9 February 2013 - 16 February 2013 > 8 days
Our first safari! This holiday made a change for life. The header-image was our favorite place this holiday. It was such a amazing place to eat your breakfast. This trip took us to the following national parks: Lake Manyara National Park / Ngorongoro Conservation Area / Serengeti (just a little corner...) / Ngorongoro Conservation Area (The crater).
All photos are taken using a (borrowed) Nikon D300 and an Iphone 4s. After this safari our photo-hobby/addiction started !
Day 1 - Flight from Amsterdam to Arusha
Today started with our flight to Kilimanjaro International Airportin Tanzania. Such a charming airport! We had to wait for some time until all tourists were checked and visas were issued, so wanted to go out for a smoke. No problem, just ignore the no-smoking signs and be friendly! At that moment we took this picture, imagine doing this on Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam....
Our safari-guide/driver was waiting for us at the airport and took us to Ilboru Safari Lodge for the night. This holiday would be a holiday with plenty of car-trouble. On the way down to Ilboru Safari Lodge the car started to make funny noises and could only drive very slowly ... but we managed to get to our destination and would get another car the next day.
Day 2 - Drive from Arusha to Lake Manyara National park & Afternoon game drive
This morning we started with a fresh car, the second of this holiday, and went on our way to our first tented camp, Migunga tented Camp. The first time you drive through Tanzania you have a choice: you fall in love with it or hate it. We definitely fell in love with this country and it's residents.
During the trip we visited a great shop with local craftsmanship and wooden sculptures.
At Migunga tented Camp we checked into our tent which was locked. Locked? Yes but not to keep people out but monkeys (for us a first but later we experienced the same thing more often). We sat down at our porch and enjoyed a perfect packed lunch we got from our first camp.
And then: Our first game drive! In the afternoon we visited Lake Manyara National Park. Lake Manyara is amazing, perhaps we feel this way because it was our first wildlife park but it really is overwhelming. Lots of animals and birds and most special are the trees and the scenery. You simply can't describe the experience of a gamedrive on safari, you must experience it for yourself.
But again some troubles with the car, it wouldn't start easy after a stop to watch game. And you stop a lot to watch the view and photograph animals so that really is a problem!
Day 3 - Morning game drive & in the afternoon to our next camp in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
During the night they brought another car (our third one). This defender proved to be better then the Land Cruisers because it stayed with us during the rest of our holiday.
In the morning (from 6 am) we had another game drive in Lake Manyara. After lunch at Migunga Tented Camp we went on our way to the next camp: Serengeti Savannah Camps (ndutu camp). The fireplace at Migunga Tented Camp we loved so much that we've build a copy of it at home in the Netherlands!
On our way we bought RED bananas, which are only sold in this area, and had a glimpse of the Ngorongoro Crater while driving to the Serengeti. We visited a real Masai village and got a tour of their boma and information about how they live. After that the warriors showed their skills and It's true, they really can jump very high!
Fun fact: in the afternoon we were a bit late and it was already getting dark and our guide couldn't find the camp so we drove around for a while. For us a great adventurous time, for our guide a bit of stress. At last we found it and were welcomed with a drink at the campfire.
Day 4 - Morning and afternoon game drive in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Until this day Serengeti Savannah Camps is one of our favourites. This mobile camp in the Ndutu area lies in a beautiful corner of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and has beautiful surroundings. The Camp itself is also perfect. It is very luxurious but as it is a mobile camp, it's also kind of basic which we like.
We had the best breakfast ever at a beautiful place during our morning safari. After breakfast we saw our first leopard. Okay, truth is, we actually took photos of a bush people were looking at and at home, when zooming in we found the leopard!
Februari is the month of the big migration of the wildebeest in the Ndutu area so we went looking for the big herds. Okay that's easy to find! Again something you have to see for yourself. Hundreds and hundreds of wildebeests together forming a long trail of slow and fast moving animals. Followed and observed by predators of all sizes.
In the afternoon we went looking for cheetahs. And after a few hours we saw them! A mother cheetah with two cubs who were chasing a rabbit. Phenomenal what speed! Later we found another two male cheetahs. A perfect day!
PS Sorry to all the animal species we did see but didn't mention in this report. You were also amazing!
Day 5 - Morning game drive & drive to Ngorongoro Farm House in the afternoon
Our morning safari started with the view of a striped hyena, They are nocturnal and rare, even our guide had never seen one before.
Then we wanted to have breakfast at the same location as yesterday. But when we reached the spot it was taken by a pride of the lions! Then it really sinks in that you are in a wild place and always have to be careful when stepping out of the car. A lion or leopard could just be around the next bend.
In the afternoon we drove to Ngorongoro Farm house, our next "camp". It's different from the tented camps, we had an immense bedroom with our own fireplace. Not really our cup of tea but we had a great time. Especially when we had a nice conversation with American people until late at night.
Day 6 - Full day game drive to Ngorongoro Crater
Today a visit to Ngorongoro Crater (full day safari). There's a reason it's one of the wonders of the world. Beautiful and, almost, too many animals.
Some high- and lowlights:
- What an entry, driving down the crater and overlooking parts of it. Very impressive!
- We saw our first Eland. This antelope looks a bit disfigured with a small head for such a huge body. It's very shy and we couldn't get very close.
- Our first family of Black Rhinos, beautiful. But there were so many cars that mother and daughter could cross the road but the son could not or at least did not dare to cross between all the cars. We hate moments like this. There is a park rule that says no more then 5 cars are allowed to stop at the same point, but with no rangers in sight every guide wants to show the Rhinos to their clients.
- Our first Kori Bustard, the largest flying bird of the world. Impressive how the male can make himself even bigger by inflating it's crop.
- At the Hippo Pool, a popular stop for lunch, you have to closely watch the Black Kites overhead. They are notorious for stealing your lunch!
Day 7 - Hadzabe (Bush men) village and Datoq tribe
Culture Day! Yes today we visited a Hadzabe (Bush men) village and went to Datoq tribe.
The visit to the Habadze was very impressive. The men and women have their own spaces, the women making jewellery and the men hunting for food. The men showed us how to make fire and we tried it ourselves. But we both needed some help to get the fire going. After that we took a shot at the bow-and-arrow. We definitely would starve if we had to catch our food like that. After dancing and singing we bought some of their bracelets and necklaces, made of porcupine spines.
For the cultural visits we had a separate guide. He belonged to the Datoq tribe and could even speak a little of the Hadzabe language. The Habadze are hunter-gatherers and live in tiny huts.
Next was a visit to the Datoq tribe. The Datoq are farmers and also have some cattle. They have small houses. We were invited into one house and were shown how to grind wheat. It's heavy work to do that by hand and stone.
The trip ended with a walk to Lake Eyasi and a cold drink at a local bar to watch the sunset. Due to clouds it wasn't really spectacular but it was a good way to finish the cultural trip.
After this we drove to our last camp: Tindiga Tented Camp.
Day 8 - Drive back to Arusha (with lunch at Shanga)
The last day of our safari, but it won't be the last!
From Tindiga Tented Camp we drive to Arusha to have lunch at Shanga. Shanga is an enterprise which employs people with disabilities. They make creative products including tingtinga painting, glass blowing beading and metal work using recycled materials like old bottles. We bought some handmade gifts to take home.
At the same location we had a four-course lunch at The River House. After lunch we took our coffees to the beautiful garden. There are vervet monkeys in the garden and we saw a bushbuck as well.
After Shanga Amme, our driver-guide, came to pick us up to get some dinner somewhere. As a surprise he had arranged that we could eat with his family. Finally a traditional African meal! Eating without cutlery is not so easy if you want to keep clean hands. Our hosts were very good at it but we kind of made a mess. But of was good food and a lot of fun!
All good things come to an end. So after a last drink in a local bar we drove to the airport for our trip home.
Bye Africa, we'll come back soon!