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Photograph of the week: Leopard in the Serengeti

Travelers go on African safaris for different reasons. Some want to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration phenomenon that makes Kenya and Tanzania popular safari destinations. Some want to encounter the Big Five (lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, rhino and leopard). Others just want to experience the pure joy of being one with nature. Many people ask why the Serengeti should be the first call for a safari. The fact that you can roam around the endless plains with breathtaking landscapes varying from postcard-perfect savannahs to riverine forests to acacia-studded woodlands is one. Let’s not forget the majestic mountain ranges that appear in the backdrop of the crocodile-infested Mara River in the north, or the distinctive granite kopjes that seem to have sprung out of the earth in the southeast side of the expansive ecosystem. The flora and fauna nurtured by the different terrains are incredible both in terms of numbers and diversity. In addition to being home to over 800 species of mammals and birds, the Serengeti is also the motherland to countless reptiles, amphibians and insect species. And there are over 60 species of acacia trees — arguably the most recognized of all plants in East Africa — in the region. One day you might find yourself right next to a lion pride with a few females and their cubs alongside several young males going about their hakuna matata way of life; another day you might get to see a male lion taking down a zebra, or a pack of hyenas scavenging — feeding on carcasses left behind by other predators. There is never a dull moment. And it is not only the scenery or the wildlife encounter that makes a safari in the Serengeti special. Serengeti is also home to a number of luxury camps and lodges. You can wake up each morning to the aroma of coffee brewed from Arabica coffee beans locally grown in Tanzania, and laze around with vistas of the beautiful plains from the comforts of your luxury tent. There is nothing like the thrills of hearing the sounds of nature at night, separated by only a layer of canvas. Want to shake off the safari dust from your morning game drive? Why not retreat to your safari lodge for a sumptuous hot lunch and take a dip in the infinity swimming pool? How about taking a bush meal under an acacia tree, or experiencing nature on foot with a specialist guide and a ranger, so you can enjoy the much prized open space and fresh air? And when you get tired of being an earthling, you could always take a hot air balloon ride to soar above the earth. The endless possibilities of what you could see and what you could do should put off any doubts that Serengeti is the top choice for both first-time safari-goers and safari connoisseurs. For the keen eyes behind the camera — from those on a special assignment to those who just want to share a special moment with family and friends on Instagram — Serengeti is a real treat. Serengeti is a heaven for amateur and professional photographers alike, offering mesmerizing moments for amazing sunrise and sunset shots, as well as wildlife photography. Out of the Big Five, the leopard is the most elusive. It is the hardest to spot for it is a master of stealth and camouflage. To spot a leopard hiding in a tree may take hours or even days of searching — with the help of a skilled safari guide. In the wilds of nature, it already takes so much effort and energy to hunt. It seems utterly bizarre that a leopard would hoist an antelope many metres up a tree. But there is a good reason for all this heavy lifting — a leopard could risk losing its meal to lions or hyenas, if it does not bother hoisting it up the tree. A leopard would even haul a kill several hundred metres away to find a tree with a good fork to drape the prey. That’s an amazing feat, one would think. Sadly, leopards often drop their food by accident for the opportunistic hyenas to steal. Even though hyenas cannot climb trees, they would still get the last laugh. Serengeti holds a special place in many people’s hearts. It is the first safari destination for some young travelers, the place where honeymooners shared their first nights as a married couple, or the magical location where novice photographers got their first taste of nature or wildlife photography. It is a destination that is open all-year-round, offering amazing opportunities with each changing season. Tanzania is one of the few countries that is open to travelers now, without any quarantine or travel restrictions. Its low-impact philosophy for tourism makes Tanzania a premium safari destination for travelers of all ages. Thank you to Godwin Temba from Amani Afrika for permission to share the photograph. If you have a really special photograph you would like to share with A Luxury Travel Blog‘s readers, please contact us.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. You say that leopards are elusive. On my last Safari we came across a leopard lazing under the shade of a tree. It was a bit of a false start. It was another game drive before we saw any other wildlife.

    1. Sorry, I forgot to say that we saw the leopard on our way to the safari lodge, just after 20 minutes of driving.

  2. Ask someone how their trip to the Serengeti was and they’ll probably give you a scorecard of which of the Big 5 they saw. We all want to tick off the Big 5 but as this post shows there’s plenty else going on. Sometimes safari goers are so busy looking for signs of life in the landscape that they forget to take in the beauty of that landscape. And how often do they look up to see all the birds?

  3. I’ve always wanted to do a safari and after reading this and viewing that great photo I’m thinking that the Serengeti is probably the place to go. Start at the top I always say.

  4. The last paragraph says a lot. Travel in 2020 has suddenly become so much more complicated. Deciding where you’re going to go now has to factor in potential quarantines too.

  5. I tend to think of the Serengeti as one of the most prominent must-see safari destinations too, a definite pick for the bucket list. That photo is incredible. The eyes are so fierce and yet there’s something almost gentle about the leopard. They’re so calm and smooth, which is what makes them excellent predators. The fact that they’re so hard to spot because they’re so stealthy makes this photo all the more impressive.

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