HOW DOES A SAFARI WORK ?
Safari is the Swahili word for journey. I arranged my safari tour online. Organisers pick you up from airport and at the end of the safari bring back to the airport. For your return journey, you should choose a flight after 5 pm, if you are planning to fly back at the last day of safari. I stayed one night more in a hotel in Arusha, and took the early flight next morning.
My trip organizer:
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT ?
From November-December to April-May is a good time range to visit Serengeti and Ngrongoro. See also the graphic below about the time circle of great migration between Serengeti and Maasai Mara. I visited between 28 December to 3th of January.
WHICH AIRPORT ?
Arusha or Kilimanjaro Airports. Both airports work and Tanzania safari organisers can pick you up from any of two. Views from Arusha Airport:
WHICH TYPE OF SAFARI SHOULD I CHOOSE? TENT OR LODGE STAY?
There are basically two types of safari options: lodge-stay or tent-stay. I recommend to choose tent option. It is budget friendly plus the camping experience in the middle of wild life is unforgettable.
I have spent 2 nights in Serengeti and 1 night in Ngorongoro. As you can see in the videos, Ngrongoro camping site is very beautiful, on the other hand you will see more kinds of wild animals in Serengeti.
Serengeti Camping Site:
Serengeti camping site is a public campsite, so you will meet all kind of travelers on safari staying there overnight. There are no fences and you are completely exposed to wild nature. Make sure you bring a torch. No hot water.
Ngrongoro Simba Camping site:
Lodge stay is more expensive than the tent one. For the tent stay, I payed 710 US Dollars for the following services:
- pick up from airport
- two nights stay in a hotel in Arusha (first and last days)
- 3 nights 4 days of safari in Serengeti and Arusha, tent accommodation
- breakfast, lunch,dinner all included (which were quite delicious)
IS IT SAFE?
'You are doing this at your own risk' that is what we were told in the beginning. There has been some deadly incidents. 2 basic rules which must be obeyed:
1) Never leave the camping site.
Leaving even a few 100 meters away might be dangerous.
2) At night, be sure the door of the tent is zipped off and if you hear an animal walking around, even if very close to your tent, do not go out. They never try to go in the tent, that was what we were told from our guide Steve.
WHAT SHOULD I TAKE WITH ME?
- Long sleeves and long trousers to protect against insects,
- neutral colored clothes, bright colors should be avoided since they would attract insects,
- a mosquito repellent,
- warm clothes, nights are cold,
- safari hat and sun burn protector.
Better to put those essentials in a carry on luggage, just in case your luggage got lost during flight. Did not happen to me but I heard a story.
I took the plane from Zanzibar to Arusha Airport. It costs about 200 US Dollars. I was picked up directly from the airport and brought to my hotel. For shopping took a taxi and went to Arusha center.
I was picked up from my hotel, met the other members of our safari team, we were 5 in a jeep and after about 2 hours drive we arrived to the entrance gate of the Ngrongoro and Serengeti National Park Area:
After an hour there (due to paper work) we entered the national park area and it took about 3-4 hours until the camping site in Serengeti National Park. Although Ngrongoro is nearer, we first passed by Ngrongoro. The plan was 2 nights in Serengeti and 1 night in Ngrongoro. As you can see in the video below, on the way from Ngrongoro to Serengeti the climate totally changes. Around Ngrongoro region everywhere is green whereas as we approached to Serengeti dry climate started.
Upon arrival at the caping site in Serengeti, we unloaded the tents and made them in a fast way before it gets all dark.
During night you hear animals with growling, snarling sounds around. About 03:00 am I woke up since I heard something walking around, trusted the tips of Steve and slept further.
Wake up call from our guide Steve at 05:00, it is still dark. We had our breakfast and at sun-rise we started our early morning game drive. Early morning generally is the best time to spot the wild life since the temperature is still cool and the animals are active, including the big cats which are returning from a night of hunting. Big cats get really close to you, no need to worry, you are safe in your safari jeep, the lions, leopards just don`t care if people are around, simply ignored us:
Giraffes are the tallest mammals on Earth but still they appear to be very shy, if you make a move they can realize it and run away.
Cheetahs with nervous zebras around. Cheetahs are the fastest animal in the world, can reach up to around 113 km per hour however they tire quickly and can only keep up their top speed for a few minutes. They are much smaller compared to leopards and lions. Cheetahs are the only big cat that cannot roar. While lions and leopards usually do their hunting at night, cheetahs hunt for food during the day. In this video below you see two of them together, which shows both are males, female cheetahs never hunt together.
Elephants are the largest land-living mammal in the world. Female elephants spend their entire lives living in large groups called herds. Male elephant leave their herds at about 13 years old and live fairly solitary lives from this point. Elephants can be aggressive in case they feel their cups are threatened, so when they are approaching you should not move the car.
and the Hippos, the number 1 human killer, they killed more humans than any other animal. The name hippopotamus means ‘river horse’ and is often shortened to hippo. Hippos can be extremely aggressive, especially if they feel threatened. Average female weighs up to 1600 kgs and male up to 4500 kgs. At the same time they can run faster than Bolt. So, if they feel disturbed and start chasing you, nearly no chance to survive if there is no tree to climb around.
Leopards are solitary animals. Leopards have the widest range of habitats of all the big cats. They can survive in different geographic areas. The most extreme example is the snow leopard which lives in the Himalayas.
At the end of the day I was feeling really tired, whole driving tires you much more than you imagine.
As the night comes over the stretches of Serengeti we were back to the camping site to have our dinner. Our cook was great, we had really delicious meal of local choices.
Next morning, we had someone checking around our camping site, a baboon:
I would not try to pass under this tree... Can you see the danger ?
Look who is under the bridge:
Secretary bird having his lunch, a delicious snake!:
if you zoom in you can see the snake in his mouth:
And the wild beast. The Great Migration is the largest overland migration in the worldsees over 1.5 million wildebeest,zebra, antelopes travelling cross country, circa. 800kms. Around 250,000 wildebeest and 30,000 zebra are killed off every year by predation, thirst, hunger, exhaustion. These move in an annual pattern which is fairly predictable. The precise timing of the Serengeti wildebeest migration is entirely dependent upon the rainfall patterns each year. They leave Serengeti around April-May and come back around November-December. https://www.expertafrica.com/tanzania/info/serengeti-wildebeest-migration
After having our lunch we made our way to Ngrongoro, driving through Maasai land:
The main feature of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the Ngorongoro Crater, the world's largest inactive volcanic crater. About 20kms across:
Can you see the snake in the lake, lower left corner?
When we arrived the simba camping site, the view was fascinating, than started to be foggy, and after a storm started and rained all night. Video below shows how the storm approaching us.
As the sun rise and we prepare for early morning game drive:
The king is watching his kingdom.
A lion family:
On our way back to Arusha. After 4 days of off-road, this comfort is deserved! According to our guide Steve, this road starts from Capetown going through whole Africa ends in Cairo; 7000 miles long.