The Base Camp
Why Go: Each February, on the final leg of their legendary migration, more than two million wildebeests make for the southeast corner of Tanzania's Serengeti Plain to begin calving. Their pounding hooves are a dinner bell for the Serengeti's patiently waiting lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and leopards, which also feast on the hundreds of thousands of migrating zebras and gazelles. The primal drama is unparalleled, and there's no way to get closer to it than by pitching a tent right on the plain. Unique Safaris, founded by two Tanzanians who are among the Serengeti's most celebrated guides, put their guests in the middle of the action in private camps set up along the migration route. The camping is deluxe (think bush chefs, campfire cocktails, and walk-in tents with beds and fine linens) and truer to the classic spirit of the Serengeti than lodge-based safaris. There's nothing quite like sleeping under canvas for feeling the pulse of the migration: Wildlife regularly wander through the camp, and nearby lions go humph in the night.
Need to Know: Flies follow the herds in equally astounding numbers, but, thankfully, they don't bite. Still, if you want to avoid a face-full of them as you photograph a newborn wildebeest, pack a mosquito head net. Unique Safari's migration-camping trips are so popular, they book solid a year in advance. Start planning now for 2007.
Outfitter: Unique Safaris www.uniquesafaris.com
Photograph courtesy of Patrick Endres
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