My Africa adventure truly was the trip of a lifetime. I had wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for a long time and with that comes of course also the opportunity to explore Tanzania’s wildlife.
I chose to go through the same agency that also took me up the mountain, and Climb Kili did an outstanding job in offering me a completely custom-made safari adventure through the Serengeti National Park and into the Ngorongoro Cater. Both are Unesco World Heritage sites and as you know, I am a sucker for that.
We caught a small plane out of Arusha airport right into the middle of the Serengeti. The hour-long flight offers fantastic vistas over circular built Masai villages and never-ending wilderness.
Once we touched down there’s an Eland standing in proximity on the landing strip and our safari driver and guide Eli is meeting us and accompanying us to our Toyota open roof 4 wheel drive. Dominik and I debate what we saw from the air when approaching to touch down and between the two of us we accumulate hippo and giraffe. Not bad for the first 5 minutes.
At 10am on the dot we depart – the permit allows for a solid 24hours inside the national park and we maximize time – and the first big sighting of the day is a leopard, who is napping in a tree.
We aren’t the only ones spying the leopard, there is all of Asia present as well and they are equipped as though they work for National Geographic. Big lenses compete for the best angles and everyone is thoroughly impressed. Thankfully, this should be as busy as it was going to get and from here on out we were more or less on our own. This custom-made tour is better than I would have ever imagined.
As we continue our journey, we see Impalas and Elands, a big Lioness, Giraffes, Vultures, Maribus, Baboons, Black Face Monkeys, Mongoose, Elephants, Water Buffalos and Hippos – it’s truly spectacular.
All day I felt like being in a zoo without the gates – so rich the variety and density of animals. We spent the night in a mobile camp on a small hill with a grand view over the Serengeti. The endeavor is a true glamping adventure – as we lay on our bed with the front tarp rolled up we gaze over the Serengeti until we get picked up for dinner. We are the only guests and at night the Hyenas are howling. It’s magical.
Day 2 starts with a hearty breakfast and Anderson – the camp manager – and his team dancing for us. Eli is ready and we are set to exit the Serengeti park by 10am (the clock is ticking towards the 24hrs) and enter the Ngorongoro Crater.
As we start driving, we witness huge herds with thousands of Zebras, Wildebeests, Gazelles and Igrits migrating across the Serengeti towards Kenya in search of greener pastures.
Just before the gate we come across a majestic lion family that is lounging on sun-bathed rocks and enjoying their morning nap.
After watching the lions our time is running out and we are in a rush: with 100km/h we speed over the ‘Serengeti Highway’ – the dirt road that leads towards the gate of the park. Adrenaline mixes with a slight trace of fear, however, nothing I wouldn’t have experience with Shanghainese taxi drivers before.
As we drive through the gate and into the crater, it’s clear how enormous and ancient this natural wonder is. We descend down the crater wall and see Black Rhinos in the distance and Flamingos in the salt water lake at the center of the crater.
The crater is a wildlife haven – never before have I seen thousands of animals so close. It’s breathtaking. Fantastic rays of light break through the clouds and give it an entirely otherworldly atmosphere.
We spend the night at the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge where the panorama windows that adorn every room once again offer amazing views from anywhere. The one downside of this hotel is how tip-driven everything is. The hotel clearly caters for American tourists where tipping is a huge part of the culture, however, unlike America, service isn’t offered, just the tip is being pushed onto you. I have to admit, in this case, I prefer to carry my own bag without people turning rude on me.
By the morning of day 3 it’s time to return to Arusha and mentally prepare for the big adventure of this trip: the Kilimanjaro.
On the way back to Arusha we would have had the opportunity to stop at a Masai village, however, we would have liked to just meet them and see their real life, but from what we gathered, it’s only possible to join the tourism bandwagon where the Masai will dance for you, pose for pictures when receiving ‘tips’ and selling trinkets. Thus we opted out of the village tour and into a cold Kilimanjaro beer – a decision we were more than happy with.
See the full safari album here.