Searching for Animals on the Serengeti

The hot African sun heats the canvas and makes it uncomfortable to sleep or linger. It’s 6 am and we are on the move.  We pack our luggage and load it into the safari vehicle. The tents and remainder of the camp will be dismantled and reassembled for our arrival at the next camp. We eat breakfast and finally, I’m able to eat something. I remain cautious and eat little and slow and hope today is the turning point.

We assemble our camera gear, review the shots from yesterday and decide that the best shots will be with the 500mm lens. We attach the beanbag to the camera and put the binoculars in the seat pocket. We slather on sunscreen, don sunglasses and prepare to spend the next ten hours inside the safari vehicle.

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We 4×4 our way on roads that are virtually nonexistent.  They are created by animals and widened by Safari vehicles and erosion. Nausea pesters and intensifies with each pothole. I try to focus on taking pictures and the nausea takes a back seat temporarily. We have put in an order for chips, and ginger drink and I look forward to tonight knowing this will help.

We focus our eyes and search for animals. Stephen and others in our group are amazing at this task. I zoom in on the blob they point to on the horizon and soon an elephant comes into focus. My nausea is forgotten as I happily snap away. There are so many animals on the Serengeti and far more than I imagined.

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We see Lions lazing on the rocks, covered in flies and stretched out without a care in the world. They know their place as the top of the food chain and conserve their energy for when they need to exert themselves to chase down a zebra dinner or a gazelle snack.

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John and I take turns with the camera. It’s nice to be able to just look and see without figuring out angles and the next shot. John spends much time photographing a Baboon eating a mushroom. Forty-two pictures later he is sated.  We are thankful for digital photography.

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Stephen shuts the engine off when we are photographing to avoid any excess shake, still there is movement every time someone shifts position, stands or sits and there are six of us in the vehicle all moving at any given time. The Silver Pod bean bag works great to stabilize the camera.  This was an inexpensive item that I had researched and obtained prior to leaving for our trip.  It is perfect.  We are giddy at times as we look at our results in the small screen.

We park by a large tree and get out of the vehicle. We are each given a boxed lunch prepared ahead of time and enjoy the offerings of chicken, juice, cucumber sandwich, peanuts, chips and a muffin. There is enough food to feed a thrashing crew as opposed to sedentary safari vehicle dwellers. Stephen tells us that predators are near and we chuckle.  Still, I wonder if he is trying to tell us to stay alert?   My relaxing lunch is over as I scan the area continually.  I am not interested in being lunch for one of the many predators on the Serengeti.

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cherylsmit

Writing and photography are my first and second loves and thanks to technology I have the ability to share with a larger audience, including family and friends. Gone are the days of lugging around photo albums after a trip and of keeping a written journal of the experience that only I would view. The days of the handwritten letters are gone, but blogging provides a chance to share ideas, thoughts and photographs with a few mouse clicks and to receive instant feedback from around the world. It provides an opportunity to research a new place and to see that place through the eyes of a multitude of people each with their own unique way of viewing and experiencing the world. It opens the world wide and allows us a front row seat. Blogging connects us and creates a family of support. It provides an outlet and a chance to perfect the craft of writing and story telling. When I sit in my living room drinking my coffee and see that someone from another part of the world has read my words, and then I read theirs, the world is much smaller and more attainable. We are more alike than different as we share uniquely human experiences. Once I had a dream of becoming a Journalist, but somehow life got in the way. I currently have a fantastic career in healthcare and know that I have made a difference so I have no regrets. Still, I wonder if there is time to explore the road less travelled?

2 thoughts on “Searching for Animals on the Serengeti”

  1. Cheryl – Having also completed a safari in both Tanzania & Kenya I just can’t image 10 hrs continuous in the vehicle. We went out twice a day – starting at 0600 for 3 hours, followed by breakfast, then back out again about 1530 for another 3 hours. This way you got excellent light and missed the harsh midday sun. Those are also the times when the animals are most active.

    The safari we have scheduled in South Africa has a similar schedule. Midday breaks also give a few hours for managing photos while still fresh in memory.

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    1. Hi

      Thanks for your comment. As this was our first safari we had no idea what was typical. It was brutal though as I was still suffering from altitude sickness after climbing Kilimanjaro. There were days we were out for over 12 hours. The crew setting up camp struggled and seemed to need much time to set up. I like your schedule much better!

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