“Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is worst of all.”
B and I went to Tanzania in May, and most memorable trip ever. It was long flight but I would take that flight again and again if I can go to beautiful Africa.
We started planning our summer trip in March. Because you need time to do research and its always helpful to plan in advance. Initially, we were planning to visit Istanbul or Morocco. We went to to Greece, we had planned Istanbul also. But, my husband could not take more leave so we ended up canceling Istanbul. I hope we can visit Turkey someday. I came across a blog while planning and saw some amazing pictures of Tanzania and Zanzibar. We had known that Safari is a must do experience. But, we weren’t sure it will come so soon. So, I started my research of how to plan a safari. I will definitely write another post to what all do you need to consider planning a safari, what to pack and stuff.
The first thing were the flights. There are 3 major connections we saw – Amsterdam, U.A.E and Turkey. So, we opted to go via Europe. We had about 10 days to spend. I had already started planning to research about safari tour operators. This might be the first time we went with planned tour. Usually, we have done our trips self planned. We don’t like tour company operated trips. Don’t mind that’s just our preference.
So, I contacted about 9 tour operators who were well organised and recommended on tripadvisor. If you are ever lost in planning tripadvisor is a great place to start. From those 9 operators we narrowed down two who gave us best quotes and trip according what we wanted to include. We visited 3 most famous national parks of Tanzania. Tarangire national park, Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro crater. Once we decided which tour operator we were selecting, we wired them half of the fees. We also included Zanzibar in our trip , planned separately by us and did all bookings for it. Zanzibar has such a great history that we were sure we did not want to miss it.Tickets were booked and we were super excited for the trip Tanzania.
Our flight was on Friday evening from NYC around 7 PM, and by Saturday night at around 11 we finally landed in Africa. It’s a long ride but worth it.
We had a stop in Paris and then in Kenya. From there, we took another flight and landed in Kilimanjaro Airport. As we had planned everything via a tour operator, it was very convenient to land so late. Our driver, was already waiting to receive us with a sign board in my name. The drive from the airport to the hotel in main town Arusha is a about 1 hour. The infrastructure is ofcourse not at par with all the other countries so it takes time and the roads are single lane.But honestly who cares when we could chat with our driver about life and his country. We checked in our hotel The African Tulip and took a long shower after being on flight for almost 20 plus hours. Our hotel in Arusha was so charming. Excitingly, we took a sleep as we were starting our first day of 5 day safari right in the morning at 9 am. We had to make sure we were well rested.
Morning started with a delicious spread of breakfast. We also found some Indian snacks. I was so excited just to see the influence of different culture in Tanzania. I have to say in our whole trip food was abundant and more than you can eat everywhere we went. By the time, we were done with the breakfast our tour company representative was waiting to brief us before we left for our safari. We also had to pay them half of the fees which we decided to do in cash. The representative explained to us what to expect in safari and our full itinerary. It started to feel real. The whole time we were so excited. Then we were introduced to our safari guide cum driver Isaac. We checked out, our guide had already collected our lunch boxes from the same hotel that we stayed overnight and started our journey in the most fun trip of 5 days of safari. Before we left Arusha we wanted to make sure we bought all the necessities like insect repellent specially for tse-tse flies. I will tell more about it. It was such an important thing to buy that. I don’t know what I would have done without the repellent.
Cute Masaai Kids with thier cattle
Our first stop was Tarangire National Park. It was about 2 – 2.5 hours from Arusha. All the national parks that we visited were far from each other. And, the traffic regulations are also strict. So, our driver was very careful not to break any rules or get fines. He drove so safely all the time. As we left Arusha behind us, we started seeing so many Masaai people on the roads walking either with their cattle or on their mopeds which were known as toyo. Our driver would share so many details about the area that we would pass by and lots of information about the masaai people. On our way, I started feeling jet lag, and could not keep my eyes open. Our windows were open and it was a nice breezy day. Honestly, I took naps in between because I could not have done that once we were in the national park. I can’t miss animal sightings with my jet lag issues. And, I am old lady what I can say? I would suggest people who feel jet lag or tiredness from travelling so much they should always spend a day in Arusha exploring to give yourself some rest. But , those mini naps helped me a lot. Just as we took our last exit closer to the park, we came across a huge group of masaai and local people. Our guide told us there was a Sunday masaai market where they buy and sell their stuff. We didn’t really stop to observe anything because we were short on time and also we didn’t want anyone to really chase us to sell things. Also , we had a lot of time to do that during our trip.
We entered Tarangire National Park, our guide got off and went to the gate authorities to clear out park entry fees and information related formalities. Meanwhile, our photo session began. We took restroom break, and also our guide asked us to use insect repellent so that once we start we won’t have a chance. We saw so many other safari jeeps. Funny thing, we saw this big group of 3-4 safari jeeps , probably same family, everyone was wearing khakhis. I honestly didn’t take a single pair of khakhi . My most favorite thing to do during travelling is people watching , did I ever tell you that. Its merely for fun. It took 10- 15 mins for all these formalities and our guide opened the roof of our jeep so that we can stand on our seats and look outside wide open and far places,and set out to the best part of the trip. I was ready to do all animal sightings, remember I took those naps; I was fully recharged and ready. Just in few minutes we sighted a giraffe on the road. We stopped and admired him/her. And, then more giraffes. I was so thrilled the whole time. Our guide would continuously share his knowledge and wisdom with us about the animals. I am not going to share a lot of details of animals because I don’t want to share wrong details. We saw so many blue balls monkey hahah.. seriously they are known as vervet monkeys. I know I am naughty. We saw impalas, water bucks, thompson gazelles, warthogs, dik-dik, elephants and lots of giraffes ofcourse. We saw many birds also. Tarangire is a very picturesque park. we also saw different trees like acacia, sausage and baobab. Tarangire is famous for its baobab trees. By noon, we took a lunch break in a picnic spot. So, throughout the parks they have picnic spots , where by most of the people take breaks. These parks are well taken care off in terms of disposing the garbage and all. Some of them also have restrooms. When we set off after a huge breakfast, I wasn’t sure if I would have lunch. But, we were hungry by the time we had our lunch. The lunch box were full of good stuff. There were sandwiches, fruits and chips, fruit juices etc. We had lot of visitors at our lunch spot- monkeys. We were eating so fast and continuously kept an eye on the monkeys. At one point one of the monkeys even stole someone’s banana. It was hilarious because the monkeys were so smart, the moment this guy looked away he snatched the banana. Our guide was trying to pelt stones at them. It didn’t make any difference to them.
My husband standing near our jeep
We gave our unused lunch to some local boys who were sitting there as everything in the lunch boxes wrapped separately. Atleast the food was not wasted. Again, we set out to explore more that Tarangire had to offer. We kept wandering and wandering until it was time to check in our next lodge. For that night, we were staying in permanent tent facility. The place also offered lodge rooms, but when you are in safari you experience different types of lodgings if you can. That’s the best part of it. I would be sharing more in another post. The Tarangire safari lodge is so strategically located as far as the views are concerned.
We were immediately greeted with some fresh juice as we checked in and then we went to our tents and took a nice shower. It was such a long day. And, we had a wonderful evening waiting for us. I was eager to go to the lounge/deck overlooking the Tarangire river, and relax with some good beer or wine.
Glad we did that. Everyone was sitting outside enjoying the views. We got some beers and enjoyed complimentary bites. The views were endless with baobab trees and some elephant sightings far away. We ended our night with a delicious dinner. They had good variety of food specially for vegetarians. Our bellies full and our hearts content, we took off to the tents for a good night sleep. We were escorted by one of their staff with a flash light, as animals would be all around the tents. After all, we were in the wild. We infact saw elephants and impalas around our tent the next morning. The next day we were still going to do Tarangire and then head out to Serengeti on our way to Ngorongoro crater. We had a long drive. It was about 5 hours from Tarangire to Serengeti, and it would also depend on the how many stops we took on our way. I will talk about our second day in next post. I want to share all the amazing pictures my husband took during the trip. There are so many of them, choosing a few to share would be so difficult. I took so long to write these posts because of this reason. Hope you enjoy reading.
Dik Dik – a very shy animal