At least for me, sitting down in a bumpy land rover all day is surprisingly exhausting. And by all day, I mean literally for 10 hours a day. You see, animals in the wild don’t live particularly close to humans. It makes sense in retrospect, but going into the whole safari experience I was not expecting 3 hour drives just to get to the parks. It was a little bit of a shock, especially after hiking for hours every day to trek up a rather tall mountain for the previous seven days.

Spotted on the side of the road: Michelle and Barack Obama mobile shops. People can name their shops and vehicles anything they want, so we also saw an Instagram Bus (unaffiliated with the popular mobile app) and a photo of a bunch of rappers I didn’t recognize plastered to the side of a van, who my brother assured me are quite popular

As a side note, I probably should have figured it out when I was told that the Swahili word “safari” translates to “journey” or “voyage” in the English language, both of which sound long and daunting. At the end of the (second) day, I was pretty glad we only did a two-day safari even though others in our trekking group had signed up for an entire week.

Day 1 – Tarangire National Park

I mostly like the tree in this photo, but there are some gazelles in there too if you’re more of an animal person than I

We started off the first day with a 6:30am wake-up call, followed by a two-hour drive in a van to get to our land rover and safari guide, followed by a three-hour drive to Tarangire National Park, followed by a three-hour game drive, followed by a two-hour drive to our safari lodge for the night. Exhausted yet? I was, for sure.

More gazelles from the game drive

Tarangire is mostly known for their elephants, and we luckily saw a ton of those, including a tiny one (less than a week old) who had a super useless noodle flopping off the front of his face and needed his mother’s help to eat and drink. It was adorable.

The elephants were as ginger with their knees going down that slope into the riverbed as I was on the last day of descending Kilimanjaro
Only a few animals around this mini lake, so that’s a bummer
Translates roughly to “sausage-tree” for obvious reasons
There’s a giraffe in them thar hills! He had some friends hiding around him, too, but my phone camera is not sufficiently fancy to spot them

On the bright side, the safari lodge was the nicest hotel we’d stayed at the whole trip, even boasting 24-hour power! (You know you’re in a third world country when 24 hour power is on the amenity list for the hotel.) Minus the GI-FREAKIN-NORMOUS spider I found in the bathroom when we first got to our room. Even my brother decided to get rid of it with a shoe instead of with a was of tissues because he was worried it would win against the tissues. These spiders are ferocious. This also happened to be New Year’s Eve, so there were some fun celebrations and a fancy buffet dinner involved as well. Except for the fact that I was fast asleep by 9pm, because again, sitting in a vehicle all day is really hard, and I was tired from my nap earlier.

That’s a roasted goat but it still looks very much like a goat which is somewhat distressing. This was part of the safari lodge New Year’s Eve dinner buffet and I really could have gone without but it’s a specialty in Tanzania

Day 2 – Ngorongoro Crater

The crater is breathtakingly majestic. The closest I’ve come to feeling that way about nature before is in Yosemite Valley, which is also incredibly beautiful but not quite as expansive as the Ngorongoro crater.

Besides the views of the crater, one of my favorite parts of the safari was watching this African buffalo get really irritated with all the flies buzzing around him while his friend just hangs out nonchalantly and slurps muddy water. It’s only a 30-second video but he was going it at for at least five minutes.

I also got to see some exotic animals in their natural habitat for the first time, which was cool, except for all the other vehicles everywhere. Still considered natural? I guess. Felt kinda weird though, and sort of Disneyland-ish. But I guess the people aren’t generally bothering the animals so maybe it’s okay?

Just ostriching around
Hippos hiding from the sun so they don’t get sunburnt
Zebra butt!
Surveying his vast domain
Queen of the jungle savannah
My brother isn’t gonna love me for this one, but it’s a good depiction of the pop-top on the land rover. During the game drives, we were standing up most of the time to survey for animals
The baboons had no respect for our giant yellow land rover and didn’t even look up or move to the side of the road until we got super close

Overall, the safari was awesome once but I’m not sure if I’d go again. Too much sitting around for these antsy legs of mine.

Sometimes we love each other, which is why we live on opposite sides of the US