Our month’s theme is East Africa … We continued our journey from Rwanda into Tanzania to experience our most popular safari circuit – the northern circuit – post-Covid. Tanzania is but a short hop from Rwanda but indeed a world away in terms of experiences. It is a true savannah safari gem and a beating heart of not only safari but, of course, the great migration and really the big five!
During the pandemic, Tanzania has had an ‘interesting’ relationship with the World and COVID. Its previous president, John Magufuli, was one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus sceptics, famously calling for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus. He also mocked masks, expressed doubts regarding testing, and mocked neighbouring countries on their health measures to curb the virus. He declared Tanzania’ COVID-free’ in mid-June. Magufuli died in early 2021, at only 61 years old, apparently of a heart condition, with political opponents insisting he had coronavirus. His presidency had been controversial, as although he instituted much infrastructure and energy renewal, his relationship with the West was fraught, and policies of curtailing certain freedoms meant much aid was withdrawn from the country.
Today Tanzania has a new female, more ‘lenient’ president Ms. Samia Suluhu Hassan, who is taking a substantial role in promoting the country’s tourism. Tanzania’s COVID policies now match much of the West in not requiring tests to enter or conduct activities. It is taking a relaxed attitude with the receding of the virus.
So…enough ‘politics,’ onto our passion and onto our most popular safari circuit. This is a great jump-off or ending point for safari, beginning in the busy ‘safari-hub’ town of Arusha. A lively African town where almost everything centres on safari and tourism. With a variety of hotels and accommodations, the town is surrounded by coffee plantations and safari operations and sits in the shadow of Mount Meru. Mount Kilimanjaro and Arusha National Park are both a short drive away.
A popular start or end as there are two airports near Arusha. East of the town is Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), used for flights from Kenya, Nairobi, Europe, and regional safari connections in Tanzania. It sits off the main highway between Arusha and its namesake mountain. The second, much smaller Arusha Airport, is a hub for regional flights in the West of the town. Lovely relaxing spots are available to shake off the travel dust. These include the Arusha Coffee Lodge or the smaller luxury boutique Legendary lodge set on a working coffee plantation. Both offer gorgeous accommodations, service, and food a stone’s throw from the Arusha airport and the main road toward your goals of the rightly world-famous Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park.
We’ve carved a journey through the outer slopes of the unbelievable Ngorongoro Crater. Staying at the unique Gibbs Farm. This is a tranquil, 100-year-old property set among beautiful gardens, verdant views, and a working farm! All the properties we use are special. But Gibbs Farm has such a welcoming, unique atmosphere that it somehow stays in your heart and is simply hard to leave! The Crater itself is accessible from here – a mere two-hour drive – as is Lake Manyara (famed for its flocks of pink flamingos) and Lake Eyasi. So there’s no need to make an immediate exit…
Pushing onwards just north to the Ngorongoro Crater itself. The terms’ unique’ and ‘surprising’ are often over-used in the safari world, but this is unlike any other safari destination. A stunning caldera, which I likened to an enormous (dry, obviously!) fishbowl full of wildlife! You cannot stay in the Crater; you need to purchase a day pass to enable you to be driven on one of the descent roads down to the floor. Here you’ll basically encounter a vast (roughly 18km across!) 264 sq km field with a forested rim rising 610 all-around teeming with beasts. However, it can be busy with safari vehicles that must stick to the roads, so its experience is not a purist safari. On the rim of the Crater, properties abound. We stayed at another favourite is, Nomad’s Entamanu Ngorongoro. Laidback traditional yet freshly decorated safari tents or the more ‘lodgy’ traditional safari cum beachy/African lake holiday home! We love the Nomad crew. They will take you into their family and look after you as one of their own! This homely camp is one among various options. Others being the strangely appealing and extravagantly adorned Creator lodge…which must have been designed by Tim Burton on a Versace budget! We’re staying there next it’s enchanting – but I’m not employing the interior designer for my home…..!
Our circuit moves onwards through the Serengeti – overused phrase alert – but there’s no other phrase as here there are simply plains as far as the eye can see and much further! We’ve driven through the great migration, hundreds of thousands of braying gnus teaming up with zebra pals to move to fresh, palatable grasses. We stopped in the thick of it at the pared-back, simple yet luxuriously comfortable Nomad Serengeti Safari Camp. Did we mention that we love the Nomad team? Well, for a reason, these guys know the Serengeti and will look after you as if you’re their brother or sister!
We’ve moved our safari or ‘journey’ all the way through the Serengeti via a scenic safari drive which cut the VAST park in half to the northern parts of the Serengeti and the Grumeti Game Reserve. Much like the Masai Mara, this is a technically separate but unmarked area of the Serengeti eco structure. Here views, wildlife, and luxury abound. Singita has all of its Tanzania properties here, one of the main leaders in safari luxury. Each Singita property, (namely Sasakwa, Faru Faru, and Sabora Tented Camp…not to mention Singita’s exclusive sole use “explore” fly camp (what a ‘fly-camp!) and Serengeti House, where we just may move in and stay forever) differ – but we can steer you to the right property and room for you!
However, now we must, so we’ll push onwards to the magical, sensually evocative Island(s) of Zanzibar – the spice Island.