Just across the border from Kenya’s famous Masai Mara, Sayari Camp is nestled in the lesser-known wilderness of northwestern Serengeti National Park. The camp offers undisturbed views of the Mara River and the gentle hills of the Lamai Wedge, where thousands of wildebeests gather before beginning their yearly migration between June and November.
This part of Tanzania is graced with remarkable wonders, both natural and cultural, all within reach of the Serengeti.
Formed by the eruption of an enormous volcano, the Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact caldera. Today, the cauldron-like land feature supports one of the highest game densities in the country.
At this remarkable site in 1959, Louis and Marie Leakey discovered evidence of the first known human ancestors on a National Geographic-sponsored expedition. Their findings are documented at an on-site museum that houses fossilized bones and stone tools that date back millions of years, giving a glimpse into our own pre-history.
To the indigenous Maasai people, this stunning volcano is the home of God, lending it its name, “Mountain of God.” It effuses a unique type of lava that appears black in the sunlight because of its relatively low temperature.
The largest breeding ground for Africa’s lesser flamingos, Lake Natron is a great place to visit to observe the graceful birds.
The so-called “roof of Africa” rises abruptly from a verdant landscape of rolling tea plantations, passing through five distinct temperate zones before topping out at 19,340 feet. Several routes of varying difficulty lead up to the summit, and a climb typically takes five to six days.
Each year more than a million wildebeests as well as zebras and other ungulates tramp through Tanzania, following an ancient path that loops from Kenya’s Masai Mara deep into the Serengeti. To hear the thunder of so many hooves and to look out over a vast, moving sea of wild animals is truly breathtaking. An especially unforgettable sight happens at the Mara River, where hundreds of wildebeests at a time descend from the banks to brave its crocodile-ridden waters and reach the other side in pursuit of fresh grazing lands. The wildebeests begin their trek in the early spring, moving northwest and reaching the Mara River in July or August.
Although this sight is truly spectacular, it is far from the only opportunity to see incredible wildlife up close in the Serengeti. Cheetahs, lions, and leopards prowl the region year–round, while herds of elephant romp in the mud, and hundreds of species of birds flit through the grasses and trees. Zebras, giraffes, rhinos, and much more can also be spotted in the richly diverse bush.
The lands that straddle the Kenya-Tanzania border near Sayari Camp are inhabited by the Kuria, a loose grouping of Bantu peoples sometimes called the Abakuria who migrated here thousands of years ago. Traditionally pastoralists—and once rivals of the Maasai—the Kuria have turned toward agriculture over the years, and are now more likely to be seen selling their crops of maize, beans, millet, and sorghum in local markets.
The customs of the Kuria once mirrored those of the Maasai: polygamy and female and male circumcision were important facets of society, and typical dress included cured goatskins or leopard and lion skins, numerous copper coil necklaces for women, and heavy earlobe-elongating earrings for men and wives.
However, today many Kuria rituals and beliefs have shifted under the influence of world religions and a changing economy. Although the Kuria were traditionally animist, most today are Christian and some are Muslim.
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