Courier August/September Courier - Page 28

route to the western section of Serengeti National Park. The Serengeti is a fasci- nating place that really does live up to the endless-plains billing. While I don’t think Pete Townshend wrote The Who’s hit song based on a visit to the park, you absolutely can see for miles and miles. We split our three days between west and central Serengeti, which allowed us to have our first encounters with lions and elephants and to see four more Scholastica Ponera enjoys a balloon safari over the Serengeti ‘Welcome to my office’ One of the highlights of our time in the Serengeti was taking a hot-air balloon ride above the plains at sunrise. Once the crew had prepped everything and the balloon was properly inflated, we took off. A couple of minutes after we were airborne, our pilot Joao Rodrigues uttered a line I’m sure he’s used hundreds of times, “Welcome to my office.” Well played, captain, well played. While Jerry and I enjoyed the balloon safari immensely, it was very cool to see Scholastica’s response. Even though this bucket-list experience is something she’s sold to hundreds of clients, she had never done one herself. It would have been a fantastic excursion anyway, but seeing her kid- at-Christmas level of enthusiasm was something I’ll never forget. 24 August/September 2018 Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge leopards. We also stopped multiple times to let large groups of wildebeest and zebras cross in front of our trusty Land Cruiser. During our two nights in the western Serengeti, we stayed at the Kirawira Serena Camp, a tent lodge. When I think “sleeping in a tent,” I think “camping.” Well, at Kirawira, the only thing tent-y about the accommodations was the can- vas walls around the spacious rooms, which were appointed with hardwood beds, desks and cabinets, as well as luxu- rious shower and bathroom amenities. Since the camp is located in big-game country, as was all of the lodging for our game-drive days, you had to call the front desk after dark if you wanted to go from your room to the lobby. Not want- ing guests to wander off into the wild, they would then send a guard to come escort you, although I wasn’t exactly sure what the guard was going to do if a lion showed up. Close encounters at Ngorongoro Crater We wrapped up our wildlife viewing with a magical day at Ngorongoro Crater. We hadn’t been on the floor of the UNESCO World Heritage site more than an hour before a lion ambled up beside the vehicle. We slowed and followed it for a short distance, where it joined two