Serengeti, Ngorogngoro and other parks in Tanzania

Tanzania's flag
Africa » Tanzania » North » Arusha » Ngorongoro
August 9th 2011
Published: August 28th 2011
Edit Blog Post

Next morning we got up early, had our free brekky then got a cab to the bus terminal to get a bus to Moshi. Dario told me to stay in the car which I was very happy to do since we were bombarded with touts, and im so over touts! He went off to look at the buses and buy the tickets, they tried to charge us 38000 each, when the ticket itself says 25000 so we paid 25000 for Fresh Coach (we had never heard of them, and had been planning on taking Dar Express, but the next one wasn’t for hours), and it was comfy enough. We only broke down once, and only for about 10 mins very close to Moshi. We got a taxi to our hotel called Twiga Home, just outside the main part of town, checked in and ordered dinner, which then took over an hour to produce, fried chicken and rice. We hadn’t eaten since brekky, so the beer we had before dinner made us very sleepy and extra hungry. Finally we ate, while watching an analysis of the Japan Tsunami on the TV and went to bed after very nice hot showers.
giraffe bending over to drinkgiraffe bending over to drinkgiraffe bending over to drink

Tarangire national park
morning after brekky, we took the free shuttle they provide into town with 2 german guys who we later bumped into while on safari. We had a look at the market, while 3 guys tagged along insisting we visit their shop, which we walked past, but it was very small and not a lot of nice stuff so we said thanks but moved on. We were just walking down the street when a guy stopped us and told us his life story basically which was very interesting, and we were surprised when he didn’t even ask us for a thing (we have heard lots of people telling us stories then asking for money). Basically he was Kenyan but had moved to Moshi to try and find a job. He is a Luo, (a tribe in Kenya) his father is Somali, his mother is Luo but his fathers younger wife (he´s a polygamist) was Kikuyu and the fighting recently between the two tribes in Kenya meant the wives fought and now his parents are all separated and he wants to get them back together somehow. He said he cannot get a job in his home area in Kenya because he is
elephants get close in Manyara!elephants get close in Manyara!elephants get close in Manyara!

Lake Manyara national park
Luo and most of the big employers, (he is a teacher) are Kikuyu and the second question after what degree do you have is what tribe are you. We walked together since we only had the morning and wanted to see Moshi. We went to buy shuttle tickets to Arusha, but it was 11am and the next one was at 11.30 so we said bye and grabbed a cab to take us back to the hotel and back again. We made it back at exactly 11.30 which was impressive seeing we had to pay for bills and pack everything in that time.
We arrived in Arusha and had to pay an overpriced taxi to Arusha Backpackers. Everything in Arusha is overpriced. The backpackers itself was ok, the room was basic, just a bed but came with clean towels and free soap. The showers that night were cold  But the bar on the top floor is awesome, it has a view down the main street which was great! You could just sit and watch Arusha go by. The food was pretty good too, we had a good lunch and used the internet. That afternoon we arranged to meet with Peniel,
John, Dario and BensonJohn, Dario and BensonJohn, Dario and Benson

Lake Manyara national park
the guy we had been communicating with from Wonder of creation safaris. He came and picked us up and we went to his office to organize payment, we hadn’t been able to pay the deposit since our banks don’t send money to Tanzanian bank accounts. He was great, we walked to a nearby ATM and chatted on the way about his Maasai heritage. He ran away from home at 14 to go to school. Our card only worked for a small amount of cash, we walked to another ATM but it didn’t let us take any more out, so we had to go back to the hotel and get other credit cards to use… very annoying and risky, but with Peniel with us we felt safe enough. We finally had enough Tshillings but we needed US dollars, so we all went to the exchange near the hotel and got US dollars, lucky for us they just had enough as a guy in front of us exchanged heaps of dollars for shillings. We had enough, but it was now dusk so we went back to the hotel, being watched by a creepy guy outside the exchange, so Peniel called a cab for him to go back to the office, and arranged for the next morning our driver to pick us up and we would pay the remainder on CC at the office.
Next morning we stored a bag of things we didn’t need for the safari and met Peniel in reception with the driver Mr John. We went and paid the remainder that was owing and got everything packed into the landcruiser. It had been modified for safaris, with 5 seats in the back, but all the luggage was on the back 3, we had very comfy seats in the middle. We drove around town a bit first, to get some shillings for the road, shopping etc, to buy anything we wanted at shoprite and fill up on diesel. Finally we were on the road and we chatted a bit on the way, John speaks ok English, but was a bit shy about it I think. We got to a large intersection with a market happening, we stopped and picked up Mr Benson, our cook for the next 5 days who had just finished a safari and was waiting for us with all his equipment. Off we went to our campsite near Tarangire national park. We dumped the gear and Mr Benson got out there too and we had a packed lunch (lots of fried food… unfortunately Id had a bad tummy the evening before so it didn’t sit well with me) then we went to the park. The parking lot at the gate was PACKED!! John took about 25 mins to get our permits processed because of the long queue. We saw some microbats hanging in a tree which was weird but cool, and a bunch of cool birds. Finally we got back into the car and went to check out Tarangire. There is a lot of open space with trees around the place. We saw lots of Elephants along the river bank, loads of Giraffe, Zebra and Ostrich. We also saw a ground hornbill, the biggest hornbill (like Zazu from the Lion King only huge and walks on the ground) which was pretty cool. All the animals were along the river since it was so dry elsewhere. There were also lots of Baobab trees around the park.
After the whole afternoon in the park, we drove back to the campsite which was just outside the park. Benson

Serengeti, photo taken through binoculars
had set up our tent and put in the mattresses and was halfway through cooking dinner but had already set a table in the restaurant/eating area of the site, including table cloth. We sat down and had some hot chocolate and coffee and some popcorn which he had cooked for us. We were then served soup (all 3 of us, i.e. Dario, John and I), which was very delicious cucumber soup, then we had an amazing rice with curry that he had cooked. Fruit was for dessert. I didn’t feel well so went to bed earlier than the boys who chatted for a further hour. I did not have a nice nights sleep, luckily the bathrooms were not too far away (it was something I had eaten in Arusha or Moshi I think).
Next morning we were up at 7ish and had a cooked brekky from Benson, but I didn’t eat much of it, omelet with toast and fruit as well as the coffee etc. We packed up our stuff then the boys pulled down the tent and packed everything into the car and off we went to Lake Manyara national park. We got to the campsite and dropped off Benson and the gear and went straight to the park (it is only 40 mins from Tarangire). The line was big again! But we got in. The park is very different, lots more green trees, the park surrounds Lake manyara (as the name may suggest) but at no point is the park wider than 10km across, it is very small but has the highest density of different species in Tanzania, so has been named a world biosphere conservation area. We had a run in with a big male elephant where he was just walking towards us down the road and we had to reverse out of his way. There were 2 safari vehicles behind him following him down the road as well and even with their roves popped up, the elephant was way taller, he was huge!! John said we had to be extra careful since both his tusks were broken, indicating that he has been in a few big fights before. Eventally we got to some other elephants so we just reversed off the road and the big one walked past us but no fight happened, the other male (who was smaller) just wandered off.
We saw blue monkeys too which we hadn’t seen before, they are called black monkeys but are more blue in colour. There was a hippo pool, choccas full of hippos and heaps of eagles flying around and lots of game in an open area, including loads of giraffe. At lunchtime we raced out of the park (both Dario and I were busting for a loo!) and then headed back to camp for lunch. After lunch we headed back into the park and saw a bit further afield, but being only 10km across and most of the park is a lake, we mostly drove over the same area, but kept seeing so many elephants and giraffe it was pretty cool. At the end of the day we went back to camp and had a great dinner by Benson and saw some African dancing, lots of different types from around Africa that one group put on. Then went to bed.
Next morning we were up and packed after brekky then had a long drive to get to the Serengeti, via the lookout point over the Ngorongoro Crater. As soon as we entered the Ngorongoro conservation area gate (you must pass this to get
big male lionbig male lionbig male lion

to Serengeti, there are no other roads) the road turned from tarmac to dirt and the ride was pretty rough at times. The lookout unfortunately was covered in cloud, which apparently happens every day around that time, but clears up in the afternoons. WE drove on to the Serengeti National Park. The difference between a conservation area and a national park is that people can live in the area but not in a park, so the Maasai can live and herd their cattle within the Ngorongoro area, but not within the Serengeti park. The line at the gate was huge, so we ate lunch and went for a walk while the guys paid our way in. Finally after an hour at the gate with countless other mzungus going into the park, we were in. It really is ‘endless plains'which is what the word ‘serengeti’ means from the Maasai language. It seemed to go on and on, with occasional rocky outcrops. At first we didn’t see a lot of wildlife, the occasional antelope or ostrich, but further in we saw large herds of gazelles and wildebeest. On route to our campsite within the park we drove past a few of the large outcrops of rock to see if there were any big cats there, but didn’t find anything other than rock hyraxes (large rodents). We eventually saw a cheetah lying on an anthill sunning himself,VERY COOL!! And then a leopard!! We felt so lucky! But apparently almost everyone who goes to the Serengeti sees at least one, this was our only one. We arrived at a bunch of cars on the side of the road and couldn’t find what the hell they were looking at, we got closer and got told where it was, right next to the road next to a fallen tree, but was hidden by long grass, so we climbed on the roof and got a good view of the cat sleeping! So cool!!
We also saw a bunch of lions which was great and more wildebeest and a lot of zebra, all on the migration north. In the late afternoon we had to race to our campsite, there were ominous clouds coming in and when we arrived at the first public campsite we were told it was full (it’s the most popular as it has power) so we went next door to the Dik Dik public
us at the rimview us at the rimview us at the rimview

Ngorongoro crater
campsite and we rushed to put up our tent then the boys tents as it began to pour with rain! The smell was amazing, like the first rains in spring or something, but apparently it rains most days there. We hung out for a while in the hut that is for eating in, while Benson cooked dinner in the cooking hut. We could hear hyenas a way off as well, which made the trips to the bathroom a little unnerving in the middle of the night, there are no fences here. Next morning we had an early brekky, we got up before sunrise, then headed out on a game drive. We didn’t see any new species, but lots of the same ones ,but still spectacular viewing!! Hundreds of zebras coming to drink at the river, who got scared at any little movement and would stampede past the car!! Then go back again to drink. The occasional wildebeest was thrown in there too. Then lots and lots of lions, multiple prides. The only down thing is the amount of traffic on the roads, but it makes it easy to spot an animal that people find interesting like lions, there will be
view downview downview down

Ngorongoro crater
like 10 cars watching them!! One of the lions was right next to the road and we stopped next to it and it just watched us, yawned and walked off down the road with a huge entourage of 4x4´s.
Eventually we had to head back to the camp to finish packing up (we had packed the bags earlier) Benson had taken down the tents. We ate lunch then packed into the car to drive back out of the Serengeti to the Ngorongoro crater. We did a game drive on the way out as well, but saw nothing new. We made it to the campsite which is on the rim of the crater… it was PACKED! There were so many people there it took us a while to find somewhere to pitch our tent, we had to eat outside, alfresco style with our foldout table since the eating hut was totally full!! The only places to charge cameras etc (which we needed to do desperately) were 4 powerpoints in the eating hut, I luckily managed to use our adapter with someone elses phone and use the USB port on the adaptor to charge one camera. The other one we did
elephant stealing waterelephant stealing waterelephant stealing water

Ngorongoro crater campsite
later when a point became available, someone had brought a huge power board. I waited in a long line at the toilets for a cold shower, then as I returned back to the tent Dario took me to see the visiting elephants, 2 males who were drinking water out of the big water tank that the kitchen was using! Very funny!! But some people were nuts and getting way too close for a good photo! The elephants eventually had enough water and enough of the hundreds of mzungus staring at them and they wandered off. Very cool thing though. Eventually we had an amazing dinner by Benson then went to bed as a bunch of Germans lit a bonfire and started drinking through their bourbon, luckily our tent was on the other side of the camp. I was very jealous that evening because Dario managed to see an Aardvark later that night on a trip to the toilet!! They are so rare to see since they come out so late at night!!
Next morning we were up really early (by the way, it is absolutely freezing up on the rim of the crater!! So all night and all morning
the campsite-was packed!the campsite-was packed!the campsite-was packed!

Ngorongoro crater we ate alfresco style!
we were wrapped up in everything warm we had with us!) had brekky hen packed everything into the car, including Mr Benson and off we went down into the crater. It was a beautiful view down into the crater! When we got to the bottom we drove across it in various directions looking for the special wildlife, Black Rhinos which are common there. We saw one, in the distance, but got a photo through the binoculars  We saw lions fighting over a carcass, of which animal we don’t know since it was just out of view. Lots of wildebeest and other game and hippos in a spring fed pool. We saw elephants in the plain, and up in the forested area we saw mongoose and some pretty cool eagle that had caught a mouse and ate it right in front of us in a tree. Eventually we had to leave just after we ate lunch in a picnic area full of cheeky monkeys. The ride up the side of the crater was a little scary but we got out safely and headed back to Arusha. On the way back we stopped in the town of Karatu for the ATM then John stopped at a decent curios shop where we bought a few items and were proud of our bargaining skills, getting the total down from 82,000Tsh to 33,000Tsh. Finally we made it back to Arusha Backpackers and said goodbye to John and Benson and gave them a nice tip for their services (its expected here). Later that afternoon Peniel came back to see how everything went and give us cool certificates, we gave a great review, Wonders of Creation tours did everything we needed and paid for. Even later that evening, after we had dinner the big boss came to see us and ask how everything went and gave us a Kikoy (like a sarong) as a parting gift.


24th November 2011

:) hi
awesome pics...especially the crater plan is to do my 4th trip next year....your pics are pushig me towards tanzania now :) thanks Anu *check my kenya blogs ...

Tot: 0.059s; Tpl: 0.022s; cc: 11; qc: 54; dbt: 0.0124s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb