Sonja started her Kenya Tanzania safari with 3 days in the Masai Mara, after which she visited the popular northern circuit as well as the lesser known Lake Eyasi which turned out to be a highlight. Below are her impressions of the trip as discussed during our telephone conversation...
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|Tips & Advice
|Which Kenya Tanzania safari operator did you travel with and how did they perform?|
Good Earth. They met my expectations completely. It was really good.
Was it pre-designed or tailor-made?
Tailor-made; it was a private safari - just the two of us.
This was my second trip to Africa. My first trip was in one of those big overland trucks.
How did you hear about them?
I started researching on the TripAdvisor, Fodor's and I think on your website - as much as I could find. I just kept reading and communicating back and forth with some of the different companies, and Good Earth had presented the best price for what I wanted and was able to tailor to what I wanted.
It was hard to decide; there were so many companies and then I think I just started looking at other travellers' reviews of the companies and it seemed to me quite consistent that Good Earth was getting good reviews.
Was there anything you didn't like about them or the way they do things?
One of the hotels we got put at, I wasn't thrilled about as given the time of year (it was in the Serengeti) there wasn't any animals in that area, and I wish we had been told about that.
And then when we were at Tarangire National Park (we were staying outside of it) we had a night game drive that we'd already pre-paid for it and it was again a bad time of the year for doing a night drive and we didn't see anything.
Those are the two things I was disappointed about; I wish I had been told about those.
But otherwise everything, our driver was fabulous, most of the hotels and tented lodges were really good, the food was great. I was sick in the Serengeti and I was seen by a doctor who was very professional and very caring - that was all arranged by our guide.
|Where did you stay during your Kenya Tanzania safari?|
We went to the Masai Mara for 3 days and then we drove into the Serengeti through the top. We switched drivers once we hit Tanzania. We did the Serengeti for 3 days, then went to the Ngorongoro Crater, then we went to Lake Eyasi and from there we finished off in the Tarangire Park and that was our safari. That was a 10-day (very busy) trip.
We spent two nights in the same accommodation while in the Masai Mara but the rest of the Kenya Tanzania safari was only one night per accommodation.
The place in Lake Eyasi was wonderful. It was a lovely tented camp on the lake and the food was 5-star, I thought. The owner of the tented lodge was just very knowledgeable about the area, very much into conservation of the area, just really wonderful to talk to. And had little touches in the rooms that just made it feel so comfortable. I just thought it was a very nice place.
You prefer tented accommodation or a lodge?
I prefer the tented camps.
|Could you please describe a typical day of your Kenya Tanzania safari?|
We did a lot of driving in 10 days. So when we were in the game parks we would do a morning drive and then breakfast, and then drive again and normally a boxed lunch which got a little tiring and we looked forward to hot lunches. In the afternoon we would be driving to our next accommodation.
|What were your Kenya Tanzania safari wildlife spotting highlights?|
A couple of them. I thought our guide had incredible eyesight in how far he could see things. We would be driving so fast and suddenly he would stop and back up and would see a leopard in the tree that was 50 ft away. That was pretty amazing.
We saw elephants, and I think they're such beautiful creatures. We had a few of them actually tried to charge our truck a couple of times! They never actually got very close, but...!
On the very last day of our Kenya Tanzania safari in the Tarangire we were down by the river and then a family of elephants came and then another and then another. We just sat and watched them playing in the water, we have a little video where the baby is tooting its horn a little bit and splashing water on itself. And then there was a territorial issue and some of them came up on the side. I think we sat there for well over an hour just watching them. And we were the only people there.
Did you experience car pile-ups at the wildlife sightings?
We did in the Masai Mara: we were on the one side we spotted a lioness on the other side and we went over and she was actually stalking wildebeest. Our driver was an older driver and I think he didn't like the way the Masai Mara has turned, so he didn't radio anybody and we just sat and waited to see what would happen.
Then another truck saw us and came up behind us and he'd put it on the radio after which about 20 different trucks came. And she was actually ready to - you know, she was using our truck as a sort of hiding place to go after the wildebeest, and then after all the trucks coming she finally just gave up and ran away.
So that was a bit disappointing. I guess the difference between the Masai Mara and the Serengeti is that in the Masai Mara they don't have to stick to the roads and they would go right up to the animals. In the Serengeti there seems to be more regulation against that.
How was the Ngorongoro Crater? Did you see some big tuskers (elephants) there?
We did. There was one that was eating in the marshes and our guide was saying that he was so old that he couldn't chew food anymore; and his tusks were so long. You could just see he was an old man!
The Ngorongoro Crater was really interesting for me because when I had been there before I was there following the rains and this time I was there right before the rains. It looked completely different; it was completely dry; the animals seemed slower - just as beautiful!
We saw a black rhinoceros and her baby, we were really fortunate. We just happened to be on the right side of the hill and she ran on past us with her baby and then they went and hid in the tall grasses. That was pretty incredible.
We were very fortunate there as well. Every day we were fortunate to see animals! We saw lions every day as well in Tanzania.
We saw cheetahs in the Mara.
When we were in the Tarangire, before we actually got into the park, there was a family of lions that had killed a zebra on the side of the road. And we were right beside them. It was just us (only car). Our truck had actually broken down and they were replacing our truck and the person who replaced the truck had seen the kill and directed our guide who then took us back there to surprise us.
The vegetation is quite different in Tarangire; there are a lot of baobab trees - they're beautiful.
|On your Kenya Tanzania safari, did you encounter many insects?|
There were a lot of tsetse flies when we were in the Serengeti. We got many bites. Insect repellent didn't make a difference; just covering up was the best thing we could do but even then they would bite through your clothing.
|Did you get to know about the local culture during your Kenya Tanzania safari trip?|
In the Masai Mara we visited a Maasai village - that was very interesting; I enjoyed that.
When we went to Lake Eyasi we visited the Hadzabe Bushmen in the morning and that was one of my highlights out of our 6-week trip. They were very welcoming and interesting and we went to hunt with them... it was very real - what they were doing and how they live. It was - I don't have the words for it - they were very welcoming and warm. It was very funny: they asked my husband how much he had to pay for me. They were just lovely.
Did you have a special guide for that visit?
Our guide - I think it was his grandfather - came from the Hadzabes, so he spoke the language. So we were really fortunate and I think they set up our guide with the knowledge that we were going there. The Hadzabe tribe was something I had read about and then asked Good Earth whether or not we could do it. And then they arranged it. It's not something they have on their normal Kenya Tanzania safari trip.
|Do you have any advice to give to people planning a Kenya Tanzania safari?|
In the 10 days of our Kenya Tanzania safari we never stayed more than 1 day in one hotel and I would change that if I could do it again. I would extend my time by a couple of more days and would have a couple of down days.
What would you say was the most useful item in your luggage?
I actually think sun screen was the most important thing I took, we had some very hot days. And then water. Oh, and my camera, of course! And I regret not bringing a video camera.
|How would you rate your Kenya Tanzania safari (out of 10)?|
Take away being sick twice (once because of a tick bite and once they thought I had malaria but I didn't have it), I will say 9. I think just the driving was too much for me otherwise I would give it a 10. I would pace myself better.
I think Africa's a lovely continent and I think everyone should visit it!
*Sonja spent a month and a half in Africa:
She and her husband flew to Nairobi, Kenya and started their independent travels by visiting Lake Navaisha. Next they went on their Kenya Tanzania safari with Good Earth, the only part of their trip booked with an operator. From there they went on a Rwanda gorilla safari (her trip report) and on to the east coast of Africa: first the island of Zanzibar and then ended on the coast of Kenya, at Mombasa. They mainly used air transport to get from one stop to the next.
If you think this is a dream trip: I agree. Just remember, an independent African trip like this requires doing a lot of homework (especially if you have limited time there and a long wish list) ... it took her approximately 9 months of planning.
|Safari Location:||Masai Mara (Kenya), Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Eyasi, Tarangire (Tanzania)|
|Safari Company Used:||Good Earth Safaris|
|Duration:||10 days: October 2006*|
|Traveller Details:||Sonja, Canada|
|Rates & Availability:||Plan your own safari. Make a Kenya Tanzania safari enquiry|