Safari Tanzania? Great idea! Learn more about the Tanzanian Safari experience

Tuesday, April 05, 2016 Safaris by Elina Pedersen

In my post about Mount Kilimanjaro I have briefly mentioned that before we started climbing we did a Safari in Tanzania to acclimatise.

And of course to see the big five of Africa.

Do you know what “the big five” is?

The big five is the biggest and the most well know animals of Africa that can be seen on Tanzania safaris.

 

Zebra in Ngorongoro Crate

The Big Five

The big five animals are:

Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard and of course the mighty king of beasts – Lion.

Now:

The interesting part about the big five is that some of the animals are easier to see than the other ones.

I was very much surprised how easy it is to see a lion.

young laze lion Ngorongoro Crater

Young lazy lion in Ngorongoro crater

And guess what?

We were even lucky enough to see lions hunting…

One young wildebeest (also known as Gnu) got separated from the herd…

And oh dear, that was a big mistake.

Or at least that’s what we thought.

We were sure:

The gracious and powerful pride of lions will quickly get this hunting over with.

The pride was made out of 4 young lions.

But you know what?

Lions are big fluffy lazy cats.

Cats that I wouldn’t stork, but still cats.

Lions that were lying in the sun ignored cars and other animals. 

They really couldn’t be bothered to run faster, or to try and corner the young Gnu.

They made a lot of mistakes.

The Gnu got away.

I wasn’t sure who to support, but I didn’t want to see an animal die.

I was cool with the way the situation unfolded.

Our guide told us:

You are very lucky to see lions hunting since they usually hunt at night

We asked:

– Shouldn’t lions be the ultimate hunters? The kings of beasts?

Our guide laughed vigorously:

– Yes, they are kings of beasts, look how lazy they are!

– They can go wherever they like and sleep wherever they please and all other animals leave.

We were confused.

For a while, that is.

Until we saw this:

Lion close to the car on a safari

A lion relaxing in the sun.

Sheesh…. They really couldn’t care less about the tourist, other animals or even…

Cars!

All other animals, even elephants, would at least pay attention to you or walk faster when they see you.

But not the king of beasts. The king of beasts doesn’t care.

And we saw this kind of scenery one too many times…

pride of lions on a safari

Lions that ate a day ago and are not planning on hunting soon.

The animal that really fascinated me on our Tanzania Safari and frankly made me feel very sad was this lonely Rhino.

Black rhino nrogonrogo crater

Lonely black rhino in Ngorongoro crater.

This Rhino is not being rejected by his family.

The reason why he is alone is different:

It is a Black Rhino.

Unfortunately, the population of Black Rhinos has been dropping significantly in the past years.

It is now hard to see a rhino on a Safari Tanzania.

Have you ever wondered if your kids would get to see these amazing creatures?

I haven’t, before that same day.

So how many are there left in the wild?

There are about 5000 black rhinos left.

So the world figures are:

Rhino Species Population
White Rhino (Africa) Between 19’682 and 21’077
Black Rhino (Africa) Between 5’042 and 5’455
Greater one-horned rhino (Also known as Indian rhino) Around 3500 species
Sumatran rhino (Asia) Less than 100
Javan rhino (Asia) 58-61

You might be wondering…

Why did rhinos do such a bad job surviving in Asia?

The answer is quite simple:

Asian countries poach for rhino’s horns.

Guess what the horns are used for?

It is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat fever, rheumatism, gout, and other disorders.

Some asians think it can also cure snakebites, hallucinations, typhoid, headaches, carbuncles, vomiting, food poisoning, and “devil possession.”

But!

It is not in anyway, as commonly believed, used as an aphrodisiac!

Now:

I don’t want to scare you with all the terrible photos of dead rhinos missing their horns.

Nonetheless, please do visit Save the Rhinos conservation website and learn more about those amazing animals.

Only through knowledge we can stop this ancient animal from extinction.

Unfortunately, because we took a shorter trip (3 days vs. the usual 7 days) we weren’t able to see a leopard.

I’ve mentioned earlier that we did Safari in Tanzania.

Nonetheless, there are numerous countries in which you could book a safari and see the Africa’s big five:

  • Botswana
  • Zambia
  • Uganda
  • Namibia
  • Ethiopia
  • South Africa
  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Zimbabwe
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Malawi

All of them have some amazing places to visit.

If you are going to Kenya or Tanzania though, you will most likely visit Serengeti National Park (which is called Maasai Mara in Kenya).

Which as you may have guessed is named after the Maasai people.

Singing in Maasai village

Singing in Maasai village.

To cut to the chase:

I strongly recommend doing a longer safari. At least a 5-7-day one.

We did a 3-day one Safari in Tanzania and I feel that we should have done a longer one.

Here is how our itinerary looked like.

Safari Tanzania 3 Day Itinerary

Day 1: Lake Manyara National Park.

In the morning we drove to Lake Manyara National Park.

Lake Manyara is amazing if you want to see Hippos, Elephant, Zebra, Buffalo, Giraffes, Baboons, Blue and Velvet monkey, and Warthogs.

There is an observation platform that goes directly to a lake and is made especially to look at Hippos.

Hippos at lake Manyara

Hippos in Lake Manyara National Park.

For lunch with most safaris in Tanzania you will be given a lunch box and you will picnic in a special parking area.

Picnic areas are open areas where all safari cars stop for lunch.

Wild animals stay away from big gatherings, so they won’t approach.

I didn’t mention but…

You will not be allowed out of the car for the duration of the whole Tanzanian safari either.

Wild animals are wild.

After lunch you will probably do a little more animal watching and will after go to a lodge or a camp.

We’ve decided to book a lodge, since we didn’t want to camp before we climb Kilimanjaro.

Interestingly, I thought we saw all the animals already and that it won’t get better.

It sure did!

Day 2: Ngorongoro Crater

We drove to the Ngorongoro crater through Karatu town.

Not to get into many details, the drive wasn’t great as we witnessed a horrible car accident.

So all the way to the crater we were shocked and kept quiet.

It all changed as soon as we descended into the Ngorongoro crater.

We were visiting at the end of February.

“So what?”, you will ask.

That’s exactly when most animals have babies as the wet season begins in March.

All in all, the Ngorongoro crate is definitely a must for an Safari Tanzania.

All the animals you can only imagine including the big five are walking around peacefully in the crate.

This is exactly where we saw lions hunting.

And the Rhino.

And thousands of pink flamingos (unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo…)

Well…

And the Maasai village.

Did you know?

Maasai men are hunters and they jump very high.

The highest jumper gets the best bride.

Dancing with Maasai

Pssst…the guy in shorts is not Maasai, he is Lithuanian.

Their diet consists mainly of crayfish, avocados and beer.

Joking:

It’s animal blood, meet and maybe occasionally some grain.

No veggies – At all.

So they definitely don’t get their five a day.

And again for lunch you will have a lunch box with you.

Actually, guess what you’ll have for lunch?

Chicken, always chicken.

Typical Safari lunch

A typical Tanzanian safari lunch box. What you see on a side is a deep fried chicken half.

After a few days I stopped eating lunch.

Because one morning I woke up and all I could say was:

BUCUCK!!

An important note: KuKu Bora

Means: The best chicken.

Use it and Chefs in Tanzania will love you!

Day 3: Tarangire National Park.

The last day of our Safari in Tanzania we drove from Ngorongoro crater to Tarangire National park.

The animals seen in Tarangire include: Elephant, Buffalo, Zebra, Wildebeast (Gnu’s), Lion, Leopard, Python, and impalas.

Over 450 species of birds live in Tarangire, thus if you love bird watching you will love this place.

Frankly, Tarangire was the park we liked the least.

After an amazing day at the Ngorongoro crater it was very hard for us to be impressed by anything.

Moreover, we already saw everything we came for.

Our anticipation to start climbing up Kilimanjaro started inhabiting our minds.

It was hard to focus on animals.

Nonetheless, a baby elephant (who was about 6 months old) and a very arrogant monkey did have our attention for a while.

All right, the baby elephant was super cute and probably had our attention for half an hour.

6 months old baby elephant

6 months old baby elephant in Tarangire National Park.

What do you think is the best way to tell baby elephants’ age?

Well for a baby, if he’s already developed interest in solid food but can still easily pass under the parents belly:

He/She is older than 6 months but younger than a year.

It’s a little tricky with older elephants.

The only way to tell their age is by looking at their teeth.

And elephants have not 3, not 4, not 5…

… but 6! molar sets!

African elephants lose their last set of molar teeth at 65 years of age and that’s when lions can start attacking them.

Before that even the king of beasts respects the size.

By mid afternoon we felt tired – We knew that tomorrow the real challenge would begin.

Scared but excited I couldn’t fall asleep.

Next morning we woke up at 5:30 and started driving toward Kilimanjaro National Park to start our journey to the roof of Africa.

I wish we could spend a bit more time doing our safari in Tanzania, but now I am sure I will return for more.

Perhaps, one in South Africa or Botswana.

I hope this post will help you choose a safari to go to.

Please do share your experience and feel free to ask questions below!

Smile and do something amazing today!

Elina