A celebration of Northern Tanzania
An 18 day safari celebration of Northern Tanzania and its uniqueness (Part 3 of 3)
The grassland plains of Northern Tanzania, just west of the Ngorongoro Highlands are unique indeed. At once claustrophobia disappears, the sense of relaxation returns and with it the thrill of wildlife spectacle and beauty. As a guide the confines of Ngorongoro and areas with similar restrictions take away from that feeling of freedom in wilderness. An experienced guide feels shackled by the no-off-road and can’t-get-out-of the car rules. A flower, a bug, a tortoise, a strange or interesting plant, a hoof or paw print, a odd dropping, a birds nest, a birds feather; these are the things to stop at and get out for. I still enjoy a pause looking out over the plains to watch the zebra and wildebeest.
The mood of guests also changes on reaching these extraordinary spaces.
The five that enjoy a Kili Beer and climbed the mountain
Giraffe do well where ever there are acacias to eat
Our safari had reached these plains and I was happy. And our safari was going very well. Our five climbers had conquered Kilimanjaro; we had seen the best of Tarangire, Manyara and Ngorongoro in February. Now, as we sat on a Piaya hillside waiting for Jo Anderson to arrive with the rest of the party, with the sunset about to happen, I felt that all was well in this world. We had planned two nights in a lightweight mobile camp followed by luxury at Suyan. This gave us ample walking opportunities and as we wanted to explore the Ngolika plateau. The rowdy first night at the lightweight camp with all the climbing and elephant saga stories was fun, and it takes a little adjustment after climbing Kili to slow down and relax into the landscapes around. You are not on Kili anymore!
The view over The Sanjan River from Ngolika Plateau
kestrels soared within inches to catch termites
Our days were filled with beautifully stress free hikes and slow drives to get everyone to calm down into the safari mode. A highlight was watching eagles, falcons, kestrels and vultures scoffing emerging termites next to the vehicle for an hour or more. We then had a real treat with two nights at our luxury mobile camp, which had been sited near Lemuta Hill within the NCA. This has always been one of my favourite camp sites, as the surrounding are the Gol Mountains and plains. We started to see cheetahs, and as the migration had split between Ndutu and Lemuta, we only had a few hundred thousands animals around camp! It was such a treat because the staff for these mobile are so well trained, so cheerful and many of them I have known for years.
Our dining tent on the luxury mobile
Barman Anderson mixes another cocktail
The Lemuta site is one of my favorites- this camp was erected just for our group
Out on the plains
Our final camp was new for me; our Olakira Camp was full, so I opted to try the fancy TUC (Tanzania under Canvas) run by CCA (Conservation Corporation Africa).
It was fine, I suppose. The equipment was first rate; the staff well presented; the food was sort of okay: I am spoiled, but it makes me realize how superior our Sokwe/Asilia seasonal and private mobile camps are. The location was Ndutu - where else in February? As luck would have it, Ndutu had received heavy rain two days before we arrived and most of the migration was moving into this area or heading in that direction. It was unbelievable and remember that’s coming from me, a guide that has seen it 100’s of times.
What a fitting end to a special safari.
Northern Tanzania is blessed.
To all the staff on Kili and at all the camps and lodges a huge Asanteni Sana from our eight guests, Jo Anderson and me. Guys you are the best!