Often when an outsider thinks of Africa, they imagine a grassy landscape with herds of zebra, enormous elephants, and lions preying on gazelle. They envision a relatively unpopulated world of thatched huts, towering giraffes, and tourists wearing rather unflattering safari hats. For the most part, this is rarely the case. Africa has now become a continent of many highly populated cities, networks of roads and highways, cellular phones, and the Internet. This is not to say, however, that the grassy landscapes full of wildlife no longer exist, and when Amizade volunteers travel across Tanzania through the Serengeti, they have an opportunity to experience the excitement of a safari adventure.
The word Serengeti originates from the Massai word “serengit”, which means “Endless Plains”. Given the 30,000 square kilometers that this ecosystem spans, from northern Tanzania to southwestern Kenya, the name is fitting. The Serengeti is an immense and diverse landscape full of forests, swamps, grasslands, and woodlands, as well as over 70 different species of mammal and nearly 500 species of bird. The area is also home to the Great Migration, an annual migration of over 2 million mammals, including wildebeest and zebra, which is considered one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world. Amizade volunteers have the chance to journey on safari vehicles across this extraordinary region, as they travel from the Karagwe District in northern Tanzania to the stunning beaches of Zanzibar. During their excursion, volunteers get to witness the immensity of wildlife, as well as marvel at the vast beauty of the landscape. West Virginia University student, Kelsey Openheimer, who spent the past Spring Semester with Amizade in Tanzania, discussed her safari experience: “The safari trip in Tanzania definitely exceeded my expectations. Some of the most exciting wildlife that we saw were lions, elephants, many wildebeest, and a cheetah in the distance”. Kelsey went on to describe one of the more incredible aspects of the safari in the Serengeti: “A really exciting part of the trip was camping near the Ngorongoro Crater, and being able to wake up to the view of the crater. I would definitely recommend the safari trip to anyone who hasn’t gone”.
The safari trip across the Serengeti is a significant aspect of an Amizade program in Tanzania, a well-rounded program full of important service and exciting adventure. Understanding the environment and landscape of a region is vital to understanding its culture and people. When Amizade volunteers travel across the Tanzania and through the Serengeti, they are able to take in the vastness of the region and gain a better knowledge of the environment and the people within. Though many parts of Africa are transitioning from small villages and open grasslands to dense urban centers and major highways, it is important to see that these extraordinary natural regions still exist, still full of marvelous wildlife and adventure.
Want to Learn More?
For more information on spending a semester with Amizade in Tanzania, please visit : Tanzania Fall Semester 2011.