I wasn’t sure about going on safari when I was in Tanzania.
I had several misgivings. First, I like to leave wildlife alone in it’s own environment, and I don’t feel any great urge to ogle first hand.
Next, it would make me feel a bit uncomfortable to pay a large sum of money to travel in luxury (there’s no alternative) and be waited on hand and foot by local people who earn almost nothing and go home to a corrugated iron shack every night.
Last, I’d be going with people I’d just spent 7 days with on Mt Kilimanjaro, so every chance we’d be fed up with each other already.
I was persuaded by someone whose judgement I trust, and who has also had the safari experience. I was also influenced by someone who lived in Africa for a long time, and allayed my fears about the rich white man routine.
We spent 3 nights and 4 days visiting Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park. The latter two are household names. The former is just stuffed full of elephants.
A lot of bouncing around in the back of the Landcruiser. A lot of kilometres covered. We did see all of the “Big 5” – lions, leopards, elephant, rhino and buffalo – and got very close to all of them.
Some of my misgivings turned out to be valid in a small way, but mostly nothing that I couldn’t rise above.
A disappointment was the accommodation in Ngorongoro and Serengeti – both former state game lodges, now privatised. Wonderful locations, OK facilities but disappointing food.
By contrast, the forest camp near Lake Manyara was wonderful. Couldn’t fault it (and I’m picky).
Two of our group had been to Rwanda before Tanzania, to see the mountain gorillas. That had been in my wish list too, but I hadn’t been able to figure out any kind of sensible travel between Kigali and Arusha – surprising, because the war crimes court dealing with the genocide crimes is in Arusha. Talking to Stephen & Louise certainly fired my enthusiasm.
© iain taylor 2012