Spring Break Tanzania: How Close Can We Get to That Lion?

By Tanya Puri, Class of 2018

By Tanya Puri, Class of 2018

The Booth Spring Break trip to Tanzania attracted over 20 Boothies united by the common mission of spotting as many wild cats as possible on our four days of safari game drives.

The trip kicked off with a traditional Tanzanian dinner in Kilimanjaro, followed by an early morning departure to the Tarangire National Park. Split into three jeeps stocked with binoculars, cameras and of course, unlimited frosty beverages, the Tanzania Spring Break had officially begun!

While we didn’t see any big cats at Tarangire, we saw zebras, giraffes, wildebeests and plenty of impalas and gazelles. We even spent a night in a tented lodge with the peaceful wildebeests as our neighbors. The next morning, after a half-day game drive, we stopped at a Masai Village where we were invited in to learn about their nomadic lives and learn some not-so-easy Masai dancing (read: jumping). Next, we drove to the Ngorongoro Crater which, at over 7000ft, is the world’s largest inactive volcano and is home to several animals, such as hippos and rhinos, and also featuring some incredible views.

Group pauses during an exciting game drive at the Tarangire National Park in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Group pauses during an exciting game drive at the Tarangire National Park in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

The highlight was Serengeti National Park, where we were able to get close to our favorite wild cat, the lion. While it can be unnerving to be so close, with temperatures going up to 30 degrees Celsius, the animals were unaffected by our passing safari jeeps and were either seeking shelter from the harsh sun or searching for water. We spent two nights at the Serengeti, sleeping under the African sky full of stars and being escorted by Masai men back to our rooms after dark to avoid becoming lion prey.

The last day was a drive back to Arusha, with some Boothies making their way back to Chicago and others (ahem, second years) deciding to skip week 1, to explore more of East Africa. The group takes a moment to acknowledge James Levinson for fearlessly leading 20 Boothies to the African Savannah. James made sure we were close enough to the Lions to get incredible pictures but far away to escape with all limbs intact. In all seriousness, he handled all the logistics and planning and made this a once in a lifetime experience!