THE WEEKLY #244: I’M ON SAFARI

Tarangire National Park is one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever visited. As our Jeep rolled along the bumpy roads, I would often peer out at the vast green plains, lush wetlands, and beautiful Acacia trees and feel as though we were driving through a painting. Even if there weren’t 250,000 animals in this wildlife mecca, it would be worth the safari for the scenery alone.

Tarangire National Park is the sixth-largest in Tanzania with an area of 2,600 square kilometers. Known to be one of the best places to observe large herds of elephants, this was the location of my first ever safari. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was slightly worried about a safari experience having too much infrastructure and not feeling very wild. The lion prints in the sand outside my tent on the first night quickly washed away any such doubts. Tarangire National Park gives you the chance to fully immerse yourself in the wild side of Africa.

My three-day stay in Tarangire National Park was part of a nine-day luxury safari experience with Wilderness Travel on their tour: Tanzania Private Safari Journey. It was more than anything I could have expected from the roaring of lions at night near my tent to the extensive knowledge and wildlife-spotting ability of Naiman our guide.

Our journey began in Arusha with a smooth two-hour journey out to Tarangire National Park. It would be the last time we felt the comfort of a paved road beneath the wheels for a few days. After passing through the entrance in the late morning, it would be the last buildings and other tourists we would see for quite some time. The safari journey began and it wasn’t long before we began to have our first wildlife encounters.

This safari was my first and I wasn’t sure how common wildlife encounters were. I thought it could be lucky to see an elephant or a lion. After minutes of entering the park, I was standing with my head popped out of our vehicle, scanning for wildlife, which was something my eyes would become finely attuned to by the end of the trip. It wasn’t long before we were confronted by a small herd of magnificent elephants. The trip had begun. The elephants were the first of many and from this point on, I was in a state of constant amazement.

During our time in Tarangire National Park, we stayed at a luxury tented lodge called Osunyai Lamarkau. Set beneath mature acacia trees and facing the rising sun, Osunyai is the comfortable retreat you crave after a long day exploring in the park. Each night we would fall asleep to the sounds of a roaring lion, panting leopard, or howling hyena. These animal noises seemed incredibly close at times and indeed they were.

One morning we went out for a bushwalk with our Maasai guide and saw the prints of lions and hyenas just minutes from our tent. It is unusual proximity in which you share with such apex predators. However, with escorts from the guides to and from your tent and in many ways the natural habits of the animals, it becomes relatively predictable.

Each morning we would wake early to have a gourmet breakfast buffet next to the fire as the sun rose over the horizon. Animal sounds filled the air as we sipped on a coffee and prepared for a day out in the wild. From the moment we left camp, the search was on for wildlife. We tried our best to help spot any signs of animals but it was rare for us to make a sighting before our veteran guide Naiman who multi-tasked while driving on bumpy roads and spotting animals far in the distance.

Throughout the trip, we were lucky enough to come across lions, hyenas, elephants, giraffes, baboons, mongoose, jackals, wildebeests, buffalo herds, impalas, gazelles, ostriches, hippopotamus, and a vast array of birds. It was truly incredible to witness so many different types of animals all within one ecosystem. I reveled in capturing the wildlife and hope you enjoy a selection of my favorite photos from Tarangire National Park.

Ngorongoro is as diverse as its name is difficult to pronounce. The enormous Ngorongoro Crater is the centerpiece of the huge Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which was the second part of my Tanzania safari journey that began in Tarangire and would finish in Serengeti.

After leaving the stunning scenery of Tarangire behind, we traveled to Plantation Lodge to spend one night before our Ngorongoro Crater safari. Just on the outskirts of the park, the lodge was a peaceful oasis where you could relax and unwind.

The next morning we made the short drive to the park entrance to begin our safari in the Ngorongoro Crater. We wound up the dirt roads, passing by the lush jungles that reminded me of the lush vines covering the canopies in Papua New Guinea on the Kokoda Track.

At the top of the rim, we had our first chance to see the entirety of the crater, which was far bigger than I expected. The lakes of the crater seemed to disappear into the fog almost like an ocean. I couldn’t wait to reach the top of the rim and head down to explore the crater, excited to see what wildlife we would encounter.

As soon as we began heading down into the crater the wildlife began to appear in every direction. Zebras galloped by in single file while gazelles gathered in the open plains. Flamingos flocked in the lakes as hyenas circled waiting to make their moves. The wildebeest and buffalo moved about in herds as calves leaped enthusiastically as their mothers tried to keep them nearby.

Ngorongoro Crater is one of the best spots in Tanzania to spot a Black Rhinoceros, whose population has dwindled over the last centuries but is currently on the rise.

Ngorongoro Crater was voted as one of the seven natural wonders of Africa due to the biodiversity amidst the unique volcanic caldera. We drove throughout the entire crater before climbing up the rocky roads to reach Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge where we would stay the night.

The next day we drove through the plains of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which is far outside the crater but equally as busy with wildlife. It was here we encountered two lions and also several hyenas feeding on a gazelle from a recent kill.

I reveled in capturing the wildlife and hope you enjoy a selection of my favorite photos from Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area.

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