Get ready for the crack of dawn, because early-morning Africa is not to be missed! While a 5am wake-up call on holiday might not sound all that appealing, when it’s done ‘safari style’ the blow is somewhat softened. A gentle knock on the door and a cheery “good morning!”,accompanied by a piping hot coffee and a beaming smile, is actually a great way to rise and shine! The glowing landscapes, sweet smell of nature and active wildlife are also great motivation to get up and go.
On my latest trip to Tanzania, I step out of my luxury tent to see, in the distance, a hot air balloon taking off over the endless Serengeti plains—absolutely magical. Coffee devoured, I head out into a spectacular sunrise to find I’m not the only one up and about—wildlife is still active in these cool morning hours. Capturing both the sunrise and lion cubs following their mother, or an elephant crossing your path, is worth more than words can say!
Go on a safari early, and you’ll feel like you have Africa to yourself. After a night at Lemala Ngorongoro Crater Camp tucked away in a forest grove in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, we rise early and got a head start on everyone else. As the camp’s location is on the crater rim, we reach the crater floor at 6:30am and do not see another vehicle for at least an hour. There is a plethora of wildlife in the 600m deep crater floor of this World Heritage Site, home to over 25,000 mammals. One of my favourite sightings of the day is a lioness after her recent buffalo kill enjoying her morning feast, with hordes of wildlife in the background. Having such a remarkable place almost to ourselves is a true highlight.
As the morning goes on, the African sun heats up and the wildlife seek refuge in shady spots under trees or in the tall grass. This signals it’s time to return to camp for our own delicious feast and a relaxing siesta to compensate for that early morning wake up. In the full heat of the day relaxing with a cool drink in the shady area of the camp, or perhaps by the pool, armed with a tall Long Island iced tea, can be pure bliss. As you’re often overlooking a waterhole, you might enjoy an ‘armchair safari’, watching as the animals come to quench their thirst, oblivious to your presence. Now, who even thought this was possible?
Once in the swing of things with rising early and heading out as the birds wake, I feel so blessed to witness the creation of each new day. After that, I’m not about to miss out on any part of it!
To know, you really must experience it for yourself.
Words: Ange Pirie
World Journeys Africa Specialist