Travel Diary: Wild wonder in Tanzania
I watched The Lion King over five dozen times while growing up, and I’ve dreamt of visiting the Serengeti – Tanzania’s prized national park – for as long as I can remember. I finally visited the East African country for a week last October with my father and fell in love with the wonderful diversity it has to offer. There is something for every kind of traveller – you can glamp it up in the tented camps at Serengeti, see the rhino at the Ngorongoro Crater, climb Mount Kilimanjaro or even head to Zanzibar for a visit to Stone Town and deep sea diving. Although female solo travellers often shy away from visiting the beautiful country by themselves, I do think that it is safe and the locals very helpful, making Tanzania a must-visit on your list of destinations. Here are some recommendations to make the most of this African landscape.
Explore the wilderness in Tanzania. Picture courtesy: Jia Singh
If you and your companions like the idea of climbing on a holiday, then book yourselves for the Mount Kilimanjaro expedition. My friends, who have repeatedly visited the highest mountain of Africa, warn that it is not easy, with the extreme temperatures and windchill. However, they insist that it is every bit worth it. Plan ahead of time, go with a bunch of friends who will enjoy the experience equally, and remember to prepare yourself for incidental expenses. Experienced climbers rave about the view from the top, but it is recommended that you train a few months before you make your way to Kili.
Ride a Cessna
Getting around the Serengeti can be tough as some areas are quite inaccessible. Luckily, there are companies offering Cessna aircraft rides, making it more convenient – but be warned that this comes at a hefty price. Carriers such as Coastal, Precision and Auric Air offer guests a chance to get aboard a 12-seater flight manned by experienced pilots and with access to the lounge area. The experience of flying into Seronera with the zebras still scrambling off the runway, a few minutes before we landed, made for a thrilling and unforgettable experience.
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Tanzania offers the best safari experience with game drives in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro conservation area. The Serengeti is the largest wildlife reserve, and home to the ‘Big Five’ – the elephant, leopard, rhino, cape buffalo and lion. It is also famous for the migration where millions of wildebeest cross over to the Maasai Mara in Kenya every year. This event attracts wildlife enthusiasts, naturalists and photographers from all over the world who want to witness it with their own eyes.
The Serengeti National Park is famous for wild animals. Picture courtesy: Jia Singh
While there is no dearth of accommodation options available, it is important to fit one that matches your budget. I stayed at the Four Seasons Serengeti and would recommend it for the views of elephants at the nearby watering hole and the energetic Maasai dance at dinner time.
Another beautiful way to experience the wild is through the hot air balloon safari that starts at dawn and finishes with a champagne breakfast in the Serengeti. It offers unparalleled views of the grassland and a unique vantage point for better sightings.
1. Don’t forget to get annual travel and medical insurance with good coverage to account for any incidentals or mishaps.
2. You can rent a car and self drive around Tanzania but hiring an experienced guide is ideal.
3. Carry ample mosquito repellent and remember to keep your arm and legs covered during the safaris to prevent getting bitten or stung by flies and mosquitoes.
4. The locals are very warm and hospitable, but pay respect to their customs and surroundings. Dress appropriately at religious places and tip generously for good service at hotels.
5. Make sure to book your Cessna flights well in advance, even though they fly daily.