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walking safari in the serengeti

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.

Close to the elephants
Crocodiles slip into the water

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.

Breakfast on the bonnet during a game drive
Wildebeast in the sunset
Elephants all around us at sunset

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.

Wildebeest in the morning light
Spotting the wildlife
Lion in a tree at sunset

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.

Scanning for game in the wilderness area
Hyena relaxing
Pembezoni camp sundowners

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.

Pembezoni camp breakfast

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.

Pembezoni campfire evenings with sparks