On the special occasion of TDA’s 15th anniversary, we had a three-day safari in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater included in our tour.
After six tough cycling days, we were all very much looking forward to this break off the bike. I was in two minds whether to join the safari, having done the same just one and a half years ago. However, the last time was dry season, while now is rainy season. Furthermore, I would have had to get to Arusha one way or another, and doing so while seeing some wildlife on the way seemed like the more appealing option.
Joining the safari was definitely worthwhile. Compared to my last visit, when the southern Serengeti looked like a dry desert that couldn’t possibly support any form of life and we had to drive all the way up north to the Mara river for proper game viewing, it was now green wherever one looked and teeming with life.
In particular, we saw a lot more lions than I happened to see during my last visit.
Clear highlight of our safari—watching lions trying to hunt down zebras. They approached carefully through the high grass, spreading out in a half circle attack line. Unfortunately, however, the young lion cubs were not as careful as their parents and gave their ambush away. The zebras got nervous and backed away from their imminent danger.
Comparing this safari during rainy season with my last one during dry season, I would definitely recommend to opt for rainy season—more wildlife, green landscape instead of dust and sand, cooler temperatures, and fewer tourists. The only negative might be somewhat more mosquitoes, though I haven’t noticed any markable difference.
While we were all very happy with the wildlife we got to see during our safari, we won’t be short of nominations for our Spit the Tummy award next time round. The Spit the Tummy award is one of our unofficial group awards. At the end of each section, a tummy gets passed on to the rider who had most lost it, complained or otherwise displayed a flurry of angry emotions. Similarly, a yellow T-shirt gets passed on to the most deserving rider. These and some more awards were introduced by Paul and other group members, for general entertainment, making sure that not only the racers but everyone has a chance to win an award at the end of a section.
Pitching and complaining about our safari tour operator had been a popular activity over the past three days, and I certainly wasn’t shy to contribute. Multiple vehicle tire punctures (in one case they hadn’t brought a matching spare tire which meant we were stuck for an hour), uncountable instances of drained car batteries that required one 4×4 pushing another to get the motor started, more miscommunication than correct communication (from our driver at least) as regards any organizational matter, no narrations other than simply pointing out animals and answering questions with single sentences, hour-long delays to start our morning game drive due to vehicle failures, vehicles driving off with all our stuff inside, breakfast consisting of no more than stale toast bread and margarine, long waiting time for late dinner at 9pm (despite early lunch at 11am, and even though we’d have to get up by 5am),…—even if an operator wanted to screw up badly, they would struggle to come up with that many fuck-ups.
Best of all, our driver had left to fix his car without telling anyone, and with all our stuff left inside the car. Our group was stranded for over an hour hoping that someone would eventually come pick us up, while all the other groups/vehicles had left long time ago.
I hate to complain because TDA had so far done an amazing job and I’m super happy with all our crew members. However, TDA’s choice of safari tour operator showed some room for improvement. Tough competition for this section’s Spit the Tummy award!
Having said that, we still had a lot of fun. Perhaps our safari operator’s poor performance enhanced our authentic experience and made it even more memorable. Cheers to that!