MINI-SAFARI SERENGETI NGORONGORO
A mini safari is suitable for those who also want to have time to relax for a few days in the beautiful islands of the Tanzanian archipelagos. It is suitable for those who fear that game drives are very demanding and want to do things calmly. It is suitable for those visiting Tanzania for the first time and want to get a ‘taste’ of what it means to go on a safari in the savannah.
|Meeting with the guide at Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) and transfer to Arusha. Dinner and overnight in the city.|
|Departure for the Serengeti National Park via Ngorongoro with a stop at the Olduvai Gorges. Game drive. Dinner and overnight in the park.|
|After breakfast we leave for the Ngorongoro Conservation Area with a final game drive in Serengeti. Packed lunch on the way. Game drive in the crater. Dinner and overnight in Karatu village.|
|From Karatu we leave to return to Arusha with a packed lunch or in a typical restaurant. Transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) for the return international flight. End of services.|
The safari starts at Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) where you will meet the guide who will remain in your company for the whole trip and who will welcome you with a shrill ‘jambo!’ It is the special greeting for you, the guest, followed by ‘karibu Tanzania’, ‘welcome to Tanzania’. Hospitality is very important for Tanzanians and you are really welcome. From Kia you are taken by car to the city of Arusha, the undisputed capital of safaris in Tanzania. The road is good, paved, and the journey takes about 45 minutes. Arusha is located at about 1,400 meters above sea level, on the slopes of Mount Meru which stands in the national park that takes its name from the city, and the climate is mild all year round. If the flight arrived in late morning or early afternoon, you can plan to take a tour of the city, to eat in a typical restaurant, to acclimate to the African climate and landscape.
Karibu TanzaniaWelcome to Tanzania
HE ROAD TOWARDS THE SERENGETI
You leave early, immediately after breakfast, as the journey to the Serengeti is long, about 335 km. The time spent in the car can become an opportunity to satisfy the curiosity of eyes that come from different worlds. You pass through the villages, some more important, some small. From the jeep you can see the part that is crossed by the main road, excellent for getting an idea. The houses are scattered here and there: sometimes they are beautiful enclosed houses with gardens, sometimes they are much more modest with a tin roof, but still typical of the Tanzanian reality. Along the main road there are also the bars and restaurants frequented by Tanzanians and where you can often find exquisite specialties, gas stations, ‘fundi’, mechanics, and fruit and vegetable peddlers who offer their delicacies to travelers in transit along with Maasai ladies who often present their elaborate beaded jewelry strictly handmade and characteristic of their tribe. Among these villages there are two particularly important ones, Mto Wa Mbu and Karatu. They are those at the junctions to reach the various parks of the so-called Northern Circuit. In Mto Wa Mbu you can sleep if you are heading to Manyara and Tarangire. Visitors to Ngorongoro usually stay overnight in Karatu.
TRANSIT FROM NGORONGORO TO REACH SERENGETI
In order to reach the Serengeti it is necessary to pass through Ngorongoro Conservation Area. When you arrive at the entrance gate you enter and begin to climb a steep road lined with plants. It is beautiful when you can see the overhang. At a certain point you arrive at an open space with a small monument and a large terrace, the Crater View Point. It’s normally windy and the temperature can be quite cold. The terrace railing overlooks the Ngorongoro crater and a souvenir photo is a must for everyone. On the way to the Serengeti, or on the way back, a stop is usually made at Olduvai Gorge, an important archaeological site where remains of hominids and primitive men from various prehistoric eras have been found. It is considered the ‘cradle of humanity’. A unique experience for the atmosphere that reigns in this enchanted place where the first hominids decided to settle. A sort of ‘return to origins’ for all of us, a delicate and even romantic way of getting in touch with our roots. A Maasai guide, on the terrace overlooking the gorge, explains the whole history of this incredible place and a recently renovated museum with information, artifacts and casts completes the visit.
The first contact with the Serengeti are the southern plains and the game drive begins. It is not possible to condense a game drive in Serengeti into a few lines, but it is certain that this park offers wonders. The Serengeti is not only one of the most famous and described places on the planet, it is also, and above all, a magical place. For this reason it is not enough to bring the equipment to capture unique moments, but you have to bring your heart and live it with your emotional side. This is the only way to truly share the magic of this park. Passing one of the entrance gates it is like going back to being a child and waiting for the bedtime story, the story that will remain with you, the one that touches the strings of your sensitivity forever. In Serengeti there are all the big five: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. But also gazelles and antelopes, hyenas, jackals, elephants, giraffes, hippos. In short, all the best fauna that only Africa can boast. A group of impalas that graze and run away as soon as the car gets too close is a classic, like groups of lions crouched under the shade of a tree while their gaze takes care of you almost without interest, in a fleeting way. It is not for nothing that it is called a ‘pride’ of lions. Nothing scratches them. A cheetah hidden in the tall grass in search of prey or just the footprint of the same cheetah imprinted in the ground that testifies to its passage a few moments before are strong emotions. And then a couple of shy dik dik who scrutinize to see if some predator is strolling around or a lone elephant arrives and slowly passes by, careless of crossing among the jeeps full of ecstatic people. It and its size can afford it and maybe a little further on, just around the corner, a tender giraffe is eating the leaves of the highest branches of an acacia, the tastiest ones, the ones that only they are allowed to reach with their incredible necks that seem to defy the laws of physics. It is impressive indeed. The photos taken here remain an everlasting memory of an incredible journey. While lunch is usually eaten in the savannah in order not to miss a moment, dinner takes place in the central tent of the camp, but first there is time for a sundowner at sunset surrounded by a romantic atmosphere, almost surreal. You can be alone and enjoy the breathtaking view or share the experience with the other guests, sitting in a circle around the fire as the sun goes down at the horizon with its immense flaming shape. The night is spent in a tent, a beautiful tent equipped with all comforts, amidst the noises of the savannah and the passing animals. Often the ungulates make themselves heard and the hyenas stalk around in search of some leftovers. The curfew is linked to the light: after sunset you can only leave your tent if escorted by a Maasai warrior for safety reasons. The Maasai are extraordinary and keep watch all night to protect the camp.
THE GREAT MIGRATION
The Great Migration that takes place every year between the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara is a difficult sight to describe. It is a huge number of wildebeests and zebras marching for hundreds of kilometers in search of fresh water and pastures, and this is understandable. What is more difficult to understand is the path. How do they know where to go? How do they manage not to get lost? What drives them not to give up despite the difficulties and pitfalls they face every time? And they follow the path clockwise! Wildebeests and zebras need to drink daily and this is the fuse that stimulates the departure from dry places to lush ones, kissed by the rainy season. During the journey they must also cross two rivers: the Grumeti river in June and the Mara river between late August and September, when they pass from the Tanzanian Serengeti to the Kenyan Maasai Mara, challenging hordes of ravenous crocodiles who punctually exterminate a good number of them, including many puppies, weaker, more helpless in the face of these ferocious and patient reptiles. The departure does not happen in a sensational way, it is progressive, gradual. There is always a wildebeest that leaves and, like good followers, the others, slowly, follow it. In a short time others are added, then the whole herd sets off. They remain in the Maasai Mara until November, when the return march begins. They arrive in Serengeti in December and stay there on the southern plains until March. This is the time and place for females to give birth. Approximately 500,000 new births are registered each year. Mother wildebeest has a very strong bond with the baby, does not abandon it if it cannot follow the speed of the herd and defends it from crocodiles if it is attacked. It almost never manages to win, but it fights with all its might. Like all puppies of all species, even the little wildebeests are very sweet. This migration has taken place since the dawn of time and the wildebeests carry it genetically inside. The lion has the instinct of hunting, the wildebeest that of movement.
NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
This place is one of the most famous in the entire African continent and one of the most filmed in the world. It covers an area of 8,292 square kilometers and you have to look out over that railing overlooking the Ngorongoro crater if you really want to understand the power of nature. What we see today is the consequence of a terrible explosion that occurred about two and a half million years ago of the volcanoes that then stood here and that collapsed on themselves creating the depressions that we can admire today with so much amazement. There are three craters: Olmoti, Empakaai and that of Ngorongoro which has a diameter of 19 km, an area of 300 square kilometers and a depth of 600 meters: the largest intact caldera in the world and one of the uniqueness in all Africa. In the crater there is a vast grassy plain and the Lerai forest, south of Lake Magadi, which is positioned in the center of this plain. The yellow acacia, or fever tree, is the characteristic plant of this forest. The walls to the West have shrub vegetation, those to the East are covered with montane forests. The upper part, the Rim, reaches a height of more than 3,500 meters in some places. The concentration of fauna is impressive: more than 3,000 mammals, including the very rare and highly sought-after black rhino. The black rhino is a sweet, shy, solitary animal. In Tanzania it is at risk of extinction and it is a real shame because it is an incredible mammal. It is massive, roughly a ton in weight, with legs that look like columns, and carries two horns which it uses primarily for defense, intimidation, or for digging in search of roots. They are huge: the front one can measure up to eighty centimeters. He has poor eyesight, but he compensates very well with excellent hearing and smell. It cannot be said it’s aggressive without reason, but, if disturbed for no reason, it can charge and prove to be very dangerous. When it loads its head touches the ground and its tail is raised. One of the main activities of the rhino is to roll around in the mud. There are two purposes: lower the temperature and get rid of the parasites that afflict many animals. There are still a handful of them in the Serengeti and in Ngorongoro Crater, but the greatest concentration is in Selous and in Mkomazi National Park sanctuary. The rules for visiting inside the crater are very strict: you cannot stay in for more than six consecutive hours to avoid too much concentration of vehicles. It is also possible to visit a Maasai village, the only tribe allowed to live in this area. This is the ancestral land of the Maasai and a warrior accompanies the visit showing their fascinating culture, unchanged for hundreds of years. When traveling in northern Tanzania, encounters with the Maasai are inevitable. The tribe has Nilotic origins and they are nomadic shepherds with customs and traditions that have been handed down for centuries. They have a patriarchal social structure and the elderly are held in high esteem because they are the custodians of wisdom. While women play a secondary role, warriors form the backbone of the whole tribe. The Morans, or young warriors, protect the tribe’s herds. To become warriors it is necessary that they undergo difficult initiation rites and spend a few months in the savannah alone to prove their worth. They are recognizable because they are dressed in black and have white decorations on their faces that make them a bit spooky. They live in villages with huts traditionally called manyattas. Both the hut and the village have a circular shape and are surrounded by poisonous plants that keep predators away. Even the Maasai, like all tribes, have their traditional dances, very involving. .
The overnight stay after a safari can be in a lodge inside the crater or in the village of Karatu. Staying inside the crater, of course, you can enjoy the spectacular view and the sunsets that descend to the horizon from the top of the rim. A dinner in front of this show is certainly an unforgettable and fascinating experience. The village of Karatu offers splendid lodge alternatives set in equally beautiful gardens and with a very high quality of service
DAY OF RETURN FROM SAFARI TO ARUSHA AND TRANSFER TO KIA
On the last day, the road traveled to reach these places is retraced backwards, this time with a new spirit and awareness and the eyes with which you look at the panorama have changed. Upon returning, you look with your heart, you notice different things, you focus more on details that at first sight seemed insignificant. Yes, because Tanzania is all beautiful. The parks are a flagship for the care with which they are managed, but the villages and the people are also terrific. Your guide will escort you to Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) for your return journey, but it will be a painful farewell. Our guides are extraordinary, professionally and humanly. They carry out their work with passion and dedication: it is not possible not to become attached to them. The flight ladder will bring you back to reality and everyday life, but it is certain that Tanzania will remain in your heart as one of the most extraordinary journeys ever.