Hello. My name is Grace, I live in England and I’m 14 years old . I’m very lucky too for in October 2022 my Great Aunt and Uncle made a wish come true and took my family and I on Safari in Tanzania.
Where to begin? Perhaps the huge numbers of Elephant in Tarangire, or the freezing cold early mornings down in the Ngorongoro Crater; maybe the Lion cubs on the plains of the Serengeti or the Mara River where 2 million animals must face the challenge of crossing the river to continue their annual migration. These were all places where I found myself during our two week safari.
Our journey began at our local airport from where we flew to Amsterdam to board a direct flight to Kilimanjaro Airport near Arusha. After landing and proceeding through immigration and customs formalities, we were met by our agents, Unique Safaris and introduced to Fazal who was to be our guide for the next two weeks. We spent our first night at a lovely villa not too far from the airport and had breakfast the next morning on the patio while we watched Dik Diks (a tiny antelope species) grazing on the lawns. Then after breakfast our safari began.
TARANGIRE - MARAMBOI
We travelled to Tarangire National Park where we spent the first four days of our safari. We saw so many different species of animals and birds, including Giraffe, Elephant, Zebra, Impala, Warthog, Baboon, Lion and Pelican to name but a few. Among my favourites at Tarangire were the Elephants, many who had very young infants. One place that we visited was the Sand River where the water is below the surface; the Elephants would use their trunks to make deep holes in the sand until they reached the water and could drink. It was fascinating to watch. Another favourite was watching the Baboons, whose behaviour was such fun to watch. They would jump, climb, dig and forage for food while the babies sat on their mothers’ backs. We were also fortunate to see a huge Rock Python that was in a tree while shedding its skin. There were also thousands of Pelican and Cape Buffalo in a lake in the south of the park. Tarangire has a great many Baobab Trees and also Termite Mounds. Our Guide, Fazal, explained to us about how the Termites work to defend their home against the elements by opening and closing ventilation holes in the mound. Some of these mounds were taller than a man. At our last breakfast the staff at our camp, Maramboi, sang to us and presented us with a special leaving cake. Delicious!
NGORONGORO CRATER - LIONS PAW
From Tarangire we journeyed to Ngorongoro Crater where we stayed at the Lion’s Paw camp on the rim of the crater. I had hopes of seeing Rhino. Unfortunately we were not lucky to see any close but we were able to spot them with binoculars from a higher viewpoint. I had imagined that in Africa the temperatures would be very high but this was not the case. Here in the Crater the temperatures drop rapidly after sunset and during our early morning game drives it was so cold that I had to wear a number of sweaters. However, I soon forgot about the cold because the wildlife was so incredible.The Crater was so full of life and the slopes leading down into the crater are lined with trees. Wildebeest, Impala, Thomsons Gazelle, Zebra, Warthog, Hippo and Hyena were all present plus a large number of birds including Lesser Flamingo, Augur Buzzard, Tawny Eagle, Crowned Plover and Kori Bustard. We also had a lovely sighting of a Serval - a very beautiful member of the cat family. One of the highlights of our visit was when we spotted three male Lions feeding on a zebra carcass. One of them was clearly the ‘boss’ and the two younger males waited patiently for him to take his fill and leave before they started feeding. But they were not the only ones who were hungry that morning - a Black-backed Jackal kept attempting to steal some of the kill. The lions shooed him off a few times, but he did manage to steal enough to fill his belly. I witnessed similar behaviour in the Serengeti, but that time it was four Cheetah brothers who had made a kill. I think it safe to say that on that occasion the Jackal bit off more than he could chew and ended up being chased by the fastest animal on the planet, earning some minor injuries for its trouble. On our last evening at Lion’s Paw camp we were extremely lucky to receive a visit from the local Maasai people who came to entertain us with their traditional dances - my younger brother joined in and enjoyed himself immensely.
SERENGETI - SAMETU CAMP
We left our camp on the rim of the Crater early for our long drive up to the Central Serengeti but on the way found time to visit Olduvai Gorge, the site of George and Mary Leaky’s discovery of ‘early man’ in 1959. The drive to our camp was very long but on our way we stopped to photograph Hartebeest (a large antelope), Eland (the largest African Antelope) and Bat-eared Fox amongst others. For me, the Serengeti was the best part of the trip. There we saw Lion cubs playing with each other - occasionally irritating their mothers - and we stopped every evening on our way back to our camp to check in on them. It was lovely to sit and watch them while the sun was setting. A very memorable time was the morning we spotted a Cheetah with two cubs moving across the plain, pausing at termite mounds to survey their surroundings and an approaching herd of Thomsons Gazelle.
A Cheetah hunt is a magical thing to witness and only by watching it do you realise just how fast they actually move. Her hunt was successful and after she had killed her prey she dragged it back to where she had left her cubs and called for them to come. We left them to enjoy their breakfast and continued with our drive. We also saw a Leopard with its cub in a tree, the cub getting its teeth into a gazelle its mother had hunted while she rested on a bough. My love of big cats is what made the Serengeti stand out as a very special place for me.
MARA RIVER - RIVER CAMP
After four days, we continued north to the Mara River - another long drive but interspersed with animals and birds we could stop to photograph. On our first morning there we discovered the real meaning of ‘mass migration’. Our Guide told us that about two million would make the crossing that season. We had seen very large herds of Wildebeest and Zebra on our journey north but the sheer numbers gathering to cross the river was amazing. This would be the hardest part of their journey, they would have to face the dangers of the water - the strength of the current and the crocodiles. The Wildebeest seem anxious to begin the crossing and you may have to wait patiently for many hours (days even). Eventually one will make a decision and then they will all be on the move. Witnessing the crossing of so many animals was a humbling and emotional experience. As the first to cross made landfall on our side suddenly there were wet animals all around us shaking water from their coats and the air filled with the sound of Mothers and young trying to locate each other in the crush. I couldn’t say how long it actually took for them all to cross but eventually they did. The Zebra all seemed to hang back until the Wildebeest had crossed. It really was one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences and one that I will never forget. Of course, there were more Leopard sightings and Cheetah, Elephant and a host of other species of mammals and birds too many to mention.
Then, just like that, our safari was over - we would fly back to Arusha the next day. 14 days, 10,000+ pictures and so many memories later it had come to an end, but not before we enjoyed one final dinner together. Our driver/guide had arranged for us to have our evening meal out in the bush. It was so wonderful to be dining around a campfire, under the stars, in the bush with wild animals all around.
We had an amazing time thanks to my Great Aunt & Uncle, who made it all possible, and also our Guide, Fazal, who taught my Brother and I so much about what we were seeing and found us so many animals to photograph. Tanzania is such an amazing country and a wildlife safari there should be something that everyone experiences at least once in their life.