I recently had the amazing opportunity to take a Tanzania safari with Africa Inscribed, led by their experienced guide and co-owner, Gavin Ford. I had never visited Africa, so this was a very eye opening experience for me all around. In the coming weeks, I will share more about the trip and all the amazing experiences that await you on safari. But first, I wanted to concentrate on Tanzania Safari regions – some of the most unique areas in Africa, they are definitely not to be overlooked.
Tanzania’s most popular claims to fame include Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Zanzibar, and, of course, the Serengeti and Great Migration. Being only 10 days long, unfortunately my Tanzania safari could only include a few of these wonders; all the more reason to go back and visit the rest of them!
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park, obviously includes the expansive Lake Manyara, regularly supporting a flamboyance of flamingos (in other words, a lot of flamingos!) during their annual migrations. The park is also known for their Tree Climbing Lions, where the local prides are known to climb the largest trees to get away from the flies and enjoy the shade. Unfortunately, our guides informed us that the pride of lions that taught themselves to climb the trees is no longer there. The new pride that roams the park has yet to learn the benefits of tree climbing, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time!
Regardless, the park has many great sightings to offer. During our game drives, we did encounter the new pride of lions (ironically, on the flattest expanse of plains in the area), along with other notable encounters including elephants, mongoose, zebras, giraffes, and a variety of antelopes. I am not a birder myself, but Lake Manyara National Park is also know for its wide variety of bird species, where one can easily view up to 100 different types of birds in a single day!
We stayed with Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, a property managed by &Beyond, one of our Virtuoso suppliers. Prior to our game drive, we visited a local Masai village to learn a little bit about their very unique culture. This is not a stop that many budget safaris would include; however a luxury safari including &Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge will, as the lodge has become close with this particular local Masai village and guests of the lodge are able to schedule a visit. More to come on the Masai people later, but, in short, it was an amazingly authentic experience that I would recommend it to anyone staying at the lodge.
You can see all of my photos from Lake Manyara on The Ourisman Travel Flickr page.
Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area
Personally, this was my favorite stop of the entire trip. The Ngorongoro Crater, one of the natural wonders of the world, is the 6th largest unbroken caldera in the world. We stayed with Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, also an &Beyond property, which sits on the top edge of the crater and boasts amazing views! Within the crater, we had some of our best sightings of the trip.
It should be noted, this is one area where you may feel the number of travelers; we did not feel crowded in the least during our game drives, however, most likely because we traveled during the short wet season. The most memorable sighting was, of course, a Black Rhinoceros! The conservation area is currently home to 26 protected rhinos, who are the highlight of any safari if you are lucky enough to see one! This is also where we came the closest to a pride of lions, who often use the shade of safari vehicles to cool down – not 10 feet away from the people in the car!
Overall, it was the majestic views, amazing wildlife sightings, and variety of terrain that really made the biggest impression for me to dub the crater a must-see for anyone traveling to Tanzania. Driving from the top of the crater and into it’s base, you will venture from forested and mountainous terrain to lush flora surrounding a lake and on to flat, dry plain land. Throughout this variety, the animals that you see are, of course, just as breathtaking!
You can see all of my photos from Ngorongoro Crater on The Ourisman Travel Flickr page.
Serengeti and The Great Migration
There is a lot of ground to cover here, quite literally as the Serengeti spans 5,700 square miles. The Serengeti is host to the Great Migration, a continuous migration of millions of wildlife as they follow the annual rains throughout the area. While the pattern and timing of the migration is fairly predictable, it is entirely dependent on the annual rainfall. Recent climate changes have affected the migration’s timing in recent years, but for the most part the route has remained the same.
In order to provide the best sightings, mobile tented camps remain flexible in their annual movements so that they can follow the pattern of the migration. We stayed with Serengeti Under Canvas, another &Beyond managed property. Complete with running toilets and electricity throughout the night, you’d never know you were camping! These tents are the definition of glamping in my book! The migration includes a wide range of animals, primarily wildebeest and zebras. The predators, however, tend to follow the migration as well. Within a single game drive, we saw herds as far as the eye can see, many hyenas dispersed throughout the masses, and a line of 5 cheetahs calculating their next hunt. Honestly, the pictures just cannot do it justice!