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Flamingos in the Ngorongoro Crater. Two golden jackals are hunting for birds in the foreground, and a herd of buffalos  resting in the background.
Safari glossary
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Wildlife & nature
Most safari-goers come to Kenya or Tanzania to see and enjoy the East African mammals, including the elephants, giraffes, lions, hippos, monkeys and others. And they get to see them.

Mammal wildlife
These countries are home to the huge African savannas, which offer a very rich mammal wildlife, including all those classic safari species seen so many times on television. There are other biotopes, too, such as woodlands, forests and wetlands, where other mammal species can be seen. Most safaris cover a couple of different biotopes, allowing you to see a wide range of mammals.

The Big Five may be seen on many safaris, and if you visit during the right time of year, you may see the vast herds of the migration in the Serengeti–Masai Mara ecosystem on the border between Kenya and Tanzania. These herds comprise more than a million wildebeest and a few hundred thousand zebras.

The same parks that are home to the mammals also have many birds and very good bird watching. About 1,100 bird species have been recorded in Kenya and Tanzania, and bird lists of more than 400 species are not uncommon for the parks; 550 have been recorded in Tanzanian Tarangire, which is mainly known for its many elephants. Good bird watching is also found in many areas outside the parks.

Reptiles and amphibians
Many safari-goers hope to see one specific East African reptile: the Nile crocodile. It's not present in all waterways within the region, but can be seen in prime parks such as Serengeti and Masai Mara, and in other parks. Other reptiles that may be seen are lizards, monitors and tortoises.

There are snakes, too, but most safari-goers don't see any of them. Like amphibians (such as frogs and toads), you may see them by chance, but to see more or to study them, you have to look for them specifically and maybe even book a special kind of tour.

Sunrise in Tarangire, Tanzania.

The flora
Savannas, swamps, woodlands, mountain forests and other biotopes are of course home to a host of plant species, of which most may not be seen at home, or seen in flowerpots only. Baobabs, sycamore figs, sausage trees, borassus palms and other trees are seen in many parks, as are the flat-top acacias and other acacia species. The parks also offer a flora of wild flowers, especially in the wet, including familiar genera such as Hibiscus, Gladiolus and Buddleja. Flowering seasons are also a good time to see many beautiful butterflies and other insects.

The landscape
The safari routes in East Africa pass volcanoes, a giant rift valley, mountains, plains, lakes and many other landscapes. The scenery is part of your safari, and there are many beautiful views.

The sky
The sun setting over the savanna is one of the most common pictures of the East Africa nature. The African sky also offers other enjoyable features, apart from pretty sunsets, such as moonlit nights and marvellous starry nights.

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Page updated 18 February 2009