Our sales supervisor Simon Taylor just returned from a week in Tanzania, read the account of his trip here.
Flying into Kilimanjaro, with cloud unfortunately thwarting our hopes for a view of the iconic mountain, we set off for a safari of Tanzania’s famous northern circuit – Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. The road through small towns and past villages and fields of maize took us to Lake Manyara National Park, a small but pretty park and a great place to start a safari before the headline acts of the Serengeti and the crater. Fringing the lake is a beautiful forest with huge fig, mahogany and sycamore trees where we encountered blue monkeys and elephant while zebra and wildebeest grazed on the plains with eagles, vultures, storks, cranes and flamingos amongst the prolific birdlife.
We spent the night at Lake Manyara Serena Lodge enjoying the very friendly service that was to be a consistent feature of the Serena properties we visited. What better way to celebrate being back in Africa than with a G&T sundowner overlooking the Great Rift Valley?
Next morning we had an early start for what was to be an unforgettable day. A short drive from Lake Manyara and you enter the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area driving through the lush forest of the crater rim that is green year round and often cloaked in cloud. Our first view of the famous crater was a real “wow” moment but it would have to wait for a few days as we continued through a contrasting landscape of scrub and Masai cow and goat herds and villages to the Serengeti National Park. The reputation of this icon of African safari was upheld with some spectacular game viewing over the next few days. It was here that we encountered one of the migratory herds of wildebeest and zebra that the Serengeti is so famous for. What an experience to be in the midst of thousands of animals and their almost hypnotic grunting as they grazed on a classic East African scene of miles of open plains as far as the eye could see.
Our luck continued with a sighting of a caracal that had caught a Thompson’s gazelle. These beautiful cats are rarely seen and even the guide was excited. It was a lucky day for the gazelle too as he managed to escape. We drove on, towards the western part of the park with a “Lion King” moment as we found three male lions posing on a kopje of smooth, round boulders. After a long but exciting day we arrived at Kirawira, a luxury tented camp with a colonial flavour, spectacular views and a wonderful swimming pool. The lovely staff looked after us very well and even treated us to an impromptu song at breakfast the next morning.
While many come to the Serengeti to try to find the herds of the great migration, the resident game is prolific and the next few days brought so many wonderful sightings with dozens of lions, including 13 lazing in a single tree, a brace of leopard, cheetah, herds of elephants and buffalo and so many antelope species and birds it was hard to take it all in. Staying at Mbuzi Mawe with its spacious tents and tranquil setting and also at the larger lodge style accommodation of Serengeti Serena allowed us to explore different areas of this vast park and experience the diverse range of accommodation Serena has.
After a tantalising glimpse of the Ngorongoro Crater a few days earlier it was time to descend the 600 metres from the crater rim to the floor. The setting of this collapsed volcano is truly spectacular and features a variety of habitats including a lake shaded pink by thousands of flamingos, swamps, forest and open plains. The crater is famous for the density of its wildlife and it certainly did not disappoint as it seemed that there were numerous animals within sight at all times. Restored by a superb lunch in a quiet grove of fever trees courtesy of Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge we went in search of more game and were rewarded with hyena, yet more lions and an incredible 14 black rhino. The poaching of these prehistoric looking creatures for their horns is one of the greatest challenges for wildlife conservation in Africa and by visiting places such as the Ngorongoro Crater tourists can help to protect these magnificent animals.
Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge has a superb location on the rim of the crater with stunning views from each room where you can sit on your balcony watching eagles and vultures soar and the hear the sounds of hyena and wildebeest drift up from the crater floor below.
Our last stop was Lake Duluti Serena Hotel located between Arusha and Kilimanjaro airports which was a wonderfully relaxing spot to wind down after the excitement of the safari. It is also a great first stop to recover from a long flight to Tanzania before you start your game viewing adventures. The main lodge is built in the style of an old English country house with accommodation in comfortable rooms in clusters amongst the beautiful gardens. Canoeing on Lake Duluti, walks in the surrounding forest and visits to the colourful local market can all be enjoyed here.
I have been on safari many times but have never seen as much game as during these few days. The amazing animal and bird life and the truly stunning scenery will live long in the memory. As we prepared to return home I recalled the words of Ernest Hemingway, “All I wanted to do now was to get back to Africa. We had not left it yet, but when I would wake in the night, I would lie, listening, homesick for it already”.
For more information on Tanzania contact our travel experts, or call 020 7843 3500.