|Tour||Dates||Days||Group Size Limit|
|Tanzania: Serengeti Spectacular||Thursday 16th April - Tuesday 28th April 2020||13||5|
- The incredible scenery and wildlife of the Ngorongoro Crater
- Close encounters with fabulous Cheetahs on the Serengeti Plains
- The amazing spectacle of thousands and thousands of wildebeeste and other large game
- Repeated encounters with prides of Lions, often with cubs and full-maned males
- A good chance of photographing the usually timid and retiring Leopard
- Transport by extended safari Toyota Landcruiser with large opening roof hatch. The perfect photography platform that can go anywhere
- Maximum 5 group members in a 9 seater vehicle, so plenty of space and the best possible safari experience
TANZANIA: SERENGETI SPECTACULAR: WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS WITH WILD IMAGES
The most awesome wildlife photography experience on Earth? Northern Tanzania is it! Serengeti and the adjacent, and almost equally famous, Ngorongoro Crater are so remarkable that one cannot do justice to this incredible place in words alone. Over two million large mammals live in this immense African wilderness that has miraculously survived, thanks to the remarkable understanding of the people of Tanzania, who despite all the pressures upon them have kept faith with the vision of the park’s founders. These vast herds still circulate across the Serengeti in the same way as they did when Man’s earliest ancestor’s walked these very plains, followed by their attendant carnivores in a cycle of life that has continued unbroken for millions of years. How incredible that we can still say this about any place on Earth at the beginning of the 21st century, when so much of our planet has been changed out of all recognition!
We will explore this amazing part of Tanzania in a Landcruiser that has been specially adapted for safari work, and is ideal for photographers with its large roof hatches. The tour is limited to just five participants!
As well as being a fantastic experience in its own right (chatting round the campfire under African skies, quite possibly with Lions roaring in the distance, is something one never forgets!), being on safari in Tanzania is made even more special on our Wild Images photography adventures because we are based in remote yet luxurious or very comfortable safari lodges.
The awesome gathering of the wildebeest (or gnus) and zebras on the shortgrass plains of the southeastern Serengeti occurs between February and April each year, while much of the local birdlife comes into breeding plumage in March and April and the landscape becomes greener and more photogenic as intermittent rain starts to influence the plains. In our view March/April is absolutely the time to visit Serengeti and Northern Tanzania in general for wildlife photography. There is simply no comparison with the other months of the year.
We will start our wildlife photography adventure at Kilimanjaro, the site of the only international airport in the north of Tanzania, from where we head westwards towards the famous Ngorongoro Crater.
We will break the journey to the Crater Highlands with a first stop for photography at Lake Manyara National Park, spectacularly situated at the bottom of the Great Rift Valley. Famous for its waterbird spectacle, Manyara also holds a good selection of other wildlife, including African Elephants. African Buffalos and Lion.
Manyara will, however, provide just a foretaste of the glories to come, for our next destination in Northern Tanzania is the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, both a scenic and a wildlife wonder of the world. Here we will have what will seem like an endless series of wonderful wildlife photography encounters, many at very close range, as most of the wildlife in the crater has become extraordinarily unafraid of vehicles. Pride of place here amongst the photography possibilities goes to the critically endangered Black Rhinoceros, but other wildlife stars include Kori and Black-bellied Bustards, flocks of pink flamingoes, large groups of Olive Baboons, Ngorongoro’s Lions and Spotted Hyaenas, huge old tuskers and some marvellous Hippopotamuses.
After this wonderful experience we will descend from the Ngorongoro Crater Highlands into the endless plains of the southeastern Serengeti. We shall be visiting the area at the prime season for wildlife photography, when the rains have usually turned the entire area from a parched thirstland into a green paradise that attracts over a million large mammals, the great majority being Blue Wildebeest, Burchell’s Zebras and Thomson’s Gazelles, to the shortgrass plains. Here we will be based first in the south-central part of Serengeti National Park and finally in the famous Lake Ndutu area, probably the finest Serengeti wildlife photography area of them all.
At this time of year the number of predators and especially big cats has reached a maximum, so we are certain to be able to spend plenty of time with both Lions and Cheetahs, and we should also have some Leopard encounters, as well as chances for Servals and Wild Cats.
The rich wildlife of the Serengeti is awesome enough, but the whole photography experience is made even more special by the amazingly beautiful scenery, with dramatic cloudscapes and sunsets, seas of bright green and tawny grass, those evocative flat-topped acacia trees, and granite kopjes and distant mountain ridges rising above the plains.
By the time we end our African odyssey we will have seen and photographed so many wildlife and scenic wonders that it will be hard to appreciate that all this has happened to us in just under two weeks! Northern Tanzania will produce vivid, unfading memories and photography encounters that one will treasure for the rest of one’s days.
Accommodation & Road Transport
The safari lodges we use in Tanzania are of a very good standard throughout and are often wonderfully situated.
Road transport is by extended Toyota Landcruiser 4×4 and main roads are mostly good or reasonable (but there are also plenty of rough tracks in the sanctuaries and some ‘off-road’ driving). We will have a maximum of five group members in the vehicle, which has a large opening roof hatch for all-round visibility.
The walking effort during our Tanzania wildlife photography tour is very easy throughout. Walking is restricted to a few specified areas in the national parks/game reserves. This is of little hindrance and indeed we can approach many large birds and mammals far more closely in a vehicle than we could on foot.
Most days in this region of Tanzania will be warm or hot, dry and sunny, but overcast conditions are fairly frequent and there may well be some rain. At higher altitudes temperatures are cool to warm.
If you use a DSLR for wildlife photography you should bring telephotos (and converters) that will (with a full-frame body) cover the range 200-500mm or 600mm or more. You will also find a wide angle lens good for landscape photography. There will be only limited opportunities to use a macro lens. If you bring a good quality bridge camera it will be best if it has an optical zoom of 18-20x or more, combined with a reasonable wide-angle at the other end of the zoom range.
Be sure to bring plenty of spare battery power. Dust is ever-present in Tanzania, so cleaning equipment is important. A beanbag can be very useful here for wildlife photography from the vehicle. If you would like to talk over suitable equipment, please contact our office. We will be happy to advise.
Other Wild Images wildlife photography tours in Africa:
TANZANIA: SERENGETI SPECRTACULAR: WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR PRICE INFORMATION
Prices are provisional
£5190, €5910, $7210 Kilimanjaro/Kilimanjaro. Deposit: 10%.
Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, some soft drinks, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.
Single Room Supplement: £360, €410, $500.
This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in Pounds Sterling and Euros are based on £1 = $1.390 and €1 = $1.220.
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.
TANZANIA: SERENGETI SPECTACULAR: WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR ITINERARY
Our Tanzania wildlife photography adventure starts in the morning at Kilimanjaro airport, from where we will drive the westwards through Northern Tanzania until we reach the Great Rift Valley and Lake Manyara, where we stay overnight at the luxurious Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge, perched on the rim of the escarpment with stunning views. We will have some time to explore Lake Manyara National Park this afternoon.
We will have the whole morning to explore Lake Manyara National Park. We will spend some time here enjoying the waterbird spectacle, for there are often thousands and thousands of waterbirds present, with good opportunities to photograph some species such as Greater Flamingo, Pink-backed Pelican, the colourful Saddle-billed Stork and Yellow-billed Stork. On the nearby meadows there are often herds of African Buffaloes and African Elephants, which can provide excellent photographic opportunities.
After lunch we will head up into the Crater Highlands until we reach the wonderful Ngorongoro Crater where we will stay for four nights at the equally luxurious Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge. The beautifully-constructed game lodge is carefully built into the rim of the crater and offers amazing views. Gazing down from the observation areas, one can see the entire crater laid out below one like a map, and even make out distant elephants, rhinos and herds of antelopes and buffaloes!
The Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania is one of the scenic wonders of the world. The immense caldera is over 16 kilometres (10 miles) across, covers over 260 square kilometres (100 square miles) and is over 600m (1970ft) deep! Some 30,000 large mammals are resident in the area and they can be seen speckling the grasslands from the crater rim.
Each day, we shall descend from the rim by way of a rough mountain road. Early in the morning there is often a sea of mist covering the crater floor, with just the rim catching the first rays of the sun – an incredibly beautiful sight. And down there, below that cotton wool blanket, so much wonder awaits us!
The commonest and most conspicuous large mammals are Blue Wildebeest (or Brindled Gnu), Burchell’s Zebra, Grant’s and Thomson’s Gazelles, the ungainly but amusing Common Warthog, African Buffalo and African Elephant, indeed most of these are hard to get away from as big herds of zebras, gnus, gazelles and buffalos are constantly meandering across the crater floor as they feast on the bountiful grass of the long rains.
Ngorongoro is one of the most reliable places in the world for seeing the critically endangered Black (or Browse) Rhinoceros, mainly because they have nowhere they can easily hide (and neither do poachers!), and we shall enjoy some marvellous views of these magnificent leviathans, hopefully at close enough range to get some good images.
The crater also has a high predator population. Spotted Hyaenas and Black-backed Jackals are quite common, whilst the local Lions are often both approachable and highly photogenic. Cheetah, Leopard and Serval do occur here, but are harder to find than in Serengeti.
Towards the southern end of the crater is Lake Magadi, a shallow soda lake with glistening salt flats at its periphery. Here, thousands of Greater and Lesser Flamingoes slowly sift for brine shrimps in the shallow water and the lake’s margins provide a resting place for flocks of White Storks and other wetland species such as the lovely Grey Crowned Crane. Other bird species that are good for photography that we are likely to encounter in the crater include the huge Kori Bustard (often to be seen in full display) and the smaller Black-bellied Bustard.
For the wildlife photographer, the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is a true paradise, for not only are both mammals and large birds very used to vehicles and people, allowing amazingly close approach (almost touching distance at times, which creates quite an impression!), but the wonderful skyscapes and the constantly moving shadows of the clouds on the dappled crater walls produce an incomparable backdrop. No wonder so many of the world’s greatest wildlife photographs and films have come from here! Serengeti has far greater numbers of animals, but at Ngorongoro everything is so concentrated and the photographic opportunities are often even better, justifying a long stay.
Today we will drop down from the Crater Highlands into the shortgrass plains that form the western part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This part of Tanzania is Masai country and from time to time we will encounter these proud cattle herders with their traditional red cloaks and spears (and no doubt some of the young men who nowadays like to dress up and pose for photographs – in return for a consideration!). If the great herds have already moved into the southeastern extremity of the area, following the progress of the rain, we could be treated to a first incredible introduction to the wildlife of the Serengeti plains. We will make a stop at the famous Olduvai Gorge, where the Leakey family have discovered so much about our earliest ancestors. We will then make our way to the south-central section of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park for a three nights stay at at the luxurious Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge. At this season the cloudscapes are often dramatic, making for some incredibly beautiful sunsets.
Our time inside Serengeti National Park may turn up much smaller numbers of migratory herbivores compared with our stay to come at Ndutu, as the large herds tend to avoid the tallgrass areas until the shortgrass plains are grazed to the limit. Even so, there is a great deal of variation from year to year and sometimes this region is flooded with wildebeest and zebras. In any event, the diversity of mammals here is even greater and numbers of large cats and other predators are high.
This is by far the best area in the Serengeti, and indeed in all Tanzania, for Leopard photography and, with patient searching, we should be rewarded with great views of one or more individuals resting in trees in the thin gallery woodland along one of the rivers. There is something special about Leopards – maybe it is those cold eyes looking at one, or those beautiful spots, or that feline grace mixed with sheer power, or how elusive they are compared with the diurnal large cats.
We may also come across a group of Banded Mongooses living in a termite mound and photograph both Wild Cat and the beautiful, lanky Serval Cat stealthily stalking through the grass. Lions are regularly encountered and Cheetahs can be found in more open terrain.
Antelopes in this part of Serengeti include Bohor Reedbuck, Kongoni and the even the more awkward-looking Topi. Small lakes and pools in the area are home to groups of Hippopotamus and we shall enjoy spending some time photographing these huge animals watching us, waggling their ears or rearing up and opening those huge mouths to yawn or mock-fight.
At Seronera, location of the park headquarters, one of the kopjes (granite boulder outcrops) has an educational boardwalk snaking amongst the boulders and trees, complete with interesting and unusual metal sculptures of Serengeti creatures. It is a great place for a walk and for photography, with many tame birds and both Yellow-spotted (or Bush) and Rock Hyraxes.
After a final morning inside Serengeti National Park, we will travel a short distance southeastwards through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. As we leave the long grass plains and head towards the shortgrass plains, we will pass through a landscape peppered with acacias and punctuated by hills and kopjes of huge rounded granitic boulders. Eventually we will reach the Lake Ndutu area, where we will stay for the next four nights at the famous and comfortable Ndutu Safari Lodge. After dinner one can sit around the campfire and chat away under a crystal clear African sky ablaze with stars.
Lake Ndutu is situated right on the border between the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park. At this season the Ndutu area is often the most exciting place in the Serengeti, and therefore in the whole of Tanzania. Over one million grazing mammals stream into the shortgrass plains after the onset of the rains, occurring at a density of many thousand per square kilometre, or even tens of thousands!
In places the plains are largely empty, but in places they literally seethe with mammals – mainly Blue Wildebeest, but also huge numbers of Burchell’s Zebras and Thomson’s Gazelles. We should enjoy some amazing experiences here as we drive right amongst these vast gatherings of large animals until we are completely surrounded and look out over a sea of large mammals that may stretch away to the horizon – a truly incredible sight.
Predators are of course attracted to such a wealth of potential food and we should encounter Lions, perhaps a whole pride trotting along on the edge of a herd, which will part to let them through, or lolling around with full bellies like huge domestic cats. Ungainly but powerful Spotted Hyaenas, less lovely but curiously impressive nonetheless, will also be seen regularly, and both they and the Lions typically allow one to get amazingly close, making for wonderful photography opportunities. Here also, feeding on carrion or small mammals, are Common Jackals and delightful Bat-eared Foxes.
There are plenty of photogenic birds too, such as Ostriches striding across the plains, flamingoes on Lakes Ndutu and Masek, the impressive Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl and Yellow-billed Oxpeckers hitching rides on the animals, while out on the shortgrass plains we should find interesting subjects such as the bizarre-looking Secretarybird and Chestnut-bellied and Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, and we may well come across several groups of vultures squabbling over the remains of kills.
At night, tame Common Genets come right into the dining room of our lodge, sitting on the roof beams and waiting for a handout, or scampering around the floor as if they were pets.
One of the most memorable of all our experiences in this fantastic place will be a hunt for the wildlife glory of the Serengeti plains, the incomparable Cheetah. For the best chance of success we will set off early and drive far from the nearest road. Here the grass is long enough to give some cover to predators, but not much. By careful scanning we should locate Cheetahs hunting in this area and we may be privileged to spend some time with them, perhaps watching them stalking gazelles or even witnessing a kill. These graceful animals are quite fearless of vehicles and so we may enjoy some extraordinary close encounters and with a bit of luck we will be entirely alone as we follow these marvellous creatures across their ancestral lands.
The rolling landscapes and beautiful skies of Serengeti make for great scenery, and we should be able to find wildlife in wonderful situations for photography, with backdrops of the hills or the skyline. Here we may encounter Giraffes striding out across the wide valleys as they make their way between the wooded ridges, see heavy, cattle-like Eland thundering along at unlikely speeds, observe lines of Blue Wildebeest making their way, who knows where, and watch in fascination as a Cheetah tries to creep up on the unsuspecting Thomson’s Gazelles.
Today we will reluctantly make the return journey to Kilimanjaro airport, where our Tanzania wildlife photosafari ends early this evening. We will break the journey for lunch at pleasant restaurant en route.