It’s taken some time to feel ready to write anything about Tanzania. I think some of it was I didn’t know how I felt about it once we returned home and some of it I just wanted to keep it all to myself. I also didn’t write notes, which was stupid. But, now is the time, so here are my 7 top experiences from 7 days on an African Safari.
KatiKati Camp – two nights under canvas in the middle of the Serengeti.
Definitely the best experience we had in Tanzania and perhaps of my life if we’re being honest. Part of our Hemingway Tour from SafariHub we had 2 nights in the Serengeti KatiKati camp, a series of posh canvas tents right in the thick of the park. There are no fences, no barriers and no guns. You are one step away from immense nature.
Not only were the tents themselves wonderful, large with a queen size bed, separate flush toilet and shower, the scenery was beyond words. The first night we were there was an epic thunderstorm in the distance. Miles and miles away but we watched it roll in across the flat plains before the heavens opened just as we finished dinner. Tanzanian rain is pretty much what you would expect, big wet and slightly warm!
We fell asleep listening to the rain on the canvas in a nice comfy bed in the middle of the Serengeti!!! However, come 3am we were lying petrified holding hands as a pack of hyenas entered the campground (as there were no fences) laughing in there hyena way before setting out to fight right next to our tent. It was extremely loud and a little scary, we couldn’t really look out to see what was happening as it was pitch black and you know fairly dangerous.
But despite that it was exciting and we really felt like we understood a bit more about what it means to be in the Serengeti. Neither of us managed to get much sleep after that and it did remind me of what a small part of this world I am.
Elephant Family in Tarangire National Park – watching a family of elephants finding water in a dry river bed with a baby in tow.
Elephants are the giants of Tanzania but with giants come grace and beauty. It was such a highlight to see so many elephants in such a short space of time. With the poaching and all the problems we have with keeping elephants alive seeing a whole family was so special.
They were hanging about on a dry river bed in the Tarangire National Park before they started digging at the ground, finding water to drink and spray over themselves. According to our guide they can smell the water! Hidden between the legs of many elephants was this tiny baby elephant being protected by its relatives.
Lion Family in the Serengeti
Ever wondered what it would be like to be in the Lion King – spend a couple of hours watching a family of very sleepy lions. Mum’s, brothers, sisters and Dad, all lounging around in the shade of a tree in the middle of the day. The littlest lion wasn’t sleepy all the time playing with his Dad’s tail, causing a few warning roars, cuddling up with Mum and sulking in the long grass.
It felt like watching a nature documentary apart from the fact they were 10 meters in front of us, along with 10 other safari vehicles – who said nature was peaceful!
Flamingo’s in their natural environment in Lake Manyara
I love flamingos. I don’t know why, I don’t know when it started but there is something about their odd shape with long legs and a funny beak and that bright pink colour. We were slightly out of season to see flamingos in huge numbers but we did see them very close in the Lake Manyara National Park.
Life aim achieved!
Maasai Village Tour
At the time I wasn’t sure this would make it into our list. It felt like some of the Maasai were making money whilst the others had to ‘perform’ for the tourists who were led round like it was a zoo. However, on reflection it was an experience I enjoyed and one I would recommend. The Maasai people’s traditional way of life has been changed by country borders and tourism. There hunting grounds reduced by the National Parks so they have had to find an alternative source of income.
That income comes from tourists. The chief of the village arranges the tours, the Maasai women make handicrafts and you’re shown round by English speaking men. The children sing and show you how they can count in different languages. The village danced and sang for us, they dressed us up and we joined in.
Who am I to criticise how they make money to live in such a harsh and unforgiving environment for my romantic notion of how they should live.
Giraffes & Rhinos
Need I say anymore? Giraffes and rhinos are up there with one of my favourite animals (along with flamingos, alpacas and sheep) so getting the chance to see these wonderful animals up close brought me to tears. It’s hard to even put it into words how humbled I felt by just being able to watch them. They are my ideal African animals. Endangered and so so worthy of our protection, we must not let these creatures fade away.
The lesser known animals of the national parks
We did achieve the aim of seeing the big 5 – Lion, Rhino, Leopard, Elephant and Buffalo – we also saw plenty of other animals that were just as engaging and just as interesting! You’ll spend more time looking at these other little creatures then you will the big ticket events.
Enjoy it, learn from the guides about what these animals are and their individual characteristics, it will make waiting for the elusive animals much more entertaining.
Big open spaces
The plains of Africa are made up of a range of environment but the big vast openness of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater almost makes me want to become a landscape artist. We were there at the turn of the weather, one day its dry and the grass is brown, the next it’s rained and the grass is green and it feels like spring. Epic.
Ready to book you African adventure? It really is worth it. You can get safari’s for a variety of prices so it isn’t out of reach – I promise!!
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