Friday, June 16, 2006

Serengeti Lion Safari

The Ngorongoro Craters [an ancient collapsed volcano] is home to more than 50,000 animals in a relatively small area. There are approximately 60 Lions here and there is a good chance of seeing lions when you visit here on safari. The Serengeti National park which lies directly next to Ngorongoro and covers 5,100 square miles – has 250 lions presently being studied in about 20 prides. Lions keep to their own territories; however, a territory can cover 300 square miles.

A good driver/guide will know where these lion territories lay, with the prides being typically found at waterholes, rivers and kopjes – although the lion’s can go days without visiting their favorite hot spots.

If hyenas are feeding the calls they make as they feed is like a dinner bell to the lions.

Female lions can have up to four cubs; typically there are two or three cubs in a litter. Each cub is born with distinctive pattern of whiskers and spots on the face, this pattern never changes and is comparable to a finger print in a human. Park rangers and research teams use these distinctive makings to identify individual lions.

The Female’s within a pride have a marked lack of hierarchy – they live together without conflict. The females hunt together; typically going for wildebeest and zebra sized game; the males hunting the larger game such as giraffe.

There can be from a single male up to seven males in a pride. The male lions have a hierarchy; a male lion will, on average, remain with a pride for two years. When an outsider arrives into a pride and successfully challenges a male – this male leaves and never returns.

Lions are the only cats that have social groups and the only cats that have manes. Recent research in the Serengeti seems to indicate that the lion’s mane is an indication of maturity, health, aggression and reproductive success. The females also being attracted to the longer darker manes. Also males with shorter lighter manes will more readily be challenged by other males.

The East African lions have dark manes apposed to the lighted manes in Southern Africa.

Females defend their territory every few days but the males less often; as there are few nomadic males in the Serengeti. In the wet season, with the arrival of the great migration, the male lions have to defend territory more often against the nomadic males; as these males tend to follow the migration.

The lion is a highlight of any safari and the Serengeti is a wonderful place to observe these majestic animals. The Serengeti should be visited for at least five days. Most visitors visit the central Serengeti as this has the highest concentration of Animals however if you have time it advisable to visit the south or the north of this vast National Park to appreciate its beauty.

Local Means of Transport in Tanzania

Taking public transport in Tanzania may not as arduous as you
might fear; if you choose with some care and forethought. It is
better to plan your trip in advance and know how you will
travel, when you will travel, by what means, how much you should
pay and from where you should depart.

By far the easiest means of travel is by air, it is also the
most expensive. If you are on a tight budget then to fly from
destination to destination within Tanzania is not an option.
Buses usually offer the best alternative. The Scandinavia bus
company runs a comprehensive network of routes throughout East
Africa. The coaches are luxury, safe and reliable. There are
cheaper bus alternatives, however, they are notoriously unsafe
and should be avoided.

Trains are not usually an option at all. However, the TAZARA
rail link between Dar es Salaam and Kapiri Mposhi is reliable
with the journey taking about 48 hours. The journey is breath
taking and passes through parts of the Selous game reserve and
parts of Tanzania where there are no roads; if you have chance
then this rail journey is worth taking. It gets booked up well
in advance and it is always advisable to book well ahead of time
- at holiday times it is essential to book in advance to avoid
disappointments and long delays. To travel first class is also
the best option for tourists. Apart from the great scenery and
game viewing opportunities this trip offers it is also a
fantastic way to meet and talk with Tanzanians.

Travel within the cities is best done by taxis which are
relatively cheap in Tanzania. For the more adventurous the local transport is on mini-buses called the daladala or in Arusha they are called the Kifordi. These are a very cheap way to travel, they are also un-roadworthy, overcrowded, unsafe and a workplace for the pickpocket; they are best avoided.

Ferries from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar are safe, reliable and
fast. However ferries on Lake Victoria are best left alone.
There have been many tragic accidents and if at all possible do
not go near a ferry on this lake.

About the author:
For more information see -
support responsible tourism and change lives.