it is a primal call. On a planet in trouble, it is also a profound and
important place, sustaining (along with the Masai Mara in Kenya) the
massive herds with the instinct and the space to migrate year after
The safari experience here is single-mindedly focused on this
phenomenon of wildlife, with a dash of 1920s safari romance thrown in
if you are in the company of &BEYOND (formerly CC Africa).
The Great Migration outnumbers human beings
in the area by about a million to one and is a sight to behold. It is
hard to grasp, even in the midst of it. Wildebeest and zebra colonise
vast areas, giving the landscape the appearance of outsized anthills,
grunting and barking to each other endlessly and sending up dust like
smoke signals. On the move, the wildebeest (the main players) are
determined and relentless, heads down, three abreast; a winding army
with a single pursuit, sounding like waves. The effect is hypnotic.
Most people associate the migration with the gruesome crossing of the
Grumeti and Mara Rivers made famous by many a wildlife documentary,
where enormous crocodiles await their easy prey, but these animals are,
in fact, on the go throughout the year.
eco-conscious, beneficial, high-end wildlife experience operate luxury
mobile camps called Under Canvas that follow the migration through the
Serengeti, stopping in each area for about two months while the herds
These gracious tented camps are inspired by those fine-living explorers who ‘even took the gramophone on safari’ – cut crystal, silverware, china, beautiful brass basins, flushing toilets and a one-to-one staff to guest ratio sort of thing.
Our camp was on a hillside in a semi-woodland area, under flat-topped acacias, overlooking a vast plain. Giraffe moved through the camp
in the early morning, breakfasting on the trees overhanging the tents.
Being in the midst of the migration, we slept to the sound of grunting
gnus – much like frogs – and awoke to them running though the bush near
us. This and the flimsy barrier of canvas between man and wilderness
create a thrilling feeling of merging with the environment.
One night while sitting out under the stars gazing into the fire,
we heard that punched in the stomach exhalation of sound that is the male lion calling
very close by. It was impossible to see beyond the circle of firelight
but we heard frightened wildebeest moving in the bush only a few metres
away. Very soon, a bellow signalled that one of them had been brought
also be commercial and often tailored to the extreme with even animal
sightings seeming orchestrated. Here though the animals are truly wild – they operate to ancient rhythms, move in great herds (elephant herds of thirty or more!) and are often impossible to find.
There are other tour operators in the Serengeti and their experience
may be of a different making, but when respect for the land, animals
and people is the mantra (as it is for &BEYOND) in this very wild
place, you are able to grasp the ideal of harmony, especially if you
ask your ranger to slow the pursuit of wildlife down.
Though you can limit your safari to one area, &BEYOND has numerous
lodges in Tanzania and it would be a pity to leave without sampling at
least one more. You will have to fly to access them, unless you have
the time and the inclination to travel for days.
Air travel, though, is a worthwhile part of the adventure. Tanzania has
a variety of landscapes and they are beautiful to behold unfurling
beneath you. Small airports are dotted about and the characters
inhabiting them or flying the planes are fascinating too.
We left the plains and the relative simplicity of Serengeti Under
Canvas for what is arguably one of the most indulgent bush destinations
in existence – Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
For more information on &BEYOND (formerly called CC Africa) visit www.andbeyond.com