We attended a safari in early March. It's the end of summer in the Serengeti. We arrive to witness the great migration from the north to south Serengeti of zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, ostrich, gazelle, and antelope and, with them, their predators: lion, cheetah, leopard, and the scavenger hyenas.
The Ultimate Glamping: Tanzania Safari Dining Room
We chose to book through Focused Escapes as their guides know to allow photographers the time needed to wait for or set up that perfect photograph.
Our guide, Victor, from Top Guides Safari, who speaks English, French, and Swahili, tells us that the animals are constantly migrating, following the nutrients in the soil rather than being pushed by the weather. You won't see birds flying south to escape the winter here, but you will see mommas of all breeds seeking the rich nutrient soil of the south Serengeti.
Going in summer is the perfect time to witness the young of each breed. I fell in love with the baby zebras, the spindly giraffe and mighty elephants that could walk under the other elephants' bellies (indicating age less than 3 years) and made you want to take them home.
This spindly young giraffe may be 3 or 4 years old according to our guide
As we arrived at the airport to our first camp, two-person glamping tents complete with flush toilet and fillable shower (they warmed the water upon request), greeted by crowds of zebra, wildebeest and even a few ostriches. Off in the distance, we could see a young giraffe peeking out at us over the treetops. They survive on acacia but glanced up frequently.
When you see something for the first time, you think it will always be that way. And at this time of year in the south Savannah, it usually is. We stayed in the vehicles, avoiding the stampedes as they moved for better water sources. We took great photos of things big and small.
Two of the photographers on our expedition are birders. "Stop!" they'd say. And stop we did, for that is what Top Guides is known for. "Help!" I'd cry. My rented camera wouldn't focus again. And help they did. They're very good photographers which means they can probably fix yours to do what you're looking for, though they recommend you're familiar with your own camera before you go.
The days are long, and the outings are not for the faint of heart. The journey is so rough, the pedometer on my phone register 9,000 to 14,000 "steps" per day. I'd imagined we'd be out photographing these majestic animals in their natural habitat, with a soft breeze and, perhaps, the music from the beginning of "Lion King" piping across the savannah. Instead, it was bone-jarring and teeth clenching "make a run for it" when someone spotted any of the big 5 animals.
We learned about the "little 5," like the leopard turtle, that our quick vision guide and driver, Michael, missed striking as we turned to head back to camp. The 7 o'clock curfew and rules about when you can enter the Savannah must be obeyed.
This Leopard Turtle almost caught the truck's tire. Sharp eyed Michael missed it...
Tanzania during active migration and baby season remains a bucket list trip for many. I'm glad to experience it and look forward to returning for additional trips to Zanzibar and South Africa and Namibia. Each has a unique reason to enjoy them depending on what you'd like out of a safari.