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Contiki East Africa Safari – Day 9: Tarangire National Park

We woke up early in the morning, so early that we needed to be escorted from our tents by the Masai who keep watch all night long. After a quick breakfast, we hopped into our safari vehicle and headed towards the gate for Tarangire National Park! At the entrance, there was a giant elephant skull and bones which made me feel like I was in the Lion King in the elephant graveyard. 

Once JB paid the park fees, we hopped back on the safari vehicle and entered the national park. Within 5 minutes we had already passed dozens of animals, but JB “smelled something” (i.e. he got a tip that something we would want to see was nearby). Literally within 5 minutes of entering the park, we were at a watering hole with lions sleeping on a mound overlooking it and zebras cautiously drinking the water hoping they would not be the lions’ breakfast. It was absolutely insane to see the zebras drinking like that right in front of the lions and the lions looking up, yawning, and going back to sleep!

It was at this point, that we decided to keep count of the number of each animal we saw during our five days in Tanzania. As a Penn State Nittany Lion, I, of course, volunteered to keep track of the number of lions! After seeing 6 lions at once, we drove further into the national park to see what other animals awaited us. Unlike Masai Mara, we were not allowed to “off road” so we needed to stick to the designated trails. This was fine because JB seemed to always be “smelling something” which kept us on the edge of our seats the whole day! We passed countless elands throughout the day.

As we drove, we came across a mongoose which was much cuter than I would have thought.  Upon hearing the mongoose eats scorpions, he became an instant favorite with my roommate, Jeff, because we joked that scorpions had been found in many of the tents we stayed in along the way.

Then, we saw number 7 of the day! Yes, 7 lions in less than an hour. This lion was sleeping….in a tree! It was one of the most beautiful things I have seen and I still get goosebumps thing about it. It was absolutely beautiful and, after a few minutes, decided to turn around and look straight at us. After a brief nap, it woke up and walked away. It was walking either in or along the road, so we were able to follow it for a few minutes until it decided to go down an embankment into its den!

When we could no longer see the lion, we continued to drive and saw a beautiful bird named the Southern White-Crowned Shrike.

We also saw Vervet monkeys cleaning each other.

As we continued driving, we saw a few more beautiful and photogenic scenes including elephants wandering around, impalas banging antlers together, baby baboons, zebras resting their heads on each other’s backs and an ostrich up close!

While we were driving after lunch, we saw something that National Geographic spends years trying to film – right in front of our eyes! A cheetah mother made a kill right in front of us and dragged the corpse back under a tree for her cubs to eat. While they were eating, a leopard which was hiding in a nearby tree jumped down, got into an altercation with the cheetah. The cheetah cubs ran off to hide during this and it’s a good thing because the leopard won, snatched the corpse and dragged it into a tree. The cheetah cubs came back and sat with their mom under a tree in the shade, with no lunch left. The whole experience was something I will never forget – even JB was amazed by what we just saw.

That was a perfect way to end our day. We were so amped on the way back that we just enjoyed the view and relived what we had just seen! 

Once we got back to the lodge, we had dinner and then gathered around a campfire before hitting the sack.

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