For the next seven nights we are on Safari in Tanzania – just across the southern border of Kenya.
Most visitors to Tanzania are attracted by the opportunity to witness what is regarded as one of Nature’s and our planet’s most incredible phenomenona – the Great Migration…a most spectacular and unforgettable wildlife event which can be witnessed here in Northern Tanzania and Kenya.
The Great Migration is the largest and longest over-land migration and truly acknowledged to be one of the Wonders of the Natural World. Over 1.5 million wildebeest – and 200000 zebra and gazelle – move in vast herds in an unending 2000 kilometre cycle within the Serengeti and Maasai Mara ecosystems. Their constant quest for fresh grasses keeps them on this eternal journey of life, chasing the rains over this huge area of open plains and woodland and across challenging obstacles such as fast-flowing rivers.
As one could imagine, this profusion of plains game attracts predators such as hyenas and the Big Cats, so game-viewing is particularly rewarding.
With its sparkling soda lake, steep mountain scenery and dense woodlands Lake Manyara National Park offers a unique wilderness experience with the varied terrain supporting a diverse range of natural habitats.
The National Park was originally established to protect elephants and it now boasts a large population of these magnificent beasts. The area is also famed for its unusual tree-climbing lions, together with large herds of buffalo as well as cheetah, Masai giraffe and impala.
The lake shores can often be seen covered in large flocks of pink flamingos, and more than 400 other species of birdlife have been recorded here.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Crater, one of the physical and geological wonders of the natural world, is an extinct volcano that collapsed in on itself around 25 million years ago, thus forming a vast superbowl where the largest permanent concentration of African game is on display. The central bowl – the caldera – has sides roughly 1,950 feet high and a flattish centre with a diameter of about ten miles. The views from the top of the crater walls are nothing short of absolutely breathtaking. Although densely forested the walls can be safely negotiated by four wheel drive vehicles which will take you down into this primeval paradise of woodland, lake, river, swamp and plain that proves shelter to around 20,000 animals. Many of these include large grazing animals such as wildebeest, buffalo, gazelle and zebra who depend on the crater’s open grasslands. These also attract their attendant predators, the black-maned lion, leopard and hyena.
Elephants feed on the giant sedges and hippo wallow in the pools. The Fever Tree forests shelter monkeys, bushbuck and waterbuck and the few black rhino that have taken refuge here. A soda lake, fed by the Munge river, attracts water birds, including flamingos and provides a favourite place for predators to stalk and make their kill.
One of the most fascinating attractions in the area is the Olduvai Gorge, where an old river has carved away the rock to expose layer upon layer of volcanic soil.
Serengeti National Park
The vast 14,763 square kilometres of the Serengeti are renowned as being one of the world’s leading safari destinations.
Every year the Great Migration of over 1.5 million animals, mostly wildebeest but also zebra and Thompson’s gazelle, moves through the western corridor on its 1,000 kilometre journey to the fresh grazing of the Masai Mara. Predators pick off the weak and the young and crocodiles feast as the vast herd crosses the rivers. This is one of the Earth’s great sights – but it is by no means all the Serengeti has to offer.
The expansive, flat central plains, made fertile by the ashes of the ancient volcanoes of the Ngorongoro highlands, are places of huge skies, of shimmering heat hazes, yet also of delicate wild flowers blooming after receiving nourishment from the rains. The savannah, sprinkled with Acacia Tortilis, has majestic termite mounds and rock formations called kopjes which make great vantage points for predators. Lion are abundant, leopard are plentiful (yet still secretive) and black rhino and cheetah both breed here.
There are more than 500 species of bird and, interestingly, 100 sub-species of dung beetle – a sign of a massively varied animal population! Ndutu, in the south, has small lakes where you may see hippo and water birds. Perhaps one of the best ways to see the Serengeti is from high above in a hot air balloon when, in the cool of the early morning, you may admire the grandeur, the vastness and the stunning landscape below and as far as the eye can see.