On adventure with son

23 January 2023 | Carine & Joep

Together to Serengeti, Africa.

My son and I are traveling together for the first time. Tanzania and Zanzibar. After a full day in the jeep (an 8-hour drive on roads with deep potholes and potholes. Tanzanians call the bumps and swings a ‘free African massage’) we arrive at a tented camp in the south of Serengeti. We’re dead tired.

The next morning at 07.00 we have breakfast and then set off with our guide. George, a big strong man who has been a guide for thirty years.

A lion sleeps 18 hours a day and eats a wildebeest once every six days.

If you shave a zebra it is black.

George is our guide. He knows everything and sees everything. We bump in the large open jeep for hours over the vast plains and end up from one spectacle to the next.

Three lion brothers eating a wildebeest, the lions pull out all the entrails.

We stand, in the jeep, at about three meters and watch and hear (!) and see how stomach, intestines and whole pieces of meat are pulled out of the wildebeest.

Zebras have stripes to repel flies, which get confused between black and white.

Wildebeest and zebras travel together. The zebra sees well and the wildebeest smells well. This is how they protect each other.

The cheetah smears itself with poop to hide its scent from its prey.

In the evening, son and I are served the most delicious meals by the Greencamp team. We chat about friends, family, plans for the future and what we saw that day.

We are the only guests. With six employees who want to do everything for you, that is sometimes a bit awkward. We would like to help but that is not an option. This is how we sit at a beautifully set table, dining with cold wine. Occasionally a zebra walks by.

A hippo gleams. It doesn’t just come out of water, but it’s a kind of slime layer. This layer is their solar factor. With their strong lips they cut the grass.

There is no WiFi and no coverage in Serengeti. Sometimes we want to let the home front know how things are going and then we go to the wifi station: a small tent with 2 chairs. I really enjoy the silence and the peace, son is in relaxed mode. Life’s good.

Lion – hyena – jackal – vulture: in that order prey is (literally) eaten to the bone. An adult wildebeest is completely used up in 1 morning, except for the skull.

As long as we are in the jeep, the predators see us as a whole. A harmless passer-by. If we take a step outside the jeep, we are an enemy and a possible prey. Sometimes the wind blows so hard and it is very dusty. Son’s cap blows from the jeep. We’ll find it again.

Vultures, thirty at a time, plunging into the carcass. Fighting for a piece of meat. I see how one pecks out the eye of a wildebeest. I quickly turn my head.

The cloudy sky, the endless green plains, the trees, insects. Jumping gazelles, running ostriches, ibexes: I’m short of eyes. Giraffes and zebras everywhere, a rhinoceros, hippo a herd of elephants. Magic.

The skull of an elephant resembles a beehive. The ‘holes’ have a function. For example, the head is lighter in weight.

Take in take out (garbage). We should do the same in the Netherlands. Everything you make a mess, after a picnic for example, you take with you. There are no trash cans anywhere and there is no rubbish in the parks. You are not allowed to take plastic bags into Tanzania, but unfortunately there is a lot of waste outside the parks. Plastic drinking bottles are hell.

So far, we’re not home yet, it’s going great. I really like that we don’t have to talk for hours at a time. Especially during the game drives we can enjoy nature and wildlife. Tight-lipped.

Son and I are traveling for a while. Today I enjoy the view at the foot of Kilimanjaro. We sleep in a lodge run by Maasai. In the evening at the campfire we can ask Israel, a warrior who speaks good English, questions about their way of life.



[Written by Carine Vaessen, author of the book ‘Plaster on my ass. Adventures of a provincial mother in transition.’]

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