Published: October 16th 2011September 16th 2011
You wake up in the early hours as an animal brushes against your tent. You lie still, trying not to breath, reaching for your flick knife and torch. As the moonlight casts a distinct shadow across the canvas, a Lion calls out, vibrating the ground on which you sleep. Your breathing stops, you begin to shake, preying, hoping, remaining motionless, ready to scream, ready to run!
Hitch-hiking a lift in a private 4x4 on a self drive safari is about as lucky as one can get. Only paying entrance fee and camping in the Serengeti is a cost saving miracle. Becoming the envy of every other independent traveler, a self gratifying bonus.
Being lucky enough to travel the entire length of the Serengeti becomes the highlight of any independent traveler’s tales, but venturing off road into the open plains and along the Mara River is an opportunity only the privileged can afford.
Bouncing around through marsh land, navigating savannas, and driving through crocodile infested creeks is a surreal experience. Exiting the vehicle and entering the food chain an adrenaline fuelled adventure.
Witnessing the wildebeest migration is one of nature’s most alluring wonders. Driving through a savanna of
rotting corpses and animal bones with the smell of rotting flesh the grim reality.
Together with only a handful of exclusive safari trucks, you soon realize you have the northern park to yourself. Driving for hours without another vehicle in sight a rare luxury, something never to be forgotten.
Heading towards the Masai Mara is a real buzz, realizing there are no dirt tracks to follow or point of reference a serious concern. Following a safari vehicle with GPS the only option.
As the safari truck shows off its land cruiser capabilities, Mozza handles bogs and marshes with effortless style and precision. As the safari truck turns the Serengeti into an off road rally, its easy to forget you are here to see the animals.
As Nile Crocodiles feast on the migrating Wildebeest, the Mara River turns to blood. While the hungry vulchers line the banks of the river, the strong currents drown the screaming young.
Stumbling across a pack of hunting cheetahs is a spectacular sight, seeing them protect their territory and pray from a camouflaged leopard a unique experience.
While Elephants wonder the savannas, Wildebeest graze next to a half eaten calf.
As Vulchers circle above, Lions feast on their prey. Hyenas laugh in anticipation, while Jackals scavenge for food.
Giraffes casually stroll eating from the trees while Zebras roll around in the dirt. As a 4x4 thunders across the savanna, Wildebeest mindlessly run into its path like bugs drawn to a glowing light.
Arriving on an open savanna and pitching your tent close to Buffalo and Elephants is surreal. Sitting around a camp fire alone in the dark listening to the symphony of Hyenas and Jackal a truly unnerving experience.
As you climb into your sleeping bag and drift out of consciousness, the wild sounds of Africa cause your imagination to wonder. Will the Elephant trample you in the night? Will the Hyena attack your tent? Is that the call of a Leopard? Is that the sound of paw steps? What the hell is sniffing the tent?
Fast asleep something hits you in the head, you wake up startled wondering if it was a dream. You hear the raw of a Lion as the ground begins to vibrate. Grabbing your knife and flash light, you lie there breathless, helpless, listening to your own heart beat, trying not
to make a sound. Paranoid you are being hunted, wondering if a Lion hit you in the head.
As the sun rises you are relieved to have survived the night. With lion footprints around your tent a local ranger approaches. He explains Lions like to sleep next to the tents, like a domestic cat, extracting warmth during the night.
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