A celebration of Northern Tanzania

An 18 day safari celebration of Northern Tanzania and its uniqueness (Part 2 of 3)

Driving out to Tarangire is like driving a distance to meet an old friend. My love affair with this ecosystem has been a passionate one. It was dry in the park’s northern section (dry for February) and there were a few zebra and wildebeest around. Evidence of elephants was everywhere, their droppings and feeding signs all along the road. We pushed south via Boundary Hill and Silale swamp to reach Oliver’s Camp before dusk. Silale was looking very green as the southern sections had received more rain. Birdlife seemed impressive, but the duck and wader numbers were low. Still, Black storks and other migrants were enjoyed and as Silale was being visited by many elephant families, it seemed the place to hang out.

Oliver’s Camp has new management and this keen couple from South Africa welcomed us.

We walked with 70 elephants and a honey badger one afternoon; we saw two cheetah males at Silale, lesser kudu near camp, and spent wonderful hours watching elephants, big buffalo herds near camp, and a great variety of other species. One morning, as we got out of the car to climb into a baobab tree, I walked away to take a photo then I noticed (unknown to the guests) a giraffe peering around the giant tree to see what I was up to! The resulting photo is fun!

A Tarangire Baobab with friends A Tarangire Baobab with friends

Elephant youth charges the carElephant youth charges the car

We explored Tarangire to the full over the four days and got on to many a remote track where we saw no other vehicles all day. Tarangire in the wet season, before the heavy rains of March and April is wonderful. and grossly underrated; I’ve said it for years! The bird life alone is worth the effort. Watching the young elephants bathe excitedly is always a joy.

And we got the news? Jo and all five climbers had reached to the top of Kilimanjaro – well done to all.

Our next stop was Plantation lodge and an afternoon at leisure. Yes at leisure! What a delightful lodge it is and I recommend a stay/rest there very highly. It is also a luxurious base to explore Manyara or Ngorongoro, and the next day we took a picnic lunch and explored Manyara National Park. In truth I have been avoiding this park as the numbers of cars is alarming. Still the scenery and wildlife is worth a visit, particularly if you head south to the hot springs area. The number of elephants seems to be increasing and the baboons - well they are at it all day! It was a fine day out and we finally caught up with a gazillion waders at Maji Moto (hot springs). My advice on Manyara is to camp in the south in a private mobile; it’s the only way to do this park.

Manyara bath time play fightManyara bath time play fight

Thanks for the groom but what do you really want Thanks for the groom but what do you really want

Tusk and tailTusk and tail

After Manyara we returned to spoil ourselves at Plantation lodge for the night, before heading down to Manyara airstrip the next morning to meet one person coming off Kilimanjaro and his wife who had flown in to Tanzania the night before. We headed on with a picnic to visit the Ngorongoro Crater. It was spectacular, and we saw it at its most beautiful - after rain. The bull elephants there are huge, the rhinos were cooperative and with lions lying all over the place it was a great intro for the new guests with us.

Crater GiantsCrater Giants

As the day worn on our route took us through the Oldupai Gorge and out on to the vast Serengeti Plains. Shifting sands were an interesting stop before our excitement grew. We were to meet Jo and the other four guests upon reaching Piaya and our mobile camp there. This will be the first evening after 11 nights into the safari that all group members would be together.

Stories and perhaps a few beers would flow…….more in Part 3.