Tanzania National Park Travel Series Part 2
Follow me on a 7 day journey through 3 national parks in Tanzania.
Before you go:
- Visa-You can get your visa at the airport, but there will be a wait
- Immunizations-Recommended Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Diptheria, polio and tetanus vaccinations
- Anti-Malaria Medication- chloroquine-resistant strain of malaria are found in Tanzania, so tell your doctor or travel clinic that you are traveling to Tanzania so that you can be prescribe the right a medication for the area in Africa you are traveling to
- Get a valid passport
- Bring copy of itinerary from travel agency
- Buy travel insurance
Serengeti National Park
As I was planning my trip to Uganda for gorilla trekking I kept getting asked the same question, Are you going to Tanzania for the migration?” I had truthfully not considered it as we were planning to stay 19 days in Uganda, and my budget was pretty maxed out. I made the decision that if I could find a budget trip to Tanzania that I would book it. I sent out many inquires which all said they could not meet my budget, but one came back, and I felt very comfortable with the company after sending emails back and forth, so I jumped in and booked our Tanzania Safari. Looking back after spending 19 days in Uganda which we really enjoyed very much at higher-end lodges I would have increased my budget and stayed at a nicer lodge or mobile camp on the Serengeti part of our trip.
Arriving In Tanzania
Getting to Tanzania- Arusha Airport
We started our journey to Tanzania flying 8 hours to Amsterdam with a 2 hour layover, and then another 8 hour flight into Kilimanjaro International airport. We were in line for almost an hour and half to get through the line to get an entry visa. The visa is good for 6 months past the date of issue, and cost $50 per person.It was almost 11:30 when we finally met up with our guide Abdul from the local travel agency we booked. I was never so happy to see a real person in my life after routing large amounts of money to Africa, and you hope that when you get off the plane that the company is real, and they are there to meet you. All my planning and hard work payed off, and our driver, the lodgings and the company we booked were fantastic during our stay in Tanzania
Our driver Abdul whisked off to a security walled bed and breakfast compound consisting of 8 small rooms called Korona House in the Njiro area of Arusha. We only stayed for a quick overnight, but the room had a lovely bed, private en-suite bathroom with solar-heated showers, wireless internet access, satellite TV, toiletries, a desk and laundry services are available for a small charge. We enjoyed an early breakfast at the small buffet breakfast with made to order eggs, fruit, juices, breads, cereals and cheese.
Day 2-3 Tanzania
Get Ready For an African Massage
The roads in Africa are for the most part bone jarring rutted messed, and Tanzania is no different. The roads are full of ruts, potholes, water hazards, dusts, animals crossing and more. I brought a flat blow up cushion (donuts do not work, and if the cushion is to high you can’t see out the windows) to help dampen the jarring, and could not have been more happy. Recommend this highly.
We traveled by car through the gates of Lake Manyara N.P. through the Rift Valley, and through Massi communal farming lands of Ngorongoro crater, and entered the Serengeti N.P through Naabi Hill Gate. The drive took 8-10 hours with animal viewing along the way. There are no gas stations or restrooms along the way. We had a picnic lunch packed from the hotel, and bathroom breaks are a natural.
We arrived at the lodge after traveling from Arusha and stopping along the way for game viewing, which at first glance is quite impressive in the middle of no where. Is a large complex in the middle of the Serengeti with amazing views, nice pool, tolerable staff, horrible (horrible buffet) food, and expensive bar. This was my lease favorite lodge in entire trip to Tanzania and Uganda. The beds were horrible, the room walls as thin as paper. We woke up 2 days in a row with Chinese people next door talking loudly enough that it seemed they were in the same room with us. You get up early to go on game drives have a muffin and coffee, and return later for the breakfast buffet. Hated the dinning area where there was a large Oriental and international clientele pushing themselves into me to get food, and down right rude! The bar prices were crazy, and they can’t make a drink. A coke was $5 US and they charged some crazy amount for wi-fi which was free the every other place we stayed in Africa….. I would not recommend this hotel if you have other choices on your budget!
The saving grace was the location, and the views. Amazing sunsets over the African Savannahs can be viewed from the upper deck. Most rooms don’t have commanding views, but there were monkeys right outside our window in the trees.
Here is a glimpse into our daily game rides
Our first glimpse of wildlife was looking down into the Ngorongoro crater on our way to the Serengeti N.P. was pretty spectacular. You can see herds of wildebeests and zebra grazing alongside each other. As we ventured further along the road with scenic plains filled with zebra, buffalo, impala, topi and young males of massi tribe walking along the sides of the road or herding their cattle in the distance. Continuing on our drive we came upon a rock out cropping called a kopje (pronounced “COP-ee”). Here we had a distant glimpse of a pride of lions warming themselves as they slept on the warm rocks, and as exciting as it was, I wanted a better view. We did not fare that well as we rounded a road track and came upon the dreaded Safari car line up. It tells you that something is there worth viewing, but also means that you are not going to get up close and personal unless you are the one of the first cars to make the sighting. It was a leopard, on of the only ones we saw on our trip, and it was pretty far in the distance. I broke my 400mm lens in travel and only had a 300mm, so not the best pictures for that animal sighting.
On our second day of game viewing I saw a pride of lions, giraffes, warthogs, elephants, impala, Thompson gazelles, topi, zebras, monkeys, baboons, visited the hippo pool, and saw more colorful birds than I can list. It was a really wonderful introduction into the wildlife of the Serengeti, and that is not the complete list just the major highlights. My favorite animal sighting was the entire first day. Playing “I Spy” and seeing animal after animal that up until that point I had ever viewed in captivity, was just an amazing experience. Ultimately I would say it was the pride of female lions that we caught sight of that sat right by the side of the road for a 30 minutes that was the highlight of my Serengeti segment.
You Are Not Alone
The worst part of a Safari in the Serengeti where we stayed is that …….Your not alone, you are hardly ever alone! There are so many safari vehicles driving around looking for game, it is ridiculous. I am sure at one point, the National Park will have to say to people that they can’t go out 2 in a car, and must put at least 6-10 people in a car. Not just for the sake of traffic, but animal welfare as well. This also the official highway to Kenya, so there is traffic going to and from the border. I guide told us there were rumors that the road would be paved…..I pray for the sake of the animals that this never happens. It is already to easy for poachers to snatch and grab bush meat when you have a public highway running through the middle of a national park…planning and re-routing should would be a better option.
The quiet, introspective safari of my dreams did not happen anywhere in Tanzania because of the number of vehicles circling the tracks. It came close a few times in the evening when fewer people go out to find animals. I enjoyed the morning game drives because you do see the most animals, but the evening game drives I saw fewer cars, and I felt much more relaxed and focused after waking up so early in the morning.
Next Post ………..Heading Into Ngorongoro Crater
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