Love Letter

A Serengeti Sonnet in Tanzania

by Petra Dokken

A lone tree in the Serengeti. Photo by Petra Dokken.

The Serengeti has incomparable and untouched wildlife and vast, natural beauty. Petra Dokken hopes it always stays that way.

SERENGETI, Tanzania – Africa is in everyone's interest. The first and the last. Perhaps the first place we humans called home. Perhaps the last continent to be exploited. Definitely the last resort for vast, untouched wilderness.

I traveled to Tanzania. So complex, so much to try and understand, and so beautiful. Serengeti is the famed national park in the northern part of the country. It's mythical.

I camp in the southern part of the park in January. The wildebeests around me are all pregnant. Big beautiful bellies. I look at them for days. I cry in admiration as I watch them walk in endless lines. One for all. It's clear.

Their fur shining of silver. Small noises of communication. Feelings of togetherness, of happiness, of hardship. If the rain comes, they will all start to drop. So they run. Some give birth as they run. Run for their lives.

Tanzania has fish, trees, gold, gas, diamonds, minerals, and animals. China wants these resources. Everyone does. Things happen fast; big money is in motion. There's poverty, but not misery.

Everything is intricate. Who co-exists, when, and what happens. Every year, the animals mate in the same spot. They move with the green grass. All year long, so many lives make this same circle.

A highway has been talked about and fought over for more than five years. It would ruin the migration. Poaching for ivory is worse now than it ever has been. I see fancy cars that belong to a sheik. He leases land for hunting, but rumor has it he mostly parties when he visits the property. An extravagant American in the area wants to build an airport so heavy machinery can fly straight to the Seychelles from the bush.

But resistance is also stronger than ever. Many people feel that if we lose the Serengeti, we lose everything. And we should all be able to agree that animals are worth more alive than not alive.

This is where eco-luxury safaris comes in. Luxury lodges bring in money and motivation to preserve and to conserve. Even Jane Goodall agrees.

Stargazing all night I hear them, feel them, smell them — treading the earth gently. Walking, walking, walking. Because they must. It is their purpose. Every wildebeest matters.


The author has been to Tanzania several times and really likes Nomad Tanzania, which has mobile camps in different parts of the Serengeti and a new permanent camp in the north, Lamai.


April through June are the rainy months, but any other time of year is fine, depending what you want to see. If you want to see babies, the best months are January through March.


Africa Guide
Safari in Zambia
Ask Fathom: What Do I Pack on Safari?
Safari Shop

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.