What does one do when they visit Tanzania apart from climbing one of the 7 summits? Game drives all day errday!
So here was my 5 days itinerary and I will be writing my very honest feedback on each as usual.
Day 1: Tarangire National Park
Right after breakfast, the guide picked me up from Torch Inn B&B in Arusha and start to pick up other travelers. We were a group of six which was the perfect number of the group.
The drive from Arusha to Tarangire National Park is about 150 km. It was a comfortable journey on the well-paved road.
Keep your eyes open along the way to see some well decorated Maasai warriors, wildlife passing by and even crossing the street. We saw an unpleasing sight of fresh dead zebra on the side of the road which our guide said that it was most likely ran over by a truck.
Once we drove in Tarangire, it was very easy to spot wildlife. The park’s ecosystem consists of large baobab trees, acacia, swamps, and woodlands. We encountered a herd of elephants, zebras, wildebeest, giraffes, baboons and many others.
We watched elephants wallow in mud, splash each other, scrape dried mud against baobab and acacia trees, pregnant elephants, nursing baby elephants and these are just a few of what we viewed. It was endless and satisfying to watch these gentle giants carry on their day.
We went to a picnic site for lunch which had an amazing panoramic view of a stream with zebras, elephants and other wildlife surrounding the water source.
Beware of the monkeys! They’re cute yet notorious! Our guide told us to finish our meal or else the monkeys will finish it for us.
Our guide spotted a thick python curled on a tree which took us about 15 minutes to spot. Try to spot it if you can!
Visitors aren’t allowed to get out of the vehicle during a game drive, but our guide allowed us after 8 hours of game drives. Apparently, visitors camp in this spot! I’d love to do that someday.
The game drive in Tarangire was very comfortable, easy and we got very close to all animals. We saw 3 out of the big 5; few lions, buffaloes, and at least 200 herds of elephants.
I highly recommend a full day of game drive in Tarangire.
Accommodation: Zion Campsite
The tent was probably the most comfortable one I had. It’s a pre-set tent with 2 beds in each tent. There is a shared toilet with hot water not far from the campsite.
During the evening, the local community performs a show but it was not cultural, it was rather provocative. If you do watch the folk dance by the bar, beware of the bugs flying around your head. So many were caught in between my messy curly hair.
Day 2: Serengeti
After a delicious breakfast of sausages, pancakes, and omelettes, our journey to Serengeti via Ngorongoro crater began.
I was blown away by the amount of wildlife just wandering around and crossing the road even before getting to the national park. The drive via the crater was definitely a plus! We got to see male elephants among the forests, loads of zebras and Thomson’s Gazelles.
We passed by Simba campsite to pick up some tents, fold-able chairs, mattresses, and sleeping bags for our night in Serengeti.
We drove in Serengeti at about 4 p.m., it was indeed a long journey but a well worth one as we got to see wildlife and great views along the way.
As we got closer to Serengeti, the dirt road begins. I would recommend using a face mask. But once you drive in Serengeti, the landscape and vegetation are completely different!
The ecosystem is very diverse with large boulders, palm trees, ponds, swamps and beautiful Savannah.
Serengeti is a large park which would take weeks or months to cover the entire area. Our game drives were mainly in the center of Serengeti called Seronera where the hot air balloon is located.
As we arrived pretty close to dusk, most of the animals we saw were asleep or lounging. Nevertheless, the landscape is spectacular!
The campsite is literally in the middle of the wild. There is a set boundary that visitors can’t cross which isn’t far away from where we pitched our tents.
I pitched my tent by the kitchen and on the edge of the borderline so I had hyenas come by my tent and snoop in for leftover meals.
Our group decided to sit outside slightly across from the borderline and look out for more interesting wildlife and noises.
There was a lion roar which I was about to make a run but our guide told us to stay put and so I did with my heart in my pants and tears close to drip.
Plug in your earphones and listen closely to the 10th second.
It was a great experience! I highly recommend to sit out and enjoy the wildlife.
Make sure to keep a flashlight and randomly flash around to check for animals around, if you see a red light, you know that’s dangerous but stay put.
Day 3: Serengeti
We had to leave by 5:30 a.m. to catch lions on the move. The lions we saw on previous days were either lounging or sleeping.
We watched the sunrise that created a mystical pink hue on the sky, and we spotted 3 large male lions walking past our vehicle. It was a perfect scenery. It almost felt like right out of a movie.
We spotted a couple of leopards but they were all asleep on a tree which didn’t make it to my 16-50 camera lens. A binocular is a must during a game drive!
We drove out of Serengeti in the evening and headed towards Simba camp in Ngorongoro Crater.
On our way there, we visited a Maasai Village where they performed some dances for us and showed their way of life.
I would recommend at least 2 nights in Serengeti and have an early game drive on both days.
By this time, we saw 4 of the big 5; leopards, elephants, lions, and buffaloes.
Accommodation: Simba Camp
AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING!! I would recommend pitching your tent by the kitchen as the zebras tend to come through that area. There were so many zebras coming by at night and early in the morning. You could hear them graze and walk around the tent while sleeping in the tent.
Make sure to bring warm clothes because it gets pretty cold when you’re 7,500 feet above sea level and
Day 4: Ngorongoro Crater
We left for a game drive at 7 a.m. and drove down to the center of the crater.
Ngorongoro is a conservation and protected area. It is said to be the best place to visit all of the big 5. Unfortunately, we did not spot any rhinos while other visitors managed to spot one from far away. It’s really unpredictable. It depends on the animal’s movement which cannot be easily tracked.
One of the major sights was the pond filled with hippos.
I would recommend visiting Ngorongoro Crater during the wet season instead of the dry season when it’s filled with water. I could imagine a congregation of many wildlife around the water source.
Accommodation: Since I was the only one with a 5-day itinerary, they dropped me off to a fantastic lodge while the others continue their journey back to Arusha.
The lodge is called Panorama only a few minutes away from Lake Manyara. They have a campsite with tents and these cute and cozy African bungalows.
Day 5: Lake Manyara
Since I was the only one left, the guide gave me the freedom to choose how I wanted to spend the day so I told him that I want to see some leopards, cheetah, climbing lions and arrive in Arusha by 5 p.m. so I could visit the Maasai Market.
I started my day with an early sunrise viewing. It was a cloudy day, yet it was beautiful as I sat and watched the sunrise with a family of baboons.
Lake Manyara is most popular and known for the large flamboyance of flamingos along with many other bird species. It is also known for climbing lions but I did not get to see one.
I had a different guide on my last day which did not seem very experienced and he did not have a walkie-talkie either which guides usually use to communicate with each other when they spot any wildlife.
The flamingos, bird watching, and hippos were great! Other than that, I did not see anything much. Perhaps if I had a better guide I would’ve had a better experience.
Having an experienced guide is ESSENTIAL! Your game drive experience is in his hands.
I would recommend a visit to Lake Manyara during the wet season, and if you are crunched on time, skip it.
There is a cooker per tour group who cooks each and every meal and packs your lunchbox.
There isn’t any other meal option, we ate what is served. It was not bad.
I went with Climbing Africa Expeditions. They gave the cheapest and most reasonable price compared to other tour operators. They were very accommodating to my needs and provided complimentary services as part of their hospitality.
They checked on me daily to ensure that I am having a great time and receive what I paid for until I safely left Tanzania.
Tour Company: Climbing Africa Expeditions
Contact Person: Ahmad Mahdi +255624848585 / Musa +255787334647