Tanzania is the home of three breathtaking, unforgettable wildlife sanctuaries we visited, namely, the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Arusha National Park. Here, we viewed the Big Five as well as countless other species of wildlife. It is a photographer's dream destination. We also hiked the first leg of the Mt. Kilimanjaro hike and spent time with the Esilalei Maasai. We used a tour company, Duma Explorer, which we highly recommend. Tanzania was everything we expected from an African Safari and so much more.
Serengeti National Park: Established in 1940, this 5,700 square mile park is known for the Great Migration, a 500 mile trek traveled by 1.5 million wildebeest and 500,000 zebras among other species. When we visited in June, the herds were traveling North, on their way to Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The landscape is primarily plains and savannas and with no paved roads, transportation in and around the Park involves driving along dirt roads for 100's of miles at a time in Safari-rigged Land Rovers. These comfortable vehicles are build for bumpy roads, crossing water, and safely viewing wildlife from inside the car. The tops of each vehicle pop up so you can stand to see the Park's wild animals from within the vehicle.
Ngorongoro Crater: This is a true Tanzania safari experience. On this day alone, we view 4 of the "Big Five." Visiting this lush, diverse wild-life sanctuary was a truly remarkable experience, not to mention, a photographer's dream. There is nothing quite like visiting these beautiful animals in their nature habitat. The day itself involved an early morning game drive through Ngorongoro Crater Park followed by a long and bumpy drive to the heart of the Serengeti. Game drives cover a ton of ground, so be prepared for long, hot, and dusty rides, all of which are well worth the effort.
Arusha National Park: This small, but game-packed Park is 35 km from Mt. Kilimanjaro. We stopped here to enjoy some wildlife before our very long 300 km drive to Ngorongoro Crater. At 522 square kilometers in size, this Park is the home of Zebras, Baboons, Buffalo, Warthogs, Giraffes, Hippos, and a variety of birds, among other wildlife. It was a good practice run for what was to come during our Tanzania Safari.
Mt. Kilimanjaro Day Hike: As a day hike, this is 14 miles roundtrip with a 4,000 ft elevation gain over the first 7 miles. The trails are well-maintained and wide, with bathrooms conveniently situated along with way. Even without ever getting a glimpse of the mountain (hello, fog), it was an overall fun experience. Besides, how often can you say you hiked part of the tallest mountain in the African continent?
Visit with the Esilalei Maasai at Isoitok Camp: This award-winning sustainable tourism lodge works alongside a local Massai village to promote responsible cultural tourism. We enjoyed learning about the Maasai, including visiting the neighboring hut-village and taking a medicine walk with a Maasai warrior, "Bryan."
Where We Stayed
First a note: Traveling to Tanzania, in our opinion, requires using a quality tour company. In almost all the other places in the world that we've visited, we have been our own tour guides, rarely using an actual company or travel agent. Here, though, using a company is essential as visiting the Parks without a guide is not advisable at all.
Duma Explorer Safari Company: This Tanzanian and American-owned company came recommended by a family friend. The American owners, Stacy Readal, happens to live close-by to our house so we were able to meet with her in person ahead of our trip. While convenient for us, we could have done everything by email and phone just the same. We have nothing but great things to say about this awesome company. From door-to-door, they had us covered for everything we needed on our trip. Our driver Ebenezer (after Kilimanjaro and for the rest of the week), was so talented at locating animals on our game drives, in addition to just being an over all, fun guy to be around. The lodging at each stop was perfect and each had surprisingly tasty food, along with amazing service. We highly recommend booking with Duma Explorer.