A trip like no other! In March, I headed up to Tanzania to host our Wild Eye - Best of the Serengeti Safari with Johan van Zyl. This is a safari that we have hosted over the last couple of years, but my first time hosting this specific safari and what an experience it was going to turn out to be! The safari takes places over 4 different destinations within Tanzania - Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Ndutu and Namiri Plains. With so many highlights from this safari, Johan and I thought it would be best to share some of our favorite images from this trip with all of you to showcase what this safari is all about!
This safari is pretty full on, spending all day out in the field majority of the days - the reason being that there is always something happening somewhere and compared to other destinations where you have two drives a day(normally lasting 3-4 hours at a time), we simply couldn't take the chance that we were missing out on something!
Our first destination on this safari is Tarangire National Park, this reserve is absolutely stunning! It is a great destination to begin the safari, it has rich diversity, from big open spaces, massive baobab trees to beautiful winding dry river beds.
The reserve was relatively lush, but water points were dry. We had some great elephant encounters and before heading out the park, we watched as 3 lionesses tried to hunt a herd of oryx/gemsbok, although they were unsuccessful, it was interesting to see how the whole scene played out and being out in the open, offered us some great photographic opportunities.
We left Tarangire mid morning to head to the Crater, for many the Crater is a bucket list destination. The drive between Tarangire and the Crater is about 3-4 hours, which takes us past Lake Manyara towards the Crater. It scenery is simply beautiful with some pretty spectacular views on approach to the Crater.
Our first stop before we descend into the Crater is at a view point(see image below), The area surrounding the Crater is relatively dense and forrest like, which having never been to the Crater builds up huge anticipation as you slowly climb towards the top! It is very tough to describe the feeling, getting to the top, getting out the vehicle and walking to the edge of the view point - The view is simply MAGNIFICENT!
As we entered into the Crater, it left Johan and I as well as our guests speechless, as far as the eye can see it is full of animals and although the Crater is flat it offers plenty of diversity!
We spent one afternoon and a full day in the Crater, which allowed us to explore far and wide, making the most of this incredible area. It is only once you drive around the Crater that you truly realize how special and diverse this area really is. Below are just a few of the highlights from a very special time in the Crater.
From the Crater, we headed to our third destination of the Safari, Ndutu.
We left Sopa lodge early in the morning and started to make our way on was was meant to be a 3 hour journey(I will touch on this shortly). While we were still driving on the rim of the crater we bumped into a beautiful male leopard, which disappeared relatively quickly - looking back, this was just the beginning of what was going to be a truly great day!
The drive to Ndutu is a very scenic one, beginning with a drive through a few Masai Villages, this is always great to see and experience as it gives one a brief look into their daily lives. This drive was really special, seeing us go from Masai villages to Masai villages and wildlife to full on wildlife as we were entering the Ndutu Conservation Area. Our idea was to head straight to camp, where we could unpack and settle in before our afternoon drive. Having had a few full on days out in the field, Johan, myself and the guests thought we would take the time to sort through some images and spend time in camp processing what we had already experienced, this did not happen. As we entered into Ndutu, we came across a female cheetah, which we spent some time with. She put on quite a show and gave us plenty of walk by opportunities. While sitting with the female cheetah, we got news of a leopard nearby which was in a tree, without hesitation we headed off in that direction. On arrival, we saw that she was lying in a tree and posed beautifully for us! We spent the better half of the afternoon with her before continuing on our way towards camp.
It wasn't long before we bumped into 2 lionesses and 8 cubs at a marsh area close to camp. Still being warm, they were resting in the comfort of the shade. We decided to wait it out and what a great decision this would be! As the sun started to dip, the cubs became more active and eventually all 10 of them moved out into a clearing and gave us a wonderful show!
The camp is in a prime position and having the marsh a mere 10 minute drive from camp, it allowed us countless opportunities to spend time with the pride, including the dominant males and all 8 cubs.
Ndutu is another area that is incredibly diverse, It is also a great area for cheetah, with large clearings and lots of general game, including the migratory herds for them to hunt. This provided us with great opportunities as the days warmed up and the lions started to sleep in the thickets and shade, we would leave the lions to search the clearings for any signs of cheetahs.
Overall, we spent 5 nights in Ndutu and were extremely privileged with everything that we saw. I really look forward to seeing what this destination has to offer us in 2020!
Namiri Plains has been a great addition to our Serengeti itinerary and offered some incredible sightings to our guests.
Combining Namiri with the game rich areas of Ndutu, Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire meant that during our 4 nights here we could focus mainly on animals on Kopjes (Rocky Granite outcrops)
We were totally spoilt during our time at Namiri, with regular sightings of Lions on rocks, including one particular afternoon where we had a Pride of nine Lions resting on top of one of these iconic rocky outcrops. Patience, as always with wildlife photography was the name of the game and well and truly paid off when we witnessed the entire pride move down the rocks exactly where we anticipated them to come down.
As mentioned earlier on, this is an action packed safari and is full on! It is a very special safari with an incredible itinerary. I highly recommend it to any individual wishing to broaden their photographic portfolio or simply wanting to enjoy extended periods of time out in the field amongst wildlife.
Johan and I also put together a video describing the experience as well as the camps, click HERE if you wish to watch it and find out more about this incredible safari.
The photographic opportunities in these places are endless and we cannot wait to see what amazing sightings and experiences next year will offer us.
Until next time,