Tripping on the Serengeti

What to write for my first blog. Hmmmmmmm!!! As all my friends (and not so friends) tell me, I generally have a quite a bit to say, so it should not be a problem. Hope they are right.

Having a passion for travelling in Africa, I really want you to experience Africa and develop a love for some of the world’s most unique destinations. My idea is to get you TRIPPING on Africa, rather than on any other form of stimulant. I also will also try to be helpful with tips, info and things to avoid.

Let’s start with the Serengeti:

Sooo many gnus

My most exhausting trip to date was my trip to Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire, known as Tanzania’s Northern Circuit. The goal of my trip, several years ago, was to orientate me to the area and get to see as many lodges and hotels as possible. 15 Days, 49 lodges and hotels. And some people don’t call this work? The trip was invaluable as I learned about distances, landscapes, things to do, places to see and places I don’t want to ever see again.

Many of you will have seen some of the myriad of National Geographic films made on the Serengeti and it famous annual migration. 1.8 million animals moving together, crossing swollen rivers infested with hungry crocodiles, kicking up dust and snorting, what could be more different from our normal lives?

I break away for a moment to ask if you ever thought about the amount of dung that is deposited by these masses of animals and what happens to it. Well – two thirds of the 420 tons per day get processed by dung beetles, awesome little creatures! The balance serves to fertilize the Serengeti and prepare it for next year’s grass crop.

The annual migration follows circular pattern, and while the herds are not yet tech savvy enough to be able to send me an e-mail as to where they find themselves at any given time, this picture gives you a rough idea of the typical pattern they follow, year after year after year.

Why do they migrate at all? Simple answer – where’s the food and water?

Spread across the southern plains - time for calving

Spread across the southern plains – time for calving

December to March, the southern plains are green, nutritious and full of flowers. The herds are almost static and they use this time wisely and calve. So many calves (approx. 8000 per day), make it impossible for the predators to make a significant dent in the overall numbers. April and May are the months of the long rains and the herds move a bit north and the young calves benefit from this abundance. As June arrives and the dry season takes its grip, the herds move towards Lake Victoria (which has its own micro climate) into the Western Corridor.

The grass soon becomes depleted and the herds move north as they smell the coming short rains in northern Serengeti/Masai Mara area. This is when the spectacular Mara River crossings take place.

Braving the Mara River

Braving the Mara River

From October to December, they again make their way south to the southern plains.

Another aside. Wildebeest can detect rain up to 50km away, not sure how, but they do.

MigrationMap

Travelling to the Serengeti is a little bit more than, book a lodge, any lodge, get out your sunscreen and hat, jump in your safari vehicle and travel 15min to the herds that are eagerly awaiting you to make your appearance. As in buying a house, the success of your trip all depends on location, location, location. Careful planning will not go wasted and will serve to whet your appetite for one of the most awesome spectacle’s you will ever be privileged to see.

Tripping Tips:

It is essential to find a lodge/s that places you in the correct basic area for that time of the year as the distances in the Serengeti are vast (approximately same size as Belgium).

As your day out on safari will take you into the wilderness, be aware that there are not ablutions around every corner and squatting behind the vehicle will be the order of the day.

What to Trip on next. What happened when the Mt Ngorongoro blew its top and how it relates to the Serengeti

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