Monday, 27 June 2016

Trip report: Tanzanian Safari

Our safari in Tanzania was with Kudu Safaris. We had four days with them (although the fourth day was really only driving back from the Ngorongoro Crater to Arusha) and visited Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

We were in a 4x4 Landcruiser with 6 seats in the back. Every seat is next to a window, so nobody is stuck in the middle. Not that this mattered, as we were the only ones booked on our trip and so had all six seats to ourselves!

Smug to have the whole truck to ourselves!
Our driver Lazaro was also our guide and he was very keen to make sure we saw everything. We were incredibly impressed by his ability to identify wildlife far off in the distance.
Sarah with our guide Lazaro
Day One
It was quite a long drive from our lodge, just east of Arusha (where we'd stayed overnight after flying in to Kilimanjaro International airport) out to Tarangire National Park. Despite leaving around 8.30am, it was past 11am by the time we entered Tarangire.

Zebra in the background, impala in the foreground

However, almost immediately, we were surrounded by zebra, impala, and baboons. It was quite an assault on our senses to be surrounded by so many incredible animals in their home environment.


We spent the next 2 and half hours driving around the park and stopping to take pictures or simply observing the elephants, zebra, giraffe, birds - I particularly liked the ostriches - and yet more zebra.
Just look at those thighs!

Zebra everywhere!

As well as the fauna, the flora wasn't half bad either! We were particularly taken by the infamous baobab tree.

Baobab tree

The aptly named sausage tree is also one to look out for. The fruit is eaten by an array of mammals, including baboon, elephants and giraffe. It is also used to make a beer like drink.

Sausage tree - the fruit is eaten by baboons, elephants & giraffes

We found our lodge at around 2 and after being fed and watered, we enjoyed some sunbathing by the pool, before heading out on an evening drive to see more zebra, giraffe, jackal, beautiful birds and the cutest little antelope ever.

A dik-dik: one of the smallest species of antelope in the world

Where we stayed: We were in the Tarangire Sopa Lodge.

A hyrax in the grounds of the lodge
We enjoyed seeing the hyrax that had seemed to make the area around the hotel their home, as well as the beautiful birds - particularly the superb starling (yes that's really what its called) -swooping in to see if there was any left over food.

A superb starling

The pool area was also great for winding down after a hard morning's drive.

Day Two
Up the next morning we had a couple more hours in Tarangire. We nearly spotted a lion. Well we actually saw some bloodied hyenas with their breakfast, but at first we'd thought they were lions.
Not a lion but a hyena and its breakfast
We enjoyed a bit more of the Tarangire scenery, before heading out to Lake Manyara National Park - famous for its tree climbing lions! I was excited.

Unfortunately, as I explain in this post we saw no tree climbing lions at Lake Manyara. None

We did see plenty of elephants, giraffes, impala, wildebeest, buffalo and an array of beautiful birds.

The highlight of our visit here was coming across a huge troop of baboons, including some incredibly cute baby ones.

We watched them for a while before heading out and on to the Ngorongoro crater.

Lake Manyara was a pleasant enough area to while away a few hours, but was no way near as impressive as Tarangire or the Ngorongoro Crater and I was a little disappointed not to see more while we were there.

On our way to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, we stopped at a couple of roadside shops to look at souvenirs. The prices they were trying to sell this stuff for was ridiculous and we didn't see anything we liked enough to start a good haggle, so we moved on.

We arrived at the entrance to Ngorongoro to be greeted by a family of baboons, going about their business in the parking area and trying to climb inside the safari trucks to steal food!

Heading in and up to the rim of the crater, we were greeted with this awesome view.

This was also the view from the lodge we stayed at the next two nights - simply breathtaking.

Day Three
We started at 6am on day three and felt like we were the only ones up as we descended slowly into the crater below. Almost immediately, we had our first encounter with two big male lions out on a morning stroll. It was an unforgettable experience.

And moving on and around the crater, we were overwhelmed by how much we saw. It was simply teeming with game and beautiful wildlife.

After a couple of hours of driving and seeing yet more lions, zebra, hyena, jackal, birds, wildebeest and zebra, we were treated to this beautiful sight for our breakfast stop - a bloat (yes really a bloat, I just looked it up) of hippos floating in this small lake.

A bloat of hippos
We couldn't stop taking pictures.

And this continued for the rest of the day.

After having seen a number of lions, our guide turned his attention to trying to find us a rhino. We did manage to see one but from quite a distance.

We finally left the crater at around 4.30pm, exhausted but happy with a very full day of safari.

Where we stayed: For nights 2 and 3, we stayed at the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, which had incredible views into the crater below - a perfect place to unwind at the end of the day.

The lobby of the lodge
Day Four
Most of day four was travelling back to Arusha and then on to Kilimanjaro airport for our flight to Zanzibar. We did manage to get one last lion sighting in though. A lioness walked towards us and past us on the road as we drove back to the entrance of the park. Unprepared, we only managed to get this shot.

Out back on the road, our guide Lazaro pointed out the people whose job it was to guard the crops all night to protect them from elephant and buffalo. I wouldn't fancy my changes against either of these animals!

We stopped at a couple of shops on the way back, managed some limited bargaining and then headed back to Arusha.

We had an incredible time with our guide Lazaro and Kudu Safaris. He was great at spotting the wildlife from far away and our early morning stroll with the lions was incredible.

We enjoyed Tarangire and loved the Ngorongoro Crater. We were a little bit disappointed with Lake Manyara, but overall had a great trip (and we're now saving for our next safari!).

Related posts
Is that Bigfoot? No it's a black rhino. It really is, I promise
Hippo Pool - Ngorongoro Crater
Jambo! Swahili for beginners

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