At last I’ve got a chance to reflect on and write about my trip to Tanzania in June/July.
We were having such a great time over there that we extended our stay by 1 week. We could change our flights quite cheaply through our travel agent and ended up having a night in Dubai on the way home as well.
It was such a fantastic and relaxing trip. There were many highlights, but I will tell you about some of them.
We were particularly interested in looking at and photographing birds. We booked our trip with EASTCO (East African Safari and Touring Company) because we had used them before in 2003 and were very satisfied with them and also they were strongly recommended by our travel agent who has had many dealings with them. We were very fortunate with our guides. We had two for different segments of our trip, Mohammed and Bernard. They were both fantastic!!! They really made our trip memorable in terms of the birds we saw and the animals. Their knowledge of everything (and particularly birds) was outstanding. They were also patient and flexible and allowed us freedom to sit in one place for as long as we liked and to retrace our steps.
Tarangire National Park and Boundary Hill Lodge:
I’ve put these two together because they are so intertwined with each other. One of the main things I wanted to see during this visit to Tanzania was elephants as I felt that in the past I hadn’t seen them enough. Well!! I wasn’t disappointed!! Tarangire NP exceeded all expectations. During the nearly three days we spent in Tarangire we saw so many elephants it was amazing...and each time it was different. We saw lots of animals but the highlight was the elephants. There were hundreds.
We saw elephants in the sand river getting water and a baby playing in the sand. We saw elephants washing and rolling in the mud and then spraying sand on themselves to dry themselves.
We sat and watched elephants for ages.....we watched them eating using their feet to help get the grass, knocking branches off trees. It was the first time I had had a chance to just sit and observe them for as long as I liked and just watch the interaction between the family groups and the mothers and babies. As I said earlier...our guide was very patient!!! As you can see, I was thrilled by this experience!
There were lots of different birds...our guide at this stage was Mohammed who was very knowledgeable about birds. He used to be a ranger in Ngorongoro Conservation Area before he became a guide.
We stayed two nights at Boundary Hill Lodge. Boundary Hill Lodge is amazing with fantastic views of the National Park and Conservation area. The rooms have unique decorations. Our room had framed newspaper articles from the 1800s with drawings about the slave trade and Stanley’s expedition to Lake Victoria. As I’m interested in history, I found this fascinating reading.
The view from the room was unbelievable. We watched Maasai herdsmen and elephants roam the conservation area. The staff were very obliging. We had a Maasai escort to and from our room each night.
I’m putting this as a separate heading because on my previous visits to Tanzania I hadn’t seen any leopards but this time in the Serengeti we saw three....two in a tree and one in a tree surrounded by baboons. It eventually climbed down the tree to get away from the baboons. We ended up buying a Tinga Tinga painting of a leopard to bring home with us!!! We camped at a special camp site in the Serengeti. Although we were camping, the accommodation and food were quite luxurious with ensuite toilet and shower. Returning to the camp one night we saw a large hippo walking through the forest nearby. This was one of those memorable experiences I will remember forever.
This wasn't far from Tarangire and well worth a visit. It was a good break between visiting the National Parks and provided a couple of relaxing days in the middle of viewing animals. Lake Babati is in a very pretty area surrounded by mountains. It is also a hippo reserve. We stayed at a guest house there. It was basic but comfortable beds, good surroundings and good food. The two highlights of Babati for me were visiting the “Bee ladies” and going in a dugout canoe on the lake.
The “Bee ladies” are a group of women who have set up bee hives in the forest. There are two bees (large and small). The large ones are quite dangerous and by having them in the forest, it discourages people coming in to cut down trees. The small bees are so valuable that they are in a locked hive (really a room with small holes). After visiting the bees, we went back to the house of one of the women and had tea and bread with the honey from the bees....delicious!!
The trip on the lake (actually I went twice!!!) was excellent for bird watching and exhilarating for hippo watching!!! We went in a dugout canoe with a local fisherman around the edges of the lake. There were lots of different species of birds there. As it was late afternoon the hippos were just waking up. On my second trip we went to a swampy area and saw many hippos in the water. It’s quite unnerving being on the water with hippos nearby!! The man who took us was very cautious about the hippos and made sure we didn’t get too close!!! When we left the hippos and were on the way back to shore, he told us many stories about hippos and boats.
Another highlight!! I had visited Zanzibar many years ago and although it was quite different this time, it was still fantastic!!
Because we hadn’t finalized our accommodation, we got EASTCO to book us a place. Our hotel, the Clove Hotel, was in the middle of Stone Town, overlooking the beach and not too expensive!! We wandered around Stone Town, ate each night at the food stalls on the waterfront, went on a Spice Tour, went on a sunset cruise on a dhow and visited the Red Colubus monkeys in the forest. I really loved going there again!!
Well, this trip didn’t get Tanzania out of my system!! I’m already planning my next trip and want to go to the south of Tanzania. I’ve previously visited Ruaha NP and Iringa but would like to revisit them and look around other places in southern Tanzania!!! and still want to try and get to the Swahili Coast south of Tanga, which was on the original plans for this trip but there was never enough time!
We found EASTCO very good to travel with. We were able to change some of our itinerary whilst we were there and even whilst we were on safari. It was good knowing we had some flexibility! And as I said, our two guides were great!!!
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