Paul Joynson-Hicks has the plains to himself in “Serengeti Safari: One Day at a Time”
Live from the Serengeti during the COVID-19 pandemic
As the world emerges from lockdown, travelers are excited to return to the Serengeti. Some of them, like photography trip leader and Tanzanian resident Paul Joynson-Hicks, never left.
With the Serengeti nearly to himself, Paul was excited to bring those beautiful plains to those who couldn’t see it. He set out with a small crew to broadcast a live safari web series, Serengeti Safari, One Day at a Time.
Much like a regular safari, Paul and his crew ventured out each day for off-the-cuff adventures, filled with incredible wildlife sightings and opportunities for great photography. Paul also took time to share some safari photography tips during the adventure.
Each episode includes on-location photography instruction and tips from Paul
We caught up with Paul while he was back in Arusha after filming the series, and before filming the next, for an interview.
How was this series started?
I wanted to do something to promote the Serengeti during this period when people aren’t traveling so that they might choose the Serengeti as soon as people felt it was safe to travel again. The Serengeti seriously needs travelers again to help boost the conservation efforts.
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What was it like being out in the Serengeti without any other people/vehicles?
It was very weird and quiet. Of course, the problem is that, on one hand, it is magical, but the real issue is that many, many people are out of jobs due to the lack of travelers. Ultimately, it was a terribly sad thing to witness.
What were some of your favorite moments?
The ostrich interaction with a cheetah, which was very unusual and incredible to witness. None of us had ever seen anything like it.
Unusual ostrich and cheetah interaction
Do you think wildlife will adapt to a visitor-free Serengeti?
We all hope that wildlife won’t have to adapt; change in animal behavior takes more than a few months to occur, so although I think wildlife might use the road a little more, that’s about the extent of it. We all hope that travelers will be back soon.
Lion on the walking on the road
What will be the major differences between this series and the upcoming series in June?
We are moving to a different part of the Serengeti. The first series was filmed in the southern Serengeti around Naabi Hill. This is a very flat and grassy part of the Serengeti, which is an optimal spot to view migratory herds in the green season. The second series will be filmed in the central Serengeti in the Seronera region. The Seronera offers a variety of landscapes and habitats including savannah, wooded grasslands, riverine forests, marshes, hills and kopjes. There is a dense concentration of lions and leopards in the Seronera. Hopefully we might encounter some leopards, that’s the one thing we didn’t get a good sighting of during the first series.
Leopard photographed by Paul Joynson-Hicks earlier this year on safari with Thomson
Your shirts are the best. Where do you get them?
Ha! Brilliant, I have them made from old curtains or sheets, which I buy in the markets around Arusha. Sometimes, I cheat and buy in one special shop in London.
A quick look at Paul’s sweet threads
It looked like you all had a ton of fun! Were there any hiccups or behind the scenes stories that might be interesting?
Ha! Many hiccups but mostly about how to get daily video blogs edited and online every 24 hours, but we managed somehow! Richard and Jombi’s vehicle getting stuck in a rut was a fun moment, and we managed to get a bit of it onto the blog in the final episode, which was great. One night some lion cubs took the internet cable and stripped the protective packaging off but somehow managed to leave it all working, another night we were raided by hyena. All the fun of the bush!