Day 3 – Lake Manyara
This was our third and final day on our Safari and I was a little gutted to be leaving, mostly I was gutted as I have loved the accommodation so much and I knew we were going back to Arusha to stay in Bright Star hotel…which should be renamed ‘not so bright star’ as it’s fairly shitty but for $27NZD a night, we can’t complain too much!
Backtracking – Frank told us that Lake Manyara National Park is one of Tanzania’s smaller and most underrated parks. While it’s pretty small, its vegetation is diverse, ranging from savannah to marsh to evergreen forest (11 ecosystems in all) and it supports one of the highest biomass densities of large mammals in the world. I was most excited to see the baboons and was praying for another elephant as these are fast becoming my all-time fav animal!
Result – we managed to see so many baboons, elephants, birds, a couple of monitor lizards and buffalo. It was really overall a fantastic park to visit but I understand why most companies visit it first instead of last as compared to the other 2 it is the least impressive.
We spent about 4 hours overall in the park, had lunch with Frank before making the 2-hour journey back to Arusha, where I slept pretty much the whole way!
So overall, the Safari was amazing. We both think 3days/2nights are enough. We were able to tick off the Big 5, as well as so many other amazing animals as well as some fantastic National parks. Price wise this cost us $900USD pp…yes, it’s expensive but to be honest, all Safari’s are. We again did this with Monkey adventures, and we loved it. This company have made our time in Tanzania so much more rewarding and I cannot recommend them enough.
Off to Dar El Salaam tomorrow for 1 night before it’s laters’ Africa…HELLO ASIA!!
Day 2 – Ngorongoro Crater
I reckon I was most looking forward to this day out of the 3 days. We had been told it was the main area to see the ‘Big 5’ as well as many other species of wildlife. First, I need to tell you about the crater itself as it is a pretty spectacular place! Effectively it’s a caldera, which is a “cauldron-like” depression created when a volcano emits large amounts of magma in a short amount of time, and the volcano caves in like a sinkhole. We were told that back in the day it would have actually been a mountain larger that Kilimanjaro and that there are only a handful of calderas around the globe, but the Ngorongoro is special because it’s the world’s largest fully intact caldera that hasn’t yet turned into a lake.
It’s also 1 of the 7 natural wonders of Africa which is an incredible bucket list ticker in itself. Here’s some pretty phenomenal animal facts about what lives in the crater. You ready? Here goes…7,000 wildebeest, 4,000 zebras, 3,000 eland, 3,000 gazelles, 600 hyena, 200-300 elephants, over 60 lions, 30 rhinos, and many others!
Upon arrival we were blown away with how incredible this crater is. It’s huge to say the least and from the top allows spectacular views of the whole crater. In the first half an hour we pulled up to a few other safari vans that were parked as we wanted to check out what was happening…well, I am glad we did. In the distance we watched 2 lions take down a zebra then chow down on it for the next 40 minutes! While this was happening a bunch of Hyena and jackals joined the party waiting patiently for the king of the jungle to be satisfied and move along! What an experience, we could not believe our eyes!
From there the day was awesome, we saw Rhino, buffalo, flamingo’s, bird life and I think I overdid it as after lunch I was asleep in the car. Luckily, Frank who is a legend took us too the Hippo pool where I was able to tick them off the list. We were also told that just last year a woman on a walking tour was mauled by a hippo and died… crazy hey? That’s why you STAY IN THE VEHICLE!!
Getting back to Eileen’s Tree Inn was much needed. I swam, drank some beer and we sat down to the most delicious dinner before passing out around 9pm. Who knew that wildlife spotting could be so tiring!
Safari - 3 days/ 2 nights
We have finally recovered from the most gruelling adventure of our lives – hiking Mount Kilimanjaro. Before we booked this, we always knew that while in Africa we had to do a safari. As The hike with Monkey adventures had went so well, we also booked our safari with them which would take us on an animal immersion for 3 days/ 2nights leaving from Arusha.
We were picked up by our guide Frank, who is incredible, full of knowledge and is very personable guy with fantastic English. What we hadn’t realised is that we were on a private tour so just me, Leo and Frank. It is actually perfect though as we have the full 7-seater safari monster truck to ourselves and effectively call the shots with how long we want to stay in each place for.
We began our drive to Tarangire National park which is home to warthogs, elephants, giraffe, leopards and much more wildlife. Tarangire has the second-highest concentration of wildlife of any Tanzanian national park (after the Serengeti) and reportedly the largest concentration of elephants in the world. We were so excited to see these animals in the wild! The drive there took around 2 hours, but it was interesting to pass along the towns and villages along the way while Frank told us all his stories and about his life.
Arriving at the park we were greeted with a heap on monkeys and were able to explore and grab a coffee for 15mins while Frank checked us in and obtained the correct paperwork. Upon entering the park, I was immediately blown away – it was so green, lush, full of life and scattered with the infamous baobab trees (these has been on my bucket list, so I was so excited to see them). The first wildlife that we saw was actually a ‘hornbill’ a.k.a ZAZU from Lion King! From there we passed various families of Warthog with their babies and then we saw it… right in front of us was a leopard! 1 of the big 5, and incredibly difficult to see during the day! I MEAN, WHHAAATTT??? 10 minutes into the park and already ticked that sucker off the list. I was practically levitating with excitement. We waited to see if it would come any closer but eventually it just disappeared into the bush and we made our way deeper into the park. From there we had the most magical elephant encounter I have ever witnessed. A herd of around 20 surrounded the car, with their babies while we snapped away. These gentle giants are one of my fav animals and getting to see their young up close was truly breath-taking.
After lunch, and after ticking off essentially all the wildlife in the park we made our way to ‘Eileens tree’ accommodation, where we would spend the next 2 nights. IT IS AMAZING! It should be renamed, Eileens secret wonderful garden – it has a pool, the most amazing food and the rooms are HUGE!! On top of that while we were lounging by the pool out steps our friends from our hike! What are the chances? The day just got even better! We had the most amazing meal with these guys before heading to bed. Tomorrow we are off to the Ngororogoro crater to spot some lions…I, as per always am so excited!
Hey! I'm Ally. I left the UK in 2011 to move overseas and ended up in New Zealand - my new home. This year we are taking a gap year to loop the world stopping in some AMAZING destinations - and I'm passionate about sharing these adventures with you!