Barely to put into words
Our Tanzania trip starts in the Schiphol chaos: even though we arrived at Schiphol well in time, we missed our flight to Arusha due to the huge queues for the security check. We knew that about 2 hours later a flight would leave for Nairobi, Kenya. They were already busy boarding there, but miraculously there were still seats available. However, it was impossible to get our luggage on board. Nevertheless, we decided to step in and inform Explore Tanzania about this. During our flight they arranged an overnight stay at Nairobi airport for us, as well as road transport to Arusha the next day. The flights from Nairobi to Arusha were already fully booked, so that was not an option. The Wayo driver of this van dropped us off at a supermarket in Arusha after an hours-long, but interesting, drive to buy some toiletries. Here our actual guide Chris picked us up with packed lunches he had already picked up at the originally booked hotel in Arusha. All in all, we started our safari with only 6 hours delay. It cost a bit, but: fantastically arranged and communicated, big compliments to Wayo as well as Explore Tanzania!
Our safari starts in Tarangire NP, known for its beautiful, photogenic baobab trees. This way we make the most of this day: instead of driving directly to the lodge, we make a short safari through the park. Immediately we see a whole range of wild animals in the beautiful light of the afternoon. The Tarangire Safari Lodge enjoys a unique location with spectacular views. Just before darkness falls, we can enjoy this in silence on the veranda. Warm popcorn is served, the local birds are aware of this and are already waiting for fallen crumbs.
The next morning we get up as early as breakfast allows us to and we see a beautiful sunrise. In time we leave for safari number 2 in the Tarangire NP. We imagine ourselves alone in the park, great to start so early! One of the highlights of this morning was the ‘clatter of arms’ between two young elephant males that we were the only ones to witness, so impressive.
In the afternoon we drive to the lively village of Mto wa Mbu where a mountain bike tour is planned. What a nice experience this was, here we became acquainted with local life: cheerful children who came up to us, shouting and waving ‘hello, hello’, past a banana plantation, to the local market, where we saw a stall with authentic Sawing Maasai sandals made from car tires. We also enjoyed a delicious local lunch, prepared all for us, it was delicious.”
Then we drove along colorful Karatu to our next accommodation on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, the Farm House Valley Lodge. Once again nothing but praise for this accommodation. A lovely spacious room, friendly staff and excellent meals.
We start the safari to the Crater early the next morning again, so that we also have the feeling that we have the Crater to ourselves. That is wonderful. We also saw a range of game in this park: lions gnawing on a carcas, the first acquaintance with wildebeest / wildebeest with the characteristic sound of the males.
On to the Serengeti where we spend the night in the Lahia Lodge, afterwards our favorite lodge, on top of a hill with phenomenal views. During our stay there we witnessed the great migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest. How small we felt at this big event. This is so big, it’s incomprehensible. Beautiful those sounds of the males, wonderful to sleep to. Made impressively beautiful safaris and saw a lot of animals: from huge herds of elephants to a crossing leopard tortoise and everything in between. Our guide Chris knows a lot about nature. There is literally no question that he cannot answer. Moreover, during one of the safaris, our suitcases received – after five days: really in the middle of nowhere a land cruiser came to meet us and suddenly Chris said: ‘that’s where your suitcases are’! How Explore Tanzania managed to achieve this….. unimaginable, but we were so happy, again a big compliment.
Because the wild animals come to the grounds of the huts, we are guided to and from the main building in the dark by friendly Maasai with flashlight and spear. We have had such lovely days here: a spacious cabin with a fantastically beautiful outdoor shower and excellent meals – without wanting to do the other accommodations short. Enjoying the grazing wildebeest on the balcony: as if we had ended up in a National Geographic documentary! It is with heavy hearts that we leave the Lahia Lodge.
We drive the long way back through the Serengeti, again past the Ngorongor crater to the 4th park of our trip: Lake Manyara. We stay at the Green Camp just before the official opening date, so special to be the only guests in this secluded spot on a river, with a rushing waterfall in the background. The table – just for us and our guide – laid by the river, elephants trumpeting nearby, this is ‘Out of Africa’. After a wonderful ‘African shower’ (a water bag with a tap and spray head at the bottom) to bed and listen to the jungle sounds around us. We even heard a growling lion – which Chris agreed. Besides the unique location of this Green Camp, it is also an advantage that we have the park almost literally to ourselves for the first hours of the safari, because most tourists spend the night outside the park. We made a nice canoe trip on Lake Manyara, nice to be able to exercise again, because what we did not realize beforehand is that we did not or hardly ever spend the long days in the car (which by the way did not bore for a second!). were able to walk because it is (earth) dark early and also much too dangerous in connection with wild animals.
The safari part of our trip is unfortunately over. Chris takes us to the Africa Amini Maasai Lodge north of Arusha. We sadly said goodbye to him, Chris, with whom we spent the last ten days so intensively and pleasantly. It clicked very well from both sides! We chose this lodge as a conclusion to let the many impressions of the beautiful safari sink in. In retrospect it also makes the picture of Tanzania a bit more complete: not only the overwhelming nature and the wild animals, but now also a lot of information about the Maasai and their culture. Beforehand I was a bit hesitant: I was afraid it would be very ‘touristy’, but the Maasaidans around sunset came from within and the contact with people felt so warm, that my shudder turned out to be unfounded. This lodge is also located in a 5* location, between Kilimanjaro and Mt. Merou in. The lodge is part of the NGO Africa Amini Alama – Africa I believe in you. This project includes a school we visited: we received a warm welcome from the teacher and the children. We were even sung to and the children were allowed to ask us questions, such as: ‘Do you have any pets?’ There is also a permaculture farm. We also visited them: impressive how crops are grown here with respect for and in harmony with nature. I got a number of moringa seeds to take home, from which a number of plants have grown in the meantime.
It’s a wrap. What a journey, so many impressions that are hard to put into words. Chris, Marjolijn, and everyone who contributed to our trip: asante sana, we have loved Tanzania in our hearts and would love to come back again.
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