Marlo with camera in hand

Our hyena friend joining us on the walk

Walking on warthogs!

View of the eruption from our charter flight

High fives after a big trek



Wildebeest, wildebeest, wildebeest...
Migration time and was it ever busy! The short grass plains of the southern Serengeti were packed this season with hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle. Also in attendance on the plains were numerous cheetah, some wild dog, lion, and the thousands of Lesser Kestrels hovering in the sky and then swooping down to pop insects. We also enjoyed the many dramatic views of giraffe in single file marching across the open country, necks on the horizon, seemingly going to the end of the earth. Wildebeest calves were born, some perishing to the ranks of carnivores, others lost and wandering through the wilderness. One evening in camp we heard the bleating of a lost calf. Straight through camp ran a lost wildebeest calf towards the land rover and tents associating the size and dark colour with its parent. On it went into the bush and into a night filled with hyenas, leaving us with mixed emotions about the realities of nature, but knowing that most persist side by side with their mothers to carry on the cycle into the next year.

Walking on beasts again in our exclusive piece of Serengeti in Loliondo
Some beautiful walks, expected big views and some wonderful magical encounters on the trail. Whether or not we encounter one of the 'heavies' while walking, just to strike out on foot onto the high ridges overlooking Serengeti or the low dry riverbeds riddled with bark-stripped trees from hungry elephants make it magical. The cool mornings, quietness and views of the walks are always a special part of each safari. And we did have some great sightings and encounters, as on our first walk in February when we walked on 3 cheetahs eating an impala. Later in the season on the Scott and Fisher trekking safari we had the most enjoyable trek along the Serengeti boundary walking up to countless warthogs very close and one inquisitive spotted hyena who ambled to within just a few steps of us as we kept still and waiting. Eland (the largest antelope in the world) were also aplenty with many close sightings and some enormous herds, and we were also lucky enough to have 200 elephant in the valley below camp one afternoon, as we watched the sun go down, beer in hand, admiring the herd browse its way westwards towards the national park.

Erupting volcanoes, old friends and a proposal on the rocks
We had a ball with our first group from South Africa, some seasoned African travellers who took in the masses of game in the crater and Ndutu, some unrivalled open space in Loliondo with a couple big lions to boot, a beautiful melanistic (all black morph) Gabar Goshawk so well spotted by Robbie, and some relaxing down time in our luxury camp in Tarangire rounding out the safari with gin and tonics on the rocks overlooking the Silale floodplains. We also witnessed an enormous eruption from Oldonyo Lengai, an active volcano near Ngorongoro, and on our chartered flight from Loliondo to Tarangire flew close enough to take some photos of the eruption, quite an amazing sight! I was also fortunate enough to have the Fields family on safari with one of my oldest friends, Kenyon, who is executive director of the Sitka Conservation Society in Alaska, with whom it was great to catch up and also to compare conservation challenges in Serengeti to those in Tongass National Forest. We also had our first marriage proposal in the bush, with Vijay on a knee on the rocks at sunset and Lauren happily obliging... well done! And on our final safari of the season, 22 students from MIT in Maasailand with some brilliant sightings on foot... Elephant, buffalo and five lions devouring a buffalo. Staying quiet on the trail always pays off!

Some of the new and more of the same!
As some of you may see from the new website (thanks to my wife, Maral, of course), we were rated by National Geographic Adventure magazine as the number one outfitter, both in Africa and the World, which was quite an honour for such a small outfit as ourselves. The rating team from Nat Geo took references from past clients, exhaustive surveys from outfitters the world over and did substantial research in conducting the ratings. As a result, we are busying than ever for this year and next, but still limiting our trips to 20 or so each year, so that we continue our principle that we personally see each and every one of you on safari and around the campfire. Our 'usual' areas are still in action - in the Loliondo/Serengeti borderlands and the Maasai Steppe/Tarangire waterhole wilderness - which form the bulk of our walking trips. And we are also now active inside of Serengeti National Park, which for the first time ever is permitting extended walking safaris inside of the park (restricted to the very remote areas) to a couple qualified outfitters, and we have our first big walk there this July. Looking ahead to 2009, we are now guiding a couple walking safaris each year for Africa Geographic magazine, and will start to get more active down in Ruaha and Katavi to walk in that big wilderness, so always new places and new things to see!