serengeti

Why Serengeti still takes my breath away.

Every time, I fly or drive to Serengeti, my heart skips a beat.  Serengeti, here I come … again and again.

Why Serengeti still takes my breath away?
My current top 8 reasons why I could go back to Serengeti in a heartbeat.

One.
The Great Wildebeest and Zebra Migration.
Oh yes!  Being surrounded by hundreds and thousands of animals is unexplainable unless you have been there to witness it first hand. There is no exact timetable on these matters.  We strive to have you stay as close to their migratory pattern as possible. Nature you know, gloriously unpredictable. 

Walking in single file. The herds are coming into Northern Serengeti from Western Serengeti. Oh the excitement!

Walking in single file. The herds are coming into Northern Serengeti from Western Serengeti. Oh the excitement!

The longer we sat watching them march in, the larger the herds grew. What an experience!

The longer we sat watching them march in, the larger the herds grew. What an experience!

The morning sun spraying gold over Serengeti. Here is a small herd having just crossed the river.

The morning sun spraying gold over Serengeti. Here is a small herd having just crossed the river.

Two.
Cats and cats. 
Oh these beautiful animals. Serengeti is home to a large concentrations of lions, cheetahs and leopards. In Northern Serengeti, I was lucky to see group of about 20+ lions ranging from couple of month olds to their mamas having a go at a freshly hunted wildebeest. ‘Food’ aka the migration was coming in. What an experience! Reuben, my Olakira Camp guide and I did not want to leave. He had promised me a sundowner near the table hills but we opted to stay back. How can you blame me.

Look at those eyes. In the valley, about 20+ lion family enjoying a recent wildebeest kill. Some cubs were just a few months old. What a splendid sighting!

We spent a while enjoying the interactions of this beautiful family in the Northern Serengeti valley.

We spent a while enjoying the interactions of this beautiful family in the Northern Serengeti valley.

Some having a go at dinner while others needed a stretch or rub after some grub.

Some having a go at dinner while others needed a stretch or rub after some grub.

Central Serengeti is known as cat central. And it did not disappoint. We got to enjoy a few sighting away from the crowds that Central Serengeti attracts. Trust your guide and head the other direction.

Look at that wee one following her mama through the tall grass.

Look at that wee one following her mama through the tall grass.

Rains were about to come when in Central Serengeti and my guide Makubi and I were trying to get to Dunia Camp. Well, this stunning leopard appeared and getting wet was an understandable option. We got to hang out for a bit and stare.

A stunning leopard spotted resting on a branch.

A stunning leopard spotted resting on a branch.

Three.
Elephants.
I love elephants! They are just beautiful and so precious and threatened.  In Northern Serengeti, I spotted a few but at a distance. South Central Serengeti, very close to Moru Kopjes, I was elated. Large herds were right next to the road. Elephant mama and babies – lots of them. Please stay safe! I am coming back to see you grow.

Elephant mama warning us. We hear you mama. We will not harm you and your babies.

Elephant mama warning us. We hear you mama. We will not harm you and your babies.

Little one marching on. Look at that little trunk.

Little one marching on. Look at that little trunk.

Four.
Impalas, why of course.
On this Safari, thanks to Makubi and my private Serengeti walking guide Richard,  I got to know more about these beautiful yet polygamous animals.

Did you know a male impala has a harem of female impalas? Yup, one male can have up to 20 ladies at his back and call. Then there are the bachelor herds who are always ready to spring into action should a window open.  As per Makubi, it is similar to the Maasai and Kuro tribe members who live on the boundaries of Serengeti. Ummmh!

A female group with babies.

A female group with babies.

Privacy please! Here is a male impala getting ready to mount on the female. The mating ritual lasted for about 20 minutes before she would let him on.

Privacy please! Here is a male impala getting ready to mount on the female. The mating ritual lasted for about 20 minutes before she would let him on.

Five.
Birds.
My friend and elite guide Paul Oliver is a birder. I know many birders. He has been trying to get me into birding.

So this time, I chose to look up and was so impressed with the many colors that were presented to me. Lovely magpies shreks, common but colorful lilac breasted roller and Egyptian geese.  I will have to work on honing my birding skill on my next Safari. I am hooked.

The beautiful watercolor like Lilac breasted roller

The beautiful watercolor like Lilac breasted roller

Magpie shrek. Mama bird with the white feather just handed over a worm to the baby Magpie. It was a fun exchange to witness.

Magpie shrek. Mama bird with the white feather just handed over a worm to the baby Magpie. It was a fun exchange to witness.

Six.
An array of eco-system.
Serengeti has so much to offer. My time in Northern Serengeti and Central Serengeti gave me a glimpse of hills, valleys, rivers, endless plains, long grass, short grass, stunning kopjes, bushy terrain, woodlands and more.

When game driving or heading back to your camp, you can stare at the landscape and not tire of what you have in front of you. The sunrise that starts to peek behind the acacia tree and the sunset that makes for the magic golden hour are pure bliss. Serenity in Serengeti.

The table hill of Northern Serengeti. So many other hill dotted in the North.

The table hill of Northern Serengeti. So many other hill dotted in the North.

The open plains of Central Serengeti heading towards Dunia Camp near the Moru Kopjes

The open plains of Central Serengeti heading towards Dunia Camp near the Moru Kopjes

Seven.
Great lodges here to unwind end of the day.  
At the end of the day, it feels so good having a comfortable bucket shower [common in most tented camps] and then heading to the main lounge and dining area. Usually the first stop is the campfire [unless is rains like it did for me at Dunia Camp] where you get to relax with your drink and get to know other guests. This is when the stories start. Who got to see what, were and do you have pictures to share? You get to sharing things like where are you from, why Tanzania, where are you going next, etc.  I usually get the envious, how many time have you been on Safari?. Plenty but many more to come.

Just a good way to end a day on Safari. Oh, and the food is delicious as well.

The stunning view of Serengeti from Lamai Serengeti.

The stunning view of Serengeti from Lamai Serengeti.

Eight.
Private Serengeti!
What a thrilling experience this was for me. No vehicles, seeing animals on foot, adrenaline pumping moments and you being able to hear your breath as you try to be still when a buffalo is 30 ft away from you. I would jump at a chance to be out there again. I ended my day sitting with a cold Kilimanjaro beer on a kopje, watching one of the most memorable sunsets in Serengeti.

Golden Hour! Roaring fire, cold beer, stunning sunset while sitting on top of a kopje in Serengeti. Happiness.

Golden Hour! Roaring fire, cold beer, stunning sunset while sitting on top of a kopje in Serengeti. Happiness.

Serengeti never fails to take your breath away.  An adventure awaits all day, any time, all year-round. Karibu [welcome] Serengeti! 

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

Let us Plan your Safari to amazing Serengeti. You can make your own list. 

Walking in Serengeti

When you are on Safari, you spend a lot of time in our Safari vehicles.  Driving is great. You get to see the various landscapes, the scenery and wildlife.

Now try walking.

Walking heightens your senses‘, as my guide Richard of our partner company African Environments told me. And he is right.  The minute we got out of the land cruiser and touched Mother Earth in our private walking area in Serengeti, the  hairs on the back of my neck were on alert.  Let the walk begin.

Our first encounter, buffalos. Three of them. “Get behind me and walk sideways‘, instructs Richard who is carrying a loaded gun. Yes sir. I am thinking, will this large 70-300 mm L canon lens work as a weapon. I will swing hard. Luckily, I did not have to try this maneuver.  They run away. Whew.  My heart stops pounding.  What a thrill. And that is only the first 30 minutes.

                                                       Richard on alert after the buffalos.

                                                       Richard on alert after the buffalos.

As we continue our morning Private Serengeti walk up and around the kopjes, we pass through lots of colorful butterflies, birds, klipspringer, hyrax and male impalas. The grass is tall from the long rains but dry. It is hot even in June. I am reminded to drink water.

                                                     Walking through the lovely kopjes.

                                                     Walking through the lovely kopjes.

Good walking shoes are definitely recommended. Leg gaiters would have helped from getting the sticky seeds from poking. Tsetse flies are a bother. Keep calm and swat them away.  Wear loose clothing so they can not bite you through your shirt. Light colored clothing would have been a better choice. Lesson learned the itchy way.

After about 3 hours of walking [you decide what is comfortable for you], we stopped for a delicious barbeque lunch by the dried up river.  Chicken, beef, variety of vegetables, fruit, salad, coffee and wine – the whole works here for lunch.  Relax and enjoyed the view after a yummy feast. Hard working crew – Asante.

                                                           Chef grilling the delicious lunch

                                                           Chef grilling the delicious lunch

                                       Under the tree for a good shade and lovely breeze.

                                       Under the tree for a good shade and lovely breeze.

After a good strong cup of coffee, Richard and I continue our afternoon walk. We encountered more animals in our afternoon walk. Elands, hartebeest, kudu, harem of female impalas and about 4 male bachelors, topis, and more.

The one male impala with his harem gave us a good show. When they first saw us, half of the females ran left and the other half followed the male to the right side. You could see the male trying hard to get back to his group on the left to bring them back to the rest of his females on the right. I was rooting for the left group females to run away and leave the ‘demanding’ male behind.  It did not happen. Alas, they rejoined and the group was together once again.

                                                   Two topis towering atop the terrace.

                                                   Two topis towering atop the terrace.

                                                                        Eland Family.

                                                                        Eland Family.

                                     Walking through the tall grass with my ranger, Deo.

                                     Walking through the tall grass with my ranger, Deo.

Richard and I were enjoying the walking when we came across a barbed snare. According to Richard, this area, east of Central Serengeti was closed off to the public for a long time by TANAPA. There were no protective eyes here. Poaching was easy until the five + hand-selected companies known for their ethical practices, one of them being our partners came into the area. This has helped with poaching.  The numbers have gone down but not completely unfortunately.

                          Our ranger Deo collecting the snare. He will take it back to HQ for disposal.

                          Our ranger Deo collecting the snare. He will take it back to HQ for disposal.

And one thing you will notice when walking in Private Serengeti, the animals here are afraid of humans.  They run when they see you. When you are on a game drive in a vehicle in the main areas of Serengeti, they do not budge.

                                                             Stunning rock formations.

                                                             Stunning rock formations.

Around 5:30 pm or so, we are getting close to camp, walking on a dry river bed when we hear some noise behind the bushes on top. Now Deo has been a calm ranger all this time but when I hear him cock his gun, I can hear my breathing quicken. Richard is on alert. My arm hair is stand up again. Fear is healthy. My heart is pounding. I am instructed to climb up the bank. I run. False alarm. Buffaloes lazily grazing up top the river bank.

I ask Richard, what happens if it is a lion and it is going to spring on us. He said they would shoot to kill. Luckily in the 5+ years he and his guides have not had to do that. 

                                         Richard with his gun, ready to fire if necessary.

                                         Richard with his gun, ready to fire if necessary.

We make it to our Wilderness Camp.

This is comfortable basic camping with a sleeping cot but still good food in a closed dining tent. The dome shaped tent has a cot with sheets, blankets and pillows. Toilet and bathroom are outside and the make shift walk-way is lit with solar lamps hoisted on a tree stump.

The toilet is a pit latrine – toilet paper included. You cover with dirt after you are done doing your business. An eco-friendly way to leave the land when the camp is packed up. Basic and efficient. The shower is a bucket shower which was comfortable and the 5 gallons was enough water. Soap and shampoo in pump bottles was included.

                                  Dome tent with toilet tent [blue] and the shower tent.

                                  Dome tent with toilet tent [blue] and the shower tent.

I ended up taking a shower at 9:00 pm – adventurous!

Why you ask?
When we got there, it was around 6:00 pm. The crew at the camp had started a beautiful roaring fire and the sun was about the set. I was not about to miss this lovely setting. So I opted to wait to wash away my day.

And I am so glad I did. I was rewarded by some of the most glorious stunning sunset sitting by the cozy fire over a cold Kilimanjaro beer. Oh the colors! Brilliant.

                                                     Magnificent colors of the sunset.

                                                     Magnificent colors of the sunset.

                                         Richard enjoying the sunset by the roaring fire.

                                         Richard enjoying the sunset by the roaring fire.

Between enjoying the magical sunset around 6:30 pm to shower time around 9:00 pm, I enjoyed a lovely dinner in the dining tent while it rained outside. The crew again – asante for your hard work.

The rain continued to drizzle but that did not deter Richard and I from heading back out to the fire, hurdled under one large umbrella, sharing stories about the walk, our children, Safari life and more.

At around 9:00 pm, I did take the bucket shower under the dark skies and slight drizzle.

I can honestly say this was one fantastic experience I can not wait to experience again and share with you all. Happiness is being on Safari. I sure made lots of memories on my Private Serengeti Safari.

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