If a safari in Africa is on your bucket list, there will never be a better time than now to visit the Serengeti in Tanzania. A proposal to build a highway across this pristine plain could threaten the wildlife migrations of the future. We hope it will not be built but too often this kind of “progress” gets in the way of protection of great parks and the resources they contain.
February 5 to 16 is very special timing for visiting Tanzania because that is when more than a million animals migrate from the Serengeti to the Maasai Mara in Kenya. Hundreds of thousands of female wildebeests drop their young within a two or three day period in February. This is a protective synchronous birthing that puts so many young on the ground in a short period that predators cannot greatly hurt the population. However, lions, leopards, cheetah and hyena are abundant and visible along the way taking advantage of easy hunting as long as it lasts.
Download the PDF Itinerary – Feb. 2013 12-Day Tanzania Safari – Questions – 970-231-0537 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The last time we were in Tanzania we watched a cheetah anticipating an easy meal when an unsuspecting baby Tompson’s gazelle began slowly wandering directly toward the waiting cat. We watched with trepidation for the gazelle and hopes for the cat finding a meal at the same time. When the gazelle, only a few days old, was just ten yards or so from the adult cheetah, the cat vaulted toward it and the chase was on. The cat would zig and zag as the gazelle changed directions, but in less than twenty seconds the small, but lightning fast prey animal took just one more sudden shift in direction and the cat was left far behind, still hungry. Even at two or three days old this gazelle was well-equipped to evade one of the most talented hunters on the Serengeti. I confess we all cheered when the gazelle escaped, though we hoped the cheetah would be more successful in the future.
Our 2013 ten-day journey across Tanzania begins on arrival in Arusha. We head immediately into Tarangire National Park, to find giraffes, baboons, zebras, and large numbers of elephants among giant baobab trees along with lions, leopards, and cheetahs. Just when you think it can’t get any better, it does, as we take a walk in Mto wa Mbu (Mosquito Creek) for a cultural tour through this town that has members of almost all of the 119 tribes of Tanzania. We drink banana beer, visit the local market, chat with artists and wood carvers and end up with a wonderful lunch prepared by local women. Then we’re off to Lake Manyara and a chance to see massed flamingos, hippos, elephants and possibly the tree-climbing lions of the area. Baboons, monkeys, eagles and colorful birds are abundant along the way.
The next couple of days are spent in the Ngorogoro Crater Wildlife Preserve and surrounding Maasai villages. The crater has rare black rhinos, lots of hyenas, lions, elephants, bustards, ostriches and jackals, all easily seen with opportunities for the photographs of a lifetime. A visit to a Maasai village gives you a unique understanding of the more than half million people who still live as herders of cattle and goats in the plains of Tanzania and Kenya.
We leave Ngorogoro and stop at Olduvai Gorge where Mary and Louis Leakey made amazing discoveries of extinct hominids. If you have heard of the origins of modern man traced to eastern Africa, here you get to see where hominid footprints were found and some of the oldest skulls and skeletons of man’s relatives were uncovered.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip is the tent camp in Serengeti National Park. Each of the previous game drives will already have been incredibly rich, but here the wildlife show will make you feel as though you’ve stepped right into the pages of a National Geographic magazine spread. Hundreds of thousands of animals will be on the move. Your camera lens will be filled with zebras and wildebeest interspersed with large herds of Tompson’s and Grant’s gazelles. Big cats of all the kinds found in Africa are abundant here and easy to find. Our skilled guides from Safari Legacy have been taking people to see these incredible wildlife migrations for decades, so although the open safari vehicles provide clear access to photographs with nothing between you and the animals, you can feel safe and secure (as long as you stay in the vehicle).
Tent camping in the Serengeti has all the romance you might imagine. Each tent has either a double or two single beds with comfortable mattresses, a hot shower, a toilet, a sink and a nice seating area with incomparable views. The camp area includes a large open-sided lounge area with a bar and comfortable couches. You spend evenings eating great food together around a long table in the lounge area and enjoying a Tusker beer or glass of wine. There is no TV or radio, so conversation is broken only by the sounds of wildlife as the animals wander past (or sometimes through) the camp.
At $4,995 for the tour experience, your lodging, vehicles, guides, meals and entry fees to parks are completely covered. You pay additionally for the flight to Arusha, guide tips, any alcoholic beverages, and of course, souvenirs or extra services such as laundry. This is a safe, comfortable experience that gives unparalleled exposure to the wildlife and people of one of the most amazing places on the planet. Sadly, it is all changing and a journey of this quality may not be possible for much longer.
Join us – we already have enough signed up to go, but we do have a few open seats in this small group. We hope you will consider taking one or two of them by yourself, or with a friend or significant other. Though we can never promise exactly what will happen since spontaneity is what characterizes this unique experience, we can promise it will become one of your most treasured memories. Download the complete itinerary and registration information or call us if you have any questions at 970-231-0537. Download the Feb. 2013 12-Day Tanzania Safari.
Tim Merriman and Lisa Brochu