ONE SHOULDN’T BE SATISFIED WITH GETTING TO KNOW THE WORLD THROUGH DOCUMENTARIES AND ZOOS BUT (S)HE SHOULD EXPERIENCE THE WORLD’S LESSER-KNOWN ATTRACTIONS AND HIGHLIGHTS WITH BRIEF EXPLORATIONS.
Turning a deaf ear to the cliché “Africa is a far-away place that is hard to reach” I bought myself a plane ticket and spent the entire month of March in a photo-safari in Ngorongoro, Tanzania. It’s a lovely time for the African wildlife. With the arrival of the migration and breeding season for animals, a unique opportunity is given to those who are curious about the mysterious ways of life of the world they inhabit. Masai tribes offer us glimpses of cultures that are unknown the most.
An UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ngorongoro Crater is popular among safari enthusiasts
in Tanzania, home to the most famous parks in
Africa. Though it’s inhabited by the Masai Mara locals,
since animals play the lead in our story, let’s stick with their lifestyle.
February and March coincide with the rain season in Tanzania during which the gnus (a large African antelope with a long head) gather on the shortgrass prairies in Serengeti to give birth. Afterwards, millions of gnus, hundreds of thousands of zebras and many others begin a challenging journey towards Masai Mara in Kenya. The drought brought about by the ceasing of the rain, forces the animals to migrate. Leaving Serengeti to find fresh prairies, some members of the flock fall prey to crocodiles and other carnivores – these bloody fights are usual scenes in a safari. Since wildlife and migration are some of mankind’s greatest curiosities, prosperous travelers who have seen a lot of the world do not miss out on luxury photo-safaris where they can witness the Great Migration that starts in the breeding season in March and continues into the following weeks.
Ngorongoro is one of these safari regions. It resembles a giant bowl inhabited by tens of thousands of animals - it’s a true home for local wildlife. The morning safari (in comfortable and spacious 4x4 vehicles with an open top and sides that are protected by iron grates) enables you to see and photograph the Great Five of the African wildlife: rhinos, elephants, buffalos, lions and leopards.
Another benefit of traveling here is the opportunity to witness the different ways of indigenous life. I visited a Masai village inhabited by locals. They live in two-room houses of 5 or 6 square meters that are plastered with a mixture of cow dung, mud, straw and ash, and have an adjacent hovel for the animals. They keep their animals, which are their main source of income, in the middle of the village so as to protect them from wild predators at night. Leading a semi-nomadic life, these colorful tribes have a simple life, and friendly and jolly characters. In case I don’t have the chance to visit again, I took a great many pictures of the colorful Masai people as they graze their cows and carry spears in their hands. I also had the pleasure of welcoming uninvited visitors in my photographs such as hippopotamuses, buffalos, black rhinoceroses, cheetahs, hyenas, zebras, and antelopes.
If you’re considering a vacation in Africa, this is the best time. The fact that the number of luxury accommodation alternatives in the region increase due to the Great Migration enables you to personalize your vacation.
If you prefer staying in an exclusive preserved area in the heart of nature, you’ll have an authentic experience in tents. If you’re looking for a more comfortable and safer alternative, you can opt for bungalow-like wooden huts and lodges. I stayed at Asilia Highlands that comprise eight luxury tents, the experience exceeded all my expectations. The luxury opportunities offered by the camps in the middle of the boundless prairie create a unique contact with the surroundings which is complemented by the visitor’s feelings of happiness and safety. Eating a delicious dinner accompanied by the sunset and the timid movements of animals preparing for the night is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As the flatlands are painted in warm orange, you may think to yourself “There’s nowhere else in the world where the sun sets this beautifully.” Lying in bed, you drop off to sleep wondering what kind of beauties, adventures and mysteries tomorrow has in store for you.
You should catch the sunrise to witness the bustling beginning of the day for the animals and their lives in nature from the terrace of the lodge. Follow this with a hearty breakfast and then head off to the photo-safari in Serengeti in private vehicles.
Yes, the gnus start to gather in the shortgrass prairies to give birth. They’ll bear nearly half a million baby gnus and hit the road. 1.5 million animals including zebras and gazelles, will go on an arduous journey of 1,000 kilometers to find water. All you have to do to witness their journey is to buy a plane ticket.