Camping by 12 Lions and other Wild Animal Close Encounters

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Africa » Tanzania » North » Serengeti National Park
September 15th 2018
Published: September 17th 2018
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Waking up in the Serengeti is an amazing experience (unless it was unintentional) and lying in my tent I could hear various birds and animals making a variety of sounds. They were accompanied by the sounds of the rangers and cooks who talk endlessly, I'd love to know what about! In the distance a large herd of zebra were grazing and I'm sure I heard baboons.

During the night we were surrounded by the grunting of buffalo grazing around the tents, plus the yowls of nearby hyena. It's still more peaceful than living in Stoke on Trent! At 6.20am it was extremely bright out despite the sun not having risen yet, so we could easily avoid all the buffalo dung when walking to the toilets. We met Molisi there and I proudly bragged how I managed to avoid being hunted during the night. I did ask if anyone had been hunted before and he said no. I asked, were it to happen, what would he do? Well he would rescue me - I'm not sure how, I guess he could whack a lion with his frying pan.

We set off around 8.30am and quickly found huge herds of zebra who like to stare at us, buffalo and wildebeest. We'd not gotten far when a ranger in an oncoming jeep stopped to talk to Bori: we needed to go back as there was a pride of lions sleeping by our campsite. So this answers my question of last night that everyone laughed at, the one about what's going to hunt us! Bori said that they're not that dangerous as they spend a lot of their time planning their attack. So flash your torch at them (to disorientate them?) and walk backwards slowly. We'll see what happens.

Bori has never lost a tourist yet and we asked him what was the scariest thing that has ever happened on one of his safaris? It was at another campsite in the Serengeti, 4 lions were hunting buffalo through the camp one night. There were two couples, both too scared to come out of their tents and quite literally, crapped themselves. The resulting mess was pretty disgusting.

Mark asked about the wildebeest migration and was told the majority of it was happening north of the Serengeti and it was too far for us to get to in a day, as we were

Serengeti, Tanzania
currently in the central area. However we must have seen a few thousand wildebeest moving in a very long line and Bori said that it was part of the migration, so I've seen it, or at least the edge. Watching so many animals in the wild can never be anything but amazing.

Zebras were also in abundance, not always grazing like you see in the UK. Again there were thousands; rolling in the sand, running about, making odd noises and doing a lot of staring at us. There were also a few tussles. Zebras in the wild are so much more alive than in captivity.

We had a toilet stop near the hippo pool. Guess what we saw there! Bori told us to go and see if there were any hippo in the pond. Yes. Yes there were. Hundreds. All submerged in a pool, grunting a lot, randomly popping up their heads and the occasional fart that made impressive and unmistakable bubbles rumble to the water's surface. Although they were relaxing, there was a lot of fidgeting going on.

Further along some large birds were happily hanging out by the shore, totally unbothered by the huge crocodile

Serengeti, Tanzania
that was almost out of the water. Unlike the hippos, the croc didn't move a muscle, blink or twitch. It couldn't have been hungry because those birds were easy pickings.

We saw a few distant lions under trees in bushes and I could only just see them with my 500mm lens. I asked if lions lie under trees as leopards lounge in the branches above and the answer was yes. A lion would win a fight with a leopard (and it happens) but the leopard would run up a tree to escape as lions are far less likely to climb up trees.

We found a male lion under a far tree and struggled to see it. Bori decided to get us closer as we were the only jeep in the vicinity, but we were to get our cameras ready as it would be brief, because the jeeps aren't allowed to leave the tracks. It was very quick, but we saw the lion within metres as he carried on napping, completely uninterested in us.

After only seeing sleeping or extremely relaxed lions, it was a stroke of luck (for us) to come across one hunting. A hartebeest stood

Serengeti, Tanzania
frozen not sure what to do; they can run faster than lions and this one was out of range. But it wasn't very clever and walked towards the lioness hiding in the bush, despite knowing it was there, as the prey was clearly on high alert. Eventfully, the hartebeest realised it could run away safely and the lioness had to search for food elsewhere.

We saw a few cheetahs so far in the distance that I mistook one for a monkey. One was standing alert, looking for prey on a rock surrounded by think grass, but it was barely a speck on the horizon. We then had to shoot back to the lunch area as one of our party had bad guts and needed a loo sharpish. It wasn't safe to get out of the jeep as it was surrounded by long grass which could be hiding an array of predators. It was said later, by said man of bad guts, that what he did surely would scare away the wildlife!

Finally we came upon a cheetah only metres from the roadside and strutting about quite displeased. It had caught it's dinner only for it to have been

Serengeti, Tanzania
stolen by a pack of nearby vultures. They were having a good time and I was pleased as I got to photograph and see a cheetah close up. The area turned black as we came upon land scorched by the controlled fires (that had no one controlling them). Here we found a Marsh Eagle tearing at half a dik dik with blood dripping off its face and beak.

I asked Bori if the lions seen near our campsite would still be there, an unsubtle hint to go looking for them before returning to camp. And oh we were in luck, not only were they still there but they had moved to right by the road. We pulled up a couple of metres from the closest and counted 12. At first they were completely zonked out and barely moved, so Bori did a lion impression and this got a reaction, then things went dead for a while. So I decided to do my lion impression that is exactly the same as a constipated person on the loo. It didn't impress the lions, but everyone in the truck had a good laugh. Glyn had a go and sounded like a llama.

Serengeti, Tanzania
Edyta's lion call was that of a young cub and Chris' impression got a feline reaction. I couldn't convince Mark and Rudy to have a go. We carried on doing impressions of lions and potential prey animals because it was a laugh, despite being ignored by lionesses who must be used to this nonsense. They eventually started to wake up, but this was because the sun was sinking and it was time to start thinking about making a move.

Bori said maybe we will get visitors in the camp tonight as these lions were only a few hundred metres from camp, but not to worry as lions don't attack people in tents. We still have to go to the loo!

Bori returned and Glyn had to ask where he'd been in the middle of the Serengeti - he'd been watching Manchester United v Watford at the research centre

The evening ended with a campfire built by Molisi, we sat around it doing impressions of hyena, zebra (who sound like barking puppies) and wildebeest as the real beasts made more noise around us.

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9



Serengeti, Tanzania

17th September 2018

Living with the Lions!
Marvelous experience. Thrilling to see these animals so close.
20th September 2018

"Incredible! Loved reading how fun your travel experience was ❥"

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