GREAT TANZANIA WITH EAST AFRICAN SAFARI AND TOURING COMPANY (EASTCO)
After consulting magazines, websites, guides and reviews we finally went on a safari to Tanzania.
Here is a full description of it and I hope it will be helpful to other travelers.
We are four adults used to travel on our own and we wanted a tour not too expensive but useful to know the country, so we chose camping and not lodge parks, touching both the North and the South of Tanzania.
We contacted several agencies and few of them were able to create such a trip.
East African Safari and Touring Company (EastCo) proposed a 17-day tour that included what we wanted to do with an affordable cost.
I started an exchange of e-mails with Simon, owner of the agency, which lasted from March to July in which he removed all my doubts about routes, accommodation, equipment to bring, documents, etc..
The deposit required was 50% of the cost by bank transfer prior to departure and the balance in cash on our arrival in Tanzania.
I was worried about the bank transfer security, so I asked Simon if I could pay by paypal. There were neither problems nor additional costs.
The car that drove us through Tanzania was a classic Land Rover well serviced, very comfortable both during the safari and in the long transfers on dirt roads.
The driver / guide, Innocent, proved to be competent, reliable, friendly and always ready to meet our demands.
The cook, Israel, worked hard with expertise preparing delicious meals always taking into account our tastes.
Despite having a program to follow, every evening we gathered for a discussion about the schedule of the next day, places to visit, etc.. We always stuck to the timetable.
Here is our journey day by day
We arrive in the afternoon at the airport in Arusha where we find James who takes us to the hotel and informs us that the next morning we will start our safari in Ngorongoro as scheduled.
Great dinner at the hotel.
Innocent arrives on time in the morning, he loads our luggage and we set off to Ngorongoro.
After a picnic lunch (always good and plentiful) we arrive at the park where we meet a ranger who takes us on a walk on the edge of the crater where we can see beautiful scenery.
In the evening we arrive at the public campsite where our tents are already put up and the cook gives us dinner.
At night, as expected, the weather is pretty cold but we have our warm blankets!
Early in the morning, after breakfast, we go on a safari inside the crater: beautiful atmosphere and a lot of animals. Innocent tries to show us as much as possible, taking into account my needs as a photographer.
Then we leave for the Serengeti private campground in the Seronera Valley.
The camp is isolated and well kept, it makes a certain effect being in the park without any kind of barrier between us and the animals.
Dinner is prepared by the staff of the camp and we have it in a special tent. We are advised not to leave our tents at night for security reasons. We have bathroom and shower inside the tent and so there is no problem.
During the night we hear noises around the tent! In the morning they tell us that it was a hyena.
Full day with Innocent in search of animals in the Serengeti. We see a lot of game of all kinds, we wish to see cheetahs, that we have never seen before on other trips in Africa, and we are rewarded, also seeing an attempt to hunt an antelope, very very interesting. A leopard sleeping on a tree branch is a very funny view!
Dinner and overnight at our campsite.
In the morning safari in the Serengeti with lions and eagles in the foreground, then transfer to Naitolia camp in the park of Tarangire. This camp is very nice, great cuisine and stunning scenery.
Full day at Tarangire NP. The park is really nice for the presence of many elephants and for the landscape characterized by baobab.
Dinner and overnight in Naitolia.
Many activities are scheduled for today. In the morning we go trekking for four hours with a Masai guide near Naitolia up a hill from which we can enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the Conservation Area. Along the way giraffes, zebras, antelopes and wildebeest.
We have lunch at the camp and after a short rest, we visit a Masai boma. Interesting because Innocent can inform us about customs and traditions through a series of translations “English - Swahili - Masai dialect - Swahili – English - Italian”.
After dinner we go for a night drive with the Masai guide on the roof of our Land Rover who, with a lighthouse, tries to find nocturnal animals in the savannah. We spot jackals, foxes, rabbits, birds and an African wild cat.
Last night in Naitolia.
Today we have to reach Babati but Innocent, in the morning, drives us in the Tarangire NP again and, for half a day, we have another very interesting safari through the park near the river where we see many birds, lizards and a beautiful cheetah in addition to the countless elephants addicted to mud baths. Very funny!
In the evening we arrive in Babati where we should camp but they change our program and we stay in the hotel (brand new with friendly staff) because the cook, who will follow us for the rest of the trip, has not arrived. (We consider it an upgrade).
In the morning we go trekking with a guide on the heights near the lake with a fine view of the crater of a volcano and the view of the lake. We meet a local family and an old man accompanies us through the vegetation with a machete. Lunch at a restaurant in Babati where we taste the local dish: beef chopped into small pieces to eat strictly by hand (very tasty).
In the afternoon we go canoeing on the lake to see the hippos, many birds and local fishermen at work on canoes identical to ours.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day of transfer to Dodoma intermediate step that will allow us to get closer to the parks in the south. The cook Israel joins us, the crew is now complete. We know that today and tomorrow the road will be long and tiring but Innocent is a careful driver and makes us feel safe. During the journey we stop at Kolo where, with an hour walk with a local guide, we visit three sites of rock paintings, they are very interesting.
Dinner and overnight in hotel in Dodoma.
Second day of transfer, the Mikumi Park never seems to arrive. We reach it in the evening. Innocent and Israel put up the tents and then the cook prepares the dinner.
Great dinner, camping comfortable.
In the morning we go on a safari in the park of Mikumi, with a local guide, where we see lots of hippos, crocodiles and a herd of buffalos coming to the waterhol to drink.
I take a lot of photos, then we go back to the camp where Israel has already taken down the tents and prepared the meal.
In the afternoon we leave for the Udzungwa park.
We arrive in the evening and the staff take us to the site for camping. The site is dirty and the shower does not work. Innocent and Israel start to find another acceptable accommodation, after telling us that the Park Service had assured them that they had carried out the necessary maintenance. This was the only problem encountered during our entire trip.
We stop in a small hotel on the outskirts of the park where there are toilets and showers and where Israel can cook our dinner.
Innocent and Israel solved the problem quickly, with competence and courtesy, after a day of hard work. We congratulate and thank them.
In the morning we depart for a trek through the forest to Sanje waterfalls with a park guide. We take with us a picnic lunch prepared by Israel.
The trek is very nice and less tiring than expected even if we climb to the top of the waterfall, the landscape is beautiful and we see different types of monkeys including the black and white colobus logo of EastCo safari.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Today we get to the Selous park. On the map it looks close but we have to cross the mountains. Innocent tells us it will be a long road and he's right.
The road is tiring but interesting because it goes through different environment than the great plains.
We arrive at night at the Hippo camp, the place is great, right on the river Rufiji. It's dark and we can not see the landscape but dinner is perfect.
Full day safari in the Selous park with Innocent. Gorgeous! It seems we are in a National Geographic documentary when we meet a group of eight lions that were defending a carcass of buffalo from the attack of several vultures.
Many different animals and the Rufiji River create a different landscape from the other parks.
Dinner and overnight at Hippo camp (beautiful sunset over the Rufiji and hippo wallowing in the river below our tents).
We wake up early and go for a walk with a local guide who shows us some characteristics of plants in the area, we even meet elephants on our way which fortunately ignore us.
Breakfast and visit to the local village with a local boy (Innocent asks us if we were interested and we do not miss the opportunity).
The visit is very interesting, we visit the town hall, the school, the market and the police station accompanied by children. The people are always friendly and we buy our first souvenirs.
In the afternoon we go boating on the Rufiji river with a local guide. This is the last evening in Tanzania and we are a little sad but the journey is wonderful among hippos, crocodiles and fish eagles with a beautiful sunset on the river, there could be no better conclusion.
We move to Dar es Salaam for our return flight. Even today we are on time as ever. We say goodbye to the great Innocent and Israel and we board our plane to Italy.
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GREAT TANZANIA WITH EAST AFRICAN SAFARI AND TOURING COMPANY (EASTCO)