The Adventure of a Lifetime
And Why it’s Dangerous for Giraffes to Pee During the Dry Seasons
A Travel Feature by Lori Appling-Allen, Focused Escapes
Gather your kids around to read this guest post, “My Kids Met the Tallest Land Mammal,” by Lori Appling-Allen, Focused Escapes founder.
For Thanksgiving 2021, we traded turkey and mashed potatoes for elephant sightings and homemade baobab juice in Tanzania. With five families in tow, we set out on the adventure of a lifetime for both us adults and our kids.
We spent three days exploring Serengeti National Park then transferred to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. After a couple of days at the crater, we ended our day at the Tarangire National Park, sleeping inside the park and waking up just steps away from friendly monkey families starting their day just like us. A pride of lions with tiny baby cubs passed by our tent while we watched safely from the window.
We spent our days bouncing in 4x4s, meeting elephants, giraffes, zebra, and wildebeests. We saw large herds of hippo and Cape buffalo…a half dozen cheetahs, leopard – you name it, we saw it!
One of our favorite days was when we learned that giraffe pee drips and sticks like honey.
In dry seasons, it’s dangerous for a giraffe to drink. Watering holes are where the predators hang out because they know their prey need to drink eventually. So, a giraffe will typically drink once and then hold her pee all day.
By the time she relieves herself, her body has absorbed all the water it can. What comes out is thick and sticky like honey. Not watery like other animals who don’t need to bend down so far and put themselves in such a compromised position to drink.
Tanzania, you might know, is home to the one and only Masai giraffe – one of the tallest land mammals on the planet, second only to the Rothchild in Kenya (though Kenya requires a yellow-fever shot to enter and Tanzania doesn’t – one of the many reasons we chose to bring the kids to Tanzania over Kenya).
Standing on my seat and taking her picture through the roof, this girl towers above me…
Her legs are almost as big as our vehicle…
People who have never been to Africa think this trip is a glorified zoo experience but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
While writing this, I asked my family to recall what made our trip to Tanzania so special. Aside from the overall giddy feeling you get while experiencing something truly fantastic — we concluded that it has to be the fact that a single country has such a supreme combination of so many things – wildlife, culture, food, accommodations, scenery, hospitality, language and wonder.
The kids are still talking about it. It marked them in a way a trip to a zoo never does.
They marvel at how close the animals got to our cars… the creatures big and small that they’d never even heard of (like the kori bustard)… the amazing guides who taught them how to make baobab juice and medicine from herbs. They smiled nonstop as the 4x4s ran through mud puddles and over wild bushes. They called out new words to each other in Swahili and made little insider jokes about how to remember a phrase so they could repeat it to our guides later.
I designed this trip for my family and our friends, but it was such an amazing success I now take other families who are willing to adventure to the other side of the globe with their kids or grandkids.
It’s fun when multiple families get together and the kids make new friends with other kids on the trip. It allows the adults to have an adult conversation by the fire while the kids behave like kids on the deck.
If you see your family exploring Tanzania with our group, claim the spot on my website right here.
Lori Appling-Allen, Focused Escapes founder, crafts unforgettable trips for 10-12 travelers to destinations that open your eyes to this beautiful planet, teach you new skills, and leave you craving to see more of our magnificent world.
Want to read more family trip stories? Read a fly-fishing story here.