Me? Not a nature girl. Really, not at all. Ask anyone.
But I recently spent ten days on safari in Tanzania and it was the most amazing experience of sights, sounds, colors and patterns found in nature, so perhaps I need to change my tune. And since it’s such a topic currently in the news, yes – my safari was of the photo variety. Trusty binoculars, layers of clothes and a camera with a decent zoom were my basic equipment. That and three very good friends. And great local guides, courtesy of the fantastic Sanctuary Retreats, who planned the trip of a lifetime.
Not just the patterns, but the colors and textures are going to stay with me forever – and will almost certainly influence some fabric, wallpaper and rug designs at Studio Four.
After landing at the Kilimanjaro airport and an overnight at the lush Arusha Coffee Lodge, it was off via bush plane and our trusty pilot Ricardo to the Kuro airstrip (read: dirt road) in the Tarangire National Park, where we were met by our first amazing guide.
Samwell worked as an elephant researcher for years and has been a guide for over seven years now. His knowledge of Tarangire, the ecosystem and the animals, trees, plants, birds, you name it, was immense. Tarangire covers 1100 square miles and has marshes, woodlands, bush and forests and is home to over 4000 elephants and a host of other animals: zebra, giraffe, baboons, lions, impalas, waterbuck, warthogs, ostriches, Cape buffalo… and over 500 species of birds. A spectacular introduction to east Africa.
The elephants and their different colors and their textures were amazing. Our camp in Tarangire, Sanctuary Swala, is built overlooking an elephant watering hole
The natural designs in zebras are as individual as fingerprints. When gathered in a group, their stripes create optical illusions to confuse predators
Next stop: Lake Manyara, surrounded by forests, woodlands and marshes and so many flamingos in the lake they look like sand bars from a distance. We stayed at the gorgeous Escarpment Lodge perched at the top of the cliffs overlooking the lake and the Great Rift Valley.
Flamingos on Lake Manyara
I love these brilliant colors in the algae of the hot springs at the edge of the lake
And a couple of not so cuddly lions guarding their giraffe. Circle of life
Who knew the giraffe markings could be blocks or flower shapes? I am sensing a rug or wallpaper inspired by these guys
And we drove up into the clouds to the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater before dropping down into this 18 km diameter caldera. The crater is the world’s largest unbroken caldera that’s not a lake and has its own ecosystem with grasslands, woodlands, marshes and forests.
And finally on to the Serengeti, the 12,000 square mile area of plains known for big cats and the annual wildebeest migration. We timed it perfectly. Our camp, the Sanctuary Migration Camp, was in the western Serengeti and surrounded by hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, who showed up three or four days before we did and were already starting to move on by our last day in camp. The wildebeest are in constant search for new grass and they are trailed by friends (like zebra and gazelles) and foes (like lions – and crocodiles and hippos at the river crossings)
Safari is a lesson in patience to wait and watch life unfold. Like the day we sat for over an hour watching a pride of lions stalk buffalo. Or when we watched this lion hunting zebras (neither were successful, but it’s an adrenaline rush to watch the strategy).
And of course no safari is complete without a sundowner. Properly observed with a gin and tonic.
Thanks to our stellar guides, Samwell, Anael and Emmanuel, for their vast knowledge, to Sanctuary Retreats for their beautiful camps, to fantastic travel partners Liz and Kenny and of course Pam, who had the whole idea in the first place
Already referring to this as my ‘first’ safari…