I have no idea if y’all are interested in hearing all about my African safari. What I do know is that I used the internet a lot in planning our safari, and I feel a bit like I should give back to the travel planning community on the world wide web. So I’m going to post about the safari in detail. I kind of have the feeling that this is the modern, blog equivalent of setting up the slide projector and inviting all my friends over to see vacation pictures. (That image reminds me of The Wonder Years.) So, in that spirit, imagine yourself picking up a pig in a blanket while the lights dim.
A few asides:
*Safari simply means “trip” in Swahili. If you want to say that you’re going on a wildlife safari in Swahili, you have to say, “I am going into the bush to look at the wild animals.”
*Selecting accommodation is a big part of planning a safari. I am going to review our accommodation on Trip Advisor and link back to here, so if I spend a lot of time describing the places we stayed, that’s why.
*This safari was a wonderful vacation, and not reflective of our everyday life in Africa. Far from it! To prove that in our day-to-day life, we aren’t being chauffeured around while admiring dramatic landscapes, see all previous posts related to plumbing and plucking chickens .
A little background:
I was travelling with my father and my husband, which was quite a nice group. Three was never a crowd, as far as I could tell. Both of the guys were busy in the months leading up to our trip, and they aren’t that into travel planning, anyway. So I did most of the decision making about tour operator, itinerary, and accommodation. The good thing is that all three of us are enthusiastic travelers, and both Dad & H were very supportive about everything I decided on. I’ll revise that: by the end of the trip, they were praising my choices and talking about nominating me for travel agent of the year! :)
From the get-go, when my father first started talking about coming to visit us in Tanzania, he was always interested in going to the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater. That was fabulous for us, because we wanted to do a big safari like this. These game parks are pretty far away from where we live in the south, so it was excellent to have the “excuse” of going with my father to actually get us there. Plus, travelling with my father made it easy to decide about the type of safari we would do. Neither H nor myself are enthusiastic campers, but I think it’s pretty fair to say that my Dad hates camping. So that eliminated the option of doing a budget camping safari (whew!). It was such a treat to do a lodge safari, like we did.
Nov 17: depart Arusha and drive to the Ngorongoro Crater for an afternoon game drive in the crater. Overnight at the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
Nov 18: drive through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area with a mid-morning stop at the Oldupai Gorge (where the Leakys made their important discoveries). Enter the Serengeti in the eastern portion of the park and proceed with game drive while en route to our accommodation, Kirawira Tented Camp, in the Western Corridor of the Serengeti
Nov 19: sunrise game drive in the Serengeti with picnic breakfast. We liked our tents at Kirawira so much that we decided to chill there in the afternoon, rather than go out for the late afternoon game drive as was planned for later that day
Nov 20: game drive though the Central Serengeti en route to exit the park and make our way towards Lake Manyara. Accommodation at Gibb’s Farm
Nov 21: tour Lake Manyara National Park and proceed to Tarangire Safari Lodge to spend the night
Nov 22: game drive in Tarangire, returning to Arusha by evening
Tour Operator: Roy Safaris
Choosing a safari company has a big influence on the holiday. We were very happy with the decision to go with Roy Safaris. They responded quickly when I was planning the trip and were good about making changes to make sure we were getting just the safari we wanted.
Roy’s vehicles are rugged and have a good set-up for viewing game. You really spend a lot of time in the car during a safari like this, so it’s important for the vehicle to be comfortable and well-maintained. Having the extended Land Cruiser meant that we didn’t have to compete with luggage for space.
The pop-up roof had plenty of clearance for tall people. It was at a good height so you could stand firmly on the floor while looking out with an unobstructed view of the amazing landscapes. (Sometimes I felt like a dog with my head out the window, ears [hair, in my case] flopping in the wind.)
Thomas, our driver/guide was great, too! He knew just where to look for animals, and he had a good sense for when it would pay off to turn off the motor and hang out in a place for a while. Thomas was very knowledgeable and knew the answers to practically any question. I was really happy with his flexibility to make little tweaks to the program, and I also felt very safe with his driving and his advice about where/when to watch out for animals when we got out of the vehicle.