The Magic of Serengeti
Serengeti National Park feels like a completely different planet a million miles away form any civilisation: welcome to one of the greatest wild life watching destinations in the world!
Last December, I ticked off yet another destination – I have longed to visit for years – off my list, and this is the place I am unlikely to forget!
In Serengeti National Park the stunning savannah scenery is all consuming. In fact, the name Serengeti derives from the Maasai language: serengit meaning endless plains. Endless stretches of grasslands, interspersed with somewhat scrawny trees and monumental kopjes (granite formations and perfect observation points for predators) seems to stretch to the very ends of the earth, are the most emblematic scenery of Tanzania’s oldest national park.
In Serengeti National Park, you will come across countless mammals, big and small: a large abundance of lions roaming about looking for something to fill their bellies with or snoozing in the sun; copious hoofed animals – gazelles, zebras, impalas, top, buffalos, waterbuck – are scattered around the almost treeless grasslands.
Here, the air is so pure and cool that seems to cleanse your lungs with every single breath, and an almost complete absence of human presence – nobody is allowed to inhabit the Serengeti area bar the park and camp employees – is refreshing especially if you live in a big city like me.
No wonder Serengeti ecosystem secured a status as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world.
Serengeti National Park is well known for the abundant presence of the much sought-after “Big Five” (as well as “little five” and “ugly five”):
Lion – some believe that the Serengeti eco-system has the largest population of lions in Africa making it the perfect place to observe the extensive prides in their most natural environments.
African Leopard – Leopards are the most gorgeous felines, and here with a population of around one thousand your chance of spotting one is very fair – I clapped my eyes on a leopard en route to my camp from the airport!
African Elephant – elephants here plentiful, but not as many as I saw whilst doing a safari in Africa.
Black Rhino – very few individuals remain in the park due to intensive poaching in the past, which means that they are relatively difficult to come by.
Cape Buffalo – due to its unpredictable nature, which makes it highly dangerous to humans, the African buffalo has never been domesticated.
Every year, the Serengeti hosts the largest terrestrial migration in the world.
Throughout my three day stay in the national park, I witnessed the beginnings of the spectacular circular great wildebeest migration – almost 1.7million of them – a natural phenomenon determined by availability of grazing lasting from December until March. I remember watching endless lines of these charcoal-coloured antelopes, hardly known for their good looks, moving slowly towards something unknown (but I am pretty sure they know where they are headed).
Be warned: a safari is a taxing activity- think 6am wake up call and 7-8 hours of driving around the park along very bumpy roads looking for game – and not a relaxing activity, and yet every single hour is worth the slight pain!
I flew in from Arusha, and was picked up by my driver and guide Peter. Because I was there during the “low” season, I had him all to myself and felt very VIP!
The airport decor was lovely
Two big male elephants having a bit of a disagreement…
Same applies to these two hippos… Everybody likes being a little macho!
I think they have had enough!
Can you spot a leopard?!
The begginings of the massive wildebeest migration. Here they are accompanied by their good friends zebras, who are their favourite companions since they have excellent eyesight (wildebeest not so much).
Marabou stork – a rather unfortunate looking bird and one of the Ugly Five. Others include hyena, vulture, warthog and wildebeest.
And here is another animal from the “Ugly Five”…
Time to relax and read a book!
And to sleep…