Flying Longhorns on Safari

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Thousands of wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, and myriad other grassland creatures thunder across the plains of Tanzania each spring in search of water. It’s one of the largest animal migrations in the world—and 32 Flying Longhorns had front-row seats during 10 recent days on safari.

Texas Exes associate IT director Melissa Hutcherson hosted the March 11-21 trip with her husband, Kirk. She says that all-terrain Jeeps allowed the travelers to get breathtakingly close to a wide range of wildlife. “You name it, we saw it,” Hutcherson says. The travelers watched as a pride of lions feasted on freshly killed wildebeest; they also witnessed a herd of elephants greet each other tenderly with their trunks.

Trip members ranged in age from 47 to 89. Robert Parker, BS ’44, Distinguished Alumnus, was among them. According to Hutcherson, Parker owns a Longhorn ranch. “He can spot wildlife like nothing else,” she says.

Each traveler was with the same small group and the same Tanzanian Jeep driver every day, which made for bonding that went well beyond the typical tourist experience. Hutcherson’s group taught their driver to do the Hook ’em Horns—resulting in some very puzzled stares when he flashed the sign at fellow drivers. “I think they thought he was hexing them,” Hutcherson laughs. One night, all the drivers joined the Texans for dinner at the Ngorongoro Crater.

The travelers felt equally welcomed when they visited a Masai village. One traveler joined in a jumping competition with a group of Masai men, and the entire group visited an elementary school, where they sang “The Eyes of Texas” and donated school supplies packed in from home.

Hutcherson says the locals’ hospitality was one of the trip’s highlights. “Everyone treated us like guests, not tourists,” she says.

Photos by Melissa Hutcherson


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