Tour leader: Dmitry Fridman

Serengeti, Tanzania: Mara — Seronera — lake Ndutu

Dates: September 22nd — October 3rd 2015

12 days, 11 nights

«Safari» means «journey» in Swahili.

From mid-July until the end of October when the rain season ends, massive herds of wildebeest and zebras cross the Mara river towards Tanzania, searching for the fresh grass. This is the most dramatic part of the largest mammal migration on the planet. Near Sayari region, the Mara river isn’t very wide, but deep and the current is very fast. It is also full of crocodiles. Nearly every time the herd crosses the river several animals die, either in the turbulent waters, or in the jaws of a crocodile. Often, you can see lions that come to hunt the tired wildebeest as they come out of the water. The end of September is an excellent time to witness this amazing sight.

After landing at the Arusha — Kilimanjaro international airport (KIA), we will check in at the Coffee Lodge hotel. This comfy lodge is situated among coffee plantations, with a view of the “top of Africa” — Mt. Kilimanjaro. Early morning the next day we will go to the local Arusha Airport (ARK) located nearby, where a small commuter plane will take us to the Sayari area in Serengeti. It is the northern tip of the national park, where the river banks of Mara meet the Kenyan border.

After 3 days in Sayari, we’re driving (5-6 hrs) to the heart of the Serengeti: the Seronera area. This is the place where the Seronera and Grumeti rivers converge, and the endless fields of Serengeti become an acacia forest. This place doesn’t run out of water even during the worst droughts, giving us a chance to see a lot of animals; from lions, leopards and cheetahs to giraffes, hippos and elephants.

After 2 days in Seronera we continue our safari (a 5-6 hour drive) towards the southern tip of the Serengeti: the Ndutu park. The dry season peaks in this area starting at the end of September through the beginning of October, and the main animal migration wave doesn’t arrive until early December. This is why the large cats of Ndutu prey on non-migrating animals such as buffalo, gazelles and impalas. Lake Ndutu is home to a large number of pink flamingos, and water attracts elephants, buffalos and giraffes. There, you can also spot some very rare cats: servals, caracals and genets. Ndutu is one of the best places in Serengeti for animal-watching; as a matter of fact, most of the National Geographic documentaries on Serengeti were shot at Lake Ndutu. There are only two lodges, very few tourists, and abundance of animals in this truly wild part of the Serengeti.

After 5 days spent at Lake Ndutu, the same cars that brought us there will take us back to the KIA airport for the return flight.

All movements within the national parks of Tanzania will be conducted in 4×4 Jeeps (usually Toyota), specially equipped for photo safaris and with a driver. The roof of the car may be raised for better viewing, and drinking water will be provided at all times.

As a rule, we will always leave before dawn in the morning. That’s when the animals are most active, and the rising sun paints the sky in beautiful colors. By 9-10 am we’re back at the lodge for breakfast and a little rest. Those preferring to sleep in may skip the morning outing. At 11 am we depart for the day safari, usually bringing lunch along. We return at dusk to eat dinner and after that, day’s experiences are shared around a campfire.

This journey will be led by Dmitry Fridman, a professional wildlife photographer. Dmitry’s been coming to Serengeti on annual photo safari trips since 2003. He’s the author of a book about Tanzanian wildlife as well as several photography exhibitions in Moscow and New York. Dmitry Fridman will also be teaching a photography master class to those that are interested.

September 22nd, 2015. Arrival in Arusha (KIA), drive to (1 hour) and check-in at the Coffee Lodge hotel.

September 23rd, 2015. Drive (10 minutes) to the Arusha airport (ARK), a short flight to Sayari, accommodations at the Sayari Tented Camp. Photo safari on the Mara river.

September 24th, 2015. Photo Safari on the Mara river.

September 25th, 2015. Photo Safari on the Mara river.

September 26th, 2015. Photo Safari on the Mara river, then a drive (5-6 hours) to the Seronera area. Accommodation in Seronera Lodge.

September 27th, 2015. Photo Safari in Seronera.

September 28th, 2015. Photo Safari in Seronera, then a drive (5-6 hours) to the ​​Lake Ndutu area. Accommodation in Ndutu Safari lodge.

September 29th, 2015. Photo Safari at Lake Ndutu.

September 30th, 2015. Photo Safari at Lake Ndutu.

October 1st, 2015. Photo Safari at Lake Ndutu.

October 2nd, 2015. Photo Safari at Lake Ndutu.

October 3rd 2015. Photo Safari at Lake Ndutu (morning). After breakfast, 8 hour drive to the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA). Boarding the return flight.

Included in the trip’s cost:

  • All commute on Tanzania’s territory
  • Hotel fees (DBL rooms)
  • Three meals a day
  • Unlimited tea and coffee when lodging, water when driving
  • Light alcoholic beverages at Sayari Tented Lodge (no hard liquor)
  • Entry tickets to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro National Parks
  • A fully equipped 4×4 Jeep with an English-speaking driver
  • Russian and English-speaking guide teaching a photography master class
  • Tours and excursions mentioned in the travel plan

The trip’s cost does not include:

  • International flight tickets
  • Tanzanian entry visas (acquired upon landing in KIA airport, 50$)
  • Travelers insurance
  • Alcohol
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips

Serengeti consists mostly of plains elevated about 1300m above sea level. Sunrise is chilly at about 10-12 degrees Celsius, and mid-day temperatures range around 28 C, but because the sun rays shine down vertically in this area, it is very hot. You will need some warm clothes for the early morning trips and some light, but long-sleeved shirts for mid-day ventures. Sunglasses and sunblock lotion are also a must-have.
The end of October is dry season in Serengeti and it is very dusty, so you’ll need a few extra shirts. You will also need something to protect your photo gear from dust: a towel, a bag, etc.

The photo gear is up to you. A general guideline: The longer your lens is, the better pictures you’ll get. For more detailed information please write to Dmitry Fridman.

Flashlights and night vision goggles will be useful but aren’t necessary.

Attention!!! The immigration authorities at our destination require a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever. Where we’re going, there is guaranteed to be no yellow fever, however, security roadblocks are sometimes set up around KIA airport to ensure that everybody has the certificate. Malaria, although present in some areas of Tanzania, is not found anywhere on our route. Nevertheless, the use of antimalarial medications such as Malarone is highly recommended.

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