Don’t get me wrong, safaris are absolutely fabulous. However, Ted and I had done a fair bit of safari-ing in Southern Africa both in Botswana and in South Africa with our parents (about 40 game drives to date). We thought we pretty much knew the ins and outs of safaris and couldn’t imagine that a safari in Tanzania could actually be that different. But we were wrong. Tanzania hit the safari ball out of the park.
On behalf of Adventures Within Reach (AWR), Ted and I tested out a new safari operator and reported back to AWR about the quality of everything from their vehicles and guides to the meals and accommodation provided (once again, best job ever!). To be honest, we probably wouldn’t have sought out another safari in Tanzania ourselves (read: we couldn’t afford another safari), however, I’m glad this opportunity presented itself or otherwise we would have missed out. Big time. In summary, we have never seen so many animals in our entire lives.
We hit the much-acclaimed and popular Northern Safari Circuit, which took us to 4 different protected areas including the famous Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Highlights of the trip include:
- The scenery – Straight out of the Lion King, the scenery in Tanzania is what you see on National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. Wide open expanses as far as the eye can see with a tree and a rock outcrop here and there.
- Mobile camps – These camps are basically fancy tents that can be moved seasonally to follow the migration of the animals through the parks. You are literally in the middle of the bush with nothing between you and the lion you saw on your way back to camp. And though these tents may sound rustic, some have flushing toilets, hot-water showers, open bars and amazing food. Not exactly roughing it.
- Momma lion and her cubs – Our guide got us up early for a morning game drive. Within 20 minutes of setting off, we came upon a female lion in the tall grass with three baby cubs. The little guys were hilarious to watch as they wrestled with each other and lovingly pawed at their momma as she cleaned herself up after a kill. They were too much fun to look at that we couldn’t tear ourselves away. (Photos on the previous Picture of the Week Post)
- The Great Migration – We literally saws tens of thousands (of the millions) of wildebeest and zebras in the plains of the Serengeti. They follow the green grass which takes them from Tanzania up into Kenya. Nothing can prepare you for seeing, hearing, smelling and feeling the movement of so many animals in such a small area.
- The Ngorongoro Crater – Part animal happy place and part Garden of Eden. The world famous Crater is PACKED with lions, flamingos and beautiful scenery.
The list goes on, and it is long. We were continuously blown away by the animal encounters in these parks, not to mention the African landscapes, our well-informed guide and the unique and varied lodges where we got spoiled each night. We quickly learned that the country’s National Parks and Conservation Areas (which are unfenced, by the way) are packed full of millions of animals who are living relatively undisturbed in the same environments that they have inhabited for thousands of years. Tanzania has a good thing going and for a trip to see big animals, you’d be hard-pressed to do better anywhere else.
More cool animal photos from this portion of our trip can be found in our Best of East Africa photo album