A Late October and into November safari to Tarangire, Lake Natron and The Northern Serengeti

Two well travelled safari guests from Santa Cruz, California (they have been 12 plus times and often driven themselves) and I decided to celebrate the beauty of Tarangire and then travel via Lake Natron to Suyan and Sayari camps in Northern Serengeti. Many a regular safari goer to East Africa has been to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya and driven along the border road on the Kenyan side but very few have been on our Tanzanian side of the border to see the beauty of Northern Serengeti. So my guests wanted to see areas in addition to Tarangire- areas they had not seen before or had viewed longingly from Kenya. Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge near Arusha looks beautiful at this time of year so the first stop was there.

[2007/11/01.jpg]Ngare Sero sign

[2007/11/02.jpg]Ngare Sero interior

[2007/11/03.jpg]Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge rooms and garden

By Mid October the grasslands are usually bare and eaten down, the surface water is being shared by countless herds of wildlife. Not so this year! Silale swamp in Tarangire is still bursting at the seams and the springs around Suyan and Sayari camps are still supplying wildlife with many drinking options. This is all great news of course because the rains, which seemed to be upon us a week ago, have not yet arrived.

We encountered wonderful wildlife numbers where ever we went. It’s a good year for grass and browse eaters and if the rains do come soon, as we all think they will, wildlife survival rates will be very positive this year. When conditions are really good for herbivores, meaning that water and grass is plentiful over larger areas than in a ‘normal’ year then predators like lions have to roam much more to obtain enough meat So usually I would say that the lion cubs we saw near Oliver’s, Suyan and Sayari camps might not do as well being born so late in the dry season. Generally very tiny cubs like the ones we saw in all 3 locations (varying between 20-60 days old) cannot travel great distances as yet so the longer the rains hold off the better these young animals will do as prey species remain closer.

This would have been my assessment most seasons in Tarangire but I am very happy to report that the resident wildlife species, that don’t migrate away in the rains, are doing remarkably well. Near Oliver’s Camp reedbuck are everywhere, we saw 100’s of these taller grass loving animals - they have really bounced back since they were almost wiped out in the droughts of the early nineties. Also the impala numbers near Suyan Camp are good, grass is plentiful and this will keep the zebra around a little longer. Near the cubs that we saw north of the Mara River from Sayari camp, the resident Topi are having their young and baby warthogs seem to be every where. The resident wildebeest there can help these lions to raise their young – so my hopes are higher than they normally would be for these little bundles of lion life.

[2007/11/04.jpg]Tarangire Zebra drinking

[2007/11/10.jpg]Mara River Topi

Remember- if conditions for hunting become hard because the wildlife is so dispersed as it was in El Nino 98, lion cubs can often be abandoned by their mums. Close to Sayari Camp the lions are all mating and the expected crop of cubs in 3 - 4 months may also stand a better chance of survival both because of the increases of the resident wildlife and also because if born in March and with mother’s milk to get them through till the start of the dry season when the big herds return, these new lion cubs will have a long dry season ahead to put on weight as they grow.

Other highlights on our safari included 20 mammal species on a two hour night drive at Suyan, also at Suyan a massive male leopard was seen by us all by flash light in front of my tent, we witnessed a wonderful wildebeest river crossing, Rhino prints in the mud on a morning hike and we walked into a tiny lion cub in Tarangire - but most of all the highlight was that we saw an incredible amount and diversity of wildlife that either had or was in the process of producing young and best of all very few other vehicles anywhere! Try late October or early November-safari regulars know how special it can be.

Okay- enough words – here are a few photos of lions and some of the other wildlife we watched. Tati and I are off to Ruaha on Monday. Happy safaris!

[2007/11/05.jpg]Vulturine Guinea Fowl Tarangire

[2007/11/06.jpg]Walking near Suyan

[2007/11/09.jpg]A Marshall Eagle eats

[2007/11/07.jpg]Sayari lions resting in between copulations

[2007/11/08.jpg]Serengeti's elehants are doing well

[2007/11/11.jpg]I see you

[2007/11/12.jpg]Mara River Lions mate

[2007/11/13.jpg]An Elephant family crossing the Mara River

[2007/11/14.jpg]I love a bush breakfast after a morning hike