I don’t know where I first heard the name ‘Serengeti’, but ever since I was a child, the word provoked romantic visions in my head of wide open, dusty plains filled with eye-catching wildlife. So when I first visited the Serengeti last year, I was left speechless when those visions proved true. It instantly became one of my favorite photographic locations I had ever visited, and I was determined to get back as soon as possible. And luckily, this year I will be spending over a month in Tanzania, mostly in the Serengeti, leading photography trips for The Giving Lens and Discovery Photo Tours.
It’s hard to really explain the adrenaline rush that will hit you like a ton of bricks the first time you see a herd of elephants or a pride of lions start to walk your way. Staring blankly in awe of such powerful creatures, it can be hard to get your camera at the ready and your settings dialed in before the moment passes. But eventually, you learn that these magnificent animals are indifferent to your presence. They are too busy foraging for food and seeking out shade and water in the scorching African heat to worry about a tan colored Land Cruiser with a bunch of giddy humans and giant lenses. You start to learn how to photograph them, and soon, you start seeing some incredible captures in the back of your LCD screen. Suddenly, the ease of the Serengeti has made you feel like a National Geographic photographer.
Housing some of the Tanzania’s best landscapes, Serengeti National Park also plays host to an immense amount of wildlife, including the ‘Big 5’, which is rhinoceros, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard. In fact, over 3,000 lions are believed to live in the Serengeti, making it Africa’s largest population of the big cat.
With the black rhino being extremely endangered, it can be hard to find one in the park, but no harder to find than the elusive leopard, even though the leopard population is over 1,000. These extraordinary cats know how to hide. They aren’t as chill as lions, where your safari car can literally pull up next to one and not get much of a reaction. But somehow, in all my time on Safari, the Serengeti was the only time I had spotted a leopard. In broad daylight nonetheless (they usually can be found in the early dawn).
This mother had just killed a gazelle and was dragging it out of her hiding place to her two waiting cubs.
Of course, in addition to the Big 5, which you won’t have a problem of seeing plenty of, the park is also home to a large amount of more common, less intimidating wildlife like wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, warthog, hyenas, jackals, monkey, birds, and even crocodiles. Yes, crocodiles.
And all of this, in front of some of the most amazing sunrises, sunsets, and moons that I have ever seen.
We even camped in the middle of a fenceless site in the Serengeti, which got really interesting when an elephant came into camp at 9 pm looking for food.
I could go on and on about why the Serengeti is so special, but honestly, it’s one of those places you can’t really understand the beauty of until you immerse yourself. So until then, I will leave you with more of my favorite photos from my time in the Serengeti.
Nature is raw, powerful and beautiful, and that is no more evident than in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.