Safari Adventure in Serengeti

Safari Adventure in Serengeti 25 years ago

By Rob Bosma

Back then, it was possible to travel in battered old landrover carrying camping equipment in the back of the vehicle and go on a safari adventure in Serengeti. There were dedicated campsites even then, but the only facility was a flat area. On a safari adventure today you have all the modern luxuries of hot showers, fine dining, bedrooms with king size beds and butlers to cater for your every whim, but not then. It was a golden era of adventure.

Serengeti National Park Sign

The campsites in those days were often hard to find, indicated with an old rickety sign, when you were lucky, but most of the time we found a nice shady spot under an acacia tree, where we put up a tent and nobody was around to mind.

On this particular safari adventure in Serengeti, there were three of us. We had driven from Nairobi, to the Masai Mara, where we spent a few days game viewing and enjoying the peaceful landscapes.

Our safari adventure continued into Serengeti this was when the border between the Mara and Serengeti was open. We found a lovely campsite. There was no sign, but there was a rickety old pole where a sign had once been erected. We could tell this was a designated Serengeti camp site.

Camping in Serengeti

Camping in Serengeti

In a way our stop was an enforced one, as the landrover had decided to start running on two cylinders earlier in the day. I wasn’t too worried, as I always carried a box of spare parts. I had already found out that the high-tension coil had packed up and decided to put in a spare on the following day. So our mechanical stop was not a hardship.

Feeling very pleased with ourselves and congratulating each other on finding such a fantastic spot, we erected the tent and prepared our camp. As the sun began to set we opened our customary cold beer and enjoyed an evening sundowner, with the sights and sounds so typical of game parks like Serengeti.

Impala’s with their ears twitching just a safe distance away from us, a far cry of a hyena in the background and the sun setting beautifully behind the acacia trees. What more could you want on a safari adventure in Serengeti?

Male Impala in Serengeti

Following our dinner and a few more beers our freshly purchased sheepskins, bought at Nairobi market beaconed. We decided to retire for the night. Well fed and watered we dropped off without a care in the world.

In the middle of the night all three of us were woken by a low growling noise. We knew immediately this was the sound of a lion. Slowly the noise got closer and closer, no doubt attracted by the still smelly sheepskins rugs.

In my imagination, I could clearly see the lion entering the tent. I immediately grabbed a panga (an African machete). The only other items we had were a flashlight from one of the cameras and a kitchen knife. which I handed silently to my travelling companions. I heard a sharp intake of breath, nothing more was said.

We kept as quiet and still as possible, every breath we took sounded like a volcano erupting. Adrenalin pumping, we sat in our tent for what felt like a lifetime. We had never been so scared in our lives. We could tell from the sounds just the other side of the canvas of our small three man tent the lion was pretty close.

Male Lion in Serengeti

Our mail lion in Serengeti


After what seemed like ages, the sound disappeared, only the faint whisper of the wind could be heard and one by one we relaxed, but decided not to peer out of the tent as a camera flashlight, a kitchen knife and a panga as means of defence didn’t feel appropriate. We relaxed further and eventually fell asleep.

The next morning the sun rose beautifully as it does in Serengeti, the warmth on the canvas tent walls and the dawn chorus lured us from our sheepskin mats and we peered out of the small opening of our tent, there before us were the footprints of what we believed to be the lion. They were pretty big.

Safari adventure in Serengeti male lion

Our Serengeti Cecil

We had a thorough look around to make sure the lions were not in close proximity. They were nowhere to be seen, our adventures of the night before seemed a world away.

When you consider the recent event which has sparked huge global interest, the slaughter of Cecil the male lion in Zimbabwe for nothing more than wanton greed, the very thought of killing any kind of mammal could not have been further from our mind, even while we lay in our little tent, armed with a panga, kitchen knife and flashlight.

Our experience was very different. We were in Serengeti to enjoy the wide open spaces to watch and observe animals and birds in their natural habitat. To shoot with a camera. We were the intruders in this animal kingdom, with our little tent. The lions were not intruding.

In those days in Tanzania, we knew many people who hunted big game. Lords, royalty, presidents they all did it, why we will never understand. It was sadly part of life, in many parts of Africa, the thrill of the kill. There are arguments constantly flying around about trophy hunting helping conservation. It is a controversial subject.

If you feel strongly about this please take a look at this petition

Unlike elephants and other endangered species, lions are not currently listed as threatened or endangered, although moves are afoot by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure they are listed. In the meantime elephants are being slaughtered in their hundreds as the world mourns the death of Cecil the lion.

As we sat enjoying our fresh fruit breakfast, contemplating the day ahead we were aware of our surroundings a feeling of privilege to be in such a beautiful location unspoilt by man. Despite our scare of the previous evening, we decided we would spend a few more days on our tranquil camp site in Serengeti.

A few repairs had to be done to the battered old landy. I had brought a spare coil with me, and we began to do the necessary repair of changing the coil. The task did not take long to complete and the Landrover was running smoothly once again.

In perfect time to enjoy a game drive round the Seronera River. As we drove slowly through the bush, we came upon a pride of lions. It was a spectacular sight. One large male surrounded by his family. Several cubs were playing and the females were lounging in the grass.

We were about 20kms from our campsite and although we were not certain we felt sure this was the same male who had visited our camp in the night. He seemed very docile now, lying under a shady acacia tree. He was huge; no wonder the lion is called the King. Our memories of our Serengeti Cecil will live with us forever.

We left the pride in peace and returned to our camp. That night we fell into a peaceful sleep, but again were woken up during the night, this time by the giggling of hyenas.

Safari adventure in Serengeti giggling hyena

I had no idea that hyenas could pose a bigger threat than the huge male lion, neither did my companions, so we didn’t worry, rolled over and went back to sleep.

When we woke to the Serengeti dawn and emerged from our tent, we were faced with a camp in total shambles. The hyenas had it appeared to us enjoyed an all night party. All our pans, dishes and other utensils were spread across an area of about 50 metres. The wooden spoons had bite marks on them and what little food we had carefully stored at the front of our sleeping tent was all gone. The hyenas must actually have been in our tent, which also was proven by their footprints around the tent and we had never even heard them.

But all’s well that ends well. We salvaged our belongings and decided to break camp and go in search of some new supplies. We still had water, so we carried on with our safari.

We will never forget our safari adventure in Serengeti. Serengeti shall not die

Safari adventure in Serengeti Sunset over acacia tree

The Wonders of Tanzania

Africa is about as different as you can get from the UK. It is a continent engulfed by some of the world’s largest deserts and rainforests, with a history spanning back to the dawn of man.

African Sunset

Setting sun in Serengeti

Of course, every country in the world has some beauty, some awe-inspiring natural sensation which is prone to leave a person speechless and even overwhelmed by its very existence. This phenomenon is something which The Seven Natural Wonders project aims to celebrate. The 7 wonders project aims to inform and delight people using the seven most wonderful places on each continent. The selection process involved public opinion polls and insights from experts, and the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa were announced earlier this year.

As a continent of huge diversity, with tropical rainforests, deserts and mountains, there are hundreds of natural landmarks and features which could have qualified to be considered an official ‘Wonder’ of Africa, but there could be only seven winners.

Announced in Arusha, Tanzania, on February 23rd 2013, the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa are the Red Sea Reef, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Sahara Desert, the Serengeti Migration, Ngorongoro Crater, the Nile River, and the Okavango Delta. This list features many things which are accredited with being the largest of its kind, truly record breaking embodiments of the wild world. These locations also play host to an abundance of animals, the like of which are not seen anywhere else in the world.

As well as the announcement being held there, three of the seven wonders can be found in Tanzania, we like to think of them as the wonders of Tanzania.

Tanzania is a country of passion and beauty which begins in the flora and fauna, and spreads to the people and places and will leave you planning your next visit on your flight home.

Ngorongoro Crater

The view from the rim of Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater is a 260 sq km caldera with a rim which dominates the skyline at over 600m. A caldera is a landscape created by a volcanic eruption so immense that the mouth and cone of the volcano have collapsed, and Ngorongoro earned its place in Africa’s Seven Wonders in part through being the world’s largest unbroken caldera and in part from the incredible array of wildlife found within. Ngorongoro offers some of the most exciting safari opportunities, and is one of the few places where you have the chance to see each of the traditional ‘big five’ animals (these being the lion, the leopard, the rhino, the buffalo, and the African elephant). There is a great choice of holiday accommodation in Ngorongoro and the crater is ideal if you want wildlife and safari focused holiday.

The second Tanzanian wonder is the jaw-dropping Mt. Kilimanjaro. The ‘rooftop of Africa’, as it’s sometimes known, is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, and is an inactive volcano. There are no known eruptions throughout human history. It also has a year-round snowy peak despite its equatorial location and volcanic nature. Kilimanjaro is an incredibly popular mountain to trek due to its excellent accessibility and incredible views. The altitude of the tallest of the seven peaks, combined with the proximity to the equator allows for some of the most magnificent views of the surrounding African plains imaginable. For more information about climbing Kilimanjaro, or if you just want to experience staying in the shadow of the Roof of Africa, take a look at the Kilimanjaro lodges available here at Go2Tanzania.

Kilimanjaro View from Makoa Farm

Kilimanjaro View from Makoa Farm

Last, but by no means least, is the Serengeti Migration. The perpetual odyssey of over two million large animals (primarily wildebeest, zebra and gazelle) across the ‘Endless Plains’ is a spectacular sight and offers some incredible photographic opportunities. If you have ever wanted to witness a pride of lions on the hunt, or see a crocodile claiming a victim, there is no better chance than as part of the Serengeti Migration. Holidays and safaris in the Serengeti are incredibly popular and there is a great range of lodges and camps to stay at, including the excellent tented camps which follow the migration path with the animals.