Gamewatchers Safaris can organise safari tours all over Africa, not just in Kenya. Recently our UK based Safari Consultant (and keen wildlife photographer), Wayne Hammond, was in Tanzania exploring the famous northern Safari Circuit. Here are Wayne’s thoughts on the experience …
Tanzania’s world-famous northern safari circuit consists of a series of iconic natural spectacles including Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater and of course the renowned Serengeti. My own trip included visits to all these areas, but I started in the less visited, but beautiful Arusha National Park. Overlooked by Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha National Park provides for some varied activities and during my day in the park I walked with an armed ranger observing herds of Buffalo, and spent the afternoon canoeing past pods of Hippo on Momella Lake.
Game drives are also an option in the park, as is, for the more adventurous, a 2-3 day hike up the 4500 metre high Mount Meru. While it is easy to overlook Arusha National Park and head straight out to the more famous parks, a day or two here can be a nice addition at the start of a longer Tanzania safari.
Next up was Tarangire National Park. The park has a number of private concessions on its borders providing the opportunity for nature walks, night drives and cultural visits, while waterholes in front of some camps provide for animal viewing without leaving the comfort of your lounge chair! Inside the park, the permanent Tarangire river attracts huge numbers of wildlife particularly in the dry season, and the park is known for its large herds of elephants that come to the river daily to drink. Another feature of the park is the giant Baobab trees that dot the landscape, some said to be over 3000 years old.
After leaving Tarangire I drove a couple of hours towards the Ngorongoro Highlands, with magnificent views of the Great Rift valley below, and onwards to the Ngorongoro Crater. The Crater is one of Africa’s most famous natural wonders and the largest intact volcanic caldera in the world. Measuring up to 19 kilometres wide, the floor of the Crater is home to large numbers of wildlife including all of the Big 5, and provides for some excellent Lion and Rhino viewing. The popularity of the Crater can make it quite crowded, but by staying on a camp or lodge on the Crater Rim you can leave your lodge/camp very early with a picnic breakfast and enjoy this magnificent place free from the large numbers of other tourists that arrive by mid-morning. And you can also enjoy the stupendous views 600 metres down to the Crater floor!
The alternative to staying on the Crater Rim is in lodging in the Ngorongoro Highlands, around the town of Karatu. Accommodation in this area is located near and sometimes on working coffee farms providing a lovely relaxing atmosphere with beautiful tropical gardens that benefit from the rich volcanic soil found in the area. They also tend to offer a wider set of activities than the camps and lodges on the Crater rim, providing visitors with the chance to get a genuine sense of rural Africa.
Lake Manyara was my next stop. This small park on the floor of the Rift Valley is dominated by its namesake – a shallow alkaline lake that occupies typically around two thirds of the park. The lake, along with the park’s forests and woodlands, mean Manyara is a great place for bird watching, and the park is also home to some particularly large troops of baboon that hang around the road side and make themselves easy to photograph.
Having driven from Arusha through Tarangire, Lake Manyara, and the Ngorongoro Highlands, I then took the short flight to the Serengeti. It’s possible to drive to the Serengeti from the Ngorongoro area but it can take several hours so flying this element of a Tanzania safari can save you time and be more comfortable compared to driving.
I started in the central area of the Serengeti, in the Seronera valley. This busier sector has the greatest number of camps and lodges (and therefore of other vehicles) but also has very reliable wildlife viewing, and I was able to see elephant, buffalo and lion in good numbers in the couple of days I spent here. I then took the short flight up to the northern Serengeti, where with luck my timing gave me some chance of seeing the migrating Wildebeest on their journey south back from Kenya’s Maasai Mara. This is a particularly beautiful part of the Serengeti with the landscape largely comprising of stunning open plains, punctuated by the crocodile infested Mara River. As it happened I had missed the bulk of the migrating herds, which just highlights the unpredictability of this natural event, but the area was still full of wildlife and the scenery was wonderful!
From the northern Serengeti I took the flight back to Kilimanjaro International Airport to connect to my homebound flight, bringing to a close my 10 days in Tanzania.
During his trip Wayne stayed at the following properties:
Arusha – Mount Meru Hotel
Tarangire – Nimali Tarangire Tented Camp
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If you would like us to help you plan a safari in Tanzania then please contact us using our online enquiry form or contact Wayne directly by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone him in UK on +44 (0) 7986 978985 and he will be happy to discuss ideas and prices with you.