Have you ever been in an open jeep, staring at a lion that is staring back with a predatory gaze locked onto you like a missile locked onto its target, and everything just seems to disappear instantaneously and it’s just you and the lion, three paces away, but you don’t want to look away even if you should? I haven’t, but I really want to and I was going to.
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Finally. Finally after years of dreaming, convincing and saving up, I got the opportunity to visit the Serengeti National Park. It was a dream come true. I felt giddy with excitement. I wanted to shout, run and tell the whole world that I was finally going… I was finally going to the Serengeti. All my worries of the past disappeared as though they never existed. My heart felt like a butterfly, each time I tried to divert my mind into doing something else, it flapped back to thinking and dreaming about everything I’ll do when I reach. The animals I had dreamt of seeing as a child, the hotels I fantasised of staying in, the long safari cars I wished to be driven around in, the hot air balloon I always wished to float above the Savannah in…. There was so much; I was falling short of words.
The ride to the park was extraordinary. We took off before sunrise but what blew my mind was the beautiful sunrise that followed us as we raced to the park. The huge ball of fire that gradually pulled itself up onto the horizon stretched its stunning petals across the clear blue sky. The large petals of the blooming sun painted the sky with warm colours of pink, orange, peach, strokes of blue and violet and a tiny tint of red. Slowly and gradually, colourful and exotic birds swirled and swooped decorating the blue sky as they stretched out their amazing wings and warmed up for another day of melodious singing. As we got closer and closer, my heart beat faster and with each minute, my pupils widened and my smile, wider than it had ever been.
And then, I got there, and woah; my mind was blown away! As we approached the gate of the park, monkeys and baboons jumped in joy as they saw another car entering the park. They welcomed us and ran around like it was their first time visiting the park. As I strolled around the offices at the park gate, a grey monkey with its baby huddled under it, rushed past me, its tail high up and erect, and cheekily grabbed my sandwich and scurried away. Watching the mother feed my sandwich to its cute baby was all worth the loss of my sandwich. It was time. The roof was opened and so was the gate.
It was the happiest day of my life. I had never felt so welcomed in my life. The opening of the gate felt as though the savannah had opened up its arms to me and as the gate closed, a new box of memories opened up for me to fill it with the fantastic sights ahead of me. My mind was blown away; again.
The tall golden-brown grass danced and swayed as it followed the melodious rhythm of the cool breeze. It stood tall and confident and showed off its beauty to the guests that came to visit and get awed by its attractiveness. The stunning acacia trees stood tall as the large giraffes grazed. The yellow spotted pattern on the giraffe blended in as the bright sun gradually rose behind it. Its long painted neck stretched up high to get the best from the thorn tree and on the other side, its calf spread both its fore legs apart as it bent over to drink cold water from a nearby river in the scorching sun.
As giraffes stretched their long necks, the zebra boldly and proudly trotted around showing off the artwork on its body. The black and white stripes on its body, as unique as a fingerprint, shone in the broad daylight creating a hypnotising pattern. Its large black beady eyes slyly scanned the savannah making sure no predator lurked around them or their calves.
The crocodiles lay motionless on the banks of the river. Their still bodies basked in the sun as they rested with their jaws wide open showing off their sharp teeth. They watched the antelopes from afar with their beady eyes and slowly crawled through the sand dragging their scaly bodies. Before the kill could see, one of the crocodiles quickly disappeared under the water and by the time the antelope had a chance to escape, it was caught between the reptile's long snout. The antelope wrestled back but all in vain; the huge reptile was way stronger than the feeble newborn.
Post my scrumptious lunch in the middle of nowhere; with a view of dozens of one of the most dangerous and powerful animals on Earth; the hippopotamus. As they lazily lay in the dirty water sniffing and snorting, I enjoyed my delicious double cheese grilled sandwich, a cold and refreshing coke and a sweet apple.
As we continued our expedition, we came across hundreds of zebras, antelopes and deers, but what knocked my socks off was the lion that stood at the edge of the road and let out a wide wide roar as he bellowed to his small chubby cubs that came running through the tall grass they camouflaged into. He shook his mane and as each cub approached him, he licked them with his long pink tongue. As he opened his mouth, his long sharp teeth stuck out with and and a flash of red flesh, stuck between his teeth stood out. In the early summers of Tanzania, his round eyes, soft yellow-brown, large with a thick rim of black, shone and shimmered as the bright sun reflected off of it. As it got hotter and hotter, the huge male lion gracefully walked back into the grass, his large golden paws creating imprints of his footsteps onto the roads, and finally lay in the shade of the closest tree that stood around him. The cubs followed him and rolled around near their mother, play-fighting and biting each other's tails, and just like any other cat, fell asleep beside their mother.
That sight stuck into my head for a long, long time. Even as I walked past the Immigration, I saw the lion everywhere, licking his cubs, and staring back at us. I was fascinated, amazed, and add any other word you can think of that describes being mind blown. Serengeti, was a place to remember. A place that brings everyone together to experience mother nature. And just like the lions did, I also followed the one motto in life… “ HAKUNA MATATA”… it means no worries…