This past weekend, we went to Ruaha National Park for a three day safari. Ruaha is about two hours from Iringa, and the fun started on our ride there. Our group was split between two cars (which more closely resembled tanks), and the tank I was in broke down about a half hour into our trip. It’s funny because the car breaking down ended up being a good thing. Rather than just waiting for a new car to come, we made the most of being stranded on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere. I broke out my frisbee, and we ended up having a catch with some kids who lived nearby; they loved it. During our catch, a herd of little goats came out of nowhere and ran right by us. To add to the cuteness was a tiny puppy that a man brought out, again it seemed to come out of nowhere. It’s nice to be with a group of people who have no problem going with the flow and making the most of a situation like that.
The safari was awesome. I’ve never seen so many elephants in my life. We saw a bunch just in the short time we were pulling up to where we were staying. What we stayed in were little thatched huts, which we called “tin cans.” They were very simple, and had nothing but two beds with mosquito nets inside. If we wanted to go to the bathroom at night, we had to call one of the rangers to escort us. The reason is that you don’t know what animals are out there, and the rangers have guns.
One of the coolest experiences on the safari was when we pulled up to a group of elephants just feet from our tank. We were taking all these pictures, when the elephant closest to us started picking at bark on the tree with her trunk
. We called her “Queen E,” because she seemed to be putting on a show for us. I was filming her when all of a sudden, she pulled a big piece of bark off the tree and flung it up in the air, as if she was trying to hit us. I can’t believe how close she was to us—we got some great pictures from it.
My favorite moment on the safari was when I spotted a cheetah. Our guide at one point mentioned leopards and how it’s very rare to see one, so after that I was skimming the grass and trees with the hope that maybe I’d see one. Then—BAM—a cheetah sitting in the grass by a bush! I told the driver to back up, so we got up close to it and it started walking away. We followed it, and got a lot of pictures since it took its time and didn’t just run away. Apparently, cheetahs are even rarer to see than leopards. Our guide said he had never seen one in Ruaha before. That made it even more amazing.
In addition to the cheetah and elephants, we saw gazelles (they were everywhere), baboons, hippos, zebras, giraffes, foxes, ostriches, and countless other exotic animals. We also saw lions twice! Justin had said that it’s rare to see lions more than once on safari, so we saw one Saturday and then Sunday before leaving, we spotted four lions lying under a tree! We got so many cool pictures on the safari, and some of my favorites are of the sky! There were beautiful sunsets and sunrises everyday (we got going at 6am), so I have a lot of sky pictures; I’ll post some here!