Tanzania Art Safari 2024

Just a few short months after the last Wildlife Worldwide Festival of Wildlife in Zambia I found myself joining the team once again, this time for a Tanzania Art Safari at Ndutu Lodge in the Serengeti.

Nick Mackman Safari

Arriving at the start of the rainy season, when many of the regular tourists had departed, we were able to explore without the usual throng of safari vehicles. In fact, we only saw one other vehicle during the course of our visit. It was a privilege to enjoy Tanzania’s magnificent wildlife in relative seclusion.

Tanzania Art Safari

Tanzania’s landscape is very different to Zambia’s. Its vast expanses of grasslands extend as far as the eye can see beneath huge dramatic skies. Clouds swell and break across the sky as the rain fronts sweep across the plains. At one point we even experienced a brief hail shower. Our expert guides, driving four wheel drive vehicles, demonstrated exceptional skill in navigating through what was often difficult and sometimes flooded terrain.

Lion Serengeti Tanzania

For our Tanzania Art Safari 2024 we were based at the beautiful Ndutu Lodge, giving us access to the justly famous Serengeti National Park. But even outside the park boundaries, the local area boasts plenty of wildlife. Even within our safari lodge we were surrounded by animals. The local genets have settled into the roof of the lodge, where they hunt insects attracted by the lodge lights. We also saw them during the day foraging around the floor. We were even visited by a young kit, which was a delightful sighting. We were able to observe smaller game, such as a flap necked chameleon, bats, tortoise and (much to the delight of the genets) lots of dung beetles.

Genet Serengeti Tanzania

Unlike my regular animal sculpture workshops, this trip was a Festival of Wildlife event hosted by a team of six providing various workshops in the down time between early morning and afternoon game drives. For our Tanzania Art Safari 2024, I was joined by painter Jonathan Truss and professional photographers Nick Garbutt, Bret Charman and Emma Healy.

Tanzania Art Safari

My animal sculpture workshops were busy as usual. Most of the clients had no prior experience working with clay, but were keen to learn and try something new. To simplify the process within the limited time we had available, I decided we would all sculpt a sitting cheetah. Although we did have one client who was determined to sculpt a model of Tony, his 91 year old pet tortoise! Each group had a couple of afternoons to work on their sculptures, which I then packed up carefully so they could take them home as mementos.

Tanzania Art Safari

After the evening meal there was a presentation each evening given by a member of the team, showcasing their art and photography. As with all our Wildlife Festival Art Safaris, there is an auction to raise funds for a local conservation charity. This time we were raising funds for Kope Lion Project, which works to foster lasting coexistence between people and lions in Ngorongoro. We were visited by a member of the Massai community who told us about the difference the project was making both to his people and to reduce retaliatory lion deaths. I donated a small white rhino calf sculpture, which helped raise hundreds of pounds for the project.

Rhino Sculpture Small

It’s over twenty years since I last visited the Serengeti. The opportunity to observe bat-eared foxes and cheetah was a real highlight of the trip for me. The foxes were busy hunting for insects, making their way in their characteristic light-footed fashion. The cheetah we encountered was a very pregnant female who was struggling to get comfortable. I have to say I know the feeling having myself carried twins!

Cheetah Serengeti Tanzania

The experience of turning a corner in the Serengeti to be faced with tens of thousands of wildebeeste is quite literally breathtaking. I found myself captivated by their behaviour. Although the herd would be moving in one direction, without any apparent warning or signal, one of the animals would suddenly take off in a different direction, and the others would follow. This would build into a charge which lasted for several minutes at a time. During these bouts of frenetic activity, small calves would often be separated from their mothers. The sound of their plaintive bleating was heartbreaking, particularly as we knew lion and hyena would never be far behind.

Wildebeeste Serengeti, Tanzania

Lions are plentiful in the Serengeti. We were treated to daily sightings, including very young cubs suckling. We encountered more than one lion up a tree, as well as an amorous male attempting (unsuccessfully) to court a lioness in estrus. It’s hard to describe the impact of seeing these incredible animals in the wild. Their sheer size and the visceral impact of their roaring are truly awe inspiring.

Lioness Serengeti Tanzania

The highlight for me and many other guests on the trip was our brief encounter with a caracal, a pale orange lynx-like cat. An elusive animal which comes out at dust and specialises in hunting birds, caracal are very difficult to spot and will quickly disappear if noticed.

Caracal Tanzania Serengeti

A week in the Serengeti passes quickly. But I am already making plans to return to this magical place. If you would like to join me, check out information and dates for my forthcoming Art Safari Workshops.

Elephant Serengeti Tanzania