MINI SAFARI SERENGETI-NGORONGORO
A mini safari, as we call it, has several qualities and it is suitable for many.
It is suitable for those who want to continue and relax a few days in the splendid 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.
Now, I’ll explain the program. The safari starts at Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) on the day or evening of arrival, where you meet with the guide who will remain in your company for the duration of the trip.
From the KIA you are taken to the city of Arusha. The road is good, paved and the journey takes about forty-five minutes.
If the flight arrives in the late morning or early afternoon, you have the opportunity to take a tour of the city, to eat in a typical restaurant, to get used to the African climate and landscape.
If your flight arrives in the evening, you are taken directly to the lodge for dinner and rest.
The next morning you leave early, immediately after breakfast. The journey to Serengeti is long: there are about 335 km to travel to get there and an important stop at Ngorongoro viewpoint with a breathtaking view of the crater.
Yes, because Serengeti and Ngorongoro are adjacent.
Before reaching the crater, however, you pass several villages, some more important, others small. From the Land Cruiser you can see the part that is crossed by the main road, but it is great for getting an idea. Houses are scattered here and there. Sometimes they are beautiful enclosed houses with internal gardens, sometimes they are much more modest with a tin roof, but typical of the Tanzanian reality and interesting for an eye that comes from different worlds. Along the central avenue, it’s crowded with bars and restaurants frequented by Tanzanians and where you can often find exquisite specialties, gas stations ⛽️, fundi (mechanics) and street vendors of fruit and vegetables. Great fruits and vegetables! If you are lucky, you can also complement your breakfast with a kitumbua, a soft and delicious rice flour pancake.
Among these villages there are two particularly important ones: Mto Wa Mbu and Karatu. They are those at the junctions for the various parks of the Northern circuit: in Mto Wa Mbu you can sleep if you are heading to Manyara and Tarangire, in Karatu usually visitors to Ngorongoro stay overnight.
We said, the stop at the viewpoint. When you arrive at the entrance gate of Ngorongoro, after showing the documents, you enter and start climbing a steep road lined with plants. It is beautiful when you can see the cliff. Until you get to an open space with a small monument and a large terrace. It is usually windy and cold: the altitude is considerable. The terrace railing overlooks the crater and a souvenir photo is a must for everyone. 😍
Then you leave to reach Serengeti, with a stop at the Olduvai Gorge, the place where the remains of hominids from various eras have been found and considered the ‘cradle of humanity’.
In the afternoon you arrive at the plains South of Serengeti and you dedicate yourselves to the game drive in the park.
It is not possible to condense a game drive in Serengeti into these few lines: it is enough to know that you can see wonders. All the big five, antelopes, gazelles, hyenas, jackals, elephants, giraffes, hippos… do I have to continue? 😃
The fauna is truly impressive. The photos taken here will remain an everlasting memory of an incredible journey.
While lunch is usually eaten packed in order not to miss a moment in the savannah, dinner takes place in the central tent of the tented camp, together with the other guests. It can be preceded by an sundowner at sunset by the fire surrounded by an atmosphere so romantic that you can hardly believe it.
The night is spent in a tent, a beautiful tent equipped with all comforts, amidst the sounds of the savannah and passing animals. The curfew is linked to the light: after sunset you can only go out if escorted by a Maasai warrior.
Breakfast also takes place in the central tent and then you leave again, this time heading for the crater.
Leaving the Serengeti is a last chance for a game drive in this park of wonders.
Ngorongoro crater is a unique place in the whole world, a caldera created after the collapse of a huge volcano millions of years ago. This fall has created a kind of oasis where animals have settled permanently.
Here too, it is possible to find everything, but not the giraffes that are completely absent in the crater.
And there is much more: acacias of all kinds, ponds that attract thirsty animals, groups of lions with cubs, leopards hidden among the branches of a tree, in short, everything. 🦓🦏🐆🐘🦌🦁
This third day ends with dinner and overnight in the village of Karatu, in a lodge.
On the last day, you retrace the road taken to reach these places, but the eyes with which you look at the view have changed. Upon returning, you look with your heart, you notice different details, you focus more on those that at first sight seem insignificant.
Yes, because Tanzania is all beautiful. The parks are a flagship for the care with which they are administered, but the villages and people are also fantastic.
Your guide will take you back to the KIA for your return trip or flight to Zanzibar or Mafia, but I assure you it will be a painful goodbye. 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 takes you back to reality and everyday life, but I assure you that Tanzania will remain in your heart as one of the most extraordinary journeys ever. 😍🇹🇿