They say the best way to experience wildlife in the Serengeti is to live amongst the animals in what is commonly known here as “tented camps”. “They” being the imaginary travelers in the reviews on TripAdvisor. Frequent travelers know TripAdvisor reviews are like the holy grail of resources for globetrotters so when deciding where my friend Gabe and I should spend our 2 nights in the Serengeti, the tented camp was the clear winner, with folks raving about the food, the modernized tents, and being so close to the animals. I repeat, so close to the animals. More on that later.
When we arrived at Kati Kati Tented Camp after a tiring day of riding through the Serengeti, we were greeted with fresh juice and were told to have a seat for a “little chat.” I expected the customary “Welcome to our establishment” chat where they tell you where the spa is located and all the services offered by the concierge. But nope, this chat went something like this:
*insert thick Tanzanian accent here*
Here we have tent.
You each get a warm shower, twenty liters each person. Someone will come fill eet when you ah ready.
Our electricity is solar power so eet depend on the sun. But eet has been raining so…eet depend on the sun. (my face *__*)
The toilet flush every 10 minutes, push three time
Do not walk by yourself at night. Eef you want to leave your tent, a guard will come escort you. This ees because of the animals.
Wait. So. Yeah. Um. What? Animals? Like the ones like out here like that be huntin’ and stuff at night? Like lions and leopards and elephants (which are apparently destructive and belligerent). Oh, okay.
Gabe and I played it cool, nodded and were led to our tent. But from that moment I wasn’t right y’all. Like, it was that feeling at the top of the roller coaster right before you go down the big ass hill like….
OH MY GOD WE’S ALL ‘GON DIE!!
At dinner I could barely concentrate enough to eat (and y’all know I’m greedy) so I ordered what my Dad calls “nerve medicine” – a bottle of red wine, which I intended to drink with or without Gabe’s help. After a delicious dinner, (like insanely good, like the best we’ve had since we arrived, like KFC lick your fingers with no home training good) and half a bottle of wine, we retired to our quarters.
This photo of Kati Kati Camp is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Then the noises started.
*insert dramatic pause here*
I knew by a little demo our driver did that the sounds were lions. And they were close. Not like “in the distance” close. Or even “down the block” close. These hoes were like right outside. Like, I’m at the stove and the lion is by the refrigerator. Right outside the tent.
Now mind you. I’m never scared. Like ever. Like in 2003 when Bone Crusher would come on at 1:30 AM in the club and you’re on your 4th drank and start jumpin’ around like you have no home training tombout “I AIN’T NEVER SCARED!!!”
Hypothetically. If I were ever that ratchet. But still…
I ride the baddest roller coasters in Six Flags!!
I’ve white water canoed down Class 5 rapids !!
I’ve been SKYDIVING!!
I’M FROM BROOKLYN, SON!!
(Editors note: the last 2 statements aren’t true but sound great for dramatic effect. Son.)
So yeah, I didn’t exactly pee on myself, but it was almost a Huggies moment up in this piece. Gabe got up and started peeking out of our window flap to make eye contact with the damn lion and I just knew he was about to make a 3 piece spicy meal out of him. I clutched the covers for dear life like that was going to protect me from Mufassa outside, and prayed we had zipped the tent properly like the camp manager had instructed us to.
Then there was another lion. Behind the tent. And these two homies are now having a conversation. The one in the front hollering at the one in the back of the tent like “Hey shawty what you getting into tonight?” I’m all like “Can’t ya’ll go talk about this somewhere else? For a while it was interesting to listen because even though I don’t understand lionese, the conversation sounded amicable – not aggressive. We learned later the sounds were mating calls, so indeed Mufassa was trying to holla, but really at that moment, I thought Gabe and I were dinner and dessert.
Throughout the night we heard a medley of sounds, from lion moans to the delicate feet of Gazelles galloping by. At some point I stopped listening for visitors and fell asleep. That night was the most terrifying yet awesome moment of the trip, and for anyone considering a Safari, I encourage you (despite my overly dramatic account of the wildlife lol) to skip the lodges and stay in a tented camp. As long as you don’t get eaten alive, you’ll thank me for it.
These photos of Kati Kati Camp are courtesy of TripAdvisor cause I was too damn scared to be taking pictures and stuff