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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Unforgettable Tanzania safari

Living life under threat of death by thirst, hunger, exhaustion or predation is not anybody’s idea of fulfilling, but for the two million wildebeest that have made the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania their home – it’s all they know.

Visitors to Africa have developed a fascination for their widely publicised annual migration between the Plains and Kenya’s Maasai Mara. It’s for good reason that it’s nicknamed “the greatest show on earth”.

Tanzania hotels gear up for an influx of tourists between April and June. This time of year offers the best sightings of the wildebeest herds and other grazing mammals like buffalo, eland, zebra and gazelle as they make their way across the Serengeti towards better grazing and water in Kenya’s Maasai Mara.

It’s a circular migration that sees the herds in Kenya from July to November, before they return to their birthing grounds near the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. So, if you’re planning a visit to this part of the continent, a Tanzania safari must be on your itinerary.

Award-winning Tanzania hotels like Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge have an enviable position on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, the largest unflooded and unbroken caldera in the world. The crater measures 20km across, 600m deep and 300sq km in area, and harbours a unique biosphere that provides a magnificent habitat for elephant, rhino and lion.

It looks like something out of the movies… but here, in this part of Africa, it’s very real.

The Lodge is close to the prehistoric site of Olduvai Gorge, which is one of the day tour opportunities. Game drives into the crater are a favourite option. There are adventure hikes too (around the Crater and nearby volcanoes) or more sedate wildlife walks to sign up for. Equally appealing are a barbecue lunch at a hippo-filled pool in the depths of the Crater or a visit to Empakaai, a 300m deep crater with a lake where flamingoes flock.

A tour guide can also lead you to authentic Maasai villages where you can see traditional homesteads, cattle markets and women's handicrafts.

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