Day 1: Arusha, Tanzania
Arrive in Arusha and transfer to Arusha Coffee Lodge. Photograph flowers in the beautifully landscaped gardens that offer a relaxing respite after our long travels, or relax by the pool or on your private veranda. This evening, we gather for a welcome dinner and orientation from our Expedition Leader, who offers a preview of the incredible photography opportunities ahead.
Days 2-4: East-Central Serengeti - Namiri Plains
The legendary Serengeti derives its name from a Maasai word meaning “endless plains.” We fly to Serengeti National Park, where vistas of yellow savanna stretching to the horizon beneath a bowl of deep blue sky provide iconic images of Africa. Meeting our safari vehicles and drivers, we set out on our first wildlife drive. Each guest has a window seat to take full advantage of the photographic possibilities. Our destination is Namiri Plains, a newly accessible area located in a remote sector of the Serengeti that has previously been off-limits to visitors for two decades. Surveying open grasslands and kopje outcrops, the camp offers fabulous wildlife photography in diverse habitats, particularly of the abundant feline predators that live and hunt in this area. In fact, Namiri means "big cat " in Swahili.
Namiri Plains provides exceptional seclusion: guests are alone on the vast private concession, and the next camp is a 45-minute drive. The isolated location ensures that we experience our natural setting, rather than tourist crowds. Evoking the classic safari atmosphere of an earlier age, just eight spacious canvas tents offer surprising comfort in a very remote setting. Set in the shade of giant acacia trees, the camp offers 360-degree views of wildlife traversing savanna and the river with its perennial vegetation and dense green reed beds that attract birds and smaller animal species. Capture a broad spectrum of photos on wildlife drives or on a walking safari with one of the resident specialist guides. We also have the exclusive opportunity to get out into the bush with actual zoologists and cheetah researchers working on site.
Days 5-8: Southern Serengeti - Natural Habitat's Migration Base Camp, Serengeti
With cameras at the ready, we depart for the southern Serengeti with a wildlife drive en route. The days of heavy canvas hunting camps set for the likes of Roosevelt and Hemingway were nearly over until photographic safaris gained popularity. Natural Habitat's Migration Base Camp exudes the ambience of old, with silver-service dinners presented on white linen by candlelight. While home to a profusion of wildlife year-round, there is nothing like the Serengeti during the phenomenon of the Great Migration. We spend three full days among the sea of mammals, following them in open-topped four-wheel-drive vehicles that offer superb photography access.
The vast herds of wildebeest trek annually from Kenya’s Maasai Mara to the southern Serengeti in search of new grass during the short rains, then back again. The wildebeest migrate with thousands of zebra, whose superior vision and hearing serve as an early warning system for predators. We are in the region just as the 3-week birthing season is typically beginning, when the herds are mostly stationary. We'll hope to get photos of infants (though timing on the calf drop is weather-dependent), as well as prey interactions. Predators seek out the most vulnerable members of the herds, and we may behold a lion taking down a sick wildebeest or a cheetah overtaking a newborn. Leopard, hyena and jackal also prey on the migrating herds, as do less-frequently seen mongoose, serval and wild dog. Vultures hang in the air, waiting to feast on carrion. While the spectacle is at times grim, its primal drama is a wonder to behold.
Day 9: Arusha or Ngorongoro Extension / Depart
Today our photo safari concludes, and we depart with a phenomenal slate of memories captured in the images we have collected during the past week. We enjoy breakfast in camp before transferring to the nearest airport. In Arusha, a day room awaits this afternoon before a transfer to Kilimanjaro Airport for evening international departures. Guests continuing on our Ngorongoro Crater extension will bid farewell to fellow travelers, where they will remain in pursuit of more remarkable wildlife photography adventures.
Physical Rating: Easy