Tanzanian Safari: Discovering Serengeti Park and Ngorongoro Crater
Our beloved friend Magdalene shares with us her experience in a Tanzanian safari and guides us through the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park!
Even though we haven’t been to Africa, we have clearly shown our interest in Mother Continent (remember our discovery in South Africa?). Tanzania may be an underestimated destination for some of you but it definitely “steps up its game” with Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater.
Serengeti has come to symbolize paradise to many of us. It is home to the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth - the great migration of wildebeest and zebra. Magdalene was lucky enough to see the species migrating and we couldn’t help but learn more about that.
Just before setting out for the Tanzanian safari
When and how did you come up with the idea to visit Ngorongoro conservation and the Serengeti in Tanzania?
Well, I have been visiting Tanzania for the past 10 years but the idea to visit Ngorongoro and the Serengeti was a dream-come-true-trip for my mother’s 50th birthday in January 2017. It was on our bucket list and it happened to be a great timing for the whole family. My mother’s friend Patrik Tarimo & Parota Tours organized the trip and prepared for us the best 5-day plan.
How well prepared should a traveler be before the beginning of such a trip?
So, the first two things you would have to look into are a holiday visa and the health and safety regulations or vaccinations needed before traveling. Once those are sorted, my first advice is to travel light as you are mostly on the go, so you want to be flexible. The clothes recommended are light-colored thin and long-sleeved tops and pants, which prevent sun burning and bug bites. Closed shoes for stability and safety, hat, sunglasses, sunblock cream, camera, jacket for the evenings and early mornings and finally good company and you are ready to go!
Could you outline for us, in brief, the course of this journey?
We flew from Dar Es Salaam to Kilimanjaro International airport. At that point, our designated driver Oswald picked us up and drove us to Arusha to meet with our driver and safari tour guide, Garry (the man is a living encyclopedia!). From there, we drove to our first stop, Karatu where we stayed at the amazing lodge called Acacia Farm Lodge. We spent the night and early in the morning, after breakfast, we started our journey towards the Ngorongoro conservation park. Our next stop was Serengeti, where we spent two nights in Lemala Tented Camp. Finally, we got back to Ngorongoro, but this time we drove through the crater and we spent the last night in Karatu.
Luxury accommodation and connection with mother-earth
Was the lodging provided similar to a camping site?
Yes, but in the most luxurious way, you can think of! To begin with, in both Karatu Acacia Farm Lodge and Lemala Tented Camp, the hospitality was extraordinary. The staff was warm, friendly and attentive. Amazingly tasty food, organic fruit, and local coffee were served. At Acacia Farm Lodge we even took a tour to see their local fruit/vegetable and coffee garden!
Lemala Tented Camp had huge tents with bathrooms and two fitted double beds. Dinner and breakfast were three-course meals, all included in our trip. They were served in a shared space with the rest of the visitors, not more than 20 people. Meals were a great moment to interact and share our experiences with guests from all over the world. The service was excellent and better than a 5-star hotel. The staff provided safety, information and had a good sense of humor! In the evening, they lit a fire where we were all gathering around before dinner to admire the sunset. Sunset and sunrise were breathtaking at both places we stayed.
At the campsite, it is safe walking, however, there are several rules to keep in mind as there is no fence around and thus you are part of the animal kingdom. It was fascinating, giving you a catharsis and a humble and peaceful feeling. I felt connected to mother-earth.
Reaching Ngorongoro and meeting the Maasai
What differentiates Ngorongoro from other World Heritage Sites?
Driving through the crater on the way back and at the end of our journey was like driving through heaven! Absolutely breathtaking. Different species gathered in the crater and live together in a green and blue environment. It is so magical driving down towards the crater as giraffes stand on the side of the hill, like soldiers and as you go down, there is a complete sense of harmony between nature’s colors, animals, flowers and the salt lake water…The heat creates mirror and mist effects. It is amazing how the world's largest inactive and intact volcanic caldera has created a perfect home for all these species.
How would you describe Maasai after meeting them in person?
They are very friendly and smiley people who have learned to live in small villages mostly with goods mother earth provides them. We spoke about the way they live. Coming from a completely different world, in the beginning, it’s a shock to see and understand their every-day difficulties and their way of life but they are really humble and open-hearted. They work hard to build their homes, bring food and most of them are shepherds. I have never seen so many cows and goats and sometimes 3, 4 or 7-year-olds taking care of the herds or even taking them on day trips alone!
Experiencing a real safari
Have you spotted all the Βig 5?
We were very lucky, yes! Elephants were my favorite. We saw so many migrating. The rhino was hard to spot and I was very sad to find out that there are only 22 rhinos in the whole of Serengeti as poachers have killed most of them and the species is almost extinct.On the last day, we spotted lions eating their hunt. The males ate first, then the females, and then as a surprise, a lioness appeared with 8 cubs to end the feast!
Was there a moment during the safari when you got really scared and vulnerable?
Not really, except when walking to my tent at night. Although we were accompanied, I still felt vulnerable as I was in the middle of wild nature. But as I already mentioned there are safety measures. Moreover, while sleeping, you may hear noises, for example, hyenas! So, it’s different from what we are normally used to! But again, so fascinating.
Highlights and wrapping up
What was your favorite part of this adventure?
Difficult question! I loved the whole trip but I think I got sentimental when I was at a 1-meter distance away from an elephant herd. I admired their hierarchy. Also, when we drove towards the Ngorongoro crater, it was just magical.
What did you bring back with you after your trip to Tanzania?
Memories and photos mostly as we traveled light! I also got a Maasai blanket and small presents for friends. I hope I’ll do the trip with them some day!
Would you recommend Tanzania as a safe future destination for our readers?
Definitely YES! I wouldn’t like to exaggerate but it was probably the best trip of my life so far and I have traveled quite a lot!
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We would like to thank Magdalene Orros for her help in creating this post, for answering our questions and for providing us with all these amazing photos!
Have you been to Tanzania, the Serengeti Park or the Ngorongoro Crater? Share with us your experience by commenting below!