It’s guest blog Monday, and today we’re in for a treat. My clients Christine Lanthier and Sue Irvine have just returned from their safari to Tanzania. I’d arranged their February safari with my virtuoso partners, Big Five.
Christine has graciously agreed to share her thoughts on the trip, and her beautiful photos.
We arrived in Tanzania, Kilimanjaro Airport on February 2011. We stayed that night in a lodge beside the airport. We were a little nervous because the first thing we saw was a spider on the mosquito curtain (we saw very few mosquitos) and we bravely had to dispose of it.
Our guide met us with a safari truck and we drove about 2 hours to Ndarakwai Ranch, a private conservation ranch. We drove over the roughest roads (sometimes a field) we had ever been on and then found out we were lost and our driver had to get instructions.
We are greeted with warm facecloths most times when arriving at a camp. The food was very good at all places and always set up for fine dining even though we did have money and bird visitors at times.
We did a walking safari with 2 guides, one with a gun. It was really great having the zebras gallop by us.
We also went on a night safari on this ranch that we could not do in a National Park. The guide shone a large light into the darkness and we saw many sets of eyes and our guide could identify all of them.
Then we saw a large snake sleeping high in a tree and realized we just walked under that tree in the daytime. This is when it all became real for me. The next day the monkeys gave us a show for several hours while we relaxed in the dining area.
We then went on to Lake Manyara – our guide was a Masai so he explained a lot about the people and houses we saw.
We stayed at Kirumuru Tented Lodge on top of the Rift Valley and looked down on Lake Manyara.
We did 3 half day safaris in this National Park. We saw many families of elephants, giraffes, baboons – we were surprised that they really just ignored the trucks. Lake Manyara is quite green with trees – more jungle like (this is the dry season) but any streams/rivers were dried up. Lake Manyara had flamingos and hippos and again the shore area was quite dry.
We then spent 2 days in the Ngorongoro Crater that was quite a different experience. The sides of the crater were very steep and jungle like but the basin was flat (like a field) that surprised me. Here we experienced the migration of wildebeest, buffalo, zebra and finally saw some lions that again just casually walked beside our truck.
We saw different birds of course along our journey – many storks and cranes. We stayed at a coffee lodge that night that was a bit more luxurious complete with a pool and entertainment. We then drove to the Serengeti and stayed in a mobile tented camp. The tent actually had a safari shower, a chemical toilet, a sink, solar lighting and a generator for some hours during the day.
A safari shower was an experience – they fill up leather like buckets outside your tent and the water runs down through a shower head by gravity. This means washing your hair quickly. You do get very dusty on safari. We thought we would be nervous in a tent like this but it had better closures than any of the permanent tents we stayed in. If you want internet, don’t expect it in too many places – we had access twice. We were impressed that the Big Five rep from Narobi called us twice to see how we were and they sent emails back to our families.
We did the balloon ride in the Serengeti. It was a bit of a disappointment because everyone said it was the highlight of the trip and not to miss it. We did not see much but flat land and herds of animals and there was little thrill for either of us. It is worth going up but not worth the price we had to pay. Now eating a full breakfast in the middle of no where was exciting.
We enjoyed all of our trip (except for the long plane rides), the weather was wonderful, our guide was wonderful and taught us some Swahili – hakuna matata!