Tanzania Under Canvas

Tanzania Under Canvas
January 2020

Tanzania is considered one of Africa's most iconic safari destinations, with extraordinary game viewing, and quintessential landscapes. Recently returned from his fourteenth visit to the African continent, yet first time to Tanzania, A&K's Design & Production Manager David Kneale was overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of wildlife, and quality of the game viewing.

Across nine days he explored three of Tanzania's most famous safari destinations: Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. Staying at camps selected for their proximity to wildlife, there were plenty of opportunities for David to indulge his passion for photography. He shares a few of his favourite images here.





TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK

Tarangire National Park was an unexpected surprise with a wonderfully diverse landscape of golden savannah, vast floodplains, huge baobabs, and mixed woodland. This ecosystem has a reputation for being home to an equally diverse range of wildlife, and it didn't take long to see why. Huge herds of elephant sauntered through the landscape and plains game, including giraffe, zebra, and kudu, was plentiful. Even the lions put on a show – one sighting revealed five up a tree. This was a first for me so I enjoyed a couple of hours observing them as they furtively followed the movements of buffalo in the distance.

My base here was the elegant Sanctuary Swala Camp, located in a beautiful setting beneath a canopy of giant acacia trees. The remoteness of this camp really appealed to me, and it was rare to encounter any other vehicles whilst on a game drive, allowing a near exclusive safari experience. The camp was also popular with surrounding wildlife, with numerous impala, elephant, and even a pride of lion moving through during my stay. In addition to game drives, I was delighted to visit the A&K Philanthropy supported bike shop located nearby.






NGORONGORO CRATER

Formed when the cone of a massive volcano collapsed eons ago, the towering walls of the 600-metre deep chasm of the Ngorongoro Crater provide a natural enclosure for an abundance of wildlife. I was especially excited to visit the Crater for the possibility of viewing the critically endangered black rhino, an animal I'd had limited sightings of over the years. And on arrival into the crater, it was literally the first sighting we had, and the first of three that day. Often referred to as a 'Garden of Eden', the Ngorongoro Crater is a bit like safari on steroids. In the one day spent on the crater floor, I viewed all of Africa's iconic species – elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard, lion, including two mating pairs, as well as thousands of antelope, and a plethora of birdlife.

Staying at Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp in a valley on the crater rim gave easy, and unrivalled, access down onto the crater floor, particularly useful for early morning viewing ahead of the vehicle influx later in the day. At the end of each day it was just a quick drive back to camp for a sundowner, or two, and those views.






SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK

Encompassing almost 30,000 square kilometres, the Serengeti supports one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in the world and is most famous for the annual migration of millions of zebra and wildebeest that follow the rains in search of new pastures and water. When I visited, the herds hadn't yet arrived but I was happily aware of the Serengeti's reputation for great year-round wildlife viewing, and I was keen to see cheetah. Normally, I try to avoid singling out a specific animal that I would like to see on safari. But this time, I let Emanuel, my guide, know.

Ten minutes into our first drive, we both spotted something short, stumpy and grey in the distance charging across the plain towards a wooded area. Black rhino? Surely not. None had been seen in the area for over three years. But as we got closer it was indeed a black rhino. We followed for some time, keeping our distance, and eventually after hiding in the acacia woodland, we were rewarded. The rhino emerged and grazed quietly nearby giving us a rare up-close encounter which we enjoyed for nearly three hours. This was an all-time safari highlight.

The next morning we headed out early. As the sun rose, Emanuel pointed far off into the distance, and confidently said "cheetah". My excitement mounted although I could detect nothing on the horizon. We continued for another 40 minutes and, sure enough, he delivered, not one but a pair of cheetah. I was fortunate to have three more cheetah sightings over the coming days, as well as lion, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, Thomson's gazelle and more. It was relentless.

In true ‘Out of Africa’ style, I stayed at Sanctuary Serengeti Kichakani Camp, a traditional mobile tented camp that moves with the herds. During my stay, it was located in the north of the park where the wildlife was most abundant. Although semi-permanent, there is nothing spared when it comes to camp comforts and the food was some of the best I've had. But for me, it was the service that I’ll remember most. The staff made me feel like an old friend. And I know I’ll be back.