the safari issue
All Creatures Great and Small
More than anywhere else, Tanzania and Kenya ignite our age-old longing for Africa. When you first glimpse the big-tusked elephants of Ambelosi, their giant frames camouflaged in the scorched savannah, you may just forget to breathe. You can’t miss the grazing herds of zebra. Their binary coats are a spellbinding contrast to the brooding hulk of Kilimanjaro, Africa’s snow-dusted apex.
No matter when you visit, you’re bound to collide with Africa’s most epic cycle of life: The Great Migration. Throughout the year, millions of zebra and wildebeest shuttle between Tanzania’s Serengeti and southern Kenya in search of life-giving water and grazing pastures. On thrilling game drives that criss-cross the saltpan trails of East Africa's greatest national parks and nature reserves, you’ll witness the eternal dance of predator and prey.
The Ngorongoro Crater was once higher and mightier than Kilimanjaro. It’s every bit as glorious in the inverse. Prairies and lakes line the 100 square-mile floor of this exploded caldera. Lions, hyenas, elephants, gazelles and buffalo abound in this super bowl of biodiversity.
If you’re very lucky, you might spot one of the tree-climbing lions of Lake Manyara, limbering up a branch in search of a cool breeze.
No filter required at Serengeti National Park. Set out across this iconic safari country in search of the Big Five (lions, leopards, Cape buffalo, elephants and rhinos), and you’ll chance upon flash mobs of pink flamingos stepping daintily across the shallows. Hippos slumbering in muddy waterways. Or a mottled giraffe, silhouetted at sunset, snatching leaves from a lone acacia tree.
Time stands still for the human inhabitants of this vast terrain. Painting the dusty earth with colour and soul - and the resonance of their ancient traditions - are the red-cloaked Maasai, who count their riches in terms of children and cattle. A visit to these noble wanderers in one of their transient, loaf-shaped villages may change your outlook on life. If it doesn’t, floating above the game-dotted plains of the Maasai Mara in a hot air balloon surely will.