The American Rock Band, Toto, had a Number One hit in 1982 with its song “Africa” which contained the lines:” I know that I must do what’s right as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.” In reality, these two iconic features of East Africa are a two hour light aircraft flight apart, and more than an eight-hour drive. However, Toto can be forgiven for its reference to Africa’s highest mountain and its most famous great plain in the same breath.
Back in the early 80s, tourism numbers in Tanzania had yet to match that of its neighbor Kenya, yet the wildlife in these 30,000 square kilometers of Northern Tanzania has been a huge research area ever since conservation reached human consciousness. The riches it reveals to travelers interested in wildlife compares favorably with any other place in the world. Not surprisingly, the news has got out over the last few decades, and luxury holidays reveal the wonders of the Serengeti every day of the year.
Getting to the Serengeti
You can reach the Serengeti overland if you wish, but the journey is a long one; do not expect good tarmac roads. You are welcome to do it if you want but luxury holidays offer small aircraft flights into the Serengeti. Many international visitors fly into Kilimanjaro Airport in Arusha to then travel on to the Serengeti for their holiday.
What Luxury Can You Expect?
Whether you are staying in a mobile camp or permanent lodge, you will be treated like a 5-star hotel guest with comfortable accommodation and a level of service that no one received when doing safaris in the early days. Hot water for a shower was once an issue but no more. You will be able to relax after your final safari of the day with a glass in hand waiting for dinner and marveling at what you have seen during that day.
You will have a comfortable bed, but there is a challenge to sleep because of your excitement about what the next day will bring, and it will start early. Animal activity in the Serengeti and elsewhere in Africa begins at the crack of dawn. You may have a couple of hours out viewing wildlife before returning for breakfast.
In the heat of the day, it is likely, you will simply relax because most of the action does not start again out on the plains until later in the afternoon through to sunset.
The Great Migration
The Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra in huge numbers following the rains which reveal new grazing is a feature of the Serengeti and its Kenyan extension, the Masai Mara. It is one of the most filmed events of the year in nature documentaries. It is the season of new births, and even though many youngsters perish, many more survive and take the trek.
Predators follow this prey, and the perils of crossing crocodile-infested rivers add to the drama. While it is possible to enjoy this unique event, tourists need a little luck because the rains can be early or late, and hence the Great Migration varies as well.
Tourism in the Serengeti is year-round with always something to see. Luxury mobile safari camps are set up at times of the year when the Great Migration is expected. However, their very mobility means that such camps can be situated where there is any concentration of wildlife, both predator and prey; they inevitably exist together.
While the Great Migration skirts around the outer sections of the Serengeti in a continuous circle throughout the year, the central area of the Serengeti has resident wildlife, which ensures an excellent wildlife experience at all times.
Permanent luxury lodges are located within the Serengeti, staffed by people who provide excellent service. The staff includes guides who have an intimate knowledge of their immediate region and the best place to find the animals.
Few safaris can guarantee specific animals, and it would be wrong to suggest that the Serengeti is any different. The animals are truly wild, and there are no fences to restrict their movement over vast open areas. However, you can be certain to have the expertise of guides familiar with animal behavior. They have an intimate knowledge of home territories of predators, which are usually the main species that tourists wish to see.
The Big Five
The “Big Five” is a commonly used phrase, and everyone wants to see those animals, regarded as the most difficult to hunt in the time when hunting rather than photography was on the minds of tourists. Two of the five are predators, lion, and leopard while the other three are the elephant, buffalo, and rhino, the latter especially endangered.
The leopard is often the most elusive of the five because it tends to be nocturnal, certainly in terms of its hunting. Ironically, if you look up into any tress of the Serengeti, you may be lucky because leopards love to sleep up in trees during the heat of the day.
The wonders of the wildlife in East Africa began to reach the screen in the 1950s, and gradually more and more documentary film became available. It was only in zoos where people could realistically expect to see exotic wild animals, but things have truly changed. Air travel has made the world a much smaller place with the Serengeti a destination that every lover of wildlife would like to visit.
Not everyone can afford it, but those who will pursue will get a memorable experience and an album full of great photographs. While some may say that mass tourism has harmed places like the Serengeti, that does not stand up to scrutiny. An increasing number of people in the world have joined the conservationist cause precisely because of visiting such places or hearing about them from others.
If you are looking for the holiday of a lifetime, a luxury trip to the Serengeti is undoubtedly worth consideration; it is a unique experience.
Ready to get a first-hand experience of luxury travel in the Serengeti? These activities and camps can help you make your dream trip come true!