„I never knew of the morning in Africa when I woke up and was not happy“ – this famous quote of Ernest Hemingway brilliantly sums up our holiday adventure in Tanzania in the fall of 2018.
Unique mix of experiences
For passionate nature and wildlife fans, Tanzania was an obvious choice: the mainland boasts to have plenty of national parks with diverse, fascinating landscapes and prolific wildlife, while Tanzania-owned islands located in the Indian Ocean with their wide stretches of sandy pearl-white beaches offer a relaxing escape. We began our adventure in the town of Moshi. Anyone who ever wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro has definitely heard of the name, as this is the place where travelers have a stop before starting their ascent. One of the most memorable moments was our visit of the local food market where fresh, succulent avocados, mangos, pineapples and plenty of fruits and veggies can be bought only to find out that in Tanzania they taste a thousand times better than in the best supermarket at home.
Another thing that struck me about the area was the intensity, the abundance of colors around: lush green vegetation, bright blossoms of plants and flowers I had never seen before, vibrant lilac Jacaranda tree, and, to top it all, the snowy peak of Mount Kilimanjaro as a background. There are plenty of options both for light as well for more physically demanding hiking in the area. We opted out for a short hiking trip to Marangu Waterfalls located at the foothill of Kilimanjaro National Park. The views were stunning both from the top of the hill overlooking the waterfall and from the bottom of the valley. Splashing water and, as a result, pleasant temperatures made the stay very enjoyable.
Let’s go on safari!
Our safari started at the Tarangire national park. The park is home to the largest number of elephants in Tanzania, so that a friendly encounter with one of the Big Five representatives is pretty much guaranteed. Park’s terrain is divided by the river making it an ideal place for some spectacular animal viewing: we spotted large numbers of elephants, zebras, cape buffalos, wildebeests, gazelle and antelopes, which gathered by the river to drink water, refresh themselves and satisfy the curiosity of the park’s guests. Another park’s attraction is definitely its’ enormous Baobab trees proudly hovering over the grassland terrain. You can’t really describe the magnitude of the view, but trust me, it is worth seeing it.
It was of course the famous Serengeti national park that we were particularly looking forward to. The amount of wild cats such as lions, leopards and cheetahs per square kilometer probably exceeds the amount of people per km2 in NYC. We had six game-drives in Serengeti and each one of them was spectacular and full of action in terms of wildlife viewing. But it is not only the wildlife of the Serengeti, it is also Serengeti‘s landscapes that will forever stay in your memory. The splendor of Serengeti’s endless plains is hard to describe in words, its orange-lilac sunsets are breath-taking. And if you are lucky enough to spot a lion resting on top of a kopje – huge rocks scattered across the park – then you can say that you have had an ultimate Serengeti experience.
And it was in the Ngorongoro Crater, one of the most celebrated wildlife reserves on the planet, that I remember saying to our safari guide: „This is better than any National Geographic wildlife documentary“. Watching lions chasing zebras or jackals stealing leftover prey from lions is not a rare spectacle in Ngorongoro.
Wildlife close to the camp
Luckily, safari does not end when you come back to your lodge, it just changes the format. One of our best memories was the unexpected encounter with elephants on the territory of our lodge. We were enjoying dinner, as the owner of the lodge approached us and said that a family of elephants came to drink water from the water tank hidden in the bushes. Excited, we hurried, albeit silently and carefully, in the direction of the water tank. There, standing behind the bushes, we were able to watch two grown elephants and couple of little ones drinking water from the tank. The elephants were very close indeed!
Another time, just as we returned to our tented camp from the afternoon game-drive and stepped out of the vehicle, the staff member told us that we had a visitor. How excited did we get, as we saw a beautiful, graceful leopard chilling on the tree just some 150-200 meters away from where we were standing!
Nature’s sounds are another source of pleasure in Tanzania. Sitting on the cozy veranda under the starry sky and hearing snorting warthogs, laughing hyenas and roaring lions (somewhere in the distance) is just a whole different reality.
Not only did we enjoy our game-drives, we also enjoyed every minute of our stay in lodges and tented camps. Designed with a lot of imagination, attention to detail and a sense of style our accommodation was always up to our expectations. One of our lodges had an outdoor shower facility in addition to indoor bathtub. No worries, lodges are usually hidden behind bushes so that privacy is well-preserved. I can assure you, that there is nothing better than to take a warm shower outside after a dusty game-drive. Another chalet had a fireplace of which we eagerly made use as it was a bit chilly outside. All these little cozy moments made our Tanzania adventure unforgettable.
After the end of our safari program we headed to Zanzibar by plane. If heaven on earth exists, then it is there. Tepid, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, wide stretches of soft, pearl-white sand and green tropical vegetation make it a picture-perfect destination. What I particularly liked was the serenity of the place and absence of crowds of people. We could have the beach all to ourselves! When the tide is on, you may walk in crystal clear waters hundreds of meters into the ocean and bathe and enjoy the ocean’s warm waters.
If you are willing to have some action and explore, you should go snorkeling or diving. The marine life is very diverse and plentiful. Snorkeling was indeed a very exciting experience and I did not want to get out of water so great it was. I sure hope to have a diving permit next time we are in Zanzibar.
It has now been a year and a half since our Tanzania trip, but it seems like it was only yesterday, so vivid are our memories. If you are hesitating to book tickets to Tanzania – don’t. The country will captivate you with its beauty and hospitality and you will be wondering why you have not done it earlier!