African Safari Adventures

A trio of countries perfect for your safari honeymoon

Our welcome to this East African nation began with a nearly two-hour flight west from Arusha, past the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, near the snow-dusted peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and deep into the western edge of the Serengeti plains to Grumeti Reserves. High up on a ridge, overlooking endless grasslands dotted with acacia trees, perched Sasakwa Lodge, where linen-clothed tables and South African sparkling wine awaited us to toast the thousands of zebras and wildebeests roaming in antlike trails below. A leisurely lunch followed, and at the end of our second course (a delicious prawn curry), we were met by our guide, Martin, who suggested we move quickly into the Land Rover; a cheetah and her cub looked as if they were about to hunt.

We bounced down the hill and sped out onto the expansive plains—wildebeests darted back and forth, topis (giant antelopes) sprung by with impressive leaps, and zebras called out with their unmistakable hee-haws. We slowed, but then Martin told us the hunting cheetah had been spotted and the Thomson's gazelles (the preferred and easiest prey for cheetahs) alerted. The kill was not going to happen.

Then we got a call on the radio. Another cheetah and her two cubs were on the far side of the herd, which was headed right toward them. We barreled around and arrived just as the mother bounded from the grass. Sprinting from zero to nearly 70 miles per hour, she skillfully zigzagged, her eye on just one "Tommy." Total chaos ensued, animals ran every which way, and in less than a minute, it was all over. She'd triumphed, and her two cubs feasted hungrily as she sat nearby, catching her breath. There is something primal and surprisingly empowering in viewing a kill. It's not easy to watch but nevertheless thrilling, and at the end of the day, you realize that we're all a part of life's natural cycle.

The Selous, a four-hour flight south of Arusha, stands in stark contrast to the Serengeti. Thick bushy woodlands abut the banks of the Rufiji River, which massive pods of hippopatamuses and crocodiles call home. Still in a dream state upon leaving our comfy cottages in Sand Rivers Selous camp at 6:00 a.m., we boarded a private boat; any lingering grogginess quickly wore off as hippos bolted from the banks and splashed into the river just feet away. Navigating water where hippos fight then lie submerged in the muddy brown realm below was an unnerving thrill, as was pulling up to the riverbank to get a close look at the eggs in a crocodile nest or landing our boat on a beach that a male lion had claimed as his own. (He let us know with a lunge and a growl before we pulled away.) Instead, we unloaded our picnic brunch on another large beach, where we could easily see any approaching predators that may have been eyeing us as their midmorning snack.

The next afternoon, we opted for Sand Rivers Selous' fly-camping adventure, where, after a walk in the bush with giraffes and wild dogs, we arrived at the lion's beach site we'd seen the day before from the boat. Our guides had reclaimed it and set up mesh tents that allowed us to gaze at the stars; then they barbecued our dinner while we showered under a banyan tree. And all the while, lions roared in the distance.­ (For more info, tanzaniatouristboard.com)

—Scott Goetz

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