Southern Serengeti

I woke up my first morning refreshed and ready to go. We were off from Arusha to Serengeti Safari Camp, located in the Southern Serengeti in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. After a short flight to Ndutu airstrip, we were off to locate the wildebeest migrating through the south. Scanning through the trees, we came across a lone female cheetah – how exciting!! She was lying next to a bush, resting in the mid-morning sun.  After a short visit, we continued on our search. We were only in the area for one day and the migration is not something to be missed.

Stella blog prego wildebeest

Another 20 minutes of driving and the wildebeest had surrounded our vehicles and stretched on as far as the eye could see. Along with the wildebeest, there were zebra and hyena joining the group. The most exciting part was all of the baby wildebeest and the pregnant mothers to be. We came across evidence that we had just missed a birth by minutes and set out to spot the wobbly baby, who was already strong enough to walk. We didn’t locate the newborn, but we found another mommy ready to pop! We could see the calf moving in her belly. What an amazing sight!

Stella blog lion day 1We continued on to camp for lunch and came across two lionesses sleeping under a tree. We decided lunch could wait. We sparked the curiosity of one of the cats that managed to pull herself from her slumber to give a brief photo opportunity. After a few minutes, she flopped back done and we continue to camp.

With a late arrival to camp, we were shown to our Meru-style tents to freshen up before lunch. Serengeti Safari Camp is a mobile camp that follows the migration. It moves three times a year to be in the best position to witness the migration. The tents are roomy and have en-suite bathrooms with a chemical toilet and hot bucket showers. The views are straight into the bush and you can only hope to see a pride of lions to make their way by while you are safely ensconced inside.Stella migration

After lunch, we headed back to our 4×4 Land Cruisers with pop out roofs and off into the bush we went. Richard, one of our wonderful guides, spotted a leopard tortoise on the side of the hill. We stop to get a closer look at one of the ‘Little 5’ reptiles. Back in the car, we followed the stream looking for whatever we might find. We came across giraffe and zebra along the banks and Richard had a feeling that if we continued up the hill, we would be in the heart of the migration, and of course he was right! Never have I been surrounded by this many animals! Along with the wildebeest, there are zebra, impala, black-backed jackal, steenbok, Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelles and cape buffalo.

Stella blog migration day 1

We stopped next to a large acacia tree to enjoy a sundowner and take in our surroundings. It was an amazing experience to stand in the middle of thousands of animals and enjoy a sunset without another care in the world.

Back at camp and after a quick shower, we met to discuss our day with a bush dinner under the stars. We were served lamb curry with rice and vegetables, just what was needed to refuel for tomorrow. After dinner we gathered around the fire for a nightcap and to scan the skies for our favorite constellations. One by one our group dwindled and I was left by the fire with only our guide listening to the night sounds. Off in the distance, we could hear a lion roar. Back in my tent, I drifted peacefully off to sleep. I only woke once that night – at that point the lions were closer – communicating with each other only a few hundred meters from our tents. Magic!

On day two, I head to central Serengeti – stay tuned for more!

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