Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)

What can we say about the Serengeti National Park.  Well, chances are, if you imagine a safari, you’ll imagine something like the Serengeti.  It’s one of the best known and most visited wildlife reserves in the world, and with good reason.  It even served as inspiration for the Disney movie The Lion King, which we watched in our tent one night (in the Serengeti) during a thunderstorm!

And speaking of The Lion King, we even saw a real life version of Simba on Pride Rock.

Simba pride rock

The first day we were there, we had an incredibly successful day of animal viewing, crossing paths with at least five different groups of lions.

Mum and cubs

We found this group (including several more lions not pictured) about an hour after we saw Simba

who was camera

A ‘making of’ (behind the scenes) photo

Cubs hongi

These cubs must have visited New Zealand because they performed a hongi

two male lions

We found these two males (brothers?) while driving away from the lions above. They were walking back toward the group, perhaps after hunting or patroling their territory’s borders.

Lion with majestic mane

This is one of the male lions from above.  He must have a great hairdresser.

One of the special geographical features of the Serengeti are the so called kopjes, which are like small islands of rock, usually covered in trees, set in the otherwise featureless plains.

Kopje

They often feature predators either resting in the shade, or using the high ground to look for prey.  We were pleased to find a slightly sneaky back road out to the area in the southwest of the park called Gol Kopjes, since we didn’t come across any other cars the whole afternoon, and there were lots of animals there.

Cheetah at gol kopjes

Two of a group of five cheetah we saw out at Gol Kopjes.  We found out afterwards that the Gol Kopjes area has the highest concentration of cheetahs in the world.

On the last day we were also very lucky to come across a so-called tree climbing lion, something we’d heard about in Uganda.  We had originally thought they were a different species, but it seems it’s more that some lion prides have learned to climb trees, which isn’t a typical behaviour. (Apparently lions in trees move rather awkwardly, unlike leopards, for example, which are very comfortable and agile in trees.)

Tree with lion

It almost looks like just a tree to start with…

Lion in tree

… but there’s a lion!

One thing we definitely noticed in the Serengeti was that there were very few self-drivers (we came across only two other groups of self-drivers in three days) and as such the facilities are more set up for organised tours with guides.  (Unlike the parks in Namibia or Botswana, for example.)

This led to a few amusing experiences in the campgrounds, like the Korean girl who came up to us and asked “why are you cooking… is your guide not here?”.  And about half an hour later one of the guides asked, “How many clients do you have on this trip?” (Rachel also insists that we mention the guide who responded “Hakuna matata”, when we asked if we could make a fire somewhere.)

Regardless of whether you drive yourself or are in an organised group, the Serengeti is certainly a highlight of any trip to Tanzania, or in fact Africa in general. Here are a few more bonus pictures from our visit.

Saddle-billed stork

A saddle-billed stork

African wild cat

It looks like someone’s pet ran away, but it’s actually an African wildcat.

Some kind of eagle

We think this is either a lesser spotted eagle or a tawny eagle. Or maybe a steppe eagle.

Thompson's gazelles

Thomson’s gazelles

Golden jackals

Golden jackals

lizard

Mwanza flat-headed agamas (the male is colourful), sometimes known as the spiderman agama

Bonus leopard

Bonus leopard

Coke's harterbeest

A Coke’s hartebeest. Not related to the soft drink, as far as we know.

One Reply to “Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)”

  1. Yes, you’re very adept at spotting all the different cat species but you need to hone-up on your eagle identification skills!

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