THE WEEKLY #245: SERENGETI SCENES

An incredible week of safari experiences in Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area was fading in the rearview mirror as we journeyed towards the final destination of our trip. The world-famous Serengeti National Park would be our home for the final three nights of our safari with Wilderness Travel on their tour: Tanzania Private Safari Journey.

So far the safari had been more than anything I could have expected from the roaring of lions at night near my tent to the extensive knowledge and wildlife-spotting ability of Naiman our guide. However, the Serengeti is renowned for the Great Migration and the interaction between predator and prey. I was excited at the possibility of watching a lion hunt and observing the circle of life in full motion.

We stayed at the Dulana Serengeti Camp, which is a luxury tented accommodation amidst the wildlife of the southern Serengeti region. At night lions, hyenas and elephants roamed within touching distance of our camp. Lying in bed one night I could have sworn a lion was just meters from our campsite. Despite being deep in the bush, the facilities are luxurious with hot showers, morning coffee from a french press and gourmet meals prepared by a chef.

Each day we headed out to explore the grassy plains and intricate woodlands of the southern Serengeti. Starting early just before sunrise, we never knew what we would encounter on our daily game drives. We were hoping to find large herds of wildebeest and zebras and gazelles, which are part of the Great Migration, and the predators who are trying to pick them off.

Some days I would stand up in the four-wheel-drive vehicle, my head popping up out of the viewing roof. Tens of thousands of animals scatted the plains until they reached the horizon. They never ended. As we drove through the herd, I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to emerge out the other side. That is no exaggeration. Small calves playfully bounded about while their mothers kept one eye on their young and the other on the long grass and what might be lurking, waiting.

Aside from the abundance of migratory animals, predators were also very active. Every single day in the Serengeti we managed to spot several lions and lionesses on the prowl. Hiding in the long grass and bushes, we often caught the lions stalking the herd, which was very fascinating to observe how the interactions unfolded. One morning we watched two lions toy with a large herd of wildebeest as they frantically scurried forwards and backward. At one stage the lion picked up an old skull from the grass and held it up in its mouth as if to show the wildebeest what they were capable of. The lions weren’t even hunting, just playing with the wildebeest. That morning we learned the lions truly are the kings and they know it.

Cheetahs and leopards had eluded us so far on our safari journey but on our last day we managed to spot both. The cheetah ran across in front of our vehicle so fast we didn’t even have a chance to touch the camera as he effortlessly bounded off into the long grass. However, we did spot a leopard up in a tree finishing off a meal of a wildebeest calf. It leaped down and I managed to capture a nice image of this silky smooth cat as it prowled away into the forest.

The Serengeti was the scene of some incredible cat encounters for us but there was also a great variety of wildlife throughout the park. Giraffes, elephants, hyenas, zebras, wildebeest, gazelles, impala, jackals, buffalo, and many more species had us in awe of this diverse ecosystem. Photographing the wildlife in this region was a dream come true and there was never a dull moment. These are some of my favorite photos from Serengeti National Park.

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