African Wildlife: Experiencing the circle of life in Tanzania
Experiencing the circle of life in Tanzania. A Guest post by Margot Raggett
Margot has written for and shared her stunning travel photographs on Tips for Travellers a few times now. Previously she has told of her travels to the Paro festival in Bhutan and seeing Big Cats in Kenya’s Masai Mara. She is just back from Tanzania and writes:
Having visited (and I admit become slightly addicted to) Kenya’s Masai Mara many times in recent years, it was a good suggestion by my guide to vary things a little and venture to Tanzania for my next African wildlife adventure. There, he explained, I would be able to see another part of the great wildebeest migration in the Serengeti. By travelling in February we would hopefully be able to coincide with the wildebeest calving season, a huge annual event triggered by the rains when hundreds of thousands of wildebeest give birth within just a few weeks of each other – a real baby bonanza. And lastly, I would also be able to visit the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, a natural wonder of the world that I had long wanted to see.
So in February 2013 we set off. Out first stop was the crater, a place so vast, beautiful and packed with wildlife it was hard to take in. It was also, it has to be said, packed with tourist cars but nonetheless it was wonderful to experience for a day. A natural amphitheatre protected by sheer cliffs, the basin goes on for miles. We saw elephants, rhino, hippos, lions, wildebeest and zebra in abundance as well as many types of birds. Due to not being able to leave the well-defined roads it was harder than elsewhere to get up close to the wildlife but the scenery was spectacular and I would urge everyone to visit at least once in their lifetime if they can.
We then headed off deep into the Serengeti, to stay at two Alex Walker camps (http://www.serian.net) so isolated it felt like we had Africa to ourselves. The hot, dusty plains went on to the horizon in every direction and only once before, at sea in the Atlantic, have I ever felt so far from any other human contact, amazing. But the wildlife was there for sure. And our timing was perfect. From the very first day we saw hundreds of births taking place and we timed how long it took from birth to a calf being able to run alongside its mother – about four minutes, incredible. On one particularly memorable occasion we saw not only a mother walking around with a calf half out but we also sadly then saw its birth and subsequent death at the claws of a family of cheetah. Gruesome and poignant for sure but also truly the circle of life – how else would that mother be able to raise her cubs to maturity? It may be cruel but the calving is a time of feast for all predators, allowing them the best chance to raise their own offspring and keep the eco-system in balance.
The plains of the Serengeti are very different to the Masai Mara but the experience was in every way as magical. Another addiction to add to the list!
Margot Raggett travelled in February 2013 with guide and BBC Cameraman Warren Samuels, booked via www.wildvisionadventures.com.
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