Hike for Life An Incredible journey to Africa – Part I The Safari

Earlier this year, I have created Simbaa project, called Hike for Life, with the aim of raising funds for Breast Cancer so that it bring hopes to people affected by the terrible disease and by raising awareness to help prevent Breat Cancer for the 1 out of 8 women that are at risk to develop it in their lifetime. Even though I had started thinking about this years ago, the project officially started off in November last year. Then in March the web site www.hikeforlife.org was finalised, the team was confirmed, the partnership with the 2 Cancer Foundations was created and we started off the global fund raising campaign.

The project has took us to an incredible journey, through our networks and virtually in the social medias where we have met and surpassed our fund raising objective and then physically to the top of Africa through the challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro at 5895m of altitude. It is with this objective in mind that we have planned our trip to Tanzania. Since we were already in the country for the challenge of climbing the Kilimanjaro, might has well enjoy the place and visit the other highlights of the country have to offer. One that has fascinated me more than once and that figured on my bucket list was about participating in a Safari and observing the Big Five of Africa. The Safari, which means in a “Journey” in Swahili – the main language in Tanzania,  was the first part of the adventure.

Safari –  Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Serengenti, Ngorongoro Crater

We took off on our 30+ hours journey to Africa on July 27th through Brisbane, Singapore, Doha, Dar Es Salaam to finally arrive at the Oasis Lodge in Arusha near Kilimanjaro International Airport on the the 28th in the morning local time. The first day was pretty relax and the only thing on the agenda was to unwind from the long travel, await the rest of the crew, prepare our stuff for the 6 days of safari camping ahead and meet the owner of the tour company for for a welcome and preparation meeting.

P1070973P1070980 P1070978 P1070977

Day 1 – Tarangire National Park

After an excellent breakfast, we met our guide Mindi and our cook Renatos that would take us to the 6 days trip in Safari. The first destination on the list was Tarangire National Park couple of hours away from Arusha.

Tanzania Safar 019.jpgTanzania Safar 009.JPG Tanzania Safar 007.JPG Tanzania Safar 005.JPGTanzania Safar 014.JPG

Tarangire park covers an area of approximately 2,850 square kilometers and is is famous for its huge number of elephants, baobab trees, tree climbing lions, zebra, giraffe and wildebeest in addition to the less common animals like cheetah. Other common animals include waterbuck, giraffe, and olive baboons. The concentration of animal in the park was surprising, every corner there is a big pack of elephants (with baboons eating stuff from their poo!), zebra or gazelles.

Tanzania Safar 087.JPG Tanzania Safar 013.JPG  Tanzania Safar 017.JPG Tanzania Safar 089.JPG

Tanzania Safar 015.JPG Tanzania Safar 020.JPG Tanzania Safar 018.JPG Tanzania Safar 016.JPG Tanzania Safar 080.JPGTanzania Safar 085.JPG

934832_10152241200775940_7826211932114416410_n 1555463_10152241206480940_1063187371876418198_n 10355370_10152241207440940_428576535348468024_n 10455171_10152241201285940_1472687214310395938_n

10628360_10152241205715940_1168090647072527551_n 1912529_10152241204560940_5428887188015626084_n 1555463_10152241205495940_462224029043442708_n 10678764_10152241198830940_7354449252661895662_n

Our camp site for the night was just at the exit of the park making it easy to rest.

Day 2 – Lake Manyara

Next day we visited Lake Manyara National Park at the bottom of the western wall of the spectacular Great Rift Valley. While most known for baboons, the lake and its environs is also home to herbivores such as hippos, impalas, elephants, wildebeests, buffalo, warthogs and giraffes. The number of birds there was fascinating, including tons of flamingo, Long-crested Eagle, Grey crowned crane, and Grey-headed Kingfisher. We game drive (that’s how they call driving around in a open air 4wd for observing animals and wildlife) for couple of hours before leaving to our next camp site closer to the Serengeti.

Tanzania Safar 022.JPGTanzania Safar 024.JPG Tanzania Safar 094.JPG Tanzania Safar 095.JPGTanzania Safar 026.JPG Tanzania Safar 025.JPG Tanzania Safar 093.JPG Tanzania Safar 092.JPGTanzania Safar 098.JPG Tanzania Safar 097.JPG Tanzania Safar 027.JPGTanzania Safar 028.JPG

10603559_10152241215575940_5591572974540580250_n 10612774_10152241220050940_9074984795373815511_n 10615629_10152241218220940_8856459739527665321_n 10690223_10152241221845940_9181288667748631894_n

10665917_10152241221555940_1221257161274521971_n  10442405_10152241218135940_5302249614880710444_n10653420_10152241215935940_7009556010092767972_n 10420754_10152241216535940_4397513293959883592_n

Lake Manyara was also our first time we got exposure to the famous tsetse fly. Ferocious and annoying fly, that can infiltrate and bite you even under your pants!, and that can cause the sleeping sickness, although the risk of infection is minor (estimated at less than 0.1%).

Tanzania Safar 099.JPG Tanzania Safar 029.JPG

10689542_10152241225120940_4323338696362006248_n10426837_10152241225475940_3162391299436463682_n

At night we camp and slept at Kuducamp. Camp site was quite good with hot showers available.

Day 3 & 4 – Serengeti National Park

We left in the morning to one of the biggest national park in Tanzania (my preferred) and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Serengeti where we were to spend the next 2 nights. The road was quite long and very bumpy, especially at the end of the tarmac road. However, the comfort was second to the beauty of the landscape we passed through.

We stopped for lunch at Olduvai George to visit the ‘Cradle Of Mankind’. The one of the most important Paleoanthropology sites in the world as this site was occupied by hominids such as the Homo habilis approximately 1.9 million years ago. Researchers discovered fossilized foot prints and tools of these early human type inhabitants. They are also studying the links with Homo Erectus (our ancestors). Supposedly, our ancestors would have traveled a very long journey from Patagonia in Southern Chile to East Africa covering thousands and thousands of kilometers by passing through North America and Alaska. To get an idea, one Japanese researcher actually made the same travel using a bike over ten years.

Tanzania Safar 006.JPG Tanzania Safar 104.JPG Tanzania Safar 102.JPG Tanzania Safar 105.JPG

Continuing our travel, we arrived mid afternoon at the Serengeti entrance. The Maasai people use to live there and had been grazing their livestock in the open plains of eastern Mara Region, which they named siringet, which means “the place where the land runs on forever. Indeed, the park covers an incredible area of 14,750 square kilometres and 3 distinguish truly amazing landscape:

  • Plains – the endless, almost treeless grassland of the south is the most emblematic scenery of the park.
  • Western corridor that is the swampy savannah of this region
  • Northern Serengeti which is dominated by open woodlands

Tanzania Safar 101.JPG Tanzania Safar 112.JPG Tanzania Safar 123.JPG Tanzania Safar 111.JPG

Tanzania Safar 001.JPG Tanzania Safar 109.JPG

Beside the beautiful, the park is home of the world famous animal migration of over 1.5 million white bearded (or brindled) wildebeest and 250,000 zebra. Unfortunately, this year most of the migration happened the month  prior to our visit due mostly to natural factor such as weather.

As well as the migration of ungulates, the park is well known for its healthy stock of other resident wildlife, particularly the “big five”. This refer to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot, which are:

  • Lion: the Serengeti is believed to hold the largest population of lions in Africa (3,000) due in part to the abundance of prey species.
  • African Leopard: Quite shy predators that can be seen in the woodlands area of the Serengeti mostly with a population at around 1,000.
  • African Elephant: the herds are recovering from population lows in the 1980s caused by poaching.
  • Black Rhinoceros: very few individuals remain due to rampant poaching.
  • African Buffalo: still abundant and present in healthy numbers.

Tanzania Safar 110.JPG Tanzania Safar 115.JPG Tanzania Safar 082.JPG  Tanzania Safar 031.JPG Tanzania Safar 042.JPG Tanzania Safar 033.JPG

Tanzania Safar 045.JPG Tanzania Safar 036.JPG  Tanzania Safar 037.JPG Tanzania Safar 090.JPG

Other animal species include cheetah, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, topi, eland, waterbuck, hyena, baboon, impala, African wild dog, and giraffe. The park also boasts about 500 bird species, including ostrich, secretary bird, Kori bustard, crowned crane, marabou stork, martial eagle, lovebirds, and many species of vultures.

Tanzania Safar 030.JPGTanzania Safar 035.JPG Tanzania Safar 034.JPG Tanzania Safar 041.JPG Tanzania Safar 040.JPG  Tanzania Safar 125.JPGTanzania Safar 116.JPG  Tanzania Safar 117.JPG

10698692_10152241203850940_9116456111749469391_nWe had the chance to witness and observe all these animals over two days. Most notorious and incredible ones to observe were the lions and the cheetah while they were hunting.

We had a terrific sunset back to the camp site. The camp site was open in the middle of the Serengeti, although it was quite busy so we didn’t feel in any sort of danger. Although, at night we could hear animals such as baboons or buffalo closely.

Tanzania Safar 119.JPG Tanzania Safar 108.JPG

Day 5 & 6 – Ngorongoro Crater

We did a last game drive in the morning on the fifth day to explore a different area in the Serengeti before we left the beautiful park for another world heritage site we passed quickly by earlier, the Ngorongoro Crater, which is the world largest Caldera (collapsed volcano and home of circa 30,000 resident animals.

On the way to the Crater, we stopped at a Maasai Village to check their culture and traditions. Although for a short moment it was interesting, it was not long before the whole thing became quite obvious to be a tourist trap. I think there is always a way you can support local economy and local tradition but I wouldn’t recommend this place, overly expensive for the  experience you get and their tactics to get more money from you are simply too much (the word donation or contribution dominate the dialog for the hour the “tour” last). At least we got few good pictures but honestly just avoid it!

Tanzania Safar 002.JPG  Tanzania Safar 047.JPG Tanzania Safar 126.JPG Tanzania Safar 127.JPG Tanzania Safar 129.JPG Tanzania Safar 131.JPG

After few minutes of shock by this unnerving experience, we resumed our bumpy drive to our next destination. We arrived just before dawn to the beautiful camp site on the rim of the crater at around 2300m. The night was chilly (around 0-5 degres) and a good preparation for the Kilimanjaro. Showers were available but the water was simply freezing. Komivi took the challenge of taking a 5min shower there (no this doesn’t count for the Ice Bucket Challenge). Otherwise, interestingly, the camp site was filled with zebras that were just eating the grass near our tents. We had dinner and slept early.

Tanzania Safar 132.JPG

Tanzania Safar 079.jpg

On the last day of the Safari, we went exploring the magnificent 260 square kilometers and
610m deep crater. The landscape was beautiful once more and we could observe a large variety of wildlife once more. From distance, we saw our first black rhino. There was also a smaller scale migration occurring within the crater itself. Animals where moving from on side of the crater to the other. Wildebeests and Zebras were walking alongside each other. zebras amazed me when we observed them lining almost perfectly in line awaiting to scratch there neck and there back on rocks, 2 zebras at the time on each side of the rock while the other are waiting on their turn patiently.

Tanzania Safar 133.JPG Tanzania Safar 138.JPG Tanzania Safar 137.JPG Tanzania Safar 056.JPG

Tanzania Safar 050.JPG Tanzania Safar 051.JPG  Tanzania Safar 148.JPG Tanzania Safar 146.JPG Tanzania Safar 139.JPG Tanzania Safar 149.JPG Tanzania Safar 141.JPG Tanzania Safar 067.JPG Tanzania Safar 066.JPG Tanzania Safar 064.JPG Tanzania Safar 060.JPG Tanzania Safar 059.JPG Tanzania Safar 058.JPG Tanzania Safar 052.JPG Tanzania Safar 071.JPG Tanzania Safar 142.JPG

Tanzania Safar 150.JPG Tanzania Safar 051.JPG

Tanzania Safar 070.JPG Tanzania Safar 068.JPG

We ended the safari trip by a Cultural Tour at the village Mto wa Mbu near Lake Manyara. To the contrary of the Maasai tour were we had the feeling of being scammed, this one was surprisingly very interesting. We learned and tasted the banana beer, met and discussed with some local artists (carving, painting), visited rice fields and walked by the small streets of the village.

Tanzania Safar 073.JPG Tanzania Safar 074.JPG Tanzania Safar 075.JPG Tanzania Safar 077.JPG

Tanzania Safar 077.JPG Tanzania Safar 076.JPG Tanzania Safar 078.JPG Tanzania Safar 072.JPG

Summary

Let’s put it that way, the Safari experience was simply extraordinary for the outdoorsy people we became. 6 days were perfect for us. Landscape were great, wildlife was fantastic and of course of taste of a very different culture. A new check on the bucket list. It is an experience of a life time, plus doing it with great people was also fun!

  • First experience in Africa
  • Mesmerising Landscapes
  • Fabulous wildlife, concentration of animal is impressive
  • Saw all the Big Fives!
  • Service offered was great, we were very well taken care of
  • Food was good
  • More touristic that I initially though, quite a lot of people
  • Camping areas were not as rustic than what I believed and camp site were generally comfortable and safe
  • Roads are generally quite bad and dusty

Part II on the Kilimanjaro coming soon….

Tanzania Safar 081.JPG

Thanks for reading,

Best pictures of Tanzania available here.

Pascal & Gabriela

This entry was posted in Adventure, Departure, Friends, Goals setting, Planning & Preparation. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Hike for Life An Incredible journey to Africa – Part I The Safari

  1. Pingback: Hike for Life An Incredible journey to Africa – Part II The Kilimanjaro | Enthusiastic Explorers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *