The Serengeti offers near-mythic examples of life’s natural order.
A walk across this wild corner of the Earth will slow down
and accentuate your experience with the land, and unlock
how everything and everyone on it is interconnected.
It was a series of serendipities in 2019 that led me to the plains of the Serengeti a few months ago. Last February I was in Cebu, Philippines to photograph a fashion assignment when I was graciously invited to a private dinner party hosted by the inimitable Kate Dychangco-Anzani, a woman whom I had never met before. The evening was delightful and we hit it off immediately, so when (coincidentally) Kate was in Singapore on business a couple of weeks later, I invited her to join me for lunch. It was at this lunch that Kate introduced me to her friend, Candice Mortimer — and where I learned that Candice worked for Alex Walker’s Serian, a collection of luxury safari camps dotted across the wilds of Kenya and Tanzania. Over this lingering afternoon an idea was born: perhaps I could visit one of Candice’s East African properties and accompany expert guide and Serian namesake Alex Walker on a walking safari in the savannah.
The result of these two fortuitous encounters in the Philippines and Singapore? Almost exactly one year to the day of our lunch meeting, my Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia feature, “The Place Where the Land Runs Forever”, created in Tanzania together with T+L‘s Editor-in-Chief, Chris Kucway — “two Canadian boys out of their element but willing to adapt” — is on newsstands now across the region.
As Chris deftly writes, “the Serengeti offers near-mythic examples of life’s natural order. Synonymous with the natural world, any visit to this combination of African savanna, grasslands, river forests and woodlands is like being introduced to Earth for the first time.” But to walk on this sacred ground — to step and touch and feel and be at one with Mother Nature in such a visceral manner — is another experience altogether. Indeed, “a walk across this wild corner of the Earth will slow down and accentuate your experience with the land, and unlock how everything and everyone on it is interconnected.” Chris continues, “on foot, you can go hours without seeing a pride of lions or a herd of elephants, but you’ll uncover so much else, all
bearing witness to how everything here is connected. If you expect something to happen, it usually won’t. Yet, when you least expect something, be prepared.”
This was true when we stumbled upon a moments-old impala and gazed in wonder as it struggled to free itself from it’s afterbirth and take its first tentative steps. It was true when a tower of giraffes walked in unison away from the rising sun and then, inexplicably — almost as if willed by my quiet pleas — a lone giraffe reversed direction, circled our Land Cruiser and wandered right through the golden morning glow for my perfect imagined silhouette photograph. And it was true when a rainbow magically appeared in the sky as a thunderstorm crawled across the vast savannah, a beautiful heaven-sent gift before the clouds opened wide and drenched us all to the bone.
As Chris articulates, “almost inevitably, everything in the Serengeti has a cinematic quality to it, as if we’re minor players in a big-screen epic. Each turn brings about another view straight out of a Panavision movie camera, except that no film could ever do this justice. There are too many encounters, too many scenes that seer into our memories. Everything in the Serengeti is more pronounced, even the roll of thunder from a distant storm. The sky is inexplicably vast, the horizon is more distant than my mind can compute. Crevasses are deeper, rivers more frightening for what lurks unseen in and around them.”
Having never been on safari before, this assignment was already destined to be an experience unlike any other. Little did I know, however, that it would turn out to be an adventure of a lifetime.
Browse our story from the March 2020 issue of Travel + Leisure below. And click here to see “Shooting The Serengeti: 10 Photos That Missed the Cut (But We Still Love)”, for an additional collection of some of our favourite imagery that couldn’t fit in the magazine.