Close your eyes and just think about the word “Serengeti” – what do you come up with? Images of savannah. The sound of lions and wind in the grass. Sun. Never ending sky. Idyllic, primal Africa.
The Maasai named the area of vast grasslands between Tanzania and Kenya “serengit”, or “endless plains” in the Maa language. For generations they hunted, herded, and lived on this land that is now home to a never-ending flow of tan and green Land Cruisers. For generations foreigners have been coming here to find something that is distinctly human – the romance of being at the mercy of nature and a sense of smallness. Of insignificance.
Here no one is the king. Death can lurk in any corner. In any minute.
As I watch the sun set over the plains, I feel the eyes staring back me from the grass. I can hear the life happening in the trees around me and miles away. We sit down to dinner and allow the china and crystal to distract us from what is going on all around us in these endless plains. It is not just dinnertime for us.
All Serengeti camps light fires in the evening. This creates a certain sense of security, but as I zip up my tent in the dark, knowing that nothing lies between me and wilderness but a canvas sheet, I can’t help but feel a little more alive than I did when I left my hotel this morning. I can’t help but feel small.