As one of the most incredible wildlife encounters on the planet, it is unsurprising that the annual migration of thousands of wildebeest across the Serengeti is often coined the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’. Africa expert, James, visits Tanzania to witness the spectacle first-hand, on an unforgettable safari adventure.
Finding the words to describe one of life’s most memorable experiences is not an easy thing to do. A recent trip to Tanzania, a place full of such vibrant culture, incredible wildlife and natural beauty, is, without a doubt, one of those experiences for me.
My trip began by flying into Arusha, one of Tanzania’s largest cities and its gateway to safari. The city is an urban beauty, full of culture and alive with the sights and sounds of Africa. Its side streets are crammed with lean-to shops, selling everything from clothing to touristic memorabilia and the hubbub of the streets assaults your senses as you pass through. Arusha is a place that opens your eyes to the world around you and the perfect introduction to East Africa. It was from here that we set off on our safari adventure.
My journey through Tanzania took me from Lake Manyara, watching beautiful sunsets reflecting off the waters of the lake and shining onto the feathers of resident flamingos, to the great plains of the Serengeti to catch the annual migration of thousands of wildebeest making their way north. The latter was such an incredible experience that I want to describe it to you in more detail.
I awoke to the golden glow of sunrise shining through my tent; nothing beats the warmth of an African sun. Lying there listening to the sounds of the Serengeti and the camp slowly waking up was pure bliss. Coffee was delivered to the room and soon we were in our safari vehicle and on our way. We followed the road as it twisted and turned its way through the ever changing scenery, gawping in disbelief as every corner gave way to a new wonder. Whether this was a herd of elephants or a prowling leopard, the amazement simply never ceased, yet the most amazing sight was without a doubt witnessing huge herds of wildebeest crossing the plains.
This happened subtly. At first, we only spotted a few close to the road, but as we squinted into a hazy horizon, the handful of small black dots swelled to hundreds then to thousands and before long, tens of thousands of wildebeest. It was at this point we stopped to take stock of our surroundings. It was incredible! As far as the eye could see, there were wildebeest and it struck me how I felt like a guest in someone’s home, so small on the grand plains of Africa. We tried and failed to take photos of this wonder, and even now I feel my description does not do the experience justice. We lingered as long as we could, marvelling at the spectacle, before reluctantly setting off back to the camp.
Our guide surprised us on our return journey with sundowners on a ‘Kopje’– a large boulder that juts out of the ground of the savannah. Kopje translates into head and as soon as you see one, you will understand why. This was the perfect way to end a fantastic safari experience. Reflecting on the day with a gin and tonic in hand as the golden rays of the sunset cast long shadows across the plains was just perfection!