We’ve been virtually travelling through Tanzania with safari executive Mahree. Today we’ll join her in the magical Serengeti…
“We walked for miles over burnt out country… Then I saw the green trees of the river, walked two miles more and found myself in paradise.”
– Stewart Edward White (upon finding the Serengeti)
Though hesitant to leave the Ngorongoro Crater and all of the incredible experiences we had encountered, my heart did a little dance as we embarked onward to the Serengeti, a place I had been dreaming of since leaving Colorado. With the largest mammal migration in the world, the Serengeti is one of the ‘Ten Natural Travel Wonders of the World’, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and a World Heritage UNESCO site.
Moments after landing and leaping into the waiting land rover, I was captivated. Rolling plains dotted with acacias and skies so vast, I felt as if I were on a golden sea. The word, Serengeti, is derived from the Maasai meaning “endless plain”. Truly, the Serengeti does seem to go on forever and is bathed in a magical light, somewhat like the deserts of New Mexico yet teeming with as many mysterious creatures as the ocean.
We had driven for about 10 minutes when we saw a sleek, female cheetah stalking a Thompson’s Gazelle. Suddenly she sprang at blinding speed, and captured the gazelle in a flash. It was one of most incredible wildlife sightings I have ever experienced.
We would go on to see incredible amounts of wildlife with every drive. Along with giraffe, elephant, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, and hyena, we also encountered bat eared fox, a civet, another large female cheetah feasting on a Grant’s Gazelle, and later three lionesses on a kill!
Sanctuary Kusini (named after a resident cheetah) is stunning, built right into and on a grouping of large red kopjes (rocky hills). The main lodge blends into the environment beautifully as if it’s part of the landscape. Adjacent to the main lodge is an enormous kopje, affectionately referred to as “Happy Rock”. Happy because this is one kopje you can walk up without the fear of lurking predators. Here, the staff places brightly colored pillows where guests sit, watching the sunset while being served sundowners and hors d’oeuvres – or even a private dinner if requested.
There is a resident bachelor herd of buffalo which can be seen lazily wandering through camp – old bachelors which don’t seem to pose much of a threat. They can even, at times, be seen walking up onto the rocks which seems quite a feat with hooves!
Gourmet meals were served in the main lodge. Fine linen, candlelight, local art and artifacts surrounded us creating an elegant atmosphere. After dinner we happily headed outdoors to gather around the campfire. Under the stars, we shared stories and adventures of the day. As a contented sleepiness set in, askaris (Maasai guards) escorted us to our chalets. Each tented chalet is private and centered around the kopjes with sweeping views of the Serengeti. From the comfort of my bed, I was lulled to sleep by the sound of lions and hyenas calling in the distance.
It was very difficult to leave the Serengeti – someplace I would recommend that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. Truly – a paradise.