Safari is a new experience every time, no matter how many times you’ve been–just ask Stacey Bengston. She’s been on safari in East Africa before, but her most recent adventure in Tanzania was on another level–she ventured deep into the Serengeti wilderness among the stunning landscapes and wildlife.
Here are 5 of her most memorable safari moments.
1. Giraffes Roaming on the Horizon
The magic of safari happens when you’re in the right place at the right time to experience something unforgettable. Thomson guides and drivers have decades of experience with this, and know exactly how to deliver jaw-dropping, “I-can’t-believe-it” moments. Stacey’s adventure was no different.
She was riding with her safari group in the eastern Serengeti when they noticed a giraffe running off in the distance. Giraffes are plentiful in Tanzania, so that by itself was nothing out of the ordinary. But then, following that giraffe was another, and soon, an entire was running across the horizon.
“We stopped to watch it, and all of a sudden, there was another one, and another one, and yet another,” Stacey said. “We counted 50 just following each other across the horizon. They’re so graceful.”
2. An Unexpected Traffic Jam
It’s not unusual to get held up by wildlife in Tanzania. You’ll often have to wait for lions and grazing wildebeest to slink lazily across the roads (it’s a great photo opportunity!). But when Stacey’s safari group came across a road being repaired in Ngorongoro Crater, they didn’t turn around right away. They couldn’t miss the chance to hang out with the family of lions snoozing on the dirt and gravel.
“It was just so funny to come across them,” Stacey said. “I never dreamed we would be able to be so close to lions like this. They really didn’t mind!”
3. Meeting the Maasai
Almost any safari guest will tell you the most memorable part of the adventure is the people you meet along the way. Stacey had the opportunity to meet with Maasai communities in the eastern Serengeti during her safari. She saw the men perform their jumping warrior dance, then she talked to the women through a translator, learning about their lives, values and experiences.
Stacey was struck by their sense of family values, and how all the women look out for each other. They all help raise their children, and they all shared food and labor.
“Their traditions are so different from ours, and it’s really interesting to learn about them,” Stacey said. “This trip was very special in that way.”
Stacey was particularly touched by Nakaki, a woman in the community who encouraged others to become a little more self-sufficient by learning to bead.
“The women started making things and selling them at market,” Stacey said. “It was interesting to hear that story and see how they are able to do things they haven’t been able to do before. It was inspiring.”
4. Tranquility at Gibb’s Farm
The lush green lands of Gibb’s Farm awed Stacey. Located on the outer slopes of Ngorongoro Crater, Gibb’s Farm is a safari sanctuary and organic farm offering tantalizing views: rolling green hills, pastures, ponds and old-growth trees framing the garden’s edge.
Stacey remarked on the peacefulness she felt walking through the flowers and trees, how the sweet-smelling aromas of nature made her feel comfortable and cozy.
“The cottages we stayed in were nestled in the bushes with lots of windows,” Stacey said. “Every evening, they had a campfire and we had cocktail hour. It was beautiful.”
Gibb’s Farm also offers 5-star lodging, farm-to-table dining, wine tastings, farm walks, spa treatments and more. No wonder it’s won Travel + Leisure’s Best Safari Lodge in Africa two years in a row!
5. Chatty Wildebeest
Thomson’s safari campsites fuse the rustic with the comfortable for an immersive, eco-friendly experience out in the Serengeti. Even with queen-sized beds, private bathrooms and hot water, Stacey said her favorite part was her proximity to the wildlife. When she settled down to sleep in the middle of the Tanzanian wilderness, she heard wildebeest and birds just beyond her camp.
“The wildebeests were ‘talking’ all night outside of our tent. The birds were singing. It’s one of those experiences where you think, ‘Where am I?’ You’re pinching yourself, just listening to the world around you.”
Overall, Stacey said her safari was amazing. She came home with an appreciation for the people and the beauty of Africa.
“The animals, the scenery and the people were incredible,” Stacey said. “It made me appreciate what I have, and that kindness goes a long way.”
Learn more about safari and how it has changed over the years in our post: What Was Safari Like in the 1980s Compared to Now?