“…few can sojourn long within the unspoilt wilderness of a game sanctuary, surrounded on all sides by its confiding animals, without absorbing its atmosphere; the Spirit of the Wild is quick to assert supremacy, and no man of any sensibility can resist her.”
– James Stevenson-Hamilton (first warden of South Africa’s Sabi Nature Reserve)
Northern Serengeti – Day 5
October 03, 2018
When we designed our Safari, we were given the choice of in-country transports by road or by air. Road is less expensive, but with long distances between parks in Tanzania, we didn’t want to waste the better part of a day just getting to our destination; we opted for the in-country flights. So, our Northern Serengeti safari experience began at Kilimanjaro International Airport, where we boarded a Coastal Air Cessna Grand Caravan for our journey north.
Our flight to the Northern Serengeti was a milk-run of sorts, as we made landings and take-offs to exchange passengers and supplies at the Arusha Airport, the Manyara Airstrip, and the Seronera Airstrip along the way. We spent each flight looking out the window of the small plane taking in the vastness of the plains below. As we descended on approach to our final destination, I could see elephants from far above. Though still hundreds of feet in the air, their large, grey forms were clearly evident. They stood in a stand of acacia, flapping their ears while we glided above. Moments later we landed at the Kogatende Airstrip and were in the Northern Serengeti.
It was here that we met our first Guide, Raymond and the David, the manager at Chaka Camp, where we would be staying for the next four days. After a generous lunch, we boarded a land Cruiser with another family who we would be traveling with for the next day and a half. our Safari had begun.
We had only been driving for a couple of minutes when we saw lions! A pair of females and cubs were resting along a stream and were so close to us it was thrilling. The cubs were initially hiding in the grass, but soon left the grass to drink at the stream. We couldn’t believe both them and the two large females were so tolerant of us being so close.
Driving on, we would soon get our first look at elephants and calfs that we never got tired of watching. Throughout our first half-day in the Serengeti, we saw Plains zebra, Masai giraffes, Thompson’s Gazelles, and finally, Wildebeests. Prior to my visit to Tanzania, I had never given much thought to this species. The more we watched them and learned about their role in shaping the Serengeti ecosystem, the more we grew to appreciate them.
With the sun getting low, it was time to head to Chaka Camp, or home for the next four days. In Swahili, “Chaka” means “Bush”. Given that that Chaka Camp is a mobile camp that is dismantled and assembled with the seasons, we were very surprised at the luxury the camp provided. Our rustic Safari tent had lighting, artistic furniture, running water, flush toilets, and a hot bucket shower.
After cleaning up, we headed the Camp’s lounge tent – a large open tent that featured comfortable couches, a small library of safari books, Wi-Fi (yes, Wi-Fi!), and a well-stocked liquor cabinet, as well as beer, wine, and soda. We talked with some other visitors while I enjoyed a Serengeti brand beer. Soon there was a call for everyone to head to the dining tent. After being seated like we were at a fine restaurant, the dining staff would announce the dinner’s three-courses – more food available than any of us could eat with all items deliciously prepared and more flavorful than we had expected. I had this crazy idea about losing some weight while on safari, but the food was just too good.
After dinner, we relaxed in the lounge tent, where I posted a few photos from my iPhone for our family and friends at home to follow our journey. It wasn’t long before we headed off to our Safari tent (while escorted for safety).
Safely zipped into our canvas home away from home, we enjoyed a “lala samana” (long sleep) while the zebras barked, the hyenas whooped, and the lions moaned in the stillness of the Serengeti night.
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