Seven Serengeti lessons about camping

Seven Serengeti lessons about camping

The Serengeti plain

It’s a long, hot and dusty drive into the Serengeti, and we had approached it from the Ngorogoro crater. We’d come to see the wildebeest migration with the hope of seeing some of the big African 5: buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino. We’d already been lucky to catch the black rhino in the Ngorogoro crater so hopes were high for the other 4 (plus cheetah, giraffe, hyena, zebra, hippo to name a few).

Lesson 1: you need to keep hydrated in the heat. Drink plenty of water.
Less than 45 minutes inside the park proper, we spotted this leopard, hanging out. What a show-stealing sight of a rarely glimpsed beautiful creature.
Leopard - Serengeti safari

The ruler surveys its dominion.

A couple of hours later and we’re in camp, setting up our tents. Our guides advised us to make trips to the bush toilet as we shouldn’t go there from 1 hour before sunset until 1 hour after sunrise the next morning. The toilet itself is a seat over a cess pit shaped like a 3-walled “bus shelter” facing out into the bush and 20 metres from camp. We made good use of sage advice before the darkness descended.

Sunset in Serengeti safari camp

Sunset in Serengeti camp

After that, we took our turns of having an open air shower to rinse away the dust. Our guides made us a tasty chicken and rice meal over the camp fire and we had a beer under the beautiful star-filled night and had a chat about our awesome Serengeti safari before hitting zipping up in our tents and sleeping bags.

Lesson 2: expect to be woken by the low roaring of lions and whoops of hyenas.

All of which then presents a problem of its own: what do you do when lesson 1 and 2 wake you up desperate for a pee?

Lesson 3: remember to keep an empty bottle (and possibly a funnel) at hand for this emergency.

I didn’t know about lesson 3 on this occasion and had to get out of my tent to relieve myself at the tree by the tent. That accomplished, back to bed and more z’s.

Lesson 4: be careful not to pee too close to your neighbour’s tent.

Next morning I woke up and apologised to Brad (“it was right by my !@$%£$@&^ head!”) over breakfast. We also heard from the ladies in the group that their variation of lesson 3 was to get out together and pee by the bus in the hope of safety in numbers (managing this whilst holding hands in the pitch black)!

Having waited 2 hours after sunrise, I felt I was now in a position (i.e. desperate but safe) to go to the bus shelter with my handy roll of paper. Sitting comfortably, I started to whistle.

Lesson 5: if you want privacy on the “bus shelter” toilet, you need to whistle or sing… that way people know the toilet is occupied.

Fortunately, none of our safari group came round the corner to interrupt my function.

Lesson 6: animals do not always know the rules that your guides tell you.

Out of the bush, about 4 metres away a hyena loped into view. Obviously and being prepared, I picked up my nearest weapon and considered my options should the hyena be peckish. Here I was, trousers round my ankles and armed with a particularly soft roll of toilet paper. I could throw the toilet roll at said hyena and while it is distracted, pull my trousers up with the other hand and

  1. try to climb up into the nearest tree (hoping there wasn’t a leopard there to greet me).
  2. try to run back to camp.
  3. jump into the cess pit.

Unfortunately, “1” seemed a bit risky, “2” animals like to chase things and I am slow! and “3” well… yuk. I figured these all pretty much gave me a bit of excitement followed by slow painful lingering death. I decided on a new lesson instead.


Lesson 7: when confronted by a strong hunting animal that’ll bite straight through your leg, remain calm, don’t move and wait for it to go. Any constipation you might have been feeling will also be cured.

After that, the safari continued and the animals came out!

Cheetah shading in the heat of midday - Serengeti safari

Cheetah shading in the heat of midday

Elephant mother and child - Serengeti Safari

Elephant mother and child

Lions - Serengeti Safari

Lions resting out of the sun

Zebra - Serengeti safari

Zebra are very jumpy



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  1. May 1, 2018 / 10:59 am

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