I’m often asked what was my favourite holiday and the answer always surprises people – a safari in Tanzania.
I have travelled to many far flung places but there was something magical about Tanzania that makes it stand out in my mind. It was a life experience as well as a holiday. There was no wifi, no email, in fact hardly any phone coverage, I really felt like I embraced nature at its best. I think the longing to go there came from a trip to South Africa the previous year, where I went on a safari in Kruger National Park – I was hooked! I am somewhat of an animal lover anyway and safaris for me are one of life’s amazing experiences. I decided to try a real authentic safari, and we set off for Tanzania.
Whilst a South African safari is great, there is a difference when you step out on to the Serengeti plains or the Ngorongoro Crater. The area is so vast and the density of animals is staggering. There are no fences and the animals travel from Kenya to Tanzania and back again. In fact on any given day you really have no idea what you will see or what to expect. I flew into Nairobi and stayed two nights at the luxury Tortillis camp in Amboseli National Park. Morning coffee is delivered to your tent so you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the elephants at Mount Kilimanjaro, before setting off on a game drive. The guides are so knowledgeable, you feel very much at ease. I never felt anxious, even when a lion decided to have a nap behind our back wheel! On one of our drives we witnessed a pride of lions killing a wildebeest beside our jeep. It was both distressing and exhilarating, to watch nature at its purest, with the hyenas and vultures waiting idly by for the left overs.
I then moved on to the Ngorongoro crater, one of the worlds most breathtaking natural wonders. It’s hard to describe the feeling as you stand on the rim of the crater looking at the various wildlife in their natural habitat. It really is a feast for the senses. The stunning views, the animal sounds, the aromas, are almost tangible. I was once told by a friend of mine to take a ‘mental’ picture when you are somewhere special, and that I did. I think that memory will stay with me forever. I was fortunate to stay at the Ngorongoro crater lodge, a stunning 5* hotel, probably one of the best in Tanzania, if not Africa. The hefty $1000 per person per night price tag gets you a personal butler who will have a hot bath and your drink of choice ready for you after your game drives! (Easily know I went pre – recession! ) It really is a once in a lifetime experience and definitely one that should be on everyone’s bucket list!
After trying a luxury tent and a luxury hotel I decided to ‘rough’ it a bit and stay in a small lodge in Tanzania’s most famous National Park, Serengeti. The vast open plains are an amazing sight, they seem endless, and were a complete contrast to Amboseli and Ngorongoro. Famed for the annual migration it actually offers so much more. It has one of the best game viewing in the world as there is so little vegetation. I have one regret – not taking the hot air balloon ride over the plains – I guess I’ll just have to go back!
My trip might seem like a lot of travelling but believe me, it is worth it. If you want to experience Tanzania at its best, take the time to try different parks. Prebook a private guide to drive you where possible, and take the internal flights for the longer journeys. As you drive through the countryside you will witness every day life in Tanzania. Masai will stroll past with a weeks supply of groceries balanced on their heads while kids play football in their bare feet. Don’t be put off by the internal flights, they are like buses, with dirt tracks for runways. There is no check in times, or passport control, its hassle free. And when you are exhausted after all that travelling and the adrenaline rush, what better way to end your holiday, than chilling out in the exotic island of Zanzibar!
It really doesn’t get much better than that! This holiday won’t be cheap, in fact it’s probably one of the most expensive trips you will take, but believe me when I tell you, it will be an experience that will have memories that will last a lifetime.