The seclusion safari More and more, our clients are requesting true seclusion in the bush. After all, this is how safaris historically were – out alone in the wilderness with no rules. But certain areas of the parks are becoming more inundated with tourists and vehicles. This has made even more important and unique our more remote areas where we are the only ones operating and where one can have the wildlife and wilderness exclusively in a way that few places can match in Africa. On one safari last fall, we enjoyed yet another of our true seclusion safaris. For 10 days we explored the Maasai Steppe and Tarangire wilderness on foot, by vehicle and staying in our lightweight mobile camps, followed by 3 nights up in the 'Lamai Wedge' of the northwestern Serengeti to soak up the migration. During these 10 days we slept in a treenest over looking 400 elephants, viewed a mating pair of lions 50 meters from camp, spotted a leopard in the late afternoon light, and enjoyed both a wilderness mobile camp and a traditional luxury mobile camp. But the amazing part of the trip was the fact that for ten days we saw another vehicle only once and it was on the other side of the huge Mara River. For the rest of the trip, we felt the whole wilderness was just ours.
Serengeti Road As many of you have heard, the Tanzanian government is planning to build a highway between Arusha and northeastern Lake Victoria and through the northern part of the Serengeti National Park. It is likely being pursued because of mining interests near the lake, but why it must go through the park is unclear. Firstly, the government has already been constructing a tarred highway linking Arusha and Lake Victoria for the past few years via Babati (through no protected areas) and this road is almost totally complete. So it does not make sense that one would want to build a second highway. The distance is shorter, but not dramatically so, and the construction of the highway would be an enormous cost and also can negatively impact the environment in and around Serengeti which represents a great financial asset for the country. At the moment, the current belief is that the road will not be tarred or fenced when inside the park.
While the focus has been on the park itself, my main concern is for the wilderness areas outside the park and about which few have spoken. These are pristine wilderness areas of Loliondo and very much part of the greater Serengeti ecosystem. We have been guiding safaris in this area for 15 years and have had amazing encounters with all of the big game here. It is more scenic than any part of the park I have been to (check out the vista on our Destinations page). It also is home to several Maasai villages who hold title to large wilderness areas and with whom we've been engaged in tourism-conservation partnerships. I hope that these people and this land – which unlike the park is under no form of government protection – are resilient enough to cope with the enormous pressures coming their way, because when a road is built it draws people, poachers, buildings, shops and farms.
The Coast... With so many of our groups heading to the coast after a safari, we thought it was time to have a few words on some brilliant places to go. Of course, Zanzibar is well known and offers some nice time in the old Stone Town followed by some relaxing days on the beach. Matemwe Bungalows is an old favourite and Chumbe Island Coral Park is a fantastic location which offers both sun and water and also more of a nature-focused experience. Pemba Island to the north of Zanzibar is a favourite for diving, staying at Fundu Lagoon, and more and more people are heading to Mafia Island to some funky and secluded beach lodges for some real time away on the coast. I'm personally just waiting for a group who wants to do some serious fishing... I'll be sure to join myself!