Jambo! (Swahili for hello)
Elephants, antelopes, zebras and leopards. These are a small part of the many wild animals that call Tanzania home and that we had the pleasure of seeing on our trip.
This year my family trip took place in the United Republic of Tanzania where we booked an 8 day private safari adventure organised by the Northern Circuit Adventure Company. (p.s. Safari means journey in Swahili!)
There is so much I want to share with you about this trip as it was unbelievable but hopefully todays blog will put Tanzania on your travel radar!
This adventure started in Arusha, took us across the Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara, then followed by the infamous Serengeti, and finished in the Ngorogoro Crater all in 8 days and the whole time travelling in a 4×4 jeep.
Hands down the best safari destination in the world!
Although I had already been to Tanzania a few years ago, this time was completely unique and gave me a new taste and appreciation for East Africa. Previously I had only visited the city Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar( an ideallic beach town) and a small national park which in itself were interesting places but seeing these infamous landmarks was a whole new level on its own.
Most of you are probably familiar with the Serengeti, a natural national park with all of the Big 5 game (all of which were saw except rhinos) and many more animals, and Ngorogoro Crater, a vast no longer active volcanic crater home to the big 5 as well as Masai tribes that live on the outskirts. It also has a road that provides free “power plate massage” (aka it’s a bumpy ride).
But I have to say Tarangire National Park was the surprising highlight of our trip. For it’s relatively smaller surface area compared to Serengeti it is full of a wide range of wild animals to encounter. One second we were watching elephants playing and bathing in a small lake, another second a leopard was eating its prey up on a tree branch (in picture perfect lighting may I add) and suddenly we come across a family of lions. All within our first two hours in the park!
The park is particularly known for it’s herds of elephants and wilderbeasts as well as baobab trees! I sometimes put baobab powder in my smoothies but never quite knew where it was sourced from but now I can see how impressive the trees are.
To sum it up, if you are planning your Tanzanian adventure and aren’t sure whether to include or drop Tarangire from your itinerary, I would strongly recommend you visit it.
The Serengeti on the other hand was quite feline heavy with almost countless lions, leopards and cheetahs. It is impressively massive (with a larger surface area than Belgium!).
On our second day we had a 4am wake up for our hot air balloon ride with the Serengeti Balloon Safari company! At approx $550 per person, the price will likely deter quite a few people, however once you get there from take off to landing and the breakfast that follows the activity. None of us regretted forking out the cash as the view from the top was incredibly breathtaking. We were also very lucky with the weather and have over an hour of flight time. Apparently the shortest flight time they ever had was about 18 minutes due to weather conditions!) The champagne breakfast out in the safari afterwards was also excellent. All in all an unforgettable experience!
Masai Village Experience
We also got the opportunity to visit a Masai village who live around the Ngorogoro crater.
I didn’t know much about the Masai tribe prior to our visit but found it fascinating how stark a contrast their lives are to average people like you and me. It costs $20 USD per person to be able to enter the village for which they perform a song and “dance” for you. (By dancing they really mean jumping!) You are even welcome to join along as I did but they still laughed at my attempt.
Afterwards we were shown around their homes (which is incredibly tiny and dark) and kindergarten and got to unleash our questions. All in all it was a very thought provoking and fascinating experience but I couldn’t help but disagree with the way they spend their days. Let’s just say the Masai life is not quite for me. (I elaborate more in my Masai blog post if you are interested).
In terms of accommodation, the perk of traveling with parents is getting to stay in finer hotels. This was no exception to our safari and we got to spend the night in some of the best lodges in Tanzania and 1 night camping in the Serengeti. With each night being spent in a new place we definitely got a good basis to compare the hotels and each night our accommodation seemed to get better and better. We specifically tried few of the Serena Lodge hotels in Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorogoro, all of which were top notch. (More in-depth info on our hotels can be found in my Tanzania accommodation blog).
Most tour groups follow a similar itinerary route so it is not unusual to run into some familiar faces from our first nights and exchange stories.
So what about the food?
I will admit what Tanzania has in its incredible landscape and culture it kind of lacks in food. Their main local dish comprise of grilled meat with rice (wali) or ugali ( white corn polenta) and a strong Indian influence. Ugali can be an acquired taste but I really loved it!
Breakfast consisted of your usually eggs, fruit (they have amazing pineapple and watermelon!) and pancakes! Definitely recommend the pancakes and pineapple!
Lunch in particular leaves much to be desired. As you are out and about on the road every day you get a new lunch box choice between chicken or beef. We went for chicken which was surprisingly good. It was typically accompanied with a white bread sandwich (which could be just butter or tomato and cucumber filling), a juice, and an apple or banana amongst a few other little bits and pieces.
Most of our accommodation offered buffet dinners which had a wide array of soup, veg, meat, dessert etc. There is something for everyone and we we definitely looked forward to it every night.
Warning! : It would be useful to bring some diarrhoea pills or Imodium just in case some belly badness comes on. Both times I’ve been to Tanzania I was faced with this issue and on a safari especially where toilets are few and far between it is definitely not what you want.
Tanzania is an incredible country to explore and I had an incredible time getting to know it better!!