Serengeti shall not die! So said the movie. Yes, it has changed but still mesmerizes. As I ramble about our Safari.

When Nandini asked me if we would like to join them on an African safari, I was not too sure. But I said yes the moment she mentioned Tanzania and Serengeti. I had seen the documentary 'Serengeti shall not die' in the late sixties and was mesmerized by it.

 I am  narrating from memory as I did not make any notes.Tara helped with the editing and a few insights. A few pictures are mine and I suppose they are adequate for my blogs. But luckily I could borrow pictures from Raxit's website, who you will think is a professional. You can see the whole album if you click on it. In fact, you should!. Especially to see the many close-ups of the birds and the beasts.

. I have heard people rave about Masai Mara, but Nandini chose Serengeti. She was told that Serengeti was not as crowded as Masai Mara.We landed at Arusha on July 9th and stayed overnight at a lodge which itself would be an enjoyable experience. But we were on our way early on 10th morning and after a briefing by the head of the tour company, headed to Tarangire, a two hours ride.

 We stopped at the gate of the park as our guides had to get the paper work done at the game park office. It was also the time to stretch our limbs and eat our packed lunch. Our safari had already begun as we saw some gazelles and many` birds welcoming us right there.

While Tarangire appears small in the map it covers an area approximately 4.4 times that of Nagarahole in Karnataka. And Serengeti, at 17430 sq kms, is 8+ times larger than Tarangire is huge.

 Soon we were churning up a dust as the road was not tarred and were clicking away at Impalas, Zebras, Giraffes, a few Wilde beast and many Elephants. Thank god for digital cameras which let you do this and then delete the bad ones at leisure.Which in my case are many!
The elephants digging the dry river to find water, And other animals benefit once they are done.

Photo Raxit
Photo Raxit
Zebra and Wilde beast are said to make a good team. Zebra for its memory and eyesight. Wilde beast for its sense of smell. The guide said that Zebras while small in number in the group take decisions and the w.b's follow!
 Almost at the end of the day, we sighted two lions male and female sitting on the river bed. The guide said it was the mating season, but this couple appeared to be unaware of this. Suddenly the lady got up and entered the tall grass along the river and the male, it seemed reluctantly, followed after a while. I guess the guides brought us here as a finale for the day. It was quite thrilling. My first wild lions! Though a bit disappointed to see the lion king meekly following the lady! A roar was in order and be more picturesque and dramatic.

Photo Raxit
Frankly we could have stayed in Tarangire for another day. The terrain was varied and beautiful. The safari lodge, within the park itself, was wonderfully located at a height. We could see a number of elephants ambling along right below us. It was a fitting end to a great day of safari.
A view from our lodge. It is almost dark

Sunset. A bonus!

We slept in tents with a number flaps which we could zip in. Tara gave the tents a 3 or 4 star. We zipped ourselves in, practically entombed ourselves and had a fitful sleep. We took this extra care as we were warned not to walk alone as wild animals could come in anytime of the night.

Woke up early had shower and were all set for a good breakfast and the next leg of our journey.

We continued for a while at Tarangire and saw a line of elephants heading towards a small lake near the road.An impressive sight as they crossed the road to get to the lake. 

The pictures below give you an idea of one of the Jungle laws! You survive only if you have discipline. You could see that babies were invariably between adults and the adults were also ever watchful.

The elephants troop in
This little fellow was tardy in keeping up and lifted his trunk to announce he is approaching us to cross. Photo  Raxit
Others in the lake quietly make way as the elephants walk in!
Photo  Raxit
The matriarch trumpeted and walked out and the rest obeyed and followed. Tara had heard the trumpet and as a mother and teacher she was duly impressed with what followed.
Peace and tranquility
Next stop was LakeManyara. Again zebras, wilde beast, more elephants and the baboons. I said to myself they look healthy. Again another law of the jungle. Fitness was their key to survival.. .The park looked clean! No garbage! You begin to respect nature and its ways. Vultures and the rest were doing their job well.

Photo  Raxit

Photo courtesy Raxit
Photo Raxit

Ever watchful the vultures take their job of keeping the park clean very- seriously

It is not fair but we were no more interested in monkeys

As we cruised along looking for game I saw a broad line of white stretched along as far as I could see. I knew we would see birds, was not expecting this amazing view

You see birds on flight on the horizon and I guess if you could fly you could see tens of thousands of birds from the sky.

Our next stop was central Serengeti. Nandini had changed plans a bit as the migration had started a little early and the wilde beasts had moved from western Serengeti. Serengeti in Maasai means endless plains and it was no exaggeration! Even though we had seen Giraffes earlier. They really stood up in the plains and we did see many lions.

Suddenly the driver took a turn on what seemed to be an endless plains and soon we were in touching distance to these lions.

Photo Raxit

Photo Raxit

The next three days were all in Serengeti and the plains stretched as long as the eye could see. I guess the drive had become a bit tedious, specially for the kids, as we drove around looking for new experiences. We saw more lions, thousands of Wilde beasts and Zebras (not so many) who as per our guide formed a team with the wilde beasts.

 I did not mind the gap between discovering new prides of lions as I could sit down and watch the plains go by. Each succeeding day the numbers of wilde beasts we saw went up.

A lesson learnt:
We all know that fellow passengers on an aircraft  pay different fares. It is not good to ask how much as either it will make you or them miserable, depending on who had paid more! Similarly do not ask fellow lodgers what they saw during the day. I learnt this lesson after Tara spoke, she is the friendly one, to a girl she met in the evening. The girl had seen a leopard kill and go up a tree to enjoy her kill and god forbid she had seen lions mate.The game lodges also have logbook wherein you can  write what you saw.

Then we met another person who had waited at the river Mara the whole day to watch the crossing and did not see any. The reason was that it had rained on our side of the river and there was enough grass for the thousands w.b's that had arrived and waiting. This conversation influenced us and we were not too energetic the next day after lunch and were late and thus missed a crossing of the wilde beasts across the river Mara. In fact, this crossing is the selling point and the highlight of a safari to Serengeti.

I had imagined the crossing was something similar to our kumbh mela. That all the beasts would congregate and camp and at an allotted time they would commence crossing by jumping into the river. I wondered whether the first beast to cross was selected by the group. I know it is all by instinct, but still thought there could be a method. In fact they cross both ways depending on which side looks greener. I suppose the beast which crosses first is the hungriest of them all.

Obviously a bridge would help them, but that would be interfering with nature and also make a big dent in the  tourism revenue for both countries. In fact we saw a causeway across the river. But it appears that the beasts do not use them. May be it is too narrow and would create a stampede (again reminiscent of kumbh mela) and prove more harmful. Many would fall into the water and be attacked by the ever present crocs. I was told that the casualty was four in the crossing we missed. Some sixteen hundred had crossed.
For some reason this carcass of a wilde beast was not attacked by crocs
We crossed the mara river using the causeway and it was narrow and shallow. It could easily become flooded. The other crossing we saw was when Neil wanted to go the other van after recovering from a fever to be with Nikhil and Sanil . (Neil really managed his fever well!) It turned out be an operation as tourists are forbidden to set foot on the (sacred) grounds for their own safety. So we brought the two vehicles close to each other and he stepped out onto the other van. No photo record of this crossing!

This emigration of the wilde beasts is truly phenomenal as each season upwards of a million and a half beasts cross the river. As they swim across the river in a frantic hurry, there are crocodiles waiting, a few die of heart attack and some weaklings get pulled in by the crocs. I have seen the videos and it is exciting or heartbreaking depending on your nature. Around 150000 of them do not make it to the other side each year and provide food for the crocs. Also we hear lions prefer w.b's and one reason for the lions flourish in Serengeti.

It appears the gods knowing our nature, we are known as pulichar (read veg) brahmins, did not let this killing happen in front of us. Sad that the others in the group also missed it because of us. In fact, most of the wild animals we saw were mild or contented beings. As if one was a rishi and brought peace and tranquility for the day.  But I am not complaining. We had a great time.

 The chase: But it was not all dull, we had our share of excitement. We saw a chase! As we waited and almost gave up  a cheetah which was seen hiding in the distant grass, Neil and Nandini saw, suddenly sprang and gave a chase to grab an infant gazelle and luckily the infant escaped.

Hope you can see the infant on the left.
Then incredibly the adults moved down and stood behind and watched. The infant was now in the right ( not seen) and the cheetah was crouching a little further away in the middle. And then it was all action as the cheetah gave a chase and stopped in about 5 secs. No time for me to get a picture. Obviously the open spaces are the safest for the deer.
I also realized that my eyes and my reflexes are not as sharp. Nandini noticed a leopard resting under a tree at some distance and trained her binoculars at it and could see it. I did not, but imagined I had seen it. Another time I noticed what I thought was dark dried leaves in a shrub in midst of the grass and Nandini said it  is a lion! . In fact, there were two. Amazing camouflage, just the ears are black in the lion.
Spot the leopard!
I thought it was a small rock in front
It surely is not a bridge of rocks.  But the dangerous hippos

The kids in our group, Neil, Nikhil and Sanil did wonderfully well and we are very proud they managed some long rides which seemed endless. We did about 2000 kms in all. Some roads were rough. I am sure it would not be half as fun if they were not there with us.

Our guides Cosmos and Adriano of Easy Travel in Arusha were very good. Good drivers and good attitude. They had a lot of experience and spotted birds which I would have surely missed. They say a safari of this nature depends a lot on them. They can make it or break it. And they did well.

 Here are more pictures of Lions, Hippos and many many Wilde beasts.
As we continued our journey we saw her sitting under a tree right next to the road. She looked tired. Cosmos our guide said she was pregnant and would probably deliver in two weeks.

Photo Raxit

Here are a set of pictures borrowed from Raxit which pretty much covers the three lovely days in north serengeti and Ngorongoro. It is a flat caldera, the lid of a collapsed volcano seemed to be specially made for the photographer. The animals stood out against the horizon.
 The tents and services were excellent and right in the forest. However I and Tara decided to zip in every part of the tent.


We found one more pride of lions just before we left Serengeti, we counted ten of them including cubs.

Lucky for us that they decided to walk towards us

This one looked at me and said I will remember you!

Our grandchildren Nikhil and Neil. Sanil their cousin in the middle. And we are proud of them. They did very well through out the safari!

And US with our friendly and capable guides form EASY TRAVELS, Arusha
Raxit, Tara, Neil, Nandini, Nikhil, Cosmos, Nidhi, Sanil, Adriano Anuj (Raxit's brother).
Raxit's parents Meera and Avinansh in front

Three cheers to Raxit, Nandini's husband for his  very professional Photographs and for doing it with such dedication and thoroughness

Three cheers for Nandini, our daughter, for  making this memorable trip happen and for including us seniors.

Is it wishful thinking?
 I read that there are now about 30,000 lions in Africa. Compare this to about 1780 or so tigers scattered around the many designated tiger parks in India. When we saw our first and only tiger in Kanha about 30 years ago the person who spoke to us from the conservation project claimed there were 3000 tigers.

While in teens I had seen a tiger (or a leopard?) cross the road as we came down from Nandi Hills just 60 kms away from Bangalore. I still remember it was blinded for a second by the car light and then took a leap towards the woods. A memorable sight. And tigers could be seen at Naama chilume in Devaraayana Durga hills (around 90 kms away).sixty odd years ago. But today there is no mention of  wild life in these areas. Hopefully there are few leopards or cheetahs which have managed to survive.

I am reminded of George Anderson who raised a lion at home before he let it free in the wild and who worked hard for the conservation of wild life till his last breath. He was murdered by bandits when he was in his eighties. He urged us to think about the increasing population of us, humans and find ways to reduce its growth. If not, he was afraid that it would only mean reduction in wild life as we competed for space on earth.

It reminds me of a story in our family how my uncle found a tiger cub, may be the mother was killed and he adopted it. It was a pet and as it grew big it started to attack hens and other domestic animals, soon it was going after dogs. So my uncle decided to give it to the Mysore zoo. I have seen the tiger when my cousin pointed it to me at the zoo. I was quite small at that time. He said the tiger still recognized my uncle whenever he visited the zoo, which of course was not often.

It was however encouraging to read about Hazzah and her efforts to conserve lions in Africa. I was shocked when I read that there were almost half a million lions in Africa 60 years ago. I cannot imagine how our safari would have been then. She is using Maassai warriors as Lion Guardians in Kenya. So Serengeti has changed, but still mesmerizes us. I wish there was less poaching and senseless killing. I wish her all the best.

I said to myself we also have our National parks. We surely seem to be making an effort to preserve our wild life but only time will tell how successful! I read in TOI  today that we spend 150 crores of Rupees per year on tiger preservation in 46 different reserves. In 2011 only 16 tigers were poached and it had increased to 59 in 2013. No reasons given why.  We also  read about the constant conflict between the wild animals and us.

While we owe it to ourselves and to the future generations to maintain wild life and make it grow, I have no clue how this will be really achieved. I hope others do.


Ramesh Urs said…
Hi Tara,

Nice photos and nice photography!!!

Shibana Velamoor said…
Thanks for sharing...what a great trip! The photographs were stunning. See you both sometime in November.

Hari Gopalan said…
Hi Nidhi:

I enjoyed reading your Safari blog as it was a replay of all the documentary specials I have seen on National Geographic Channel many a time. I would imagine the experience in person is exhilarating with nature when compared to a professionally edited broadcast. You have done an excellent job capturing it.

Thanks for sharing it with us and, my best wishes & regards to all.

Hari Gopalan
R N Prasad said…
Very interesting to read of your Safari experiences. I may put together a group
and make a similar trip. Obviously there are many questions such as budget etc.
Do you want me to liaise with Nandini directly?
By the way Rama and I toured SA and Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana in Feb / March this year.
Hema and Balu were to join us but couldn't make it.
Planning was done by me and everything worked to the last detail without any hitch.
Main points of interest were Cape Town, Vic Falls and Chobe NP in Botswana.
We saw a pride of Lioness at close quarters. Elephants galore. No Zebras.
Tourists are few in Botswana.
Vic falls is a must in one's lifetime. So you can discuss with your family and plan accordingly.
Did you take the Yellow fever shot for your trip? Which were the countries visited and the visas
you had to secure. If Hema and Balu are to go with us, same visas that you obtained would be
needed by them as well. Singapore passport is exempted by many countries re: tourist visas.
Await to hear from you.
Regards. // Prasad

Mohini Venkatesh said…
Hi Nidhi Tata,

Loved reading your blog. No experience like being in wild Africa! It's been a while since I went on Safari, seeing the beautiful pictures I so want to go now!

Safe travels back! Hope to see you in Bangalore over Diwali.

Aparna Rao said…
This is just stunning! Nitin and i have made up our minds that this is the family holiday next summer..l loved the amazing pics by Raxit. Thanks for sharing!
BSIK Murthy said…
Dear. Nidhi,

Thank you very much. Real nice photographs and. Excellent commentary.

Dear Nidhi,

That rather detailed account was a virtual tour I just took. Some stunning photos followed! Very Nat.Geo. material in visual content. We have not done this yet. One destination that has been on our wish list for a very long time. The way you have captured it, sounds that much more inviting. So Serengeti now moves upwards to my 'Must do' list. Thanks for that nudge.

Hi to Tara.

Ram said…
Thank you Nidhi
This was indeed a very special blog with so many great photographs of your African Safari nicely woven into the narrative. This will inspire us to make the effort to go as well.
Ram Shakku
Alka Mathur said…
Dear Tara,
I always enjoy Nidhi's blogs and this one is special as it is almost like a pictorial book. I thoroughly enjoy his sense of humour and the way he has given day to day events. Thanks so much for sharing!
Rahunath/ Vatsala said…
Dear Nidhi,
Got the blog at last.\! Great pictures very professional. As Vatsala puts it "Very much like a National Geographic feature!".
I sent a comment on the blog, wonder if it reached.
Anonymous said…
Great narrative! Thanks for creating this wonderful record of the big and small joys of our trip.
- Raxit
chandramouli said…
Serengeti photos were superb. Fascinating commentary. Good to go with family. I enjoyed looking at Nandini, Raxit. Neil is all grown up.
PVR Rao said…
Dear Srinidhi,
We went through the beautifully scripted narration of your visit to Tanzania embedded with pictures of professional quality. Thank you for giving us a great tour . (We felt as thought we were there!) without the travel hassles and lightnening our purse!
Thanks again.
With regards,
Varadarajan said…
Nidhi, very nice - your ramblings off and on the safari! I can sense you two would have enjoyed
the trip hugely.

Take care

Tara Kini said…
Dear Tarasri,
I enjoyed Nidhi's blog thoroughly! Great account of your unforgettable experiences!
Beautiful pic of your grandsons!
Indira Bharadwaj said…
Enviable trip Tara Sri

Indira Bharadwaj
Raveendra said…
Dear Srinidhi,
It was great seeing the photos, I felt as if I went on another Safari.
It is Amazing Indeed.
B Regards
Balasubramaniam said…
Loved the blog Tara!
Suchitra Deep said…
Very nice!! Thoroughly enjoyed it. The photos were wonderful, but Nidhi's text gave it the personal touch.
Anupama said…
Amazing blog !! Went thru it with Sharada. We enjoyed it thoroughly.
Thanks so much.

Aruna Reddy said…
This is truly amazing. Thank you for sharing!!!
Raji Muralidhar said…
Tarasri and Nidhi.....thanks for sharing. Lovely photographs. We did a Masai Mara safari years ago when our kids were 8 and 4. One of our most enjoyable holidays, and the only place I ever wanted to revisit!! You can't beat a holiday that has wild life.
Love, Raji
Parul Sastri said…
wow Tara, fantastic pics. Just loved the lighting in all the pics. Raxit's photography is amazing. Those lion cubs are so adorable. I have been there and have seen the crossing over. Ahhhhh, what a sight. And yes, enjoyed Nidhi's blog.
Love, Parul.
Shakuntala Pai said…
Thanks Tara and Nidhi, really enjoyed reading the blog and viewing the pictures. it was such a pleasure. Now i feel we should go there soon!

Aditi Rao said…
Hi Uncle!

Just finished going through the blog posts and pictures, it was so fun to read!! Looks like an amazing trip and a must do for all of us! we will totally get advice from Nandini when we get around to planning it sometime :) Went through Raxit's pictures as well, they were stunning!! totally looked like a NatGeo album :)

Thanks for sharing and good luck with the move Rohini!

Manju said…
Hi Nidhi-Tara it was a delight to read yr blog on your African Safari - & Raxit's very professional snaps added to the experience !!! Thanks. I also got to meet Rohini , Sandeep & the girls that night when they'd gone for dinner with Priya & Tushar.
When do we see you now ? Do inform us re. your programme. Love. - Manju.
Girija Urs said…
Girija Urs: As usual reading ur blog is a very enjoyable experience. When we had visited , the thing that struck us was that the other beautiful creatures like the birds and lizards too are an amazing sight to behold.
Jayasri Mani said…
Jayashree Mani: You outdid yourself Uncle ! Amazing
Aditi Krishnan said…
Aditi Krishnan: sounds WOW!!!! :-)
Lalitha Srinivasan said…
Lalitha Srinivasan: I loved reading about it ! Action packed adventure ! We were in three other parks in S.Africa and one in Kenya the year before last ......It certainly was an amazing experience. You have captured it all in words - that's what makes it so special !
Ramdass N K said…
Thanks for the wonderful pictures and marvelous commentary, Nidhi.
All of you must have strong backs to cover 2000 kms.
Rama said…
Great description and pictures of your Serengeti adventure.
Thanks for sharing
Nakul Narayan said…
Loved this Nidhi uncle! I really want to visit now~
Vanaja Anantram said…
Hi i enjoyed reading and seeing all pic Great .it is so beautiful i felt while reading i am there .your narreted so well
Prakash and Neema said…
Excellent photos . Felt as if I was watching Animal Planet .
Thanks for sharing , Prakash .
Anand Kumar said…
Dear Tara & Srinidhi:
Wonderful pictures of your family on Sertengeti park. Congratulations !. We (Kumud and I) have been on a safari in Kenya and saw the same wildlife in thousands as they were migrating to Tanzania (Serengeti)
N N Sachitanand said…
What are those colourful birds in two pics ?
C K Sheshadri said…
Hello Tara srinidhi,
Thanks for the message about "FW: serengeti, our safari".
Pulkeshi Dai said…
Dai here.
Beautiful pics from the wild.
It beats looking at buildings and such man made designs.
Thanks a lot for sharing them. It makes us want to go there.

All well here. Hello to Nidhi.
With lots of love,
Deepa said…
Hi Tara
Thanks for sharing your experiences at Serengeti. The article is very well written and the photos exquisite. Great you all had a time of your lives!!!

One suggestion/question : who are Raxit, Neil and Nikhil?

Take care and here's to many more such trips! !!
Sethuram Sheshadri said…
Very interesting! What profusion of Wildlife!! Must See!
srinidhi said…
There were so many nice comments. Especially about the pictures Raxit (my son-in-law) took!
So I decided to send to most of my and Tara's contacts.
None complained except this person! Not surprisingly even Tara does not remember how she got his email address!
"Hi don't know how I was on this list serve. Kindly let me request to excuse my self from this.Thanks"
Obviously he did not open the blog!
Arabhi said…
Very nice! Pictures are great and so is the writing! Thank you for sharing.

Would love to visit there one day..

Amrut said…
Wow, these pictures are really nice Tara aunty!
Raghuanthan said…
Great pictures. A visit to Africa is very enchanting and you witness nature at it best.
Thanks a lot for sharing the pictures with us.
Best wishes
Geetha said…
What a wonderful experience you have had! Nothing can take us closer to God than Nature! Nice read! Thanks, Nidhi and Tara for sharing!
Sujatha Ramakrishnan said…
Dear Tara and mr nidhi

Very nice article .very well written and photography is too good.we want to go, give me details of the travel agent and other details .we will plan it.

Very useful and informative. keep on update your tour and visit places.

We can plan easily.
Thanks for sharing the information.

Dr. S S Badrinath said…
Dear Tara, thank you for including me in the mailing list.
I enjoyed the lovely photographs admired them so much that I have forwarded the same to Seshu ,my eldest son in usa.
I shall enjoy the descriptive script sometime later. Greetings and regards to your husband and all other members of the family.
Besrt wishes,
dr S S Badrinath.

hemant desai said…
Hi Tara & Sri!
Sri is really gifted as a writer, looking forward to his first hard cover fiction/non-fiction..
His narration & pictures by your son-in-law has really inspired us to plan this kind of a trip in coming future.
Being a nature lover myself with lots of spare time on national geographic & discovery channels, its always my dream to experience such an adventure.
Thnx for sharing.
Geetha Ramaswami said…
Dear Tara, What a marvelous show it was indeed! The pictures were awesome and beautifully clicked by a pro! The narration by Nidhi was so good, I almost felt I went through the safari. Thanks for sharing this with us.
We took Kavita"s children to Parambikulam wild life sanctuary on the Kerala side. It was small and good. More of spotted deers, wild buffaloes, elephants and monkeys. Though tigers were there we could not see them as it was raining throughout and they come out only in summer to the river bed for drinking water.
You have kindled the interest in us to go on this safari.Let us see, how it goes.
Hope all well at your end. Geetha.
Padmini Raju said…
Thanks for sharing.The photographs are excellent.
Andrea Spinner said…
Dear Tara

It was wonderful to see this pictures and even more of a delight to know that you and your family are well. I think of you often and wish you all the best.

Take great care
Alpa Bansal said…
Thank you for sharing. It was an especially lovely time at dinner for Hiya and me as I read to her the safari trails. The pictures are wonderful too in animating the personal experiences shared.

Pleasantly surprised to see your enthusiasm for a physically difficult trip! Inspiring!
Best wishes,

P.s. I too would love to do this sometime. And yes, more likely the Serengeti than Masai Mara.
Chitra Prakash said…
Dear Tara and Nidhi
Gerat pictures and thanks for sharing
Chitra and Prakash
S R Parthsarathy said…
thank you Nidhi for the lovely Blog and fantastic photos.

Best wishes and regards,
kavitha said…

Thanks for the lovely blog

Anitha said…
You have had an amazing trip - photographs are excellent!

Mayura Prahlad said…
At last i was able to open the attachment your blog. Thoroughly enjoed reading the bit about Hinduism. The pictures of your Safari is simply stunning
Shuba said…
Thank you for sharing this Nidhi and Tara. Beautiful pictures.
I went with a bunch of doctors two years ago . It was right on top of my bucket list and immensely enjoyed not only the Safaris but the Lodges we stayed in and the variety of vegetarian food that was available!

Nice to see your family. How many grandchildren do you have? How are you both keeping?
I just read your Blog. I had just seen the photos before my last mail. You are a great narrator. Have you published anything? Can I forward your blog to Shanthi and Balu?


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