A wild walk
A Tanzanian Update.… and a safari!
Mountain Madness is in the unique position to have private camps in the Serengeti and a permit to operate walking safaris. Join our partner in Tanzania, Richard Beatty, as he and his family travel in the Serengeti on a recent trip to check on the camp and go on a a little walkabout. What they found was a journey back in time. Read Richard’s account here:
With the virus ravaging the world and tourism in Tanzania at a standstill it seemed like a perfect time for a safari! …… we had one of our luxury camps out in the Serengeti that needed checking and it would be such a privilege to literally have the vast Serengeti to ourselves.
With two of our daughters and their fiancée & boyfriend in tow we set off – marvelling at how life in the villages and towns on the way to the park showed little sign of the pandemic – a few masks here and there but farmers were still tilling the land and the Massai in their vibrant red robes herding cattle. It wasn’t until we reached the park gate that was eerily quiet that we realized what a treat we were in for.
The rains this year have been fantastic – the aquafers are full, the rivers raging and the countryside lush, but the rains stopped about 10 days ago and the short grass plains of the Serengeti – which have an impervious ‘hard pan’ just below the surface were already turning from green to brown. The vast herds of wildebeest and zebra have sensed this and have started moving west into the hills and woodland where the grass will remain green for longer.
Passing through the Seronera area of the park we were surrounded by elephants – these gentle giants not at all bothered by our presence and munched away within 10 feet of the car. We sat and watched them as the sun went down …a little too long perhaps as it was dark by the time we arrived at Pembezoni Camp – Nelson and Robert, the two guys looking after the camp we delighted to see us having been on their own for nearly 3 weeks. It must have felt rather like being a lighthouse keeper in the old days.
Over the next few days we roamed far and wide across the park, game viewing as we went – during that time we saw just two other vehicles, and they both belonged to the National Park, it was taking the concept of a ‘Private Safari’ to the next level!
The wildlife was magnificent – from prides of lions with bulging full bellies to a leopard in a tree with it’s kill, the carnivores were out in force! We really enjoyed the wildebeest – aside from the sheer spectacle of hundreds of thousands of animals on the move they were also just starting the annual ‘Rut’ or mating season. Males dashed around frantically trying to round up a group of frankly rather disinterested females. All the while other males we trying to ‘poach’ the females – lots of charging and clashing of horns. Total chaos and mayhem as the exhausted males struggled on ….and they have several more weeks of this before the actual mating.
There is also the smaller stuff – we spent a fascinating half hour with a cup of coffee watching the high energy antics of a delegation of dwarf mongooses as they foraged for grubs, and had a wonderful sighting of the elusive Caracal with its dramatically tufted ears.
Time back at camp was magical – sitting around the campfire under thousands and thousands of stars chatting about the days events and everyone’s take on the weird way our world has been this year – a chance to all reconnect and spend, in that hackneyed term, ‘quality time’ together – but frankly it doesn’t get more ‘quality’ than a campfire and luxury camp miles and miles from anyone else in the heart of Africa.
Walking safaris have always been my passion – a way to really connect with the ecosystem and feel so much more part of it, so we headed out on foot to some towering rock kopjes. Reaching a fantastic viewpoint, we spotted another herd of wildebeest heading our way. We crept forwards and managed to get in a great spot to watch then thunder by only about 40 yards from us – totally oblivious to our presence. But we weren’t the only ones there – on another rock kopje about 100 yards away a pride of lions were also watching the herds stampede past. The great thing about walking is that there is time to see the small stuff – to clamber up rocks and peer into gullies – finding everything from a pancake tortoise hiding from the sun in a crevice the to the pawprints of a leopard.
A final night in camp, another spectacular meal and we set off back to our home in Arusha – sad to leave this Eden but confident we will be back, Afterall someone has to keep Nelson and Robert company.
If you are interested in joining us on a walking safari please get in touch with you and we can help arrange a trip. All walking safaris are done n a custom basis.