Ever since I was a small child, I had dreamt of traveling to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. I wanted to see the animals I learned about in school; the animals that I couldn’t find in my native Norway. It was, thus, incredible – surreal even – when my friend and I found ourselves sitting in a jeep, driving down a dirt road, minutes away from the great nature reserve I had always longed to see.
Almost immediately, we saw a zebra and a couple of monkeys. Our driver, Mohammed, laughed at us when we asked if we could stop and observe the animals, saying that it wasn’t worth our time; we would see hundreds of them later on.
Right he was.
As we entered the Serengeti, we were met by the “Great Migration” from Masai Mara in Kenya. Each year, over two million animals wander between Masai Mara and the Serengeti: wildebeest, zebras and gazelles come in search of fresh and nutritious grass, and their predators follow not far behind. The animals’ migration is based on weather patterns in the region; often, they’ll make it to the Serengeti between the months of January and March, settling for several months before following the rain as it moves east, then south, then west. By the end of the calendar year, they complete a full circular cycle of travel and prepare to move north once again.
My friend and I spent one week driving around both the Serengeti and the Ngorogoro crater, also in Tanzania, looking for various animals: lions, cheetahs, leopards. A highlight of our time was watching a leopard hunt and kill a gazelle from just a short distance away. The speed of the leopard as it attacked its prey was amazing. We also had a chance to come into close contact with a family of lions, and witnessed a leopard helping its cob over a river. We saw gazelles fighting; giraffes wandering about eating from the tree tops, even fighting one other for food. The scenes seemed straight out of a movie; the kinds of things you might see on TV. For me, it was a dream come true.