Tanzania with its highest concentration of wildlife in Africa lived up to its reputation with an over-abundance of wildlife! Takims Holidays put together a fun March fam trip that showcased wonderful parks in the Northern Circuit along with a variety of lovely lodges and camps.
Nixon was our guide and never failed to spot the un-seeable, educate and entertain us with his imagined wildlife conversations. Takims’ vehicles are new, fully customized, equipped with guide books, binoculars, bean-bags and picnic hampers for a nicer lunch experience than the dreaded box lunch. We were all impressed each morning with the spotless condition of the vehicle after extremely muddy game drives. Where and how he was able to clean the Toyota Land Cruiser stumped us? We’d start out on an early morning game drive and notice other mud-caked vehicles…
Tarangire National Park: If elephants are your thing, this is the park in Tanzania that is the equivalent of Amboseli in Kenya. We were thrilled with hundreds of elephants, our first leopard in a tree, bat eared foxes, giraffes, vervet monkeys, hyenas, ostriches, and abundant bird life.
Kuchuguu Camp was quite nice with spacious tents and en-suite bathrooms, comfortable beds, charming dining and lounge tents. The bathrooms were on wooden platforms but the rest of the tent is not. My vegetarian dinner was surprisingly good! The staff was friendly, gracious and helpful.
Manyara National Park: Only had an afternoon game drive before heading to Gibbs Farm. Hundreds of baboon, including mating ones, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, rock hyrax, and colorful birds were our sightings. If going to Manyara, I’d recommend the canopy walk as it’s beautiful to be up in the tress although I wouldn’t go to Manyara just for that.
Karatu: What can you say about Gibb’s Farm other than you just love it! It’s charming with large comfortable rooms, beautiful gardens and cozy lounge and dining areas. The cottages have double-sided fireplaces to enjoy in the bedroom and bathroom. There’s an outdoor shower which is so delightfully African. Food is quite delicious from their organic garden; the staff is lovely and friendly. There are many activities to do at Gibb’s Farm but whoever has time to enjoy them on a fam trip?!
Ngorongoro Crater: The rains were a few weeks early in March so after our morning site inspections, the group questioned our Crater visit. I knew we would have two options – either there would be no visibility as you could not see the Crater floor through the fog and rain, or we’d drive down below the fog. Luckily as we descended below the clouds, the Crater was lush and verdant with incredible wildlife and very few vehicles. Lucky us! Wildlife sightings included: a 50+ pack of hyena fighting over an impala kill, wildebeest, Cape buffalo, Grant and Thompson gazelles, 2 different lion sightings, a Kori Bustard all puffed out for his mating call, warthogs and hippos, including mating hippos in the water. It was a mating day – why not? Nixon stopped to tow out a vehicle stranded in the mud, our good deed for the day.
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, known for its spectacular views is definitely one of a kind and over the top – everyone in the industry knows it has the “loo with a view”! The fireplace was a welcome feature as it was a little wet and cool. The incredibly gracious staff drew a hot bubble bath that was spa-like without going to a spa. Dinner was delicious and the vegetarian offering was creative and good. The staff is attentive, friendly and welcoming – definitely an experience, and who doesn’t appreciate having a butler?
Serengeti: Many people opt to fly to the Serengeti but I love the drive as the Ngorongoro plains are stunningly beautiful with its rolling hills multiple shades of green, zebra and giraffe along the way. (I like to drive out and fly back to Arusha) We did get to see a little of the migration in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area right before and after the Serengeti gate. Immediately upon entering the gate we were greeted by numerous lion sightings including mating lions. We saw more lions, tree-climbing lionesses, lionesses with cubs, sleeping lions, blood-covered lion unsuccessful in a Cape buffalo hunt, topi, secretary bird on our way to the Four Seasons.
Four Seasons is exactly what you expect but in the Serengeti. It’s large with a beautiful pool and outdoor area overlooking stunning views of the Serengeti plains, perfect for your sundowner. Rooms are nice with large bathrooms although it was jarring to find televisions after being in the bush – there was a water hole channel. The private villas are charming with their private plunge pools. There are several restaurants; our dinner was good.
Our game drive the next morning was predator heaven with lions, mating lions, 3 lions in a tree, 2 different leopard-in-tree sightings – one with a kill, hippos, crocodiles, and giraffes. After several site inspections we made our way to Siringit Serengeti, a permanent tented camp in the Seronera region. The group said they loved the luxurious decor and said their beef dinner was the best meal of the trip. My vegetarian option was ravioli which was good although I prefer more creative vegetarian dishes. The tents have sumptuous throws and a gas heater which keeps your tent quite cozy. Great robes will keep you warm after your hot water shower. Fresh wildflowers in the tent were a nice touch. We saw our first Serengeti elephants from our tent decks while drinking our morning beverages. I’m proud to represent Siringit Serengeti as part of Intimate Places. Our morning game drive included topi, hartebeest, banded mongoose and our 4th leopard in a tree.