My itinerary told me I would be met at Kilimanjaro Airport by my driver/guide and his 4×4 safari vehicle who would remain with me for the duration of my trip. I have to admit, on stepping out of the airport I was feeling pretty tired and a bit disorientated – which country was I in again?! I walked out through the main doors to be met by my guide – Lesikar. He kindly took my bag, and I felt myself relax.
We walked over to our vehicle, it was exciting to see the huge 4×4 – just for us! I felt there was adventure ahead! I sat in the front passenger seat, and we began to make our way to Tarangire National Park for a game drive. Immediately, I realised that Lesikar was a font of knowledge and happy to share his insight into Tanzania.
I had been on a group safari before, on a much larger vehicle. And while our guide was great, it’s hard to hear over 10 or so other people! This was totally different. As we drove through the small villages and towns in between game drives, I pestered Lesikar with question after question – and was only told once on the whole trip – ‘Hmm, I think you’ve beaten me this time’!
Having grown up close to the Ngorongoro Crater, my guide’s local knowledge was fantastic and the wildlife guiding was second to none – our first spot was a dung beetle rolling his ball of dung across the road! Over the next week, I also learnt a lot about modern Tanzania which was fascinating. We compared stories of our kids – it is amazing how interests can be so similar even living thousands of miles apart, we both laughed when we realised both him and my son support Arsenal!
As you have your own vehicle, there is no pressure to move on from a sighting you are particularly interested in. For almost an hour in the Serengeti, we watched as 3 lionesses tried to build up the courage to climb down from a tree (typical cats!), and then Lesikar spotted several cubs in the grass waiting for her, fantastic.
My kids had requested a picture of a cheetah (one of the most elusive animals to find), and Lesikar patiently drove round kopje and trees in the Serengeti searching for one, using every trick he knew…. Sadly, though we saw plenty of other animals – this time it was not to be, but we certainly tried our best!
When you are on a private safari, your time is your own. If you are hungry, you can stop for an early lunch. Thirsty? Your guide has a full cool box of water in the back. Finding the road a bit bumpy on safari? Jump in the front. If, one day, you are feeling a bit tired and want to head back to camp early, it’s up to you.
Everything was organised by the local office and Lesikar so smoothly, all I had to do was be on time to leave each day, and then sit back and enjoy – and ask lots of questions!
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to go on a private safari in Tanzania, it is a truly special experience, and I was sad to say goodbye on my last day.
I was travelling to Northern Tanzania at the start of May, known for being the green (or rainy!) season. My first dilemma was what to pack! As I knew that the temperature would still be in the low to mid twenties, I decided to be brave and just packed a light waterproof jacket…Time would tell if this would be the right decision!
On my first day, I arrived in Kilimanjaro airport to be welcomed by warm sunshine – so far so good! I was heading straight to Tarangire National Park for an afternoon of game viewing.
It was when I entered the park and began my game drive that I realised the first benefit of travelling in the green season – we were the only vehicle there! Or so it seemed… When we saw a pair of sleeping lions by the side of the road, within the first half hour of entering the park, we had the luxury of watching them at our leisure. My guide told me that in the dry season, we would have had to move along due to other vehicles waiting for their turn!
Our 4×4 safari vehicle had an extendable roof that could be raised up so that you could stand up and watch game. There was also a canopy to protect you from the sun and any light rain. When we had the occasional heavy shower of rain, our driver would simply stop the vehicle and shut the roof, and we would then carry on. As soon as it dried up again, it was simply a matter of reopening the roof!
Over the next several days, I continued my safari experience through the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park. Both areas rewarded us with an abundance of wildlife, and both were much quieter then you would experience in the dry season. I continued to learn more about travelling in the rainy season.
The cats and other predators enjoy the long grass as it means they can sneak up on their prey, but it can also make the prey harder to spot! Because of this, we had some great sightings of lions climbing trees, and lying on the large kopjes, to get a better view of where dinner may be!
Equally, the other animals tend to favour the areas where there is still short grass, as it gives them a better chance of spotting their hungry predators. We saw a multitude of impala, gazelle, zebra, warthogs, ostrich, wildebeest and more… The shorter grass also offers better nutrients for the younger animals, meaning we saw large herds of elephants with their babies, also young zebras, buffalos, ostrich….
When remembering this trip, I have to mention the roads and the amazing 4×4 safari vehicle that we used. Never have I been anywhere where 4 wheel drive is so essential.
After the heavy rains that had been experienced prior to my arrival, a lot of the roads we used were in a pretty bad state of repair. Because of our experienced driver, and the great vehicle, we had plenty of adventures – including driving across a couple of rivers– but never once got stuck! In fact, we had to rescue another vehicle (without 4 wheel drive!) while in the Serengeti.
Finally – I never once wore my waterproof jacket! We were either in the vehicle or at camp during any bursts of heavy rain, and all the camps provided umbrellas (and in some cases wellies!) on the couple of occasions it was raining on the walk to dinner.
I hope to bring my kids on safari in Tanzania one day, and can honestly say that I will travel in May. It’s so much quieter, cheaper and you really still see a lot of animals – and the 4×4 experience along some of those muddy roads is a real adventure!
My last safari experience in Tanzania was 10 years ago, when I was that bit younger and a bit more gung ho! We stayed in dome tents in sleeping bags in public campsites, and loved the experience of hearing zebra munching grass outside as we slept (or at least tried to!).
This time I was doing it a bit differently, I was going ‘posh’ as I explained it to my friends! Although I had researched where I would be staying, I was eager to see just how different my first experience would be.
My first stop was on arrival in Tanzania was Tarangire National Park. I would be staying at Kirurumu Tarangire Lodge, just a 20 minute drive from the main entrance to the park. After an afternoon game drive, we pulled up at the entrance to the lodge and I was met by friendly, smiling staff and maasai holding a much needed umbrella!
I was escorted down the path by a maasai to my ‘tent’. Situated on a raised platform, with my own verandah overlooking a small section of the national park that backs on to the camp. I entered my large room through glass sliding tours to find 2 large four poster beds – just for me. At the back of the tent was the ensuite bathroom with proper flush toilet, a 2 sink vanity unit and a hot shower. After a quick power nap, I woke to find it was dark, and time to head to the main restaurant for dinner. I followed the instructions I had been given and sprayed my tent with the mosquito spray provided before I left.
After my last safari, when I struggled to find my way in the dark with a small torch, this was quite a different experience. As soon as the nearby Maasai guards heard the latch go on the door to my tent, they were waiting by the steps with lanterns to guide me along the torch lit path to the large welcoming restaurant. After a delicious dinner, they were waiting to walk me back to my tent. No more stumbling in the dark for me, the lights were switched on and the mosquito nets on the bed had been arranged.
My first night on ‘posh’ safari in Tanzania had been a revelation. I still felt that I was very much in the heart of the bush (and actually did hear zebra outside again while I slept!), but the added luxury and security made it a truly special experience. I couldn’t wait to see what the rest of the trip would bring!