Imagine a picture. In the lower part, put golden-tan grass, 30-50 cm high, permanently leaning at about a 15° angle due to the prevalent winds. Since you are imagining this picture, do it on 360°, with the grass stretching to the horizon all around.
Above the grass, place a mixture of light blue sky, of large, lumpy clouds and of long thin wisps of clouds (like Föhnfische), the whole brightly lit by the sun shining around the edge of one of the cloud lumps. What you now see is an infinite plain (and plane), called serenget in Kiswahili.
The vastness of the whole thing literally takes your breath away but that does not seem to matter. The vastness is part of the beauty…
But that is just the beginning. In one direction, say the east, leave a wide enough angle of grassland so the eye can see only that. To the south, west and northwest, add some distant hills, several hundred meters high, bluish-gray on their flanks. The slopes of the hills encroach onto the grasslands. Scatter some trees on them, trees with smallish leaves that provide a light shade, acacia or tamarind. Surprisingly, the hills on the western side only emphasize the limitless expanse to the east.
Now, to the southeast and northeast, drop some clumps of rocks, huge boulders piled together without any apparent plan, making lumpy rock outcroppings scattered sparsely about the plain. The rocks add an unworldly weirdness to the scene, invoking a sense of wonder at the marvel of such a landscape. Each pile is called a kopje.
Next, everywhere but in the east, which remains an infinite grassland, add an occasional tree, either umbrella-shaped or flat-topped. Not too many, though. These parts of the grassland are savanna.
Now, add all sorts of animals: thousands of wildebeest (gnu), of zebra, impala, warthog and beautiful, elegant, smooth-coated gazelle (Thomson’s and Grant’s); hundreds of large elephants and hippos; many tens of lions and giraffes; countless numbers of birds in hundreds of varieties and colors ranging from uni-colored gray to incredibly multi-colored plumage. In addition, throw in some dik-dik, hyraxes, thousands of water buffalo, hyena, jackal. And even ostriches. The events of the world’s creation myths are nothing compared to what you have just done.
Even the elephants seem tiny in this immensity.
The amazing part: What you are now imagining exists here and now and on this earth — the Serengeti — the endless plain.
- Written by John
- Created: 24 October 2012