Contiki East Africa Safari – Day 11: Serengeti National Park
We woke up in the morning and saw our camp for the first time in the daylight. It was even better than I thought. We slept in tents in the middle of nature. It was many of my “is this real life” moments of the trip. After breakfast overlooking the Serengeti, it was time to hit the road. Unfortunately, our trip was coming to an end so we needed to get COVID tests in order to travel home.
Shortly after our departure towards the COVID test area, we came across a cackling hyena. Every time we come across a hyena we assume it is up to no good, but we saw nothing around it and kept driving. We passed a few other animals including a few dik-diks who seemed unstartled by our vehicle.
Then, we came across a regal lioness who was surrounded by over a dozen safari vehicles. She did not care, though, as she walked and sat down in the midst of all the vehicles. It is amazing how used to manmade cars the animals are – a true testament to the boundary that has been established in that humans are there to look and not touch and definitely not harm.
We continued to drive and found a whole pride of lions, including a bunch of cubs enjoying bonding time with their mothers.
After staring in awe of the lion cubs, we reluctantly moved on and came across a very pungent group of hippos.
We continued on and saw another group of lions, likely from the same pride, basking in the sun and playing.
We then went to get our COVID tests next to a youth hostel. I hope it is the most expensive COVID test I will ever have at $175 because it needs to be flown out of the Serengeti to be tested. As a side note, I did not know they had youth hostels in the middle of the Serengeti!
After hitting the road, we came across two warthogs digging in the mud. Pumba would have been proud.
We then saw another group of lions. By this point, we were at over 30 lions in five days! These lions were basking in the sun on rocks and had two small cubs playing in the shade. The tree and setting reminded me of the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom.
A male lion popped out of nowhere and JB decided to follow in our vehicle. The lionesses followed suit, while the cubs remained back near the rock. The lions were tracking something, likely an elan, but never pursued it, so we continued driving until we saw two cheetahs wandering around. They kept looking around and climbing onto small hills, to no avail.
We eventually moved on from the cheetahs and found yet another group of lions basking on rocks and nearby on the ground, this time with a male lion in plain sight and a lion cub!
We quickly went back to the camp to grab lunch and enjoy the view. About 20 minutes after driving out of camp, we came across another lion pride with nine lions on a rock!
We kept driving and saw another eight sleeping on the ground, including one very tired male lion. It just stared at us, and by us, I mean me, as we stopped our vehicle 6 feet away. I took what felt like hundreds of pictures while it just laid there before putting the camera down and admiring its beauty. It was hard to believe that I was less 6 feet away from a lion, in a vehicle with the window open. You can’t do that at a zoo!
It then began to get dark and we had to head back to the camp, where it started to rain. We made it back after dark, just in time for an amazing dinner!