Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Serengeti

I created this blog to update from the orphanage - but I just returned from a 3 days bush camping trip in the Serengeti, and it's too incredible not to write about, so here goes:

I’m not sure anyone has proper words to describe the Serengeti (perhaps other than Ernest Hemingway). It’s magical. Surreal. You’re driving along and it feels like you are in a live National Geographic documentary.

The plains are flat, endless and at this time of the year, they are green. The occasional acacia tree dots the landscape. The sky feels unusually low, leaving the mirage of such a short distance between the land and the clouds.

With a group of five others, we drove through in a Land Rover with the roof popped open so that we could stand on our seats for a clear view. Before we even reached the Serengeti boundaries, the landscape was overwhelmed with wildebeest and zebra.

Every year, the wildebeest – 1.5 million of them – migrate in search of food and water as the seasons change in East Africa. I was blessed with the chance to see part of the migration, which I first saw many years ago in an IMAX film.

The animals had just finished the migration from the north to greener pastures in the south. It is truly one of the most incredible things I have seen. Thousands and thousands of these ugly browns animals dotted the plains for as far as your eyes could see.

Zebra and antelope migrate as well, but in smaller numbers. The zebra are simply magical. Their black and white stripes are a stark contrast to the rest of the Serengeti’s beasts.

I was also fortunate to be there at the time of year when zebra give birth. I saw many young zebra – still shaky on their already long legs – suckling their mothers. I spotted one mother licking her babe’s coat, cleaning it.

I saw other babies too: baby lion cubs laying with a lioness, two baby warthogs chasing after their parents with fast but stumpy legs, even a baby rhino.
But, the most fun to watch were the baby baboons. Three of them with a group of adults, playing, chasing each other, rolling in the grass.

I was also lucky to see two young lions laying on the side of the dirt road used by safari vehicles. We were so close that the lens on our camera could pick up distinct details in their paws and fur. They looked like they were cuddling, spooning. So lazy in the heat and probably full from their nightly hunt. And – oddly enough – so disinterested in our jeep full of tourists gawking at them. They knew they were there, looking up at us occasionally.

I could go on and on…but “TIA” This is Africa, and the odds of me losing power and losing this note are not in my favour.

Internet too slow. Photos to come!

As a side note – if anyone has any tidbits, facts or recommendations on where to get good info on the Masai tribe, please leave some comments here.
Only a short time now until I reach the orphanage – feeling happy, healthy and really looking forward to it.


  1. I'm so glad you have this blog! You are such a great writer, and I am fasinated by your updates. I can't wait to see pictures! I'm sure you'll have very many amazing pic's. I looked up the Maasai Tribe on Wiki. They are very interesting. Something that stuck out to me is:
    Although the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments have instituted programs to encourage the Maasai to abandon their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle, the people have continued their age-old customs. Recently, Oxfam has claimed that the lifestyle of the Maasai should be embraced as a response to climate change because of their ability to farm in deserts and scrublands.
    If there's anything else you want to know, let me know, and I'll post it here.
    We'll talk soon.

  2. Karen it's Jen Nehme that just posted the above comment. I couldn't use my google account (which would have shown my name), so I selected Anonymous.

  3. I'm watching The Serengeti on Oasis right now!