I once read about an English couple who one morning, while on a multiple-day safari, decided to go for a jog because that’s what they did every morning back home. I’m sure you can imagine how that ended.
Anything can happen during an African safari. Animals are quite unpredictable, especially when you’re in their territory. Add people to that mix, and you end up with a large piece of “anything can happen”.
Here are some of the mishaps that took place during my unpredictable African safari in Tanzania.
Going to an African safari can be a stressing experience. Planning a safari in itself is one big stress, you want everything to be perfect.
But my safari stress started even before I was even picked up by my transport.
While waiting, a friend from the hostel made a comment about how I “might get stuck with a group or family all dressed up in hunting gear” and how “maybe they’ll sing songs all the way to the park”. This possibility freaked me out, and I kept nervously looking at all SUVs passing near my hostel.
Luckily, my group was pretty cool.
Malaria is no laughing matter. As per the Center of Disease Control, malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. Left untreated, the subject may develop severe complications and die.
Prior to my departure to Tanzania, I cheaply decided to only get vaccinated against yellow fever. I had read about malaria and thought that “the risk was small enough and not worth the cost of the pills”.
We arrived to Tarangire National Park close to noon. Temperatures climbed as the day went by, and when we arrived to the park the temperature inside the car must have been of almost 40°C!!!
As we drove our way through the road and looked at the jungle, we saw our first heard of zebras. Excited we finally got to open the roof and all windows for our first pictures of wild animals.
Once we were sure we had at least 50 pictures of the same group of zebras from very much the same angle, we started to move on. We decided to leave the roof and windows open…..and that’s when I felt it.
The first mosquito bite
And it hurt like a bitch. It felt as if the fly had torn through my first layer of skin and went all the way to the muscle to sting it.
Then again another BITE…and another BITE.
And another BITE.
Like crazy, I began swapping flies with anything within my reach. My camera, my Lonely Planet book, everything was used to spank my own skin so hard it left bruises!
That is when I heard a girl in the group say something I would think about for the rest of the safari: “time for a malaria pill”.
Why did I not get the pills??? Why do I have to go cheap all the time??? Why could I not just go to the zoo back home and be happy with that???
No. Instead, here I was in a foreign continent, with no travel insurance and only a handful of people who knew where I was. If I was to get sick, that would be it for me.
It is then that I remembered that earlier, the 2 other guys in the group said they were doctors. So I turned around and asked: “You guys said you were doctors right? Which type?”.
“We wouldn’t know what to do with these bites bro”.
That’s it…..I was gonna die.
My legs and feet ended up bruised, full of mosquito bites and scratches. I literally bathed in mosquito repellent for 5 days. The price I paid for not dying.
Caught in the Act
We silently sneaked the SUV behind them and got close enough to take pictures and witness baby-lions-in-the-making when, all of a sudden, the male lion stops and walks away. We laughed it off as “normal male behavior“.
But suddenly the male lion appeared on top of a rock besides the SUV, stood still and looked at us. As we’re clicking our cameras away, the lion finally stands up and takes a striking pose and roars…..our guide yells!
“CLOSE THE ROOF!!!”, our guide screams.
“Just one sec. need some more pictures”, we stupidly reply.
“CLOSE THE ROOF GUYS!!!”.
The lion roars again, this time getting a step closer.
– “Just one more picture, this is amaz…”
That’s when we all fell down.
The SUV suddenly backed up with all of us still on top of the seats. I held on to the roof as hard as I could, while the rest of the group fell down to their seats. As we tried to make sense of what was happening, our guide kept pleading that we close the roof of the car, which we finally do.
As we drove away, our guide explained that the lion was getting ready to jump on the truck, this all due to having interrupted his mating time.
Bullied by a Buffalo
The Serengeti National Park is vast, covering almost 15,000 square KM. There are many camping areas available for visitors throughout the park, ours sat at the bottom of a small cliff. The views from the camping site were amazing. A vast array of uncovered and undisturbed green in front going as far as the eye could see, and a beautiful mountain in the back, reminiscent of Pride Rock from The Lion King.
As we arrived to the site we saw two buffaloes roaming not too far away. At that time we did not think much of it…..after all, this was a wild safari. Little did we know at that time that one of these buffaloes would terrorize us later in the night.
Night fell as we finished putting up the tents and got ready for supper. Once done eating we put up a fire and opened a few bottles of wine.
A couple of bottles of wine later, we heard rustling nearby. As we tried to see what the noise was, our guide tells us to “quickly get in the kitchen!!!“.
As we tried to see what was going on, Peter, our guide, warns us that there is a buffalo near the fire. Perplexed, we cowardly retrieved into the dining area and closed the gate. Like children watching something they’re not supposed to, we peeped through the window to try and see what was going on. Then suddenly, as if we were part of a b-horror-movie, rain begins to fall.
From then on, all we heard were voices from the guide to the cook as they revved the SUV’s engine hoping to scare the buffalo away. They point the high-beams at it and honk.HONK, HOOONK!
30 minutes passed before the buffalo finally decided it had had enough and left. As we got out of the kitchen with our tails between our legs, we decide to call it a night and get a good night’s rest…..
Or so we thought.
Middle of the night comes with each of us at our individual tent, when I suddenly feel breathing outside, and rustling on my tent….the buffalo had come back!!!
I held my breath as much as I could and tried to not piss inside my sleeping bag. Hesitating between running for my life or just play dead the second this animal rams into my tent, I impatiently wait for the buffalo’s next move…
I hear the beast walking around, sniffing one tent after the next, and I wonder who from the group will be the first one to freak out.
Surprisingly enough, everyone stood their ground and we all got to live another day. The next morning, it was obvious that no one really got much sleep.
Do you have any crazy safari stories? Share them!