Friday, April 23, 2010

Safari visitors April 2010

Halifa Suleman

Ndutu : this is the south west of the Serengeti ecosystem. It is the favourite area, at this time of year, for the migration and by that I mean the great wildebeest migration and their fellow travellers who wander the plain looking for the green and nutritious pasture that grows in this volcanic ash from the Crater Highlands.

It is a quiet and very cold night. The owl, with its deep voice, makes this night seem very lonely with its mournful hoot. Far away, the hyena woops and lion roars, protecting their territory. I am half-asleep; half-awake and the moon is shining this great night. I see the shadow of an animal approaching the door of my small tent. It is a lioness, looking for shelter because it is raining. This little tent has a canopy fly-sheet which provides good shade for this poor lioness and she has no idea that a few centimetres away, Halifa is there!

It is amazing to experience: this lioness inspects the area by sniffing the site yet never turns her head towards the place where I was: with open eyes but as immobile as a dead man. This lioness spent some time cleaning and licking herself and shaking to clear the water. I am so pleased to be so close to the lioness and not inside a vehicle. Another lion came and greeted and played with my lioness and then they both left! The night was very long for me but such an enjoyable, easy night watching this beast.

The next day was another beautiful morning and I saw some tracks outside my tent.
We drive to Ndutu air strip where I am going to meet nine guests. Our first night, we saw a lioness with ten cubs along with giraffe, zebra, impala and some flowers and birds.

The second day we wandered off across the plain and we stopped at a water hole where we enjoyed looking at the animals coming and going: some of them drinking while others socialised, some lions tried several times to hunt but the day was not on their side - they missed! During our day’s adventure, we had a picnic breakfast with a perfect African view: to the West - Gol kopjes and Naabi hill; to the North, the short grass plains; to the East, Ngorongoro Highlands. What a site!
The rest of the day was a slow amble by Lemuta Hill stopping at one of the kopjes to stretch and look at the life around: the tracks and trails, dung and dung beetles, flowers, agama lizards catching flies, the vulture soaring ready to clean up the plain. Lunch at Nasera rock followed by a climb for the fit. It was a long day but very enjoyable. A hot shower got rid of the dust and then a refreshing, lovely cold drink and watching bush TV. Let’s call it a day

The challenge of the Migration

Chediel Mnzava

Here we are in the Southern Serengeti in April and the clients arrived from a safari in Kenya, with two of the top Kenyan Private Guides. The Challenge was on as they had all had a very successful safari in Kenya and had watched good sightings of almost all the big game but they wanted to witness the Wildebeest Migration and some lions. It was our job to show that the Serengeti could more than live up to its northern neighbour, not just for the Migration but for the whole safari experience. For many years, Tanzania had been seen as the poorer cousin in terms of safari but in the last ten years or so, it has managed to throw off that misconception and come into its own.

  At the end of their four nights, they were convinced that coming to Tanzania had added so much more than expected to their trip: a nice pride of 14 healthy lions, attempted lion hunts and the plains were teeming with wildebeest, zebra and plenty of other game. And the great Serengeti views: grassland, waterholes, kopjes, hills and mountains.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Good Safari Guide 2010

Some kind soul has nominated Richard and Squack in the Best Camp Guide category for The Map's Edge - which is a great honour. Many thanks to those of you who took the time to support the nomination at

Monday, April 12, 2010

Serengeti splendours in March 2010

                                               Richard Knocker

It is always fun going on safari with people you already know and John & Nano are old friends, having been on at least 5 safaris with me now.

We catch up with Charlie, a small and very mobile camp in the old style, at a stunning location next to Nasera Rock, an imposing granite monolith that looms over the entrance to Ang’ata Kiti on the eastern edge of the Serengeti Plain. This is our home for three nights, the perfect jumping off spot for an intensive search for wild dogs. We failed on this occasion to find them but the early morning light on the swooping plains and the great restless herds were well worth the price of admission. In the afternoon, we tried to climb Lemuta Hill but fresh lion scat and tracks made us think again.

Day 2 saw us taking a dramatic hike along Ol Karien Gorge in the Gol Mountains. The rains had washed away some useful props for getting down the trickier parts so we had to improvise. And we were rewarded with the drama of emerging from the deep, narrow cleft into the great cathedral space of the mouth of the gorge: hundreds of vultures wheeling overhead like something out of the Lost World and small screaming parties of swifts shooting by like fighter jets - an incredible scene.

Next day, the three of us, with Jairo, our driver, spend a leisurely day crossing the migration-strewn plain to Moru. Miraculously, the whole camp has leap-frogged ahead of us and there is Goodluck waiting for us with cold beers, tea and a big smile. We are in the heart of the Moru area, a tumble of great, rounded humps of granite, looming from the landscape like whale backs. These kopjes are home to a host of unusual species - plants, reptiles, birds and mammals – we have come to enjoy the smorgasbord of life on parade.

It is on Day 5 that we really catch up with those pesky pachyderms: large herds milling around, with us doing our best to keep up with all the goings on. At one stage, we turned out backs on the leopard in a sausage tree to watch a serious fight between two musth bulls skirmishing over an oestrous female. The occupants of a nearby vehicle thought we were mad.

After a pampered stay at Sabora Plains in the Grumeti Reserves concession, we fly to Shu’mata Camp, a new tented camp on the flanks of the hill of the same name. We are on the arid plain at the foot of Kili, just a few kilometers from Amboseli in Kenya. Acacia-dotted grassland stretches as far as the eye can see. Everything is green, thanks to recent rains, but one senses that it can get DRY here. A scorpion scuttles out of the way.

The first evening turns magical – beautiful sightings of gerenuk and lesser kudu on a hike around the hill back at camp. And next day, we walk right up to the elephant herd. The wind is perfect, with plenty of cover… they haven’t a clue we’re there.

So all in all, a great safari. If variety be the spice of life, then life is surely spicy.