Close encounters of the fur kind

I just arrived back in Arusha after two weeks in Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Ngaraosero (spelling questionable), a Maasai village near Lake Natron. The safaris were incredible and my four day homestay with the Maasai was a great experience despite the relatively sleepless nights I spent laying on a tanned cow hide with my sisters in our boma. Writing about all of these experiences could fill a book, so I will instead tell you about how we got up close and personal with some animals at Ngorongoro. During our lunch break, one of my fellow students was eating outside of our safari car when a huge kite (a predatory bird) swooped down and grabbed a piece of chocolate right out of her hand. The talons did not break her skin, but it was still a reminder of how close you really get to the animals on safari whether you want to or not. Moments later, I was walking to the public restroom when I heard a scream and saw a few people, including some students, running in my direction. I looked over only to see a large male lion lying right outside of the handicapped restroom door. After seeing one with massive paws and canines on the side of the road earlier today, I knew that it would be better to wait to use the bathroom. Quickly, some safari guides pulled their truck up to the bathroom and rescued a couple of women who were just a few feet away from the lounging noble beast. That night, I was walking to my tent to take out my lotion, which contains aloe, a favorite of the bush pig that will literally tear open your tent with its tusks to get it, when my flashlight shined upon a bachelor herd of old male cape buffalos grazing about 20 feet from my tent. I listened to the buffalos chomp on grass as I zipped my sleeping bag up tight. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with one more piece of fabric between me and the hyenas, which supposedly stop sniffing around your tent if you smack them the head with your shoes through the tent wall. Fortunately, I did not have to employ this act of self defense and slept peacefully as the lions roared in the distance. Don’t worry Mom and Dad, we’re done with safaris for the semester, to my dismay, and I don’t anticipate any more close encounters of the fur kind.

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