April 4, 2015

Sleeping in the jungles of Africa!

Driving around the massive African Savannah trying to spot the big 5 is definitely an adventure in itself. But sleeping in the middle of the jungles with no fencing or barrier except for your tent? Now that's an experience quite like no other.

Before we started planning our safari trip to Tanzania, I was clueless about how accommodations worked. I thought the lodges would be situated outside the jungles. And camping in the jungles would mean having big fencing all around and rangers guarding us all night.

I was so very mistaken.

The lodges we stayed at, while luxurious, were right inside the jungles with no fencing or barriers. In the evening, we would be escorted by security from the main dining area to our rooms because the lodges are visited by all sorts of animals, especially by the pool areas for water drinking purposes! We were in the jungle for 4 nights and slept 2 nights in the lodges and 2 nights in "luxury tents".

Luxury tents are the best thing happened for people like me who run away from camping. The luxury tents were spacious enough to have a double bed in them and some walking space. They also had a zipper attached to a small washroom area - and flush toilet! And the incredible thing is, these tents are mobile tents, meaning they move these tents according to the animals' migration every season. In the middle of the jungle, you've got flush toilet and even hot water to bath. You tell the camp people what time you want to shower and they come around that time with hot water, fill it in a bucket that then leads to a shower head. Incredible!

So we stayed 2 nights in Serengeti in 2 different camps. The first night we stayed at the Kati Kati Camp. We got to our camp area at dusk and there were people chilling by the bonfire. 

Kati Kati tents. Ours was the furthest away from the Mess tent.

Our tent

Dinner was served in a mess tent - an awesome 3 course meal cooked right there. After dinner, we were escorted by a guard to our tent. While walking, we spotted a pair of shiny tiny eyes in the darkness. The guard told us it was a hyena. 

I've never camped in my entire life because a) I like my safety and comfort and b) I am terrified of creepy crawlies. So just the sounds of crickets and various bugs around had my fear levels up, and then there were hyenas!

Why did I ever agree to this insane level of vulnerability?! 

Once inside our tent and after making sure the entire place was zipped properly so there's no room for any living creature to creep in, we tucked ourselves in the bed to try and sleep. It was only 9.30PM but we were pretty beat. Then we heard a sound.

What is that, I asked?

Sounds like a cape buffalo, replied Umair.

Oh, it's just a buffalo, eating up the grasses. He's having his dinner. Just like I had mine. All good.

Then there were more sounds. Buffalo walking....around our tent? That's fine. As long as it just walks...around it.

More sounds. Of buffalo? No. Really loud thuds. The fabric of our tent was moving. Really hard.

....Um....do the tents shake when buffaloes walk around them?

The tent walls started shaking harder. And kept getting volatile. It was freaky and I shut my eyes tight and announced,

Buffaloes are trying to break into our tent. They are charging at our tent. We should blow the whistle and call the guard.

....No, it's ok. They'll get bored and move on. Said Umair.

But the shaking didn't stop. It only got harder. At this point I was pretty terrified so we decided to turn the solar lights on and maybe peep through the window to see what the heck is it that these buffaloes wanted. I'm not sure why we thought that was a productive idea.

Once the lights were on and we got out of bed and moved around our tent, we realized IT WAS THE WIND. 

I've never been so grateful for crazy winds this much in my entire life. It was a crazy wind storm of some sort. And the next morning our guide told us that yes, Serengeti can get really volatile winds at night. 

Okay then, now that it was settled, I could finally sleep. I heard hyenas calling each other out. An attack? Yup, it seemed like the hyena just got his dinner too. Then I heard a lion. Oh cool. There's a lion. Maybe he'll eat up the hyena.

But after all that intense fear and what not, I was surprisingly mellow. I pretty much passed out to an awesome night's sleep at the sounds of the lion. 

We were up at 6AM the next morning to go for game drives to spot cheetahs. I had survived my first morning in the camp! 

Bring on Night 2 of glam-ping, I was more than ready for the hyena lullabies!

Our tent the first night. No fences or barriers around!

the Mess tent. Having breakfast after chasing a cheetah.

Our 2nd tent - Serengeti Wilderness camp

Inside the 2nd tent - not too shabby!

Morning after our 2nd camp night, we saw some visitors outside our tents!