Africa is a vast country with so many different cultures, influences, and nature. For many people, Africa is on their Bucket list and especially when a safari is involved. I was lucky enough to book my ticket and fly to Tanzania for 16 days of which 5 were a safari through Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.
Going on a safari is most of the times with a 4-wheel drive, a few people, a guide and a chef! There aren’t many other options, only adding more luxury or comfort. But as I’m described as adding chaos and adventure to people’s lives, I couldn’t say no to camping in the wild.
Day 1 – Arrival in Arusha
After a long day of traveling from Europe to Dar Essalam, we had one more transfer to get to Arusha. Arriving in Arusha had me in pieces, such a little cute airport. The tour operator which we choose for the safari picked us up at the airport and brought us to the hotel, which they arranged for us.
As foodies and team always hungry, we checked with them where we could get some local food. Don’t be surprised the Tanzanian people are extremely welcoming and guest friendly, they took us with them to a local bar/restaurant to get food.
Day 2 – Start Safari – Lake Manyara
After a night in a new country, we woke up early since today was the day, I’m going to see my biggest wish: an elephant in the wild. After a quick breakfast, we met the other adventurers and got into the jeep.
We still didn’t fully know what we should expect, since we came with an open mind and no expectations. I’ve learned during my many trips abroad, no expectations help you to not get disappointed. But I did wish to see my elephant, that rhino is another question.
After a drive from Arusha to Lake Manyara which took about 2-3 hours, we finally arrived at Lake Manyara. Our guide registered us quickly and we pushed the roof open to get the full experience. Seeing baboons running around at the park entrance and after driving for about 50 meters, the first ELEPHANT! My holiday was made.
After having driven around for a few hours and having seen some exotic animals without a fence between us. we went for lunch. The tour operator packed every one of us a lunch and our view was just breathtaking: in the distance, you saw giraffes, zebras and wildebeest grazing. It was still unbelievable.
The day was ending and we made our way to the first camp. Surprisingly it was a tent with real beds and a proper shower! I hoped that all overnight stays looked like these.
Day 3 – Serengeti
After the chef made us breakie at 7 am, which was a bit later because Hakuna Matata – no worries. We packed the jeep full of tents, sleeping bags and food and made our trip towards the Serengeti. The real adventure started here, no more real beds for the next couple of days.
After we drove through the Ngorongoro Crater, which was set for later. We drove through valleys and past Maasai villages. Our jeep made a turn towards one of those villages. As you can imagine we stopped at one of them and were welcomed by a traditional dance of the Maasai men and women.
To be fair, it felt more touristy than I would have liked – but it was an experience to see how they live in their huts, learn about what they eat.
After a drive of about 4 hours we finally came to the gates of the Serengeti, don’t worry, that drive wasn’t boring at all. Still spotting loads of animals like wildebeest, zebras, and antelopes. I can’t seem to comprehend how big this park is, compare it to The Netherlands.
We started driving through the Serengeti and one of my bucket list items is crossed off, in my mind Toto with Africa is playing on repeat.
This game drive was fantastic, a family of elephants came by with their young ones, loads more of zebras and giraffes. Last but not least, a sleeping leopard in a tree. This day was gorgeous and driving back to the camp was not the worst. I do have to say it is exhausting.
Before the sun went down fully, we pitched our tents, chef made our dinner and we felt like adventurers. After dinner we slipped into our tents with sounds of hyena’s, zebras and co in the background – will I ever sleep here? Yes, within 10-20 minutes (which is 10x as long as it normally takes), I was vast asleep and was brutally woken by rain, no let me rephrase that: Storm. The tent was soaking, my sleeping bag as well. Looking back on this night, I can only describe it as an adventure.
Day 4 – Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater
The day started extremely early due to the rain, to be precise at 3 am. My buddy and I were debating if we wanted to go to the car or such since the tent was wet. We packed everything since at 6 am our day would be starting with another game drive. Quick breakfast and off we went!
The day started off with rain, however, our guide was unstoppable and we found a pride of lions with cubs and all! Staring at them, loving every minute without sleep. My mind couldn’t comprehend how close these wild animals were. After looking at these gorgeous creatures for about what felt for 10 minutes, but probably was more like 45 minutes we drove further. And you got to be kidding me, a cheetah walking around the road (read dirt). This girl or guy came from hunting and was panting, catching its breath. But that was not it, a newly born antelope was just standing – This day was magical.
When we came back, our tents were already taken down, the only thing we needed to do was to get everything in the car again. Did you expierence this phenomenon where bags and all your stuff gets bigger while traveling? Yes, we had the same issue with our gear. All works out in the end, we got everything packed and made our way to the Ngorongoro Crater.
Once we arrived there we pitched the tents, took a deep breath and let nature work its way into our systems. The buffalos were grazing next to our tents, I couldn’t believe it, everything was still unreal.
Day 5 – Ngorongoro Crater & return to Arusha
Another early day, duet o the game drive down to the crater. This habitat is one where still rhinos live – not many due to poaching! Driving through the crater we saw many warthogs, even with young ones! After driving and searching we saw a lion, zebras and last but definitely not least a rhino on the horizon. Thanks to binoculars we were able to see this endangered species!
Something I would like to add is that I’m extremely happy we had the guide driving, the roads are dirt roads and with rains, they turn into lakes and we probably would have been stuck if we would have driven by ourselves.
The game drive was about to end part of the group traveled further to Tangerine Park, but my buddy and I wanted to skip this and go down south to Zanzibar. Our next adventure awaited us: diving in Africa!
I’m blessed with someone who is extremely planned, she did research and checked everything for Africa (don’t worry guys, we switch places)
To have some information before you go:
- Get mosquito spray with at least 50% DEET
- Do take your Malaria tablets, but get proper consulting beforehand!
- Simcard at the airport: Vodacom or Tigo – You get pretty good reception, even in the Serengeti
- Don’t drink the tabwater…. do I really need to repeat this?
- A quick-drying towel for on the road, which doesn’t take much space in your backpack
- Enjoy the experience, don’t keep taking pictures
- Ask questions, your guide is doing this every week, he knows what he is talking about!
- Take a plugstrip and a converter