It sounds crazy, but it happened. I have slept in a tent that was only a few metres away from a pack of lions. I was in the middle of the savannah of Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. If I knew that this would be my fate, I may have thought twice before travelling to Tanzania for a wildlife safari. A wildlife safari is one of the greatest adventures one can experience, and it is something that will remain fondly in my memory for many years to come.
I am usually not easily overwhelmed by extraordinary sites. It is not very often while travelling that I become extremely excited about something; I am hard to satisfy. I was not always like this, but after travelling to 91 countries in total so far, I have started to feel less amazed by traditional tourist sites like the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben. However, when I travel to places in Africa there is some sort of magic. Whenever I hear music from different regions of Africa, or talk to people from different countries, or even look at the diverse landscape from the window of a plane, the young, crazy, excited traveller in me is reborn and I get goosebumps again.
Tanzania was the 71st country I travelled to and I have since visited 20 more countries. Though I visited many countries before, I had been dreaming of visiting Tanzania a long time before my journey. I was off with a professional guide and a 4WD into Serengeti National Park, one of the largest national parks in Africa. The park is stripped of the protective barriers you would find in a zoo, and instead it is a place to display animals living in their natural habitat. There are wild animals that go hunting, and there are a variety of animals and ecosystems.
Just before sunset, we arrived at our campsite, which was located in the middle of the savannah. My first question was: “Does this place have a fence?”
The answer was a surprising: “No sir, we are in the middle of the savannah and this is home for the animals, we’re visitors here.”
Shocked after hearing the scariest “no” in my life, I asked again: “So, what if we get attacked? Are we prepared for such a situation?”
The answer was even more shocking than the first one. The man responsible for the campsite said: “Don’t worry, nothing will happen. Hopefully.”
I said: “What do you mean exactly by hopefully? We are in the lion’s territory. Are you going to save me if a lion attacks my tent?”
The killer answer was: “Sir, even if I would like to save you in a situation like that, I would not be able to. But don’t worry.”
The longest night in my life passed. I laid in bed listening to weird noises from unidentifiable animals that could have been maybe two or three metres from the tent. I woke up at 6am and slowly unzipped the door to the tent just enough to peek outside and make sure it’s safe. I took a leap of faith and emerged from the tent. We ate breakfast, and I later found out that the weird noise at night belonged to a buffalo. But that was not what was most shocking. The owner of the place told me that I missed a fight between a group of 37 lions attacking a bunch of buffalos 10 metres from the campsite!