Our first week on tour has been wonderful. We visited a total of four national parks. Starting out in Tarangire, then on to Serengeti via Ngorongoro Crater, down the crater and ending in Lake Manayara National park. We also got to visit a Masai village close to Ngorongoro Crater – we almost passed this up but I’m so glad we went on with it as it was such an wonderful experience.
We’ve been without constant internet connection for most part of the tour so I’ve decided to do a recap post each week, rather than a daily post as I usually do – (I think I like this better). Anyway, I’ll be writing more about all the places we’ve been to and how you can plan your own trip here soon but for now, here’s an overview of week 1.
Day One: Arusha – Tarangire National Park
We started off with a three-hour drive from Arusha to Tarangire National Park and this was after getting only 4 hours of sleep in two days! Because of multiple delays in our flights, we arrived our hotel in Arusha by 4am (2am Nigerian time) and we were to set out at 8:30am. Rather than starting off later, we dragged ourselves out of bed and hit the road with Patrick (our driver and guide).
He got us to Tarangire and we began our first game drive. We saw lots of zebras and wildebeests – they were almost at every turn! There were also lots of elephants, impalas, giraffes, baboons and monkeys…
Just as we were heading out, we saw a lioness scouting a giraffe in the distance. We left the park and headed to our lodge for the night in Karatu, arriving to cold welcome drinks, hot towels and a very nice three-course dinner.
Day Two: Karatu – Serengeti National Park
After breakfast, we headed towards Serengeti, passing by Ngorogoro Crater – that road is not for the faint-hearted! It’s a snaky road riddled with lots of sharp corners and steep views of the forest and crater floor. Thankfully, we were in very good hands.
As I mentioned earlier, we made a quick stop at a Masai village and had a brief tour there. We were welcomed by the men and women below and later taken into their village to see their homes and school. We also got a chance to dance with them. It was really lovely to experience a part of their culture.
We arrived Serengeti later in the day and began our game drive after lunch. Again, there were several impalas and gazelles. I was really hoping to see more predators and all of the Big 5. To be honest, I was expecting a lot from Serengeti. It’s safe to say that the park did not disappoint one bit!
Our first lion sighting was a pair of honeymooners in the distance. We continued to see so many lions throughout the trip (at very close range) and a large pride on day three. We also saw one of the most elusive of the Big 5 – the leopard and we saw this four times! Three from a distance and one walked right in front of our SUV.
We spent the two nights in a tented Eco-friendly camp in the middle of the park – my mum must never hear of this! It was safe though – as long as our tents were properly closed and as long as we didn’t walk outside at night on our own. We were always escorted to and from our tents at dinner and early in the morning.
Day Three: Full day in Serengeti + Hot Air Balloon Ride
We began day 3 as early as 4:30am, got picked up at 5:00am by a guide from the hot air balloon company and set off just as the sun was rising. This was such an amazing experience. A ride on a hot air balloon is worthy of a spot on anyone’s bucket list. The view was beautiful and our pilot made the ride so interesting.
The safari lasted about an hour; from up above, we saw lions, a leopard, so many hippos, impalas, hyenas and much more. We ended the ride with a celebratory glass of champagne and a mini game drive to where breakfast was served. (We saw a lion feasting on its prey during the drive).
After breakfast, we continued with a game drive viewing more animals and birds. We returned to the camp after a successful expedition and prepared to head back to Karatu the next day.
Day Four: Serengeti – Ngorongoro – Karatu
We headed back to Karatu passing through Ngorongoro Crater again. This time we descended the conservation area in search for rhinos – the only member of the Big 5 we hadn’t seen yet. We saw more zebras, lions and elephants but no rhino. It wasn’t a bad drive though but serengeti was better – obviously.
Day Five: Lake Manyara National Park – Arusha
We got off to a very late start to Lake Manyara National Park. Did a game drive within the park. It was ‘same same but different’. More elephants, buffaloes, a lot of baboons -eeek! and a lot of pelicans. There was really no pressure to see anything different although I was hoping to see some flamingos. We headed back to Arusha after the safari and ended our tour there.
I have been on two other safaris in the past – one in Ranthambore, India and another in Kruger, South Africa. They keep on getting better. I am also happy that I got to share this experience with my younger sister and I think it’s safe to say that she’s had an amazing time so far.
Our next week will be spent in Zanzibar. We’re looking forward to having a great time there as well. (See Week 2 here)
Have you ever been on any wildlife safari trips? Would you consider one? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below ?