This Was The Moment I realised What The Wild Really Looks Like

Tanzania Lions

Photo: Julie Zeveloff — Business Insider

After travelling more than 24 hours, I arrived yesterday at Sasakwa Airstrip in northern Tanzania, on the western corridor of the Serengeti, as part of a press trip to visit hotels and safari camps around the country.My travel group was met by Simon, our Tanzanian tour guide, in an open-sided off-road vehicle. After a day’s worth of travel, I expected to head straight to our lodge at Singita Grumeti Reserve’s tent camp, Sabora.

Instead, I wound up on a three-hour game drive through a privately run reserve in the middle of the Great Migration, seeing more big game than most people see in a lifetime, including a close look at a lion eating a wildebeest. 

Disclosure: Our trip to Tanzania, including travel and lodging expenses, was paid for by the Tanzania Tourist Board, The Africa Adventure Company and Singita Grumeti Group, and Coastal Aviation.

Matthew, our Coastal Airways pilot, took us from Arusha, Tanzania, to Sasakwa, in the centre of Singita's Grumeti Reserve, a private 340,000 acre park.

Our 12-seat plane dropped us off at Sasakwa airstrip before heading to the Kenyan border.

Apart from the red dirt airstrip and a small tent, there was nothing but plains in every direction.

Our guide, Simon, was waiting for us in a 9-seat off-road vehicle with no doors or windows.

Before we even left the airstrip, we saw hundreds of wildebeest grazing on the plain.

There were zebras mixed in with the wildebeest, which were by far the most common mammal we saw.

One of the first things we learned was the purpose of these blue-and-black flags, which hung on trees everywhere. They're dipped in insecticide and made to trap tse tse flies.

Within minutes, we had our first game spotting! This giraffe nibbled at the treetops in Grumeti's only fenced-in section, intended to help reintroduce a black rhino population to the area.

Around 20 minutes later, we found a female lion struggling to break open her most recent prey, a wildebeest.

Unlike in Tanzania's public parks, safari guides in Grumeti Reserve can drive off-road to get close to the animals. We got a good look at this wildebeest's insides.

A momentary break to lick her lips.

Of course, a tree full of vultures waited nearby.

The Serengeti has several vulture species; they soar above the plains seeking out carcasses, and when they find one the others quickly follow.

Not far from the kill, zebras splashed in a watering hole. They depend on finding drinking water at regular intervals, and feed on the short grasses of the plains.

We spotted a lone hippo in a watering hole close by. Unfortunately, he didn't show much more than his ears -- it was hot in the late afternoon sun.

A reminder of the fragility of life on the Serengeti.

Nearby, a hundred or so other African Buffalo grazed and rested in the sun.

A short ride later, we found a herd of giraffe crossing the plain.

Some stopped to feed on the flat-top Acacia trees that blanket the park.

Giraffe occasionally travel alone, so it was incredible to see them gathered in a herd of 30 or more.

A warthog scurried past us as we neared our camp.

Finally, after a three-hour drive, we reached our final destination -- a tent camp in the heart of the reserve.

And I was escorted to the tent I'd call home for the next two nights.

Now check out another exotic experience

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