What to Expect on Safari in Tanzania

What to Expect on Safari in Tanzania

The word “safari” comes from the Swahili language meaning “journey,” but a safari is more than a journey – it’s a life changing and mind-opening experience, and something to definitely move to the top of your bucket list now that international travel has opened up.

Tanzania offers one of Africa’s most dynamic safari adventures, whether explored on its own or paired with another East African destination. Bordering Kenya to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Rwanda to the west, twenty five percent of Tanzania has been designated as a conservation area. It boasts multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites, the largest national parks and Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Most travelers come for the Serengeti’s “Great Wildebeest Migration,” the largest movement of animals in the world, but there is plenty of wildlife to view year-round including the big five (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino).

On my itinerary, after spending time on safari in Kenya, we flew from Nairobi’s Wilson airport to Kilimanjaro International Airport, Tanzania, and from there, hopped onto a quick flight by bush plane to Lake Manyara Airstrip.

Photo by Leif Blessing on Pexels.com

A safari in Tanzania includes six-to-eight-hour daily game drives conducted by a professional guide to designated protected areas in a pop-up roof style 4×4 vehicle. Most safari vehicles come fully equipped with cold beverages, binoculars, charging ports, and wifi. You will become fully immersed in local knowledge about the landscape, flora, and wildlife encountered along the way. Often a “walking safari” can be arranged and a highlight of the day will be lunch enjoyed outdoors “in the bush.”

There are several locations you can include in your Tanzania itinerary based on how much time you have allotted to your trip. Traveling between the various locations will be by 4×4 vehicle or bush plane, depending on travel distances and budget. Here are a few top locations to consider:

Ngorongoro Crater:
A UNESCO World Heritage site, this three million year old volcanic caldera is known for its incredible population density of animals that call this fertile 100 square mile grazing area home.

Lake Manyara National Park:
Stretched out at the base of the Rift Valley (a lowland region that forms where Earth’s tectonic plates move apart), its shores are populated by more than 500 bird species including thousands of pink flamingoes. If you look up, you might also catch site of tree climbing lions!

Olduvai Gorge:
This “Cradle of Mankind” holds the earliest evidence of the existence of our human ancestors. The Leakey family and fellow paleoanthropologists, discovered human fossils dating back two million years. The forest, swamp, and grasslands are home to monkeys, baboon, jackals, spotted hyena, bull elephants, hippo, and dark maned lions.

Tarangire National Park:
Hosts one of the largest populations of elephants in its vast savannah dotted with giant iconic baobab trees. During dry season, herds of zebra, wildebeest, and their predators (lions, cheetahs, leopards) make their way to this area because of its large river, an important water source.

Arusha National Park:
Home to Mount Meru, the second highest peak in Tanzania, a walking safari through the wide open plains will get you up close with giraffes, zebras and Cape buffalo.

Serengeti National Park:
A World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of Africa, this park lives up to its ancient Maasai name which means “endless open plains.” The sweeping savannah grasses turn golden in the dry season, then green and dotted with wildflowers in the rainy season. The Serengeti welcomes the constant grazing of large herbivores. Annually, over 1.1 million wildebeest joined by herds of zebra and Thomson’s gazelle, traverse over 800 kilometers. They graze in the southeastern portion and then make their way towards the north in search of more verdant lands. The Serengeti, along with the South Kenyan Mara ecosystem across the border, is where the wildebeest can be viewed by land, chartered plane, or hot air balloon.

Where to stay?
Accommodations in Tanzania include luxury tented lodges, tree houses, small inns, and hotels. Some accommodations are outfitted with private plunge pools and outdoor terraces with panoramic views. As a travel agent, I can help you pick the perfect accommodations for you and family.

Elewana The Manor at Ngorongoro
Neptune Luxury Lodge Ngorongoro
Neptune Luxury Lodge

It’s never TOO early to plan your next adventure. Email me: mollie@herrickstravel.com and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for all Herricks Travel customers. Looking for the best of the best Safari experience? Let me help you plan your trip with Micato Safaris, one of the world’s top outfitters, delivering unparalleled service.

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Asante Sana! (Thank you!)

Travel with a Purpose: Kenya

Travel with a Purpose: Kenya

Safaris are magical, otherworldly experiences, wholly unlike other journeys. Not just transported to a foreign land, you are completely immersed in nature, culture, food, history. Safaris enrich the mind, stretch the imagination, calm the soul, and encourage self-reflection. A typical day? Rise with the sun and enjoy a peaceful breakfast in the wilderness; hold your breath while a mamma lion brushes up against your safari vehicle; dance with Masai warriors upon exiting a bush plane; tour a proud village elder’s mud hut; quietly tip toe through the brush to gaze at the majesty of a carefully guarded rhino; contemplate a flawless night sky and the Milky Way stretching over the evening bonfire.

But, my recent trip to Kenya included an even MORE unique experience, thanks to Micato Safaris and its nonprofit arm, AmericaShare. A recent article in AFAR magazine reminded me of what made this safari so memorable. Our two-week travel industry familiarization trip to Kenya and Tanzania hosted by Micato included a visit to one of the organizations supported by this award-winning travel company: the Harambee Community Center. Located in Mukuru, East Nairobi’s densely populated slum, this center left an indelible impression, and reminded me that travel for enjoyment can also include travel with a purpose: to open your heart and mind and shine a necessary light on causes and people around the world.

Packed into Mukuru are 500,000 people whose daily income barely exceeds four dollars. The township lacks basic formal infrastructure, running water, electricity, and sanitation. Its residents live in tiny one-roomed corrugated iron shacks with up to twenty families sharing a communal water tap and toilet.

AmericaShare, founded over 30 years ago, is dedicated to improving the lives of the children living in Mukuru. Through education and community outreach programs, they provide disadvantaged children with access to basic education resources to facilitate sustainable change. Many children in Mukuru cannot afford to consistently attend school. While public primary school tuition fees are covered by the government, hidden costs, such as uniforms, books, and lunch fees keep children from attending.

Harambee CenterOur travel agent group was brought to the Harambee Center – it means “Let’s Pull Together” in Swahili.  The center is a multi-purpose facility – a bright and beautiful oasis of hope and green space in the middle of the Mukuru slum. A vital community center, it allows residents to gather for lectures, educational sessions, and meetings. Our visit (pre-pandemic) included a tour of the classrooms, lending library, and computer resource building. Students of all ages were seated shoulder to shoulder at tables, quietly doing homework, studying for exams, and forming study groups. The library is stocked with over twenty thousand books, including novels, textbooks, and study guides. Books are a rare gift in Mukuru; many schools do not have adequate textbooks, and novels are a luxury most cannot afford.

AmericaShare has programs aimed at helping children living in poverty remain in school, giving them the opportunity to learn as every child deserves. For every trip booked with Micato Safaris, the company sends one child to school. Now in the age of COVID-19, AmericaShare’s mission has become even MORE dire: providing protective masks and organizing food donations to help ameliorate the increasing problem of hunger, something that is running rampant worldwide. Now, keeping kids from falling behind due to the recent closure of schools is even more paramount. New rules on social distancing and the lack of smart phones, tablets, or even the internet, severely limits digital learning.

Harambee Center

Harambee CenterI was grateful for the opportunity to see this organization’s efforts in action and help shine a light on their mission. Although the residents are faced with the daily challenge of survival, our visit to Harambee included an opportunity to see the children’s commitment to education, positivity, and kinship.

Our tour ended with a jubilant musical performance by the children (see video linked below). As the singing concluded, the children enveloped us and welcomed each of us into their circle, forever leaving their mark on our hearts and our souls. To learn more about AmericaShare and make a donation click here.

Click on photo to view video:

Need help putting together your Bucket-list Trip or Dream Vacation? It’s never TOO early to plan. Email me: mollie@herrickstravel.com, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for all Herricks Travel customers.

To view this complete article online and read my previous articles, use this link: uniquefamilytraveler.com.

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Mukuru and Harambee Center exterior photos courtesy of AmericaShare.