Lake Natron Region.

“Take all Safari expectations and throw them out. The real Africa is much better.” – Unknown.

Why go to Lake Natron Region located within the Great East African Rift Valley, an area that is off-the-Safari-grid [not for long] when on Safari in Northern Tanzania? That was what I was trying to discover with my friend, expert guide Paul Oliver. I think I know why.

Stunning landscape.

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Ol Doinyo Lengai with ash on the side.

This place is for those who want to photograph stunning landscapes. The most obvious is the glorious volcanic mountain Ol Doinyo Lengai, the mountain of God for the Maasai tribe members. The deep ridges carved from erosion, the spewed lava that comes out every 10 years or so or the depth of vegetation all reflected differently from different angles. This live mountain is very mesmerizing.

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Glorious Lake Natron in the evening.

Alkaline rich Lake Natron and it’s reflective surface, the many rock outcrops that dot the mirror-like lake, the white soda ash on the shores and the lovely reeds that create interest. The hills are alive with character. You have to see the many hills with mini peaks that are formed to release the gas from the belly of the Earth.

If you are into landscape photography with the occasional wildlife spotting, this is your place.

Walking.

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Walking to Lake Natron

The area near our camp, Lake Natron Tented Lodge is about an hour walk to the caustic Lake Natron. You have to pass through surpisingly cool water springs [it was around 90F in February], muddy patches with lots of footprints to inspect from the large zebra to the little bird prints, and then the unique, crunchy dry soda from the salty lake.

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The dry crusty crunchy earth with soda and zebra footprints.

There is also walking to a waterfall from the Engare Sero village which I missed seeing but heard from people staying at Lake Natron Tented Lodge that the trek was worth the cool dip.

Birds.
flamingosThis area is a the breeding ground for flamingos. Lake Natron is an alkaline lake with the right ph for the flamingoes to breed. I was expecting to see lots of flamingos but that was not the case as they had flown away further south to Lake Eyasi and east to Lake Magadi in Ngorongoro Region. You could hear them flying at night from my room. Non the less, getting so close to the flamingos by foot was quite special.

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Wadders flying.

Then you have the large count of migratory birds coming all the way from Europe and even Alaska. Paul, who is a birder was clicking away. Wadders were skittish around us and Paul told me about bird netting and bird poaching. Birds are facing a huge problem in many European countries like Italy, Malta to countries like Jordan. Millions of these lovely birds are served as delicacy to satisfy humans.

Of course the local birds are every present. We had fun with the Spotted Morning-thrush hanging on the branches of the acacia tree. He and Paul had a good conversation about our lovely ‘Safari life’.

Cultural stop.
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Historic footprints have been found here. They have calculated the age of these footprints and they are around 120,000 years old, the first modern straight standing man. This area is very close to Oldupai Gorge, where one of the first homo sapiens skull was found by the Leakey family.

I am going back to see these footprints on my return Safari to Lake Natron in 2016.

A Safari with Paul Oliver is in the works for May / June 2016. Come join us.
Fill our out our Contact Us form and we will keep you posted on the Safari.

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Make memories on your Journey To Africa Safari.

Get in Touch //
Email us – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Toll Free – 1.877.558.6288
Outside of US – 1.713.592.6228
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Back from my Safari.

I am back from my Safari in Tanzania. Sigh. The thing about going on a Safari is that as soon as you come back, you want to start planning your next Safari. I LoVe being on Safari.

Quick re-cap on my Safari where I had a few extra perks. I spent two days with professional guide Paul Oliver in the hot temperature ‘belly of the Earth’, from Lake Natron Tented Camp. The landscape here was stunning.  I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the Rift Valley, the birds and their incredible long and perilous journey, general in-depth happenings in this Maasai region, details about other National Parks – I have a lot more to see in Tanzania – and so much more.

And there is a Safari brewing with Paul as the lead guide. Details coming up.

Sunset with Ol Doinyo Lengai in the background from Lake Natron Tented Camp, my first stop on my Safari.

In Ruaha, my client Sally was waiting for me. Oh what fun we had exploring this dense because of green season, cooler in temperature, full of wild flowers stunning Ruaha. Our guides Lorenzo and Leverd from Kwihala Camp were super fun as there was not much ‘visible’ game. We just ‘heard’ the hundreds of cats. More on green season Ruaha coming up.

Lorenzo with our ranger Chris took us on a walking Safari through the tall grasses and lush bushes – adrenaline pumping experience. We witnessed a rainbow in the clouds here – one for the memory books. Can not wait to come back and explore Ruaha in the dry season.

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Sally and I in Selous on our walking Safari. Can you spot the wild animal?

I finished off with Selous Game Reserve. Green season again meant patience when going on game drives but Sally and I got to witness two male lions on our walking Safari. Heart beating.

I was looking forward to experiencing boating and it did not disappoint. Sally and I enjoyed the many birds and baboons – yes, baboons are so entertaining if you watch them closely for a long time – on the way to lovely Stiegler’s Gorge from Sand River Selous. I also got to spend time in Lake Tagalala and the hot springs before I was spoilt at stunning Beho Beho Camp.

I am in the middle of editing over 2000 pictures. Digital photography does make it easy to go click-crazy especially when I had my 70-300 mm f4-5.6L on my Canon camera body.

Dreaming of being back on Safari ….. soon.

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Make memories on your Journey To Africa Safari.

Get in Touch //
Email us – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Toll Free – 1.877.558.6288
Outside of US – 1.713.592.6228
Form – Request Information

Why Serengeti still takes my breath away

As soon as we passed Oldoniyo Lengai, the volcanic mountain in Loliondo, east of Serengeti National Park from my Tanganyika Flying Company scheduled flight to Kogatende airstrip in Northern Serengeti, my heart skipped a beat.  Serengeti, here I come … again and again.

Why Serengeti still takes my breath away?
My current top eight reasons why I could go back to Serengeti in a heartbeat.

One.
The Great Wildebeest and Zebra Migration.
Oh yes!  Being surrounded by hundreds and thousands of animals is unexplainable unless you have been there to witness it first hand. When I was flying to Serengeti in early June, I was expecting to see the migration in Central Serengeti. Well to my surprise, and lucky me, I got to see the arrival of the herd in Northern Serengeti earlier then normal from Western Serengeti. There is no exact timetable on these matters.  Luckily our guide said some of the Wildebeest and Zebra groups where still in Western Serengeti as we had clients booked in that region to experience this phenomena.

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Walking in single file. The herds are coming into Northern Serengeti from Western Serengeti. Oh the excitement!

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The longer we sat watching them march in, the larger the herds grew. What an experience!

Sunrise over Northern Serengeti

The morning sun spraying gold over Serengeti. Here is a small herd having just crossed the river.

Two.
Cats and cats. 
Oh these beautiful animals. Serengeti is home to a large concentrations of lions, cheetahs and leopards. In Northern Serengeti, I was lucky to see group of about 20+ lions ranging from couple of month olds to their mamas having a go at a freshly hunted wildebeest. ‘Food’ aka the migration was coming in. What an experience! Reuben, my Olakira Camp guide and I did not want to leave. He had promised me a sundowner near the table hills but we opted to stay back. How can you blame me. Look at those eyes.

We spent a while enjoying the interactions of this beautiful family in the Northern Serengeti valley.

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In the valley, about 20+ lion family enjoying a recent wildebeest kill. Some cubs were just a few months old.   What a splendid sighting!

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Some having a go at dinner while others needed a stretch or rub after some grub.

Central Serengeti is known as cat central. And it did not disappoint. We got to enjoy a few sighting away from the crowds that Central Serengeti attracts. Trust your guide and head the other direction.

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Look at that wee one following her mama through the tall grass.

Rains were about to come when in Central Serengeti and my guide Makubi and I were trying to get to Dunia Camp. Well, this stunning leopard appeared and getting wet was an understandable option. We got to hang out for a bit and stare.

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A stunning leopard spotted resting on a branch.

Three.
Elephants.
I love elephants! They are just beautiful and so precious and threatened.  In Northern Serengeti, I spotted a few but at a distance. South Central Serengeti, very close to Moru Kopjes, I was elated. Large herds were right next to the road. Elephant mama and babies – lots of them. Please stay safe! I am coming back to see you grow.

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Elephant mama warning us. We hear you mama. We will not harm you and your babies.

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Little one marching on. Look at that little trunk.

Four.
Impalas, why of course.
On this Safari, thanks to Makubi and my private Serengeti walking guide Richard,  I got to know more about these beautiful yet polygamous animals.

Did you know a male impala has a harem of female impalas? Yup, one male can have up to 20 ladies at his back and call. Then there are the bachelor herds who are always ready to spring into action should a window open.  As per Makubi, it is similar to the Maasai and Kuro tribe members who live on the boundaries of Serengeti. Ummmh!

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A female group with babies.

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Privacy please! Here is a male impala getting ready to mount on the female. The mating ritual lasted for about 20 minutes before she would let him on.

Five.
Birds.
My friend and elite guide Paul Oliver is a birder. I know many birders. He has been trying to get me into birding.

So this time, I chose to look up and was so impressed with the many colors that were presented to me. Lovely magpies shreks, common but colorful lilac breasted roller and egyptian geese.  I will have to work on honing my birding skill on my next Safari. I am hooked.

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The beautiful watercolor like Lilac breasted roller

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Magpie shrek. Mama bird with the white feather just handed over a worm to the baby Magpie. It was a fun exchange to witness.

Six.
An array of eco-system.
Serengeti has so much to offer. My time in Northern Serengeti and Central Serengeti gave me a glimpse of hills, valleys, rivers, endless plains, long grass, short grass, stunning kopjes, bushy terrain, woodlands and more.

When game driving or heading back to your camp, you can stare at the landscape and not tire of what you have in front of you. The sunrise that starts to peek behind the acacia tree and the sunset that makes for the magic golden hour are pure bliss. Serenity in Serengeti.

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The table hill of Northern Serengeti. So many other hill dotted in the North.

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The open plains of Central Serengeti heading towards Dunia Camp near the Moru Kopjes

Seven.
Great lodges here to unwind end of the day.  
At the end of the day, it feels so good having a comfortable bucket shower [common in most tented camps] and then heading to the main lounge and dining area. Usually the first stop is the campfire [unless is rains like it did for me at Dunia Camp] where you get to relax with your drink and get to know other guests. This is when the stories start. Who got to see what, were and do you have pictures to share? You get to sharing things like where are you from, why Tanzania, where are you going next, etc.  I usually get the envious, how many time have you been on Safari?. Plenty but many more to come.

Just a good way to end a day on Safari. Oh, and the food is delicious as well.

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The stunning view of Serengeti from Lamai Serengeti.

Eight.
Private Serengeti!
What a thrilling experience this was for me. No vehicles, seeing animals on foot, adrenaline pumping moments and you being able to hear your breath as you try to be still when a buffalo is 30 ft away from you. I would jump at a chance to be out there again. I ended my day sitting with a cold Kilimanjaro beer on a kopje, watching one of the most memorable sunsets in Serengeti.

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Golden Hour! Roaring fire, cold beer, stunning sunset while sitting on top of a kopje in Serengeti. Happiness.

Serengeti never fails to take your breath away.  An adventure awaits all day, any time, all year-round. Karibu [welcome] Serengeti!

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

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Life worth Exploring! ™
Make memories on your Journey To Africa Safari.

Get in touch //
Email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call – 1.877.558.6288 / 713.592.6228 [outside US]
Form – Request Information

Safari Diary – Lamai Serengeti [Lodge Review]

When you are game driving close to Lamai Serengeti, you have to squint a bit to see the rooms peaking up from the Kogakuria Kopje. Each of the rooms and the main areas are carefully set not to be too obtrusive when you are game driving on the ground. As you climb up the kopje towards the main area, you are welcomed in the circle by a fresh cold drink.

You are in bush chic Lamai Serengeti.
Nick and Janna, the current managers of Lamai Serengeti were gracious hosts and showed my around this earthy + serene property.

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Part of the lovely lounge at Lamai Serengeti overlooking the Serengeti. Cozy comfortable seating.

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Cozy comfy lounge. Enjoy a warm fire during cooler months.

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Life on Safari is delicious! And the views.

The main area of Lamai Serengeti is spacious, serene with neutral toned furniture and splashes of color from pillows. You want to sit and just stare at the expansive view with your cold drink in hand. Need to check your email after your game drive, wi-fi is available at the library near the lounge. Take a drink from the well stocked bar.Food at Lamai Serengeti is excellent.

After all,  Life on Safari is delicious. 

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That’s a nice boulder  – Shrek. The entrance to your spacious room. Notice the window near the door. That is where your morning coffee / tea and snack will be placed.

The 8 rooms are all well spaced out.
Each of the main rooms have king beds or can be converted to two twins. A day bed can become a triple if necessary. If you are a family with 2-3 younger kids, they have a very comfortable family room. The kids room has two twin beds bordering the master room. If you need two separate rooms, they will put you in two rooms close together. Kids over 6-year-old are warmly welcomed.

Need your own space in Serengeti? Hamna shida [no problem]. Lamai Serengeti has 4 rooms that can cater up to 8-10 people. You will have your own pool, personal chef and butler and separate entrance. Honeymooner on Safari? Your room will be high up on the kopje where you will have the ultimate privacy – just be sure you are ready the conquer the kopjes.

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The large rooms made with local material. Neutral with color accents keeps the rooms soothing.

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Mosquito nets surround the whole room.

With all the room at Lamai Serengeti, you can close in the whole room with mosquito netting and keep the bugs at bay. Especially great at night when you can have visible views of the outside without bugs bothering you.  Use the day-bed for to enjoy a good book read or pen a letter home with postcards available on the desk. We will mail the card for you as well.

A must do is enjoy the outside deck.  Sit, admire, ponder, relax and pinch yourself – you are in Serengeti.

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The amazing views from the rooms. All the rooms face towards the Serengeti. With a binoculars in hand, you can game view from the comfort of your own room.

You will not bump into each other in this large bathroom. Using concrete, wood and local materials, this chic bathroom is sure to impress. Flush toilet, hot and cold showers, running sink water and all with amazing views of Serengeti.  Brushing never felt this pleasing.

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There is a door for privacy to this large spacious bathroom.

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Enjoy your views while brushing your teeth.

Be ready to enjoy walking Safari with our guides in the surrounding kopjes all the way to the bottom. This always get your heart racing and gives you a different perspective on Safari.

Oh and they have a pool with a view of Serengeti. Now how is that for possible siesta afternoon.

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Take a siesta by the pool on warmer days.

Happiness is being on Safari!  And enjoying great service, amazing surrounding and all the creature comforts from a great lodge only enhances your experience.

Make memories on your Safari when staying at Lamai Serengeti.

Get in touch //
Email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call – 1.877.558.6288

Bush breakfast on Safari

One of the perks of being on Safari is having a bush breakfast. Ideally, you want to leave before the sun is up. Why? So you can be ready to admire the beautiful colors the sun sprays over the landscape.  A memorable start to any day on Safari. The early morning bird chirping committee will help wake you up.  Also, having coffee + tea and cookies delivered to your door by your crew for your wake-up call makes getting up an enjoyable treat.  An afternoon siesta will be well deserved.

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Watching the sunrise in Northern Serengeti with the wildebeest. Splendid.

Not an early riser? 
No worries. Enjoy the sunrise from your room – that works great as well. Some days on Safari you just want to take it easy and maybe read a book watching the sunrise from the comfort of your room/tent.  Perfect plan. Afterall, you are on Safari. A good breakfast will await you in our dining area.

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The views, the sounds, the stillness, the bush breakfast. Life on Safari is delicious.

Back to the morning where you do want to enjoy a bush breakfast.

Your guide will set up your ‘food truck’ style breakfast in an open area.  Just sit back, enjoy your freshly baked bread with eggs, an array of fruits, sweet bread, a good strong cup of Tanzanian coffee or tea all the while listening to the sounds of the wildlife at a safe distance and the morning winds.  Ahhh, life on Safari is amazing. And it is just the morning.

Experiencing a bush breakfast should be on your list of must do things on Safari.

Let us make this happen.
Email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call us –  1.877.558.6288

Northern Serengeti

On my research Safari to Northern Serengeti in September 2009, when flying westward from Arusha, one of the things you notice is the constant change in color on the ground. The brown dusty dry landscape when flying east out of Arusha, the green lush treetops of Ngorongoro Highland, and the brown dry landscape of Southern and Central Serengeti. After an hour and a half flight, we come upon Northern Serengeti and … lots of green and brown. Fresh grass in September which is usually the dry season is refreshing. We are in Northern Serengeti.

Once we got on the ground, our fabulous Sayari Camp guide Albert [who worked with professional guide Paul Oliver at Oliver’s Camp in Tarangire in the early 2000s] told us this area has constant rain thanks to the precipitation from Lake Victoria.


We get in our open 4×4 vehicle [a perk of flying into an area] and off we go on Safari. From late June/ early July to October, this area is usually bustling with the million plus wildebeest and zebra migration. They are grazing the green grass or trying to cross the Mara River which runs from Lake Victoria all the way to Masai Mara in Kenya. During other times, you will be treated to an array of resident game – from leopard, lion, eland, jackal to large herds of elephant and much more. If you get lucky, the endangered elusive black rhino.

Advantages of heading to Northern Serengeti when on your Journey To Africa Safari ::

Off roading. You can get off the so-called main road and venture deep if you have spotted something interesting. On our Safari, Albert spotted a male lion escaping with a kill behind the tall grass. We rushed over and in a matter of seconds, the lion had pulled what looked to be a 30 + lb wildebeest behind the tall grass ready to devour his lunch.

Not many people get here especially when the migration is not in this area.  Getting to Northern Serengeti is via local flight to save time or you have to add a night or two in Central Serengeti before heading towards North Serengeti.  Northern Serengeti is definitely worth the extra flight or drive. During peak season, the few permanent camps and mobile camps fill up quickly but during other times, you can have this vast area to fewer people.

Walking Safari is currently allowed which you can not find in any other part of Serengeti National Park. From Sayari Camp or Lamai Serengeti, you have an escorted early morning or late afternoon walking Safari. Enjoy the small stuff on your escorted walk – from dung beetles, birds, lion tracks to wild flowers.

– And then as in any part of your Journey To Africa Safari, there are the views.  Amazing views. From thick bushes to open endless Serengeti. You can spend hours just enjoying the sounds, the smells, the wind and much more.

Karibu Sana Northern Serengeti. Anytime of the year!