PHOTO SAFARI IN TANZANIA
Safari Day 1: Tarangire National Park
Safari Day 1: Tarangire National Park
The first challenge of the day was to load four pieces of luggage in the amazing little trunk of our Toyota Land Cruiser. After this was achieved we drove for about three and a half hours to Tarangire National Park, which is famous for its large elephant herds. So we were very excited and took immediately our observation positions in our car as we drove through the entry gate of the park and started with our first game drive.
After some exciting, fascinating and hot hours in Tarangire National Park, solely disturbed by some very annoying tsetse flies, which would not be impressed by our insect repellent, we made our way to our first camp on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater. After a well-deserved shower our chef served us a delicious dinner before we crawled into our tents.
Safari Day 2: Ngorongoro Crater
We set off to the entrance of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area just before sunrise after spending a restless night in a village on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater as noise from barking and fighting street dogs kept us awake most of the night. But arriving at the rim of the crater and enjoying the view into pushed the tiredness away. The crater has an area of about 300 square kilometers, a depth of 600m and is home to a fauna with over 25,000 animals. After the first sight of a big male lion we stopped for a great picnic breakfast at one of the designated picnic areas. As there are no fences around the picnic areas, it is very advisable to always keep a watchful eye on the environment. As a side note: Even from the restrooms you get a superb view of grazing zebras.
We spent the entire morning with observing countless wildebeests and zebras, various types of gazelles, ostriches, lions and lion cubs, buffaloes, hyenas, hippopotamus and two of the only 26 rhinos throughout the park. Afterwards we continued our trip with a three-hour drive on dry gravel roads to the Serengeti National Park.
Safari Day 3 and 4: Serengeti National Park
Here we spent the next two days enjoying the game drives all day long. Despite spending a lot of time in the car we never got bored, as there was always something to explore. Leopards, which were hard to spot as they were hiding in the shade on tree branches. Huge herds of wildebeests and zebras, a high number of lions, which we stopped counting by the end of the day as there were just to many. And across the street galloping Giraffes as well as two cheetah brothers who settled next to our Land Cruiser for a rest.
The so-called "bush radio", which connects all safari companies, kept our guide Charles always up to date with animal-sightings in our area. In particular we heard about two cheetahs, which were close to our current position. Initially, it was hardly possible to see the two as they were at a great distance laying in the grass. We waited 15-20 minutes and watched the animals with binoculars. And then we got to the point of decision, which we had to do many times during that trip: Wait or continue? Fortunately, we decided in this case to wait a bit longer to see if anything would happen and this time we were rewarded. The two cheetahs had spotted a couple of zebras in the distance. Since our position was exactly between the cheetahs and zebras, we were in the perfect spot to watch the two brothers approaching and getting closer to us. A fantastic sight of these elegant animals. Right next to our car they decided to take a break and rest for about ten minutes in the grass. Then they went on until we lost their sight in the distance. Like this we spent hours and hours in the countryside and two days in the Serengeti just flew by.
Our camp was beautifully integrated into the landscape. There were no fences to keep disturbance for the wild animals in their natural environment as little as possible. The flipside for us was of course, from 9pm until 6:30am the next morning we were not allowed to leave our tents as we were in in the middle of the bush and anything could happen at anytime. Especially the predators are very active during night-time. For example at dinner we had hyenas running around the communal tent and during the night we listened intently into the darkness and heard a pride of lions as well as a heard of zebras galloping through our camp. The next morning we learned from the camp manager that the pack of lions was about half a mile away, which felt much closer during the night when you are sleeping in a tent.
In the afternoon of the second day we made slowly our way back towards Ngorongoro Crater. Again, three and a half hours on a dusty gravel road. However, as a reward a night at the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge with breathtaking views into the crater was waiting for us. From every room you have a panoramic view of the crater, which is stunning and the sunrise invites you to linger. What a peaceful place.
Safari Day 5: From Arusha to Zanzibar
Our next destination: Arusha, a nearly four-hour drive from the lodge. From there we took the plane to Zanzibar to spend a few relaxing days over Christmas in a tropical paradise and process the impressions of the safari.
Zanzibar - Welcome to paradise
We stayed at the Karamba Resort, which is located at the south-end of Zanzibar in the small fishing village of Kizimkazi Dimbani, about one and a half hours from the airport. The resort was the perfect place to relax after five days in the 4WD. Far from any form of mass-tourism, you can unwind and enjoy the tropics. The resort has just a few bungalows, which are built right on the waters-edge. The water is crystal clear and with 28 degrees not always a real refreshment. The kitchen was fantastic with a wide selection of dishes from all flavours. Particularly the fresh seafood from local fishermen tasted terrific and was not to be surpassed in quality. The daily life of the fishermen was determined by the tides, which pulled the water out by a few hundred meters and gave the villagers an opportunity to collect mussels, crabs and squid.
Spice farm and Stone Town
One of the must-dos when you are on Zanzibar is a visit of a spice farm and a day trip to Stone Town. We have combined both and spent a day together with a local guide to explore the island. To smell and taste many different spices was very impressive for our taste buds was very informative and fun at the same time. From vanilla, pepper and lemon grass to ginger, coffee and cocoa beans, there was really nothing that did not grow in this little farm. Most surprising for us was the Ceylon cinnamon tree. The bark is peeled off and dried to produce cinnamon rolls. The root system, however, provides a wonderful aroma of menthol. Our guide climbed trees to make even the most remote variety of scents and tastes for us explorable.
Afterwards we went to Stown Town, the most famous district of Zanzibar City. There are many historic buildings and an attractive architecture, a legacy of the former Sultanate and the British protectorate. Tanzania and Zanzibar are among the poorest countries in the world, which is clearly visible in the cityscape. Buildings are run down, as there is no money for renovations. Furthermore gives the currency decline the population barely enough money to buy essential food.
Markets offer a fantastic opportunity to learn about local life and are my absolute favourite while traveling. The more exotic a country is, the more interesting are the markets and the impressions that can be absorbed. This applies also to the market in Stone Town. The Darajani Market is one of the main places where daily bustle and trading takes place. Most impressive is the variety of offered food. Besides bananas in all sizes and colours and all tropical fruit variations that you can imagine, fresh fish, living and dead poultry as well as the heads of slaughtered goats are on the market. European and other western visitors will need to adjust to some of the conditions. The air temperature is above 30 degrees Celsius, the absence of cooling options and the mass of flies on the fresh food does not necessarily lead to appetite and induces more likely to give up meat or fish at the next dinner.
Every evening at sunset a large food market, that offers a great variety of local delicacies, takes place on the harbour foreshore. If your stomach is not used to this type of street cuisine, you probably should leave your fingers from it and enjoy the impressions just with his eyes and nose. It seems to be that every single children and young person of Zanzibar City is meeting at this time of the day here to have a swim in the ocean and to present their acrobatic skills by jumping stylishly from the quay wall into the water. The atmosphere is very relaxed and invites you to watch the amazing sunset.
Mid-December 2014. We found the time to be ideal as the short rain season in Tanzania exactly ends mid December. The national parks were lush and green and there were hardly any other tourists. When registering at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park we were nearly on our own. On the way back, however, the parking lots were full with a high double-digit number of off-road vehicles, which were heading towards the nature parks. The flow of tourists on our way back to Arusha didn’t stop and we were glad to have chosen such a good time window, which was around ten days before Christmas.
Tips and Recommendations:
- Tips: Due to the difficult economic situation in Tanzania, people are dependent on proper tips and they also expect them. As a rough guideline I found the following information in many forums. Guide: 10US$/day, chef/helper: US$5/day, Porter: 1-2 $ bag. However, at the end it is a personal decision.
- Vaccinations, malaria and insect protection: Current and useful information to necessary travel vaccinations can be found for example on the World Health Organization (WHO) website. We have been vaccinated against yellow fever and decided to carry an emergency malaria medication. However, this should always be discussed with a doctor before commencing the journey. As an insect repellent, we have chosen a product with 50% DEET, which worked very well.
Payment: US-Dollar and Tanzanian Shilling were accepted everywhere on our trip. Also, most of the hotels did accept Euro and credit card.
Visa: As a German citizen is currently required to have a visa to enter Tanzania. We obtained this visa for US $ 50 per person directly upon arrival at the airport in Tanzania.