I wasn’t expecting our first Safari to be quite so amazing. First of all, it was rainy season, which is supposedly the worst time to go on Safari because the animals are all spread out rather than concentrated around a few set watering holes. Secondly, we only went to Mikumi National Park, not the famous Serengeti; the reason being a trip to Serengeti would have set us back a couple of grand, while our trip to Mikumi only a few hundred. I’m sure we’ll make it to Serengeti eventually, but after this experience I really wouldn’t be that disappointed if we never do (for safari, at least).
One thing that made our experience awesome was paying for a guide to drive us through the park. A guide cost $145 for a 5-hour tour or $210 for a 10-hour tour. At first, we considered just driving through the park ourselves and seeing what we could find. After giving it a little more thought, we decided the money was worth it, and we were right. Our guide was on the phone with his other guide buddies the entire time, telling each other exactly where the animals were chillin. I know for a fact we wouldn’t have found the lion’s den without our guide (even with a guide, many people don’t get to see them in Mikumi).
Our guide was awesome. He actually went off the trail (which he could have lost his job for) so that we could get a closer look at the lions. I’ll never forget the feeling I got when I made eye contact with a wild lion for the first time. We were sitting in the bed of the open-air safari truck about 5-10 feet away from four lions. They were all relaxing under the shade of a bush, watching us.
The other reasons I’m glad we ended up paying for a guide were that we were in an open-air safari vehicle and able to get much better views of the animals.