3 Day Safari In Tanzania; Tarangire, Manyara & Ngorongoro
Safari in Tanzania is like a dream come true. Although I had done safari just a few days ago in Kenya, I was desperate to see the animals of Tanzanian side. Why? Because a friend lived in Tanzania for a bit and promised big things about safari on this side of Africa. I was super psyched already.
I had to be, after paying so much for a 3 day safari. This is probably the most expensive experience I have ever done but do I regret it? Not one bit! Not even after it rained as well.
Check out my Tanzania guide for complete details before heading to the country.
First things first, let’s sort through some practical questions about safari in Tanzania before I tell you what happened during my three AMAZING days of safari.
Tanzania Safari VLOG
Day 1 – Tarangire National Park
On The Way To Tarangire National Park
The early morning wake up for safari is a must. Animals are most active early in the morning or when it cools down later in the day. A nice shower and breakfast later, we left Arusha at 8am and got it Tarangire National Park entrance gate at 10:30am. It took us almost an hour to get the clearance to enter the park.
Fun Fact: Tara in Swahili means river and Gire are warthogs. This place used to have a lot of warthogs next to the river that flows through so it became Tarangire.
Tarangire National Park
The national park is relatively small but very beautiful. It had rained the entire time we got it the park and then after the first couple of hours the weather got much nicer. I loved the slightly cloudy sky which saved me from the strong sun. It was also breezy and comforting.
This beautiful park is famous for its baobab trees which are scattered all over the place. They are quite distinct and you can easily spot them around. The other thing in plenty are the termite mounds, they seem to be eating up the entire place with some more than double in height than me (almost 4 metres tall). Apparently they are eating the national park away but what can you do.
The start of the drive was fanatic when we saw an entire tower.
Fun Fact: The collective noun for giraffes is a tower.
They were quite close to us and we got a good chance to see them along with plenty of impala, topi and other small animals like warthogs. The drive inside the park is quite different to an open drive like in Maasai Mara. Because of the trees, it is quite nice especially when you turn a corner and see an animals right next to you. The baobab trees also give it a very distinct look and you can easily spot one from a distance, they are massive.
The dive lasted till 1:30 pm with a bit of rain here and there. We finally managed to open the top of the jeep which exposed us to another big problem; flies. Really persistent flies! The flies here were very different to the ones we had encountered almost everywhere else. Luckily, we had insect repellent to hand which I generously applied and also sprayed around the jeep, it was a sigh of relief a few minutes later from all of us.
The rain finally stopped when we got to the picnic spot, the driver handed us our picnic boxes and we enjoyed the food with the view of the river. We had to be careful there were plenty f monkeys around to steal our food. The best part was when we saw an entire herd of elephants crossing the river. Food was sacrificed and we hurriedly left to meet my favourite animals.
The driver went at the fastest speed and soon we caught up with them along with an ostrich. The entire herd was moving across and from the tiny babies to big males we saw them all. An hour didn’t seem enough to absorb these beautiful giants. The big make at the end was walking around with his penis hanging which everyone was grinning about. My friend thought it was a leg but I knew he was happy to see me. (as if!)
The rest of the day, we drove around in search of our most elusive animal until we heard the driver was taking us to see one. We arrived to a bunch of people in jeeps fixated at a spot with binoculars. It was the leopard at last. It was visible through its tail only though with a perfect camouflage in the tree. We got a better view soon when a few jeeps left and suddenly a warthog came to drink water right under that tree. We all held our breaths. The leopard got ready to hunt and got down the tree, I could see it in all its glory and it was an amazing moment. It ran after the warthog and we lost it. It was enough though and we headed out to our stay for the night.
The drive to Karatu took about an hour on a beautiful road.
Marera Valley Lodge
I have never loved a hotel so much as this one. This place was pure bliss. From the beautiful rustic rooms to the balcony opening towards the valley, this place was just perfect for a night with all its comfort and serenity. I sat on the balcony in my rocking chair and after a little meditation, watched the valley get dark. Utter peace!
The pool was great for a dip in the morning before we headed to our second day of safari. I felt a little sad leaving like I was leaving my home. If I were to ever run away for peace and quiet, this would be the place.
Day 2 – Lake Manyara National Park
Drive to Lake Manyara National Park
The second place on our itinerary was a slightly different ecosystem, the Lake Manyara National Park. The home of tree climbing lions. It is essentially a dense forest with roads going through it. The trees almost come at you. The drive from the lodge to the park was quite peaceful and uneventful.
Lake Manyara Viewpoint
The first stop before the national park was the viewpoint of Lake Manyara. Due to the rain yesterday, the lake had flooded and expanded its border and it looked pink due to mud from up there.
Lake Manyara National Park
The entrance again took about 30 minutes, we saw an option for a canopy walk but it would be an extra $50 and would take some time to prep for it. It was given a miss. (I sometimes felt like a towel Tanzania was trying to squeeze for money).
We drove around till lunch and barely saw a few zebras, a giraffe or two and some birds. The vegetation is so dense it was hard to see any animals at all. It was a nice drive through the forest with fresh breeze.
We couldn’t get near the lake either due to flooding, we got or lunch and then headed to the grab our camping gear.
It took us an hour after we left Manyara National Park to arrive at the gate of my most excitedly anticipated place. Ngorongoro Caldera. It took an hour for us to get there.
Drive To Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro is a huge caldera of an inactive volcano. It is the largest crater of such sort in the world and the scale is a little hard to comprehend from photos. This is a conservation area where some people live and was later separated from Serengeti National Park.
Fun Fact: It is the largest intact volcanic crater with a depth of 610 metres and covering a vast area of 260 sq. km.
The entrance this time took only half an hour but we had entertainment. The baboons were in plenty around, playing and grooming each other with occasional interaction with humans around.
The first point was the Ngorongoro Crater Viewpoint. As we drove up, it got increasingly cold.
Ngorongoro Crater Viewpoint
It was very hard to express that feeling of amazement when we eventually reached the viewpoint. The entire caldera opened up like a massive bowl full of greenery with clouds floating above it at the same level as us. It wasn’t a place you could just take a photo and leave. Mind, absolutely blown!
Camping (Simba A Campsite)
The drive to camping area didn’t take long and we set about to pitch our tent and get comfy. It was my first time camping and the experience was quite surreal. During booking I didn’t pay much attention to it but it was unavoidable now. The toilet was the worst experience and everything else went much smoother than expected.
A shower and thermals took care of the cold and a dinner and sunset later, we headed to bed. I woke up to a weird noise, it was a buffalo chomping on grass right next to me outside the tent. I laughed at my first instinct about it being a lion or a tiger and went back to sleep.
Day 3 – Ngorongoro Reserve
I slept surprisingly comfortably but at the same time realised camping wasn’t for me. A massive bird stood outside the tent as we came back from breakfast with view of sunrise over Ngorongoro crater. The day was beautiful.
Note: Most safari companies provide their own chef if you choose to stay in the camping site, there are no stoves and everyone must bring their own stove and stuff to cook here. There is no food otherwise.
Descent Into The Crater
We drove to the entrance of the way down the crater to some grim news. Due to the rain yesterday and last night a jeep had skidded and got stuck on the muddy road. It took more than an hour to finally begin the descend. The view from the point was incredible though with the sun rising above the clouds that cover the caldera.
The road was slippery and the drive was very dangerous. We got there though in the end and it was as if the world had somehow changed. We were in a giant bowl with a lake in the middle and animals running around.
Throughout the morning we saw a pregnant wild cat chilling on road side, a jackal mom with her three little pups, lots of flamingos, wildebeest, buffaloes, zebras. The drive around was really weird honestly. I am still unsure we actually did that. It felt like a scene from Avatar movie. The constant feeling of walls around did kick in a little bit of my claustrophobia but a few deep breaths helped.
The real prize came when we got to a see an entire pride of lions chilling by a lake with spotted hyenas on the other side of the same lake. It was absolutely fantastic.
There was one animals that we hadn’t seen so far in this trip and we finally headed to see it. The rhinos were a little far from the road but it is very hard to miss them. I had a close meeting with a few rhinos in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya so I was happy but it was my friends first time seeing a rhino. She got excited, we had to remind her she couldn’t get out of the jeep or she would have ran to them and hugged them. They are majestic!
Lunch At Hippo’s Pool
For lunch we headed to the Hippos pool (Ngoitoktok picnic area) and found another interesting problem when we opened our lunch boxes. I had barely taken my first bite when I heard a swoosh and an eagle almost took my piece of chicken away. I looked in disbelief. Our driver had warned us to be careful of the birds but we thought he meant the little ones that came after the leftovers, this was another level.
A few bites later, another swoosh and this time the eagle almost touched my friends hand, we wrapped everything and ate the rest of lunch in the car.
The hippo’s pool was teeming with hippos but they were all submerged but you could hear them honking and breathing loudly now and then.
Fun Fact: The caldera was actually quite warm and the crater really cold, this creates the clouds that almost always cover the caldera. The place is so huge it has its own weather.
The three days of running around was catching up to us and we decided to finally head out but not without seeing a few elephants and a little search of leopards. The first one was immediately fulfilled with a few elephants grazing around with an ostrich on the other side of the road but leopard remained elusive.
The ascent up was beautiful, the air cooled up and we were back at the rim of the crater in an hour.
Drive back to Arusha
The drive back to Arusha was smooth with a little nap and a search for spa for the next day. I had no idea before how exhausting safaris can be even if it just sitting in a jeep watching animals.
The three days of safari in Tanzania was an epic experience, one that will stay with me forever. I hope you are planning to go soon, if you have any questions please don’t be shy. If you have been already, do let me know what you think.