When you´re visiting Arusha in Tanzania you definitely have to go on safari. I visited two national parks, Lake Manyara and Tarangire. Both were very nice in different ways. I would say that Lake Manyara has more animals, at least big animals, but have to keep your eyes open to see them in the bushes. Tarangire is more open. It is big steppes with not too much bushes and trees (however it has these huge trees called Baobab-trees). In Tarangire can you see a lot of elephants and birds in different kinds. I would guess that it is about 120 (maybe a bit more) kilometers to these national parks. They are pretty near each other. If you want to see rhinos you have to drive a bit more. In Serengeti national park they have rhinos. I haven't been there myself but they said so. It is about 300 km to drive if you want to go there. Remember also that they don't have any four-lane highways which means that the journey can last longer than you expect.
When I was there we drove in own Jeeps and that is recommended by me. It is easy and enjoyable. I took a lot of pictures and I was so fascinated. There were so many animals that I had only seen on TV before. I want to show you some of my pictures from Lake Manyara and Tarangire. Hope you'll enjoy them.
- National/State Park
Serengeti National Park
It’s famous. Famous for its herds of wildebeest and zebra. Famous for their mass migrations. Famous for the predators who feed off them.
It’s enormous. A mixture of longer grassland which looks empty - maybe it is, or maybe the grass is hiding stuff - and shorter grassland with acacia which is full of life.
On our first day we say a lion feeding at a kill - a buffalo. But it takes 3 lions to down a buffalo, so where were the rest? We went back at dawn the next day and say 3 lions feeding there.
We thought that would be it for lions. Then just as we approached the park gate on our way out, there was another. He was in an area of long grass with no shade - strange at midday. He’d been feeding, so maybe that was it.
Next minute a second one appeared. Then we spotted another in the shade of the only bush within sight - just beside the track. As we got closer, we saw 6 or 7 lions under it, piled up against each other scrapping for space.
We’d seen a leopard late the previous day, up a tree with its kill. At least I saw its tail, I think.
We went back early next morning. As we approached, 2 young leopards wandered past us on the track. Just feet away.
- National/State Park
Tarangire National Park
Tarangire was our first outing on our safari trip. It’s less well known and less visited than others in the area, but it has lots of elephant.
We met the first herd within 5 minutes of going through the gate. By contrast, we saw very few in Ngorongoro, and not many more in Serengeti. Of course maybe our guides were not looking for them by then as we’d already seen lots.
That first herd ambled past us about 20 metres away, and one female came right up close (maybe 5 metres) to check us out.
We saw plenty other groups as well. A highlight was coming across a lone giraffe grazing on an acacia (what else) close to the track. She came right up close to check us out as well.
In total we must have been in the park for about 6 hours, with a short break for a picnic lunch. On that subject, beware the vervet monkeys. They’ll swoop and steal something so fast it’s over before you know what’s going on.
- National/State Park
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
It’s a conservation area (as opposed to a national park) because the Masai tribe are allowed to live and farm within it. Not allowed in a national park.
It is spectacular.
By the time we got there (day 4 of the safari) we’d seen lots of stuff in other places, but not any rhino. We drove around for about 3 hours looking for them.
Along the way we saw a cheetah, which was a bonus. “Seldom seen” according to my guide book.
We had a great breakfast by a hippo pool.
Finally, we found rhino. Two of them (mother and son). They looked a bit bemused by being surrounded by 30 safari vehicles and goodness knows how many touroids. Can’t say I blame them. A real traffic jam.
Afterwards one of our guides told us that was the closest he’d ever seen rhino. Good stuff.
A great way to finish up.
- National/State Park
Your safari company can arrange for you to take a break from the animals and see some tribes in the area.
3 hours drive to the campsite meant that we were within 45 minutes drive of 2 tribes.
Most people stop off to see the Massai tribe villages near to the Ngorongoro Crater, however, I wanted to see some of the more rare tribes.
The Togo tribe live just outside a small mountain village.
They use material they find to make metal objects to sell such as arrow heads and jewellery. The family of 8 lived in a small compound made of several small straw huts. The village was nice, but had a feeling of being 'set-up' to please the tourists.
The Hadzabe tribe are much more remote and cut off. They are hunter gatherers still and move around to get food. They live in small camps but their homes are just a few leaves and twigs, not really able to call it a house. We met the tribe at 6am and joined them on their hunt with arrows. 3 hours later, nothing had been killed, but they still let us use their arrows and offered us a 3 day old porcupine to eat. I passed.
The first stop on most safari routes is the lush, green Lake Manyara National Park.
The journey here from Arusha takes about 2-3 hours. Upon entering the park, you are likely to encounter scores of Blue Monkeys and Baboons.
After driving around for some time, expect to come across lots of Elephants, Zebras and Giraffes.
Later we saw Flamingos and a couple of Hippos in the Lake.
Time flies by as you turn each corner and see another herd or family of animals.
When choosing a safari in Arusha you have over 100 companies to choose from.
Do your research before you go. Discuss your needs with them.
I can only comment on the company we used - Bobbys Safari.
Bobbys were about the best price we found. They adapted the tour to take in the Hadzabe tribe as we asked.
The guide (Jon) was not only knowledgable but clearly loved his job and enjoyed showing off his country.
The cook too was great. A man of few words, he never failed to provide tasty and filling meals.
Try the filling local staples..
Here, you just have to try Ugaali (made from a root vegetable, a bit like Topiaca) & Sukuma weeki (a curry made using spinach & lamb). The combination is heavy, nutritious & quite tasty.
The former dish is a very economical staple whereas the latter is considered a luxury by the locals, hence the name 'weeki', ie at the most they can afford this 'extravagance' once a week.
You can get these in many restaurants, but go for one that looks more traditional, where they tend to stick closer to the normal recipe. Prices however are not economical by local standards!! You're a tourist after all, trying out a 'novelty item' (2 in this case!!)
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