May 2009: The Serengeti is perhaps the most famous national park in Africa – host to one half of the annual wildebeest migration that sees 1.5 million of these rather ungainly herbivores travel between Kenya's Masai Mara and Tanzania's Serengeti to the south. The Serengeti is the larger of the two reserves and despite the huge volumes of tourists that come through here each year, it's slightly easier to shake off the minivans than it is on the Kenyan side of the border, especially in the northern reaches of the park.

As with the Mara, it has to be seen to be believed when it comes to the sheer volume of plains game – especially in peak season, when the herds head south. For anyone planning their first safari, I would recommend northern Tanzania as the single best destination on the continent if you want to see everything. A trip here isn't limited to the Serengeti – you can easily take in Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Ngorongoro Crater in the same visit, all of which I rate very highly.

Of these, Ngorongoro Crater is particularly special – a huge natural volcanic caldera that effectively forms its own ecosystem. The density of fauna here is extraordinarily high, and while some zebra and wildebeest do emigrate in the rainy season, the majority of the 25,000 or so large animal species in the crater are resident year-round, making it an exceptionally reliable photographic destination.
Masai giraffe in the Ngoronogo Conservation Area, on the road to the Serengeti. This was a relatively short trip, so I drove straight from the airport in Arusha to the Serengeti in the same day – which takes about seven hours.
A mixed herd of Grant's and Thomson's gazelles, Serengeti plains.
Golden jackal
The more common black-backed jackals.
Cheetah, dusk, Serengeti. Cheetahs were top of my hit list for this trip, and we were lucky enough to encounter a group of three within an hour entering the national park.
Cape buffalo.
Female Kirk's dik dik – a tiny species of antelope.
Rock hyrax at the Seronera Lodge. There are large numbers of these rather cute creatures at the lodge, and they're very used to people which makes them easy to photograph. Rock hyraxes, bizarrely, are distantly related to elephants.
Rock hyrax and an agama lizard. Both creatures bask in the sun on rocks to soak up heat. Hyraxes may be mammals, but their bodies struggle to stay warm.
Male impala.
Masai giraffe.
Spot the leopard... I certainly didn't. Fortunately my sharp-eyed guide did.
We sat and watched him for an hour or so until eventually he scrambled down, instantly disappearing in the long grass.
Landcruiser hatch view, Serengeti.
Vervet monkey. Very cute, but these guys can get so confident when they become habituated to people that they've been known to jump onto tourists and snatch sandwiches from their hands.
The view from the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, one of the true natural wonders of the world.
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