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by December 4th, 2018

Serengeti-The animal paradise of Africa

Children on the road in Africa?

Now you ask yourself the question why a 13 year old has to go to the Serengeti. Why doesn’t he start with what’s on his doorstep and if he’s already on a long-distance trip, then start with Italy or Mallorca. Did I catch someone there with these thoughts?

It’s Tschimek. My dad always told me about Tschimek and his zebra plane with which he flew over the Serengeti together with his son. I have so often mentally sat down in the plane and have flown with it over huge herds of gnus and antelopes, it just had to happen in reality. Furthermore I constantly read about threatened or even extinct animal species. As fast as you adults let the animals disappear, I can’t grow at all and rather use the time that remains.

But before that there were three important things to do:

  • First of all to walk around the area in front of my front door
  • secondly to cross Mallorca on foot
  • third google how to spell Tschimek. I must admit, I wouldn’t have thought of that in my life.

The animal paradise of Serengeti has become famous through this mad mass migration of gnus. Hundreds of thousands of zebras, antelopes and above all gnus are on their way between Tanzania and Kenya, always following the rain and the food.

I thought this was only once a year, but we were told that the animals are always on the move. In October they cross a river where it starts to jam and predators like lions, cheetahs but also crocodiles in the river make easy catch. This is certainly a special occasion and the annual highlight of the Gnu migration. Maybe not for the poor gnus but for us tourists. Unfortunately the animals do not adapt their migration at all to my Easter holidays in Germany.

Preparation and equipment for our safari

On the road I literally saw a boy of the same age in a safari vehicle playing on his mobile phone while a leopard showed up outside. But that was the only exception. Children were sitting in almost every vehicle, but they all had big eyes because of the animals they could see and not because of the mobile phone. What you can really use on the road are:

  • a good animal and plant book
  • binoculars
  • Rain clothes (yes also in Africa) from Easter until the end of May
  • Of course your camera with good a objective. I use a Canon 6D with a Sigma lens 150-600. My 9-year-old brother has a bridge camera from Lumix and I have to admit the pictures are great. My Dad doesn’t part with his Canon 760 D and is in my shadow. But that doesn’t bother him very much.

Lake Manyara in Tanzania

From our accommodation in Arusha, the African View Lodge, we made our way to the Serengeti. South of the asphalt road is the smaller Manyara National Park. We started our 5 day Serengeti Safari here, directly at the big African Rift Valley. In principle Africa divides here, a part wanders towards the east to Arabia. The long trench in between was lowered during the last millions of years, forming many lakes and volcanoes in it. I didn’t think you could really see the Rift Valley, after all it’s huge.  But our guide showed us the enormous edge along the national park, which looks like the wall of a canyon.

At the entrance of the park the first Anubis baboons were already playing and in the trees where Nimmersatt storks have their nests. Our guides still had some paperwork to do for the entrance, I was almost bursting with impatience. When it finally started, we already saw the first diadem monkeys (Blue Monkey). The park is famous for them but the real attraction here are the tree lions. When I read about the tree lions, I first thought it was a species of its own, but that’s not true. Tom and Armani, our guides, explained to us that they are normal lions who spy the prey better from above. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see them.

On the way down to the lake I saw my first warthogs hissing with their raised tail over a wide meadow. On the way to them one of my daddy’s big animal dreams flew past us – a hornbill. The warthogs were joined by wildebeests, zebras, giraffes and even a large herd of buffalos.

After some time of buffalo watching we saw another big bird sitting on one of the acacias.  With the binoculars we could hardly believe our luck, it was a white-tailed eagle. After we had looked out, we drove again to the exit of the park. Actually we still wanted to see hippos, but my brother whined around. We still got to see zebra mongooses and a Toco. Our first day on safari ended in a great lodge. Tomorrow the sun rises again and brings us closer to the Serengeti.

Into the Serengeti

Children who are on safari in Africa should always be allowed to sit next to the driver. This is really awesome, with the best view. From the city of Karatu we first drove up to the Ngorogoro Crater. I’ve seen it all as a toddler, just on TV. But now it’s real, he’s in front of us, I can’t believe it. A huge crater with thousands and thousands of animals lies at our feet. But we leave it on the right side and leave the woods for the time being. In front of us lies the seemingly endless steppe, stretching to the horizon. The drive to our camp, the Serengeti View Camp, takes five exhausting hours on a bumpy track. The camps are not to be imagined as a scout camp, that’s real luxury. We even had a bathroom in the tent and there was great food in the tent restaurant. We were accompanied by lots of gnus, zebras, gold jackals and even two hyenas! Shortly afterwards they discovered two lions from the other car (we were on the way with another family), which stretched themselves in the high grass and slept. A few kilometres later we saw that the road in front of us was full of cars, when we had fought our way through we saw the reason. Next to the road were two (drum rolls): CHEETAHS!

Our next day leads into the heart of the Serengeti. The animal list filled up from minute to minute. First we saw buffalos, giraffes and even a small Nile crocodile. In a pond a 1.5 m large monitor sunbathed itself. Oxpecker pecked parasites from the snout of the buffalo. Somewhat disgusting to look at but I was able to take great photos. A herd of Impalas is nothing unusual at first. But about fifty meters further on we saw three cheetahs on the lurk and we were immediately aware – they were hunting. We didn’t have to wait long either, when the cheetah family already started with the biggest show of our day. The mother sprinted full speed after the Impalas. Her boys were hiding in the bushes, you could only see her ear tips sticking out over the grass. A few minutes later the huntress crossed the road only a few meters ahead of us, but without prey. Great action – but there were also photos without live kill and less brutal.

But my biggest wish was to see a leopard from day one. I besieged our guides from early in the morning until they were absolutely annoyed and looked out for nothing else. They have really good eyes, from a distance of several hundred meters they recognized a cat of prey sitting on a hill. But seen from close up it turned out to be a lion. My disappointment lasted however only briefly. About a hundred meters further on about twenty cars parked at the roadside. It was clear to me – there had to be something special to see. And what was it? Right – my first leopard. It was like birthday and Christmas together. Dear God – thank you very much.

He layed perfectly still high up in a branch fork, but lions gathered below. They would like to catch the leopard, but it is too hard to climb up there.  So they just wait down there to see what happens, according to the motto “he can’t stay forever”. We did the same, for a good hour, then we went on to the Serengeti Visitor Center. On the way there was another leopard to see and a herd of lyre gazelles. What a day! Arriving at the visitor center we immediately started our search for the small, furry Clippschliefern. We already saw some on our South Africa tour last year. These are (believe it or not) related to the elephant. In the park live tree, bush and Klippschliefer. We saw all three species, although the search was not particularly difficult. Some even hid at the toilet. Our second day in the Serengeti said goodbye with a great sunset in the camp.

Ngorongoro Crater

With a heavy heart we leave this animal paradise and make our way to the Ngorongoro Crater. Three hours later we are standing at the top of the crater, rain clouds are passing over our heads. The guides do the paperwork for our entrance again and we go down into the crater. Already at the picnic the first lions appeared in the shade of a tree. A really steep start and we continued with the national bird of Uganda, the crown crane that strutted across the meadows in front of us. My little brother (nine years old) always wanted to see a Serval. The Serval is a small wild cat, it is about twice as big as the normal domestic cats. From it also the Savannah cat is bred, they are worth  about ten to fifteen thousand euros in Germany. Well, back to the safari, we don’t want to talk about domestic cats here. My brother was definitely unlucky. But the crashing part of all was the rhinoceros. Not one of the still frequent white rhinos, but a rare black rhino. As farewell we even saw some lions with babies. The crater knows how to make children happy.

But now it gets really awesome:

We spent the night again in Karatu, this time in the absolutely awesome Endoro Lodge. Arriving at the lodge we immediately asked if there were any bush babies here and they told us that here at night everything was full of them. Immediately one of the hired Massai offered to pick us up in the night, if any show up. You have to know that a bush baby is a small animal related to the monkeys. Very cute with big eyes and just screams, of course, like a baby. After sunset we started our search. At ten o’clock we gave up, it was an exhausting day and we all wanted to go to bed. At one o’clock in the morning my dad woke me up with the words “bush baby, bush baby”! Get in your pants and out into the dark. The Massais were already waiting for me with flashlights. Down at the edge of the forest we shone flashlights into the bushes and surprised – it was all full of them. But they were big, too big for Senegalgalago (Senegalgalagos are bush babies). Then we realize that there is another species here, the rarer Giant Galago! I stand there, in the middle of the night, in Tanzania and bush babies jump around like crazy.

Tarangire National Park

My head is humming, we are already well over 100 different animal species and do not ask me why but I just remember them. Only slowly it gets too much for me, Tanzania is just pure madness. Our safari ends in the Tarangire National Park. This one is known for a very specific tree, the Baobab (in German Affenbrotbaum, yes in Africa many trees have a strange name, for example there is also the Leberwurstbaum). The Baobab has gigantic thick trunks, like an elephant leg. But we also saw small cute Dikdiks, a small antelope species and of course elephants. While driving out another leopard turtle dragged itself across the road, one of the “small five”.


And well that was it already with our safari into the heart of Africa and of course – meanwhile I also know how to spell Grzimek.


Animal List of the Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and National Park Tangarire

That was a lot of work. We took photos of most of the species, a total of 142. The biologist Arno Reinhardt supported us on site. The translations of the English manuals into German are available on the Internet. Please do not forget that I am 13 years old. I did not find a few names in German.

Animal species around Arusha

Lappenchamäleon, Flap – Necked Chamäleon, Chamaeleo dilepis

Braunflügel-Mausvogel, Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus

Mantelaffe, Black and White Colobus, Colobus guereza

Ockerbuschörnchen, Ochre Bush Squirrel, Paraxerus ochraceus

Diademmeerkatze, Blue Monkey, Cercopithecus mitis stuhlmanni

Variable Sunbird, Cinnyris venusta

Weißstirnweber, Grospeak Weaver, Amblyospiza albifrons

Trompeterhornvogel, Trumpeter Hornbill, Bycanistes bucinator

Augurbussard, Augur Buzzard, Buteo augur

Hagedasch,  Hadada Ibis, Bostrychia hagadash

Witwenstelze, African pied Wagtail, Motacilla aguimp

Graubülbül, Common Bulbul, Pycnonotus barbatus

Animal species at Lake Manyara

Gestreiftes Borstenhörnchen, Striped ground Squirrel, Xerus erythropus

Gänsegeier, Rüppell´s Griffon, Vulture Gyps ruepellii

Weißrückengeier, African White-backed Vulture, Gyps africanus

Klappspringer, Klipspringer,  Oreotragus oreotragus

Elefant, Elephant, Loxodonta africana

Nimmersatt,  Yellow billed Stork, Mycteria ibis

Steppenzebra, Common Zebra, Equus quagga boehmi

Maskenweber,  Vitelline Masked Weaver, Ploceus velatus

Sporngans, Spur – winged Goose, Plectropterus gambensis

Oryxweber, Southern Red Bishop, Euplectes orix

Schlankmanguste, Slender Mongoose, Galerella sanguinea

Flammenkopf-Bartvogel, Red – and – yellow Barbet, Trachyphonus erythrocephalus

Impala, Impala, Aepyceros melampus

Rosa Flamingo, Greater Flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber

Schmalschnabellöffler, African Spoonbill, Platalea alba

Rosapelikan, Great White Pelican, Pelecanus onocrotalus

Strauß, Common Ostrich, Struthio camelus

Weißbart Gnu, Eastern White – bearded Wildebeest, Connochaetes taurinus albojubatus

Hammerkopf, Hamerkop, Scopus umbretta

Schopffrankolin, Crested Frankolin, Francolinus sephaena

Grautoko, Grey Hornbill, Tockus nasatus

Massai-Giraffe, Masai Giraffe, Giraffa Camelopardalis tippelskirchi

Kaffernbüffel, African Buffalo, Syncerus caffer

Warzenschwein, Common Warthog,  Phacochoerus africanus

Schreiseeadler, African Fish Eagle, Haliaeetus vocifer

Perlhuhn, Helmeted Guineafowl, Numida meleagris

Lappenstar, Wattled Starling, Creatophora cinerea

Graufischer, Pied Kingfisher, Ceryle rudis

Narinatrogon, Narina Trogon, Apaloderma narina

Blaunacken-Mausvogel, Blue – naped Mousebird, Urocolius macrourus

Zebramanguste, Banded Mangoose,  Mungos mungo

Black faced Sandgrouse, Pterocles decorates

Trauerdrongo, Fork-tailed Drongo, Dicrurus adsimilis

Silberwangenhornvogel, Silvery – cheeked Hornbill, Bycanistes brevis

Riedbock, Bohor Reedbuck, Redunca redunca

Buschbock,  Bushbuck, Tragelaphus scriptus

Grünmeerkatze, Vervet Monkey, Cercopithecus aethiops pygerthrus

Animal species while driving to Serengeti

Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone viridis

Riesentrappe, Kori Bustard, Ardeotis kori

Schwarzbauchtrappe, Black bellied Bustard, Eupodotis melanogaster

Thomson-Gazelle, Thomson´s Gazelle, Eudorcas thomsonii

Grant-Gazelle, Grant´s Gazelle, Nanger Granti

Marabu, Marabou Stork, Leptoptilos crumeniferus

Goldschakal, Golden Jackal, Canis aureus

Tüpfelhyäne, Spotted Hyaena, Crocuta crocuta

Ohrengeier, Lappet – faced Vulture, Torgos tracheliotus

Savannenadler, Tawny Eagle, Aquila rapax

Klippenschliffer, Rock Hyrax, Procavia johnstoni

Buschschliefer, Bush Hyrax, Heterohyrax brucei

Steppenwald-Baumschliefer, Tree Hyrax, Dendrohyrax arboreus

Kirk-Dikdik, Kirk´s Dik – Dik, Madoqua kirkii

Wassertriel, Water Thick – knee, Burhinus vermiculatus

Nilpferd,  Hippopotamus, Hippopotamus amphibious

Geierrabe, White – naped Raven, Corvus albicollis

Schildrabe, Pied Crow, Corvus albus

Gepard,  Cheetah,Acinonyx jubatus

Animal species in the Serengeti

Schlangenadler, Brown Snake – Eagle, Circaetus cinnereus

Black chested Snake – Eagle, Circaetus pectoralis

Leierantilope, Topi, Damaliscus lunatus

Kuhantilope, Coke´s Hardebeest, Alcelaphus buselaphus cokii

Elenantilopen, Eland, Taurotragus oryx

Rotschwanzweber, Rufous – tailed Weaver, Histurgops ruficaudus

Graumantelwürger, Grey back Fiscal,  Lanius excubitoroides

Schwarzstirnwürger, Lesser Grey Shrike,  Lanius minor

Elsterwürger,  Magpie Shrike, Urolestes melanoleucus

Neuntöter, Red-backed Shrike, Lanius collurio

Rotschnabeltoko, Red – billed Hornbill, Tockus erythrorhynchus

Rüppellwürger, Northern White – crowned Shrike, Eurocephalus rueppelli

Spornkuckuck, White browed Coucal, Centropus superciliosus Rotnackenlerche                 Rufous – naped Lark, Mirafra africana

Nilkrokodil, Nile Crocodile, Crocodylus niloticus

Flussuferläufer,  Commun Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos

Waffenkiebitz, Blacksmith Lapwing, Vanellus amatus

Fahlregenpfeifer, Three banded Plover, Charadrius pallidus

Stelzenläufer, Black – winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus

Kampfläufer, Ruff, Philomachus pugnax

Singhabicht, Dark – chanting Goshawk, Melierax metabates

Eastern – chanting Goshawk, Melierax poliopterus

Löwe, Lion, Panthera leo

Starweber, White headed Buffalo Weaver, Dinemellia dinemelli

Leopard, Leopard,  Panthera pardus

Kappengeier, Hooded Vulture,  Necrosyrtes monachus

Grünschwanz-Glanzstar, Greater blue – eared Starling, Lamprotornis chalybaeus

Dreifarben-Glanzstar, Superb Starling, Lamprotornis  superbus

Hildebrandt-Glanzstar, Hildebrandt Starling, Lamprotornis hildebrandti

Grey Woodpecker, Dendropicus goertae

Blauracke, European Roller, Coracias garrulus

Gabelracke, Lilac – breasted Roller, Coracias caudata

Pfirsichköpfchen, Fisher´s Love Bird, Agapornis fischeri

Häherkuckuck, Great spotted Cuckoo, Clamator gladarius

Lachseeschwalbe, Gull-billed Tern,  Sterna nilotica

Gelbschnabel-Madenhacker, Yellow – billed Oxpecker, Buphagus africanus

Gaukler, Bateleur, Terathopius ecaudatus

Lesser Masked Weaver, Ploceus inermedius

Schabrackenschakal, Black Backed Jackal, Cani mesomelas

Streifengnu, Western White – Bearded Wildebeest, Connochaetes taurinus meamsi

Wasserbock, Common Waterbuck, Kobus ellipsiprymnus

Animal species of the Ngorongoro Krater

Wiedehopf,  African Hoopoe, Upupa africana

Nilwaran, Nile Monitor, Varanus niloticus

Büffelweber, Red billed Buffalo Weaver, Bubalornis niger

Wollkopfgeier, White headed Vulture, Trigonoceps occipitalis

Boubouwürger, Tropical Boubou, Laniarius aethiopicus

Siedleragame, Red – headed Rock Agame, Agama agama

Stahlblaue Felsenagame, Mwanza flat – headed Agama, Agama mwanzae

Kapente, Cape Teal, Anas capensis

Nilgans, Egyptian Goose, Alopochen aegypticus

Kronenkranich, Grey Crowned Crane, Balearica regulorum

Heiliger Ibis, Sacred Ibis, Threskiornis aethiopicus

Spitzmaul Nashorn, Black Rhinoceros, Diceros bicornis

Grauglanzstar, Ashy Starling, Cosmopsarus unicolor

Schmetterlingsfink, Red – cheeked Cordon – bleu, Uraeginthus bengalus

Streifenliest, Striped Kingfisher, Halcyon chelicuti

Schafstelze, Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla flava

Animal species in the Tarangire national park

Impala, Impala, Aepyceros melampus

Höckerglanzgans, Knob – billed Duck, Sarkidiornis melanotos

Weißbauch-Lärmvogel, White – bellied Go Away Bird, Corythaixoides leucogaster

Leoparden Schildkröte, Leopard Tortoise, Geochelone pardalis

Palmgeier, Palmnut vulture, Gypohierax angolensis

Defassa-Wasserbock, Defassa Waterbuck, Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa

Einsiedlerkuckuck, Red – chested Cuckoo, Cuculus solitarius