In the days leading up to my trip to Tanzania I was stressed about what to pack, whether to take my anti-malaria pills, and how much DEET is too much. As with most things in my life, I was over-stressing and over-thinking all of it (why do I never learn this lesson?). With all of the online articles I read about preparing for a safari in the Serengeti, I was still awe-struck by the experience. The animals, the nature, it’s a magical place. My favorite five animals you ask? Read on, friend.
The Big Five
Everyone talks about the big five. Elephants, Water Buffalo, Leopards, Lions, and Rhinos.
Yes, they are amazing. Yes, I saw the big five (although we needed binoculars to see the rhino, so I don’t really think that one counts.) But, the big five were not my favorite five.
My Favorite Five
Leopards – Seems like these cats have the life. The ones we saw lazed around in trees all afternoon and snacked on a baby Wildebeest they had killed and brought up to the tree. Life seemed pretty awesome for these guys. Top of the food chain, fast when they need to be, and naps in shady trees. Not a bad life. And their leopard print skin is mesmerizing. It’s vivid and the perfect camouflage all at once. Like a real life magic eye picture. I could go on….
Hyraxes – I’m pretty sure there aren’t many people who list the Hyrax in their top five, but these little guys just spoke to me. They were everywhere near the main visitors center in the Serengeti and they are so chill. Lounging on shady picnic tables with their little legs stretched out like swimming frogs, they are pudgy, furry, and cute. I think they spoke to me because they lounged around like lazy cats, but when they were up and about, they were reminded me of busy squirrels. I REALLY wanted to pet one, but I know, they are wild—no touching.
Giraffes – I’ve seen giraffes in captivity at zoos several times before, but out in the open, giraffes are so graceful. They do things at their own pace. And those eyelashes!
Birds – I realize this is an entire group of animals, but the birds in the Serengti are varied, colorful, and plentiful. I did not expect to be so taken by the variety of birds we saw. Ostriches, Storks, Secretary Birds, Cranes, Bustards, Eagles, Guinea Fowls, Flamingos, Vultures and more. They were an integral part of the wildlife sightings.
Lions in a tree – “Lions in a tree.” Our guide, Hamisi, said this with such nonchalance as we were driving down the road at the end of one of our game drives. He just pointed to it as he was driving. Of course, he slowed and stopped to let us linger, but I’ve never heard such a phrase or seen such a thing. They were in a distance, two lions, laying on the branches of a large Acaia tree (I think it was Acacia at least). According to Hamisi, lions often climb into trees for naps to escape the heat and the insects in the tall grasses. I’ve never seen such a large animal lounging in a tree and a sighting that I never expected to see. It was a perfect way to end a day in the Serengeti.
Have you visited the Serengeti? What were your favorite five? Which animals would you most like to see?