Tanzania Private Safari Part 2

by Andrea Greenlees

It was absolutely thrilling to see a pair of lions mating, yards from where we were and completely unconcerned by us. We saw the same pair in the morning and again in the evening on the way back, and were treated to this display twice.


We ate very well on the whole. I was amazed what they could produce in the middle of nowhere.

We had fabulous tropical fruit - pineapple, mango, watermelon, melon - everyday for breakfast and often for dessert. Cereal, sometimes porridge on request, and cooked breakfasts available everywhere - far more than we'd ever eat at home.

Generally we had packed lunches because we did all day game drives most days. They were adequate. I usually just ate the hard-boiled egg and the fruit. There was always a piece of chicken.

Dinners were all enjoyable three course meals, always with a fish option.

In Zanzibar we had a few outstanding meals, in particular on the roof terrace at 236 Hurumzi, Stone Town - go there! - and incredible hugely memorable jumbo prawns and giant crab claws at Flame Tree Cottages on the north coast.


Obviously seeing the wildlife in their natural habitat was the point of it all, and our expectations were entirely fulfilled in that respect.

We saw everything we could possibly have hoped to see: magnificent prides of lions, including exquisite cubs of all ages from very tiny four week old ones, fabulous cheetahs, leopards lounging in trees, enormous numbers of hippos, a single rhino, vast herds of wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelles, dik dik, eland, waterbuck, warthogs, mongoose, jackals, hyenas, baboons, black-faced vervet monkeys, crocodiles, lots of elegant giraffes and splendid elephants.

It was lovely to see from the different sizes and generations that all these species are happily reproducing (except perhaps the rhino!).

There was a huge variety of colourful birds from ostriches to superb starlings, large to small, too many to name. It was fascinating watching the vultures at work, squabbling with jackals over carcasses abandoned by the lions once they'd had their fill.

We had many special wildlife spotting highlights, we felt we'd seen something really special every single day, but three stand out:

The mating lions (see above), the family of cheetah (see part 1) and finally on the last day we saw a lioness bring down and kill a zebra in front of our eyes, its neck clamped in her jaw, and a second lioness come up and start chomping on its hind quarters with a terrible bone-crushing sound. It was shocking of course but brought home the harsh reality of life and death in the wild, providing a sharp contrast to the tender scenes of the lionesses with their endearing cubs.

Typical Day

We usually woke up quite early, enjoyed breakfast and set off about 7 or 7.30am for an all day game drive, stopping somewhere for our picnic lunch and continuing all afternoon.

Hezron was in complete control of our route obviously and he knows these vast areas intimately. We simply placed ourselves in his hands. He drove to all the areas where he expected to find wildlife or detected recent signs of wildlife, or a kill. Almost always he made sightings well before us and anticipated events.

As it was just the two of us in the vehicle we could stay and watch anything we liked for as long as we liked. We took photos or video at every opportunity. We learned so much as Hezron talked about the habits and habitat and behaviour of all the creatures we saw as we went along.

We returned to our camp or lodge, or arrived at the next one, around 5pm, settled in, revelled in a hot shower, reviewed the day's photos, and went to dinner - always a pleasure - about 7.30.

We went to bed very early; in most places the light was very dim, in some places no electricity after 10pm. But we were ready for bed! For some reason even though you are in a vehicle all day a safari is very tiring. The bumpy roads take their toll.

Other Activities

We visited a Maasai village - very thought provoking. To our western eyes their lifestyle, which they cherish and do not appear to want to change, is one of extreme discomfort and deprivation. Men however can have any number of wives so no deprivation there!

Their diet of only milk and blood and meat seems appalling to Europeans who believe we can't be healthy without 5 fruit and vegetables a day, and grains, beans, seeds, etc. Their society is very structured and it is a very strong community. You cannot imagine any elderly Maasai person ever dying alone, ignored and forgotten, as many elderly people in Britain do today.

It was fascinating but it didn't feel right to be charged 80 US$ to visit the village - a fairly significant sum in Tanzania. It feels a bit staged. They've got a regular routine starting with a traditional dance by the men and women and finishing in the nursery school. One feels under some pressure to buy some of the beaded jewellery or other traditional items they sell there, and I personally hate bartering.

The trip to Olduvai Gorge, 'the Cradle of Mankind', was extremely interesting and we had a very informative talk.

We also loved the contrasting extremes and variety of landscapes you can experience in Tanzania, from the lushly forested slopes and deep red clay of Ngorongoro to the endless dessicated plains of the Serengeti.

We enjoyed our few days on the beach in Zanzibar after the safari. It's a good way to finish the holiday, barefoot in the sand. One to two days and nights in Stone Town is enough. Ali from Modesty Tours is an excellent guide in Zanzibar.

Tips and Advice

If you are going to Ngorongoro Crater take some very warm clothes - it was very cold. We had expected cold, but not that cold!

DON'T try to cram it all into 4 or 5 days. If you're going to travel all that way take more time to savour it and see more wildlife in more situations and cover more ground and stay in more places.

I would say that choosing special accommodations will add so much pleasure to your trip, they did for us.

Take toilet roll with you in the vehicle. Wherever you stop for a picnic lunch the toilets will be dreadful.

Speaking for myself, and as a parent, I would not take children on a safari holiday. Too long in a vehicle. As a parent you are always having to think about the children if they are with you. Make it really your own experience by leaving them behind or waiting till they've left home! It's good to share it with a loved one – and to remember it together.

We were surprised we couldn't use our mobiles anywhere in Tanzania. Hezron has a pay as you go Tanzanian mobile for clients to use. We only had internet access about 3 times and then it was extremely slow. It's best to accept you are going to be pretty much out of contact and warn your family & friends accordingly.

My camera, binoculars, safari type of jacket (loads of pockets), hat and torch were the most important items on safari.

Read Part 1 ...

Andrea's Safari Details:

Rating: 10/10, without hesitation

Safari company used: Across Tanzania Expeditions (make an enquiry)

Parks visited: Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti, Lake Manyara NP - Tanzania

Date of safari: 3 July for 13 days

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  • Comments for Tanzania Private Safari Part 2

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    Aug 13, 2009
    by: Norbi

    Such a lovely journal!
    Thank you Andrea for sharing your experience with us! That must have been a trip you will never forget!

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