Bucket list goals – safari ✔️ travel tips

Safari game drive, Malvina Dunder

Usually I don’t like to stay in one place for too long, because I feel that the world is so big and I have to see as much as possible, but one week at the safari in Tanzania is barely enough. There are a few different safari parks, and some of them are really huge, like some European countries. It takes time to visit all of them. 

It is funny too see many tourists (including me of course!) wearing professional looking “safari guide” outfits, Indiana Jones hats and khaki boots, all shiny and brand new 😉 excited about the adventure yet to come.

In the national parks it is not allowed to go outside the car, you can only open the roof top or windows. The roads are pretty rough and cars get a flat tire sometimes… How they deal with that, I don’t know and I’m happy about it. I’ve only heard that guides help each other and take tourists from the other car / company in need. 

Driving around and spotting animals is called the game drive. The African landscape is amazing and heart warming, full of colours, animals, acacia and baobab trees. It is a good place to use a telephoto lens, because the car cannot drive on the grass and sometimes there’s a long distance to see the animal. Some people also take a binoculars.

First animals welcoming us in Tanzania were cheetahs and I have to say, it was breathtaking for two reasons: they are majestic and scary. The way they move is hypnotising but when they jump in a second on a car, it is a bit stressful. And amazing at the same time 😅 We were told by our guide that they are curious creatures and may jump inside, sniff around and go out. In a situation like this we should stay quiet and don’t move. How is this possible?🤷 

During the safari I also found out that if you meet an African buffalo – lay down flat on the ground, then you might have a chance to survive. If you meet a hyena at night – flash a light. If you meet a lion – you have no chance anyway so sit down and get eaten…

Hippos look really cute with their huge bellies and tiny, pink ears, but they are one of the big five, they are no joke.

Antelopes, giraffes, and zebras are iconic and the latter sometimes stand in pair and cross their necks, which looks really sweet. 

Pumbaas move in a funny way and look cool (the official name is a warthog).

Leopards are loners and usually spotted laying on the branches.

“Laughing” hyenas are very effective hunters, not only scavengers. They are very family oriented, inteligent and have a strict hierarchy in their pack, also teeth so strong that can crash bones.

Scavengers like vultures and jackals are very important part of nature. Thanks to them, diseases are not spreading.

Lions really look like kings, but sometimes you may spot their bellies in the grass and cute sleepy face. 

Lionesses show a special blend of power and beauty.

Elephants are incredibly inteligent and caring for their offspring. They look friendly and peaceful, however there is no doubt how powerful animal they are. 

Baboons are funny looking, busy monkeys, yet judging by the size of their teeth, you don’t want mess with them.

Twice a year you can see the great migration which is one of the wonders of the world. Animals cross the river and wander from Tanzania to Kenya, and the other way round. The purpose of that is to reach water and greener part of the land.

In Tanzania there was a big problem with poaching, which is why the latest president introduced a law forbidding to shoot animals (under no circumstances), and from what I’ve heard, the rangers are obligated to shot the poacher on the spot, without any investigation or trial. This law is very strict, but the numbers of animals are increasing since the law was published. 

Also in some parks it is not allowed to drive at night (there is a huge fine for doing this).

At the safari parks you stay overnight on the camping sites or in more fancy lodges, which are quite pricy (can range from 1000-2000 USD per night).
There is no fence in those places, and it is important to stay in your tent after dark, when wild animals are strolling around, sniffing, and making noises.

In the first safari evening, I was disappointed that our tents look military, old fashion with metal pieces, have two layers and are not so quick to pitch (like modern styles). At night I became the most grateful person for my military tent. It was totally dark and we could hear animals walking all around, hyenas making the “laughing” sound and many more I cannot recognise, also rattling and pushing our tents. My imagination is very vivid by nature, but that night it was over the top. Early in the morning we were all talking about that night and exchanging emotions that we went through. How little did I know back then… 

Another night in a different safari camp, on the rim of the crater, some animals were pulling strings from our tent, jumping on it, shaking, biting and scratching… I believe they were hyenas, but I don’t know for sure – I obviously haven’t tried to unzip my tent and check it out. The hyenas I heard the previous night were making a bit different sounds.

At some point I wanted to cry but my body felt paralysed, and my throat tightened. We were squeezing each other with my beloved one, in the middle of the tent, because all the sides were moving. We were trying what we could to make them move away, sitting quiet and yelling, but nothing worked. We even started telling each other that this is only wind, not wild animals, and we are overreacting… but I don’t think I was ever that scared in my life. It was going on for a few hours and we didn’t get much sleep. In the morning I went to the public restroom, and while standing in the line I was talking with others. Some girls were still shaking like me, and said that the night was horrible, also they thought it was a massive beasts attack on the tents, but the others said that they could hear noises but nothing was approaching their tent… How lucky.

Changing the subject for more relaxing, on the safari trips there is a guide (driver) and a cook, who prepares meals in the camps (in a separate kitchen-like building). Our food was delicious and I could try new testes, like kasawa, which is an African potato. A driver has a hard task, because some places look the same for kilometers. They have a radio where can inform (in Swahili language) about animals locations. New guides sometimes get lost and ask via radio to lead them back 😉

Probably you know that you have to take a towel for camping… It didn’t crossed my mind due to overexcitement, and I had to use my boy friends’s t-shirt as a towel. Moreover when I was in a public bathroom with many girls, I noticed that they are all super prepared, have many cosmetics and makeup stuff, towels (!) and a bottle of water to use instead of tap one from the unknown source, after teeth brushing. And there was me, standing with my bf’s t-shirt, a tooth brush & paste. That’s all. It was very uncomfortable situation, but I tried to play it cool 😜 I also didn’t get any amoeba or other African disease, contrary to some girls who later got a food poisoning (yeap, life is not fair).

I was thinking for a while if I should post my story about the elephant, as it was one of the most reckless things I’ve ever done, so please read carefully and learn from my mistake.

In our camp in safari, my companions spotted an elephant next to the dining place in the bushes, we all got excited and run to see it… (there’s no fence in those camps and animals can come in). When we came a few meters distance, the elephant gave us the look and we understood immediately not to step any closer… Where was my brain? Maybe in one of the Thai’s sanctuary where Indian elephants are gentle and different than African. After a moment, one guide saw us and started yelling-whispering “what are you doing guys! It’s dangerous, get back NOW!” The guides started making some sounds and we all went separated ways. We were lucky but I’ve learned the first hand how those two types of elephants are different. African ones are aggressive and don’t like people. Unfortunately we deserve it because of hundreds years of killing them for the tusks. They have a really good memory btw.

Ps. Mom if you read it, I promise I will never do it again 😉

After all these adventures, the last night, we were sleeping in a safe lodge outside the safari park, far away from wild animals. Suddenly at night some animal pushed against our tent, and we both jumped on the bed frightened. After a moment we burst into laughter when realising that it was only a small kitty.

Malvina Dunder with love to planet Earth. Travel adventures & conscoius living. Blog podróżniczy, świadome życie, z miłości do planety Ziemi
Books e-books, Malvina Dunder, książki, ebook

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