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AFRICA gave me a permanent wanderlust and craving for adventure. The varied animals, vivid landscapes and diverse cultures offered exhilarating travel experiences. Sometimes when I relate my travel tales, they seem almost surreal. The things I saw and did during my stay there were beyond comparison.
As I went through some old travel photos, my mind went back to the final few weeks of a four-year stint in Africa. I was in Kenya and Tanzania, enjoying the amazing wildlife one last time before heading back here. It was one of my most unforgettable trips.
From Nairobi in Kenya, I travelled to Masai Mara for two full days in the safari, followed by a short trip to Lake Nakuru. I then took a long, bumpy bus ride across the border to Tanzania where I spent a week going around Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the famous Serengeti. From there, I returned to Nairobi to spend my last few days in the city before flying home.
As I reminisced on the trip, I tried to list down my best safari moments in these two countries. It was difficult to narrow down this list, but here is what I consider the highlights of my safari experience in eastern Africa.
Of all the Big Five animals (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalos), leopards are the most sought after for safari goers. Spotting the secretive and elusive leopard is a rare and treasured experience.
In Serengeti, a leopard came out of its hiding place when I least expected it. For an instant, I managed to study the majestic beast and snap a few photos.
It was a thrilling moment and I felt incredibly lucky to have the privilege to admire this cat with my own eyes.
GREAT WILDEBEEST MIGRATION
Having been on several African safaris before, I felt like I knew what to expect when I headed for Kenya and Tanzania. However, nothing could have prepared me for what I saw at Serengeti.
What I saw was the start of one of the most incredible wildlife spectacles in the world — the annual wildebeest migration through the stunning Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems.
Words could not describe the sheer magnitude of what was happening before my eyes as thousands of wildebeest began making their journey across the border. The sight was truly awe-inspiring.
VISITING THE MASAI
The Masai is the most well-known tribe in eastern Africa. They are distinguished by the remarkable appearance of their warriors, with their red clothing, beadwork jewellery and magnificent hair accessories.
There are many Masai villages along the road between Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti. Despite tourism, the Masai still manage to live a life close to their traditional culture.
I had always been curious about the tribe after reading The White Masai, an astonishing love story between a Swiss woman and a Masai warrior. The opportunity to visit one of their villages near the crater was something I deeply treasured.
As memorable as the game viewing was, there was a therapeutic sense of space at Serengeti Plains, stretching across the savannah to a golden horizon.
“Serengeti” is Swahili for “land of endless space”. Indeed, Serengeti is a vast open grassland, broken only by rolling hills and occasional rocks.
Without sounding too romantic, there was something about the rolling savannah and the acacia trees that stuck in my memory. Being in this beautiful surrounding, along with the wild animals, certainly stirred my spirit.
After all the things that I had experienced, I left Africa with a heavy heart. As I’m writing this, I can’t help but think about that part of the world. At this time, the moon is rising over the Ngorongoro Crater and the predators will be on the prowl and Masai warriors will be watching their cattle under the twinkling stars with spears at their sides.
And I promise myself that someday I shall witness wild animals up close in their environment again.