SAFARI in northwestern Tanzania national parks
Two days after leaving Kilimanjaro and having climbed to the top of Uhuru Peak, having somewhat recharged my batteries, time has come for me to experience yet another life-changing journey!
A 6-day safari trip in one of the largest and most popular wildlife parks of Africa, including renowned Serengeti! I also plan to visit two traditional African tribe villages, those of Boushmen and Masai tribe.
I didn’t have to think in order to trust my safari trip in the experienced hands of Godson of Godson Adventures plains2peaks, which, much to my pleasure, organizes not only missions to Kilimanjaro peaks but also safari trips all over Tanzania!
“After the excellent service that Godson’s team provided me during my climb to Kilimanjaro, I didn’t intend to risk my journey by contacting another firm, as I am set on achieving yet another dream of mine!”
My host and guide for these 6 days is going to be Godson himself and I am so excited!
ONE DAY IN TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
On 26/10/2020, 08:00 am, Godson and I left Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha, heading to Tarangire National Park. After an enjoyable three-hour car ride, during which we passed many Masai tribe villages, I got a first taste of how the peoples of this tribe live as nomadic herders in Tanzania and Kenya.
When we got to Tarangire National Park Gate, Godson will arrange everything regarding my ticket and personal details with the park’s guards. A few moments later we will embark on a game of searching for wild animals on our jeep!
Just as we are passing the park’s gate, I come to realize how beautiful this place is, with amazing long-lived baobab trees, acacia trees and the enchanting Tarangire River, after which the park is named.
During my safari trip in Tarangire I am going to observe elephants, zebras, gnu, buffalos, baboons, crocodiles, ostriches and giraffes in their natural habitat, a specially designated national park of 2850 square kilometres. Among others, 500 species of birds live in the Tarangire Area.
SAFARI IN TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
After a 6-hour drive, filled with wonderful images, our safari trip will be done for the day and Godson and I will head back to Marera Valley lodge where we will dine and spend the night.
“Marera Valley Lodge is a beautiful complex of residences located in the Marera valley, a place where one can find great food and impeccable service among others.”
Unfortunately during our trip in Tarangire National Park we didn’t have the chance to spot any big cats, however I was not disappointed at all, as I was going to spend the next couple of days in one of Africa’s most renowned wildlife parks! I am talking about Serengeti, of course, where the chance of us to run into lions, cheetahs and leopards will be significantly on our side!
TWO DAYS IN SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
After waking up at Marera Valley Lodge and enjoying a great breakfast, Godson and I head off to Serengeti National Park! It will be a 4-hour drive by beautiful landscape through the protected area of Ngorongoro, until we reach the gate of the largest and most popular wildlife park in Tanzania, the majestic Serengeti!
“Serengeti covers an area of 14,750 square kilometers and is famous, among others, for the fact that it hosts a large annual migration of animals. Over a million and a half gnus, zebras, buffalos, gazelles and other carnivores that feed of them migrate on a route of more than a thousand kilometers all the way from Kenya to Tanzania and back.”
Embarking on our search for wildlife, Godson and I wander off to Serengeti’s vast valleys, running into many herds of impalas, gazelles and even some hyenas! But what I saw soon after that, really left me speechless… Behind a bush, we will spot two lionesses and six of their youngs feasting off a warthog they killed!
“Observing these wonderful creatures up close, feeding, in their natural habitat, off the prey they had just hunted, one comes to realize how unfair it is for animals like these to be put in cages and spend their lives in captivity in various zoos, or even worse, at circuses. Personally, I never visit places like that and urge you not to do that as well.”
Having spent quite some time observing this scene, we will continue our safari trip. A few kilometers up ahead, we were greeted by another unexpected encounter! A female cheetah has captured a gazelle and is enjoying her meal, sharing with four of her babies! Stunned by what was taking place right in front of my eyes, Godson and I will spend almost an hour, taking in all that’s happening.
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK DAY ONE
After all that, unfortunately, it was getting late, so we would have to head off to the place we were going to spend the night. On our way back, we ran into a lonely hippo and a small group of three lionesses planning their attack on a herd of zebras.
PHOTO ALBUM OF DAY ONE IN SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
“Unfortunately it was getting late so we weren’t able to watch what was about to go down, as it was getting darker by the minute and it’s not allowed to be in the park premises during the night.”
As night replaced day in Serengeti, we would reach Thorn Tree Tented Lodge, a complex of tents at the heart of Serengeti, where we were going to spend the night.
“Thorn Tree Tented Lodge is an experience in itself, not only for me but also, I imagine, for everyone who has already or is going to spend a night in such a place in Serengeti.”
The Lodge’s staff greets us at the lobby with some warm tea. During our check-in, security manager of the property explains to me that I need to be cautious as, in case I need to leave my tent during the night, I will have to be accompanied by people and not do it alone. That was because the area around the lodge is packed with dangerous wild animals, such as lions, leopards and hyenas.
“Just like a luxury hotel, Thorn Tree has a reception, sitting lounge with a bar and a restaurant. The only twist, they were all hosted in two huge tents!”
After that, we will enjoy a tasty dinner at the restaurant, while we were able to hear all the sounds and noise the animals around us made, which got stronger and louder as time went by.
It was getting late, so I decided to go to the lodge I would spend the night. Being accompanied by two guards, I will walk 50 meters further to a 70-square-meter tent, fully –equipped with anything one may need in order to avoid leaving it during the night.
THORN TREE TENTED LODGE
I took a warm bath and went to bed, my mind full of amazing images from that day’s safari trip. Sounds made by the animals, not very far away from my tent, turn this night into such a unique experience for me!
Having spent the night hearing all these noises made by wild animals, lions and hyenas among them, so very close to the tent I spent the night, I opened the tent’s door cautiously, while the light of the day uncovered the raw, untamed beauty of this place.
“Due to the animal migration that slowly began in late October, the area around Thorn Tree was packed with gnus, zebras, antilopes, gazelles and African buffaflos. That was a truly outstanding view to have right outside a bed you just spent the night in!”
After Godson and I enjoyed our breakfast, we will start another day of searching for wild animals, in amazing Serengeti. First, we head off to a lake with hippos. I will spend quite some time observing those peculiar animals in their natural habitat. Afterwards, we continue our search, all in the hope of finding none other than the King of Africa, a real-life lion!
“Meeting a male lion in the wild was one of the main reasons why I always wanted to visit Africa, so you might imagine how excited I am right now!”
It won’t be long before I realize with my own eyes why Serengeti is famous for hosting a large number of lions. Inside the area of one square kilometer, we will be able to spot not one but five male and two female lions, catching a well-deserved break from hunting under the hot African sun. Just seeing these majestic animals up close, one gets to realize why they are, well-deserved, considered to be on top of the animal kingdom.
This is where I spent the biggest part of the day, as I just can’t get enough of this view, those beautiful, strong animals out there in the wild interacting and doing their thing!
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK DAY TWO
PHOTO ALBUM OF DAY TWO IN SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
The last surprise that Serengeti had in store for me was coming across a leopard, resting on a tree. From a distance of 50 meters, not being able to approach any closer due to thick vegetation, I will observe the leopard rest thanks to the safety the tree gives her from any lion lurking nearby. As time falls yet again in Serengeti, we have to head back to Thorn Tree Tented Lodge where we will spend one last night.
And thus our wonderful two-day trip in Serengeti comes to an end. I have to admit this place gave me so many memories that I will hold dear in my heart.
ONE DAY IN NGORONGORO CRATER NATIONAL PARK
After a lovely two-day trip in Serengeti got to an end, so visiting Ngorongoro Crater was right next on top of my plans!
Thus, after waking up at Thorn Tree Tented Lodge and getting ready, we head off to Ngorongoro crater, leaving the vast valleys of majestic Serengeti behind us. Three hours later, and while we are descending to the crater of this ancient, inactive, huge volcano, I will get the chance to marvel at the beauty of this place from above!
“Ngorongoro Crater used to be a gigantic volcano, while what remains now is the largest natural caldera in the world! The crater has a max depth of 610 m. and its diameter varies from 17 to 21 kilometers, spanning a total area of 265 square kilometers. On the very bottom of the crater lies Lake Magandi, which hosts large populations of flamingos from time to time. For more than three million years, this ancient caldera hosts one of the largest and most beautiful wildlife retreats in the world.”
Ngorongoro Crater National Park is known for hosting the black African rhino, a beautiful species that lives mainly on the slopes of the crater. This rhino is what we mainly want to observe today, so we start our safari trip. But the animals we first see are countless zebras, African buffalos, gnus and impalas.
After a few hours of wandering around, Godson and I will have a small break by lake Magandi. A family of hippos nearby will make our break even more enjoyable! We continue our trip and see a pack of jackals, some hyenas and a few elephants. A small pack of flamingos standing by the lake shore make this landscape even more beautiful!
As the time went by and our safari trip was nearing its end, there was a notification on the radio about two rhinos a few kilometers down the road. A few minutes later we will reach that spot and thus we have the chance to observe these amazing creatures!
Ngorongoro Crater National Park
After a small stop at the viewpoint spot atop of the crater for some last photos and videos, we will leave Ngorongoro National Park behind and Godson and I will head back to Marera Valley Lodge, where I will have the pleasure of spending one more night!
A DAY WITH HADZABE TRIBE
After an amazing four-day safari trip, what this new day has in store for me was visiting a village of Hadzabe tribe, or Bushmen as they are also known.
“Hadzabe are a tribe of hunters that live in Northern Tanzania and is considered one of the last hunter tribes in Africa, numbering around 1,300 members. Hadzabe don’t have domesticated animals and they don’t store any food. This tribe survives by hunting prey with their handmade bows and arrows. They also feed on edible plants they can find in nature, as well as honey they gather from wild bees. Their homes are mere temporary retreats made from dry grass and tree branches.”
I plan on visiting the Hadzabe tribe just in time to join them for their morning hunt so, in order to do that, we left Marera Valley Lodge at 5 am as it was a three-hour drive.
Just before arriving at the village, we are going to meet the translator that will join us, as the Hadzabe tribe speaks its own dialect and not Swahili, which is the official language in Tanzania. When we arrive, we will be greeted by men of the tribe who took us to their leader. Around a fire and with the help of our translator, the tribe’s leader will tell me a few things about the Hadzabe tribe’s everyday life and the equipment they use when they hunt.
“Men of Hadzabe tribe pass their time solely with hunting, while the women do everything else, from bringing up their children, cooking to building their homes.”
A little bit later, it was already time to go for the morning hunt!
With adrenaline rushing through me, I will join the hunters of Hadzabe tribe in their quest for prey in the jungle. One hour later we will stop under a baobab tree. There the men will light up a fire to roast and eat the birds they caught during the hunt.
Later, when we return to the village, the Hadzabe will take me to the place they practice their shooting. There I will get the chance to take some hits with the bow and arrow, which admittedly were not a great success!
Lastly, the people of Hadzabe tribe will bid us farewell by playing their music and singing traditional songs! Leaving the Hadzabe tribe, we will make a short stop at the hut of a blacksmith, where I got a small idea of how he works with iron in order to make the lodges and arrows of the Hadzabe.
My stay with the Hadzabe thus comes to an end, so we will head back to Marera Valley Lodge where we will spend one last night.
SAFARI IN LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK AND A VISIT TO A MASAI TRIBE VILLAGE
After having spent five unforgettable days in the wildlife national parks of Northeastern Tanzania and having met with the Hadzabe tribe, I will leave Marera Valley Lodge and head to Arusha airport.
My flight to Zanzibar was scheduled no later than 5 pm, so we had some time to visit Lake Manyara National Park for one last safari trip!
“Lake Manyara National Park is famous for the lion it hosts that climb on trees and its large number of elephants. Also, Lake Manyara is alkaline, something that means its toxic, and also attracts a lot of pink flamingos.”
When we reach the Park’s entrance, the guards will let us know that due to recent rainfall, many roads around the lake were flooded so the park would be, in its most part, not reachable.
Despite this news, Godson and I are determined to at least try and reach as far as we can safely go.
Making it inside the thick vegetation of the jungle along the lake, we will find a large herd of baboons, some blue monkeys and a few African buffalos. As we continued deeper inside the jungle, flooded roads made everything all the more difficult for us, while in the part we already had explored we weren’t lucky enough to be blessed with the sighting of any rare wildlife. After a three-hour safari trip without much success, spent in the otherwise beautiful and majestic Manyara lake, we will head off to leave the park.
Lake Manyara National Park
Despite not being able to spot its famous lions and elephants, that probably all were at the side of the lake we weren’t able to reach, Lake Manyara was a place of great beauty and I am very grateful for having visited it.
VISITING A MASAI TRIBE VILLAGE
Our last stop before Arusha airport would be one of hundred villages of the world-famous Masai tribe in the area. When we reached one a little while later together with Godson, we were greeted by a pleasant surprise! The village folk greeted us with traditional dances, that include the famous jumps up in the air of the Masai warriors, and songs! That was an amazing way to be welcomed by the people of this tribe. Straight after I met the son of this village’s leader who volunteered to show me around the village.
We started by him showing me a traditional Masai home, explaining the material that such a house is made by and also how people around here spend their everyday life.
“The Masai tribe is a tribe of nomad herders that live in small communities of up to a hundred people, moving around Tanzania and Kenya. Homes of the Masai are made of a mixture of dirt, dry grass and wood, by the hands of the village’s women. The men are occupied with tending to and protecting their herds from wild animals.”
“Masai warriors, up until quite recently, were notorious as fearless lion killers, as that was the only way for them to protect their animals! Some years ago, governments of Tanzania and Kenya prohibited the killing of lions and instituted payments of loss for any Masai animals that got killed by wildlife.”
Right after that, we visited the village’s school, where I had the chance to meet with and talk to the young Masai.
Visit to Masai village
Lastly, after thanking the Masai people for their warm welcome, we say goodbye to the village and Godson and I head off to Arusha airport.
And, as such, my trip to Northeastern Tanzania comes to a wrap. After thanking Godson for all his help, I say goodbye to him, with the promise that sometime we shall meet again.
My adventure continues with a wild road trip in Zanzibar!