There’s a reason for the lack of blog activity here. I’m in Africa on safari. Well, travelling through Tanzania and Malawi to be precise, but it began with the most amazing three day safari.
A long journey from Alicante to Kilimanjaro International Airport was soon forgotten as our safari guide, Josh, managed to steer us in the right direction to see everything that was on our list. Josh has been a safari guide for 15 years but has recently struck out on his own to provide bespoke adventures for travellers who don’t want to follow the crowd chasing the “big five” around the national parks of Africa. His brief was birdlife and giraffes, and anything else was a bonus. Boy did he deliver! If you would like to follow in our footsteps, you can find him at Jafrica Safari or on Facebook. Be sure to tell him that Russ sent you!!
Tarangire National Park
Our first day was spent exploring the Tarangire National Park. Zebras and elephants were everywhere, hardly surprising given that this park is home to one of the largest numbers of elephants in Africa. There was a large quantity of different antelopes too. The birdlife was absolutely stunning, and we even managed to witness an ostrich creche. The superb starling lived up to its name. It’s hard to believe that such a colourful bird is so common. We then caught a glimpse of two lionesses lazing beneath a tree. We thought that was it for the day bit Josh never gave up on finding giraffes and his efforts were eventually very well rewarded. That night we stayed in a safari “tent” at the Sangaiwe Tented Lodge. It was hardly camping!
Lake Manyara National Park
The next day, we spent many hours in the Lake Manyara National Park. To begin with we saw large troops of baboons and black faced monkeys all living peacefully alongside each other. Once again Josh proved his worth with his ability to find unusual birds, and his ornithological knowledge was incredible. Big game was proving elusive but just beyond the herds of wilderbeast and buffalo we came across several hippos enjoying themselves in the muddy waters. One gave a big yawn timed perfectly for the camera! Once again the giraffes kept me waiting but when we found them, we spent a long time observing a tower (yes, that’s the collective noun for giraffes!) of 12 or 13 by the lakeside. It was a beautiful and unforgettable sight. The park was once known for its tree-climbing lions but sadly their numbers are so low nowadays that you are as likely to see a unicorn. The Country Lodge at Karatu was our luxurious accommodation for the night and the increase in altitude certainly showed itself in the temperature of the water in the swimming pool!
Our final day began with breakfast at 6am as it was a long drive to the Ngorogoro Crater Conservation Area. There’s quite a climb up to the edge of the crater but my, what a view! Then you have to descend all the way back down to the crater floor. Buffalo, wilderbeast and warthogs were literally everywhere. Needless to say, the birdlife was amazing once again. We also saw numerous zebras but the highlight of the day was without a doubt the pride of lions. We were amazed at how close we got to these precious animals. There were a few hippos around where we stopped for our packed lunch. They were all lined up in a pool so we couldn’t see them too clearly. We also saw some jackals, including some cubs feasting on fresh meat in a den. On our way out of the park we managed to spot three rare black rhinos from afar. Actually, without Josh’s help we wouldn’t have seen them at all. Then, finally, just as we were leaving the park a black rhino appeared just a few yards away. What a day!
Going on safari is not a cheap affair. We paid a little over $1000 each for the three days with Josh including everything but the drinks in the evenings. You have to have a lot of faith in who you are booking with and it will always feel like a risk. That’s why recommendations are so valuable. So, if you want a safari where the guides listen to your expectations and do their utmost to fulfil them rather than chase around at great speed ticking species off lists, then I urge you to go with Josh and his business partner Ole. You won’t regret it. Having not been to the Serengeti, and not having seen Mount Kilimanjaro either, there’s plenty of scope for a return visit in the future!