Tanzania: The Introduction
For our next trip we wanted to ensure that 1) we would be on safari for roughly two weeks and 2) we would have a private vehicle and reputable guide. We knew that to satisfy both of these elements would be tricky within our budget, though with enough time and effort planning the trip we knew it might just be possible.
So why the private vehicle and guide? During both our Zambian and Kenyan safaris we had experienced both private and shared vehicles, this had mostly been outside our control though in Zambia we had arranged in advance to have several days to ourselves. These times spent alone with the guide were far more enjoyable and relaxed, as we were able to spend a prolonged amount of time at sightings without the risk of boring our companions whilst we happily waited for that perfect photo opportunity. Also we knew that our enjoyment spent observing birds might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
After toing and froing between different itinerates in Botswana, South Africa and Southern Tanzania’s Selous & Ruaha National Parks, we finally opted for Tanzania’s Northern Circuit. The Northern Circuit offers a great opportunity to explore a number of different parks located at varying elevations and positions along the Great Rift Valley so that each park has its own distinct characteristics and habitats for the wildlife within it.
The trip was timed to co-inside with when the wildebeest migration would be in Ndutu (part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area)/Central Serengeti. It is during this time (January through to mid-march) that approximately 400,000 wildebeest calves are born.
We departed Norwich at 6.15am on KLM Flight KL1502 to Amsterdam arriving 1 hour later at 8.15am (local time), where we had a two hour wait for KLM Flight KL567 to Kilimanjaro. The second leg of the journey took roughly 8 and a half hours, meaning that we arrived at 8.50pm (local time).
We returned on a night flight departing at 9.50pm from Kilimanjaro on KLM Flight KL569 to Amsterdam arriving at 7.35am (local time), with an hour stopover in Dar es Salaam, increasing the flight time to 11 hours 45 minutes. Our return connection to Norwich on KLM Flight KL1505 departed at 9.20am (local time).
We were a little concerned with the connecting flights however we found this very simple, with all flights departing and arriving either on time or ahead of schedule. This was also helped by the ease and pleasantness of Schiphol airport.
I’m always slightly anxious going through immigration in any country, though the process was relatively painless apart from having to queue for about half hour (despite being one of the first off the plane, and the only arriving flight at that time), though this meant our luggage was there waiting for us. As with our previous trips to Africa we obtained our visas on arrival. On walking out of the ‘nothing to declare’ door we found ourselves outside, where there was a huge amount of people waiting to collect others who had also arrived on our flight. For a split second we were so overwhelmed we started to panic that we couldn’t find a board with our name on it, though after a moment or two we found our board that was being held by our guide/driver for the trip, Sebastian.
The safari was with Kearsleys, a long and well established Tanzanian tour company, who were able to tailor make the itinerary based upon our preferences and budget.
Feb 21 Arrive in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Feb 22 Arusha National Park
Feb 23 Manyara National Park
Feb 24-26 Serengeti National Park
Feb 27-Mar 2 Ndutu, NCA
Mar 3 Ngorongoro Crater, NCA
Mar 4-5 Tarangire National Park
Mar 6 Arrive back in the UK
The drives between the parks would vary from a few hours to 6-8 hours. This was not as tedious as it may sound as much of this was through conservation areas where wildlife was abundant so it turned into more of a game drive. It also allowed us to see more of the country which we had sometimes felt disconnected from on our previous flying safaris.
For a long time we toyed with the idea of camping for the entirety of the trip, though eventually decided where possible (and the budget allowed) to stay at mobile campsites that were set up for a season then relocated as the seasons changed, the remainder of the time would be spent in lodges or permanent tented camps.
2 nights at Outpost Lodge in Arusha
1 night at Manyara Wildlife Safari Camp just outside of the park
2 nights at Kati Kati Camp in Central Serengeti
4 nights at Serengeti Savannah Camp in Ndutu
1 night at Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge on Ngorongoro Crater Rim
2 nights at Tarangire Safari Lodge in Tarangire
All meals were provided by the camps/lodges apart from dinner when in Arusha, breakfast and lunch were sometimes picnic boxes to maximise safari time or on travel days.