“Also don’t keep any toothpaste in your tent. Elephants are attracted by the smell and will try and get it,” Denford adds.
Now I think he’s just taking the piss – it sounds like one of those tales tour guides tell so people lie in their tents waiting for the grim reaper to arrive while the story-teller chuckles himself to sleep.
“And, if you have to go to the toilet in the middle of the night, don’t wander far. Just do it outside the front of the tent.”
With the health and safety speech over, I make my way to the campsite to go about my nightly ritual before heading to bed.
Then I see them. Two green eyes in the bush.
I think if I stare back and go about my business then everything will be all right. And it is. But on the next night even the toothpaste advice is taken seriously.
Game for it
The next morning, the reality of where we are dawns as we leave our campsite for a game drive. Not 200m from where I slept is a giraffe nibbling on breakfast as the sun beams threads of light through the early morning clouds.
For the next four hours it’s a who’s who of the animal kingdom.
As it’s the time of the annual animal migration which passes through the Serengeti, the plains are teeming with wildlife.
We see hyenas weaving through the grass, antelope nervously twitching at every unexpected sound, lions eyeing wildebeest from rocky outcrops and hippos not doing
too much in swampy creeks.
But it’s the migration that’s astounding. Perched on a hill in our Land Cruiser, we look out as far as possible to see countless wildebeest and zebra dotting the plains like ants.
After grazing on our own lunch we’re still in search of the one animal that will complete the list of the big five – leopard. It doesn’t take long, and soon we’re surrounded by 15 other vehicles as we stare up at a leopard serenely perched on a branch.
It’s only later we appreciate how lucky we are to spot the animal, with our guide telling us some people who work in the reserve can go up to six months without seeing one.
Having ticked it off the list, the rest of the afternoon becomes more about taking it all in, and we try and milk every moment left on the drive.
That night I go to bed knowing the animals are out there around us, possibly still watching. But I couldn’t be happier about it.
» Krysten Booth travelled to Africa for his Serengeti safari with Dragoman (01728 861133). The Nairobi to Cape Town tour can be taken as an 8.5 week trip or broken into sections
Visit Ngorongoro Crater
Aside from being a stunning setting, Ngorongoro Crater is a popular destination because visitors are almost certain of seeing a huge amount of wildlife in a relatively small area (260 sq km), unlike the vast Serengeti, which covers about 30,000 sq km.
The crater was formed when a volcano exploded and collapsed more than 2 million years ago.
Its rim and dense vegetation act as a natural barrier, discouraging many animals from coming and going. While this has led to some genetic issues, many animals still thrive
in the environment.
After spotting buffalo we come across a pride of lions enjoying the morning sun. Not far off zebra wander down the road, and within a couple of hours we spot a rare black rhino.
Before lunch a sea of pink welcomes our arrival to Lake Magadi, where thousands of flamingos provide a beautiful foreground to the lush green that covers the crater’s rim.
In less than five hours it feels like we’ve seen many of the 25,000 large mammals that live here.
On the move in the Serengeti
Every year almost 2.5 million animals migrate in a circuit in search of pasture and water.
In April the animals can be found in the Serengeti and by June they’re on the move north towards Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve.
By November the migration moves back towards the eastern part of the Serengeti, heading to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area by March, when they often give birth.
Timing your visit to be in a place to see the migration can be difficult – obviously the animals have little respect for a calendar, but safari and overland operators can give you the best advice to maximise your chances.