Reflections from safari by Hilary Hann

By now it should be very obvious that my fine art photographs are all taken in East Africa and over the years I have collected many reminiscences from the various journeys.  I thought it would be fun to share a few here.  This first one comes from early last year when my husband and I spent 7 nights at Alex Walker's Serian camp in the Southern Serengeti.  Situated near the edge of the escarpment which overlooks Lake Eyasi, it is a particularly wild and isolated place with no mass tourism, in fact our camp was the only one for miles and miles.


More Migration Madness …

It really becomes the most difficult dilemma when staying at a true bush tented camp  with tent numbers in single digits. There may be Maasai askaris patrolling at night, but there isn’t a great crowd of tourists to give the illusion of civilisation. Then it really sinks in how isolated you really are when the night slowly crowds in on your tent and the soft glow of the hurricane lamp outside can no longer keep the dark at bay. So do you give in to your own sense of insecurity and close the canvas flaps, or do you embrace the wildness in your soul and let the fly mesh become the barrier between your fears and the excitement of pretending to live dangerously.

I stood inside the tent and looked out, so quiet and peaceful, and decided that I should embrace the wilderness, heavens knows, the mad rush of a so called civilised world was waiting for me in 7 days. The canvas flaps will stay open.

I have to say one thing, Alex knows how to supply his guests with comfortable beds. Both this camp and the one in the Mara had the best, most luxuriously wonderful mattresses I have ever experienced on safari. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a pretty important consideration at the end of a long day in a safari vehicle, and even after a 30 metre or 30 minute walk (a story for another day).

So I tossed and turned in my comfortable bed. The ‘almost’ full moon streamed in through the open canvas flaps of the windows. The wildebeest in this arm of the migration swept closer and closer to the tent and I watched the dark shadows move across the front of the open tent. Then they moved back, coming ever closer until they dominated the tent’s front rectangle of mesh and all the time making the incessant ‘muh’, ‘muh’. Migration immersion for sure, but not conducive to sleep. Over the top of the constant munch, muh and muffled hoofbeats another sound slowly rose to dominate every other sound. The magnificent roar of a lion starting from a low rumble and ending in a crescendo of sound. And again and again as it slowly came closer and closer.

The recipe was now; lions roaring and getting closer; moonlight to see prey; lots of prey around my tent; canvas flaps open but fly mesh safely zipped up and 1 human snoring (not me) so that aforementioned lions would know that there was a tasty morsel inside. At least one of us slept.

As I appeared the next morning in a groggy state of having embraced the ‘wildness’ in my soul, I didn’t have the courage to let anyone know how uncertain and apprehensive I had been. Asking in a light and carefree manner whether the flaps should be up or down in this part of the Serengeti, I was told by Baraka that the lions down here were very difficult and not at all like the friendly Masai Mara lions and that I should always put the main canvas flap down. Fantastic. John said not to be ridiculous and it was perfectly safe, enjoy being out in the wilderness. I mean, the fly campers sleep under fly sheets!

I’m no coward, for the next 6 nights I undid the main canvas flaps so they would hang half way down, amazingly I slept deeply from that point on. 


The view from our tent, Serian South Serengeti

The view from our tent, Serian South Serengeti