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The Migration Begins

After an amazing Masai display and dinner the night before that was only ruined by rude and unappreciative Russians. I woke early to make my way down to the Lake Manyara Airport to what I was told was a short flight to Ndutu Airport where I would be meeting up with my next guide and staying at andBeyond's Serengeti Under Canvas property. This was going to be the "highlight" of my safari experience because it was when I would finally encounter the legendary Great Migration. ;The poor pilot was the same guy that flew us in a couple days prior and my Haitian friends made sure that the guy knew that any "crazy" antics were not appreciated and that the turtle approach is well and truly appreciated!!

Unfortunately, the pilot didn't understand the quickest way to Ndutu and we ended up doing a circumnavigational tour of the whole Serengeti park including four stops before getting to mine which literally was only 20 minutes away from Lake Manyara but turned into nearly a 2 hour tour.

For anyone that watches tv, the Great Migration has kind of become the "holy grail" of safari experiences. Typically, it involves a river crossing where thousands of $$$s are paid to sit in a car whether it be combi, closed 4WD or open 4WD and pray that those 1,000s of animals decide to cross the river that minute, hour, hours, day that you are hanging out with many other likeminded safari goers in many other likeminded vehicles on the side of a riverbank.

Having heard this scenario from guides on my previous safari and having read in-depth on the subject I decided that putting that money towards a migration experience during the calving season was money better spent. Ndutu offered me the classic low grass, extensive plains safari experience with animals everywhere you could see. It also included at no extra cost millions of bloody flies that they don't warn you about. Now being an Aussie we are used to flies but having spent the last 13 years in Europe and Kazakhstan I have become a little immune to this pest and I can only thank my lucky stars that I remembered to bring my fly net which saved me from going crazy with swatting those pesky buggers from the moment I descended from the plane.

Awesome Andrew as I later nicknamed him welcomed me at the airport. I in turn greeted him with "Hi Andrew, I am Sam and I want to see animals die!!" Not sure how that went down but I pretty quickly expressed my desire to see blood, guts, animals running, predators chasing, my camera sounding like an automatic gun and me with a big smile on my face. Once again, Andrew the guide looking a little perplexed and thinking who is this crazy woman????? At the time I didn't realise it but he was expecting someone from Kazakhstan who was Asian looking and probably not speaking English so good. Instead he got an blonde Aussie that wanted a massacre. Poor guy!

So after a lovely coffee and snacks, plus a pitstop at the "interesting" airport loo we made our way down to camp which was only about 20 minutes away. The andBeyond team were all out to welcome the new arrival with a cold drink and towel. These guys were amazing and I could immediately feel that I was in for a big treat staying in such an awesome camp.

Once again my life was signed away and I was whisked off to my tent which was luckily only 3 away from the main area. A great distance to not hear all the noise from meals/drinks but also not too far to get back to for game drives, sundowners and meals. The tent left me speechless. My butler must have been new because he showed me everything. I just thought the bed was enough but damn having cold drinks in an esky on hand, a flushable loo, outside bucket shower (yes), running tap water, a day bed and chairs to chill out on was another andBeyond experience. The smile on my face said it all and I was quick to change and get my gear ready for a drive after a quick lunch.

Andrew met with me after lunch and I set up all the camera equipment on the car before heading out. He was a little amazing at all the stuff I started bringing out of my bag and it was a first for him with having the GoPros on the car. It was nice being able to talk about the equipment and to also share with him one of my DSLR cameras because I always take two bodies with me. He explained what was on offer for the afternoon and as soon as he said a pride of lion was 800m away on the other side of the creek he didn't need to say anymore.

Off we went on the big trek. Within minutes I was sitting on top of the roof, cameras out and ready, fly hat on and water close by. What more could you want?

We literally spent 4 hours with the pride which was lioness' with some cubs. A decent sized pride that was quite active and an effective killing machine from what Andrew said. They were entertaining once the heat of the afternoon subsided and there were two non effective attempts to kill the evenings dinner. All in all a brilliant start to my Serengeti experience.

Once we returned to camp, I then showered and joined the other guests for the Bush TV, some drinks and a brilliant dinner under the stars. Seriously no better way to end a day in Africa!!

Where I Stayed - andBeyond's Serengeti Under Canvas 2, Ndutu, Serengeti, Tanzania

SUC is an absolute must for safari enthusiasts and first timers. It allows you to enjoy all the comforts of home in high end luxurious tents with a super comfortable bed, flushing toilet and and outdoor shower. I loved staying at SUC camp 2 with the sounds of the bush outside my tent, wonderful food/drink, great staff/service and awesome safari experiences. This is my kind of safari camp and although it doesn't offer all the luxuries of a permanent camp it offers the romance of an African safari with all the comforts necessary to recover in style. The opportunity to eat outside under the stars, to enjoy a drink around the camp fire and to go to sleep with animals grazing outside your tent is unbelievable. The benefit of going with andBeyond is that their staff and guides know the area like the back of their hand. This knowledge allows visitors to have wonderful sightings and to feel safe throughout their trip. The guides, camp staff and management are absolutely amazing and always willing to go beyond. They listen to your requests and try to help you as much as possible with things you want to see and do. I can't wait to return to SUC for a longer stay.

Room Tip: Try and get a tent that is one/two tents away from the main common area for a little bit more quiet...


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