“If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.”
* John Hemingway (American author)
Central Serengeti – Days 9
October 07, 2018
On this day we said “kwaheri” to our friends at Chaka Camp and headed back to the Kogatende Airstrip for a short flight to the Seronera Airstrip, where we enter the Central Serengeti.
Upon landing, we meet our new safari guide, “Kisembo” (Swahili for Poetry) who greets us with lunch served atop the hood of the Land Cruiser that will be our transportation for the next two days. Soon after lunch we head into the plains for a safari drive.
While I wasn’t expecting the Northern Serengeti to be so hilly, the Central Serengeti immediately met my expectations for the archetype of the Serengeti I was familiar with from television and movies: an endless plain of grass interspersed with large acacia trees.
It was late in the season and neither the rains nor the wildebeest had arrived yet. Long dry grass surrounded us. In the distance, fires smolder from intentional burning done to promote fresh new grass for the wildebeest, when the rains arrive.
The acacia trees provided good shade and were natural spots to see wildlife escaping the heat of the mid-day sun.
Among the grass were some familiar herbivores and encountered a sleepy lion by the side of the road that eventually attracted other tours, forming what we jokingly called a “lion jam”.
While many safari-goers are out for “the big 5”, we found just as much enjoyment and interest in the unique colors, patterns and habits of the numerous bird species that share this region with the larger, more sought after mammals.
The day was coming to an end. As we headed into our new camp we encountered a rather large pride of lions and stopped to watch them until they eventually moved on. Our last species of the day was a Dik dik, a small dwarf antelope named for the female’s alarm call that is thought to ward off predators (link)
Though only 21km from the Seronera Airstrip, the our new camp “Kiota Camp” was wonderfully isolated away from noise and shuffle of the other camps and lodges. Situated on Bonagi Hill, the location overlooked the Serengeti, and afforded the opportunity to see wildlife within the camp and enjoy stunning views of the grassland and Acacia trees in the valley below.
The word Kiota means “nest” in Swahili. Like Chaka Camp, this camp was again in a remote setting within the park and required escorts. While seeing a hyena in camp and hearing reports of a nearby pride of roughly a dozen lions, we always felt safe. The camp was also surprisingly luxurious. Due to its more remote location, we expected smaller, simpler tents than we had grown accustomed to at Chaka Camp. Instead our safari tent was twice the size of our prior one and paired a larger sleeping area with a separate on-suite wardrobe and vanity area, with a private shower and flush toilet. The main area was also wonderfully adorned with beautiful hand-made African furniture, textiles, and lamps and our tent’s large bed was more comfortable than ours at home.
After a quick hot water bucket shower, we joined the camp’s other guests in the lounge tent where I sampled another Tanzanian beer before we were called to dinner. Then back to the tent for another “lala salama” (Swahili for long sleep) to the sounds of the Central Serengeti wildlife.