The Serengeti is the epitome of the national park offering what we call a safari experience (“safari” actually means “journey” in Swahili). Its vast expanse and, of course, the natural beauty and wildlife offer a very unique experience to us who don’t love in remote areas of Africa. I had done a one day in-and-out visit to this incredible site a few years ago. Work activities only permitted that one day. I KNEW I had to go back someday….
That opportunity came on the trip I made to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. After 7 days of working the mountain and a few days of working with a local orphanage with Trekking for Kids, 13 of us from the climbing group devoted 4 days to Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro, and the Serengeti. Oh, and a visit to a Masai village!
These parks are very different from each other, even if some of the wildlife is the same. If you do this circuit, start with Lake Manyara. Leave Ngorongoro and the Serengeti for after it. We used Zara Tours who had also been the operator Trekking fro Kids had chosen for the Kili hike.
Here is an overview of our visit and some pictures. Clearly I have too many pictures and many are very good so to not overload you here, I will continue posting those over time in different posts be it photos of the week or photo essays. Keep checking in!
Where we stayed
Due to the route we were taking, we stated at two different places: the Highview Hotel Karatu on our first and fourth night, and the Ikoma Tented Camp the middle two nights. Two very different experiences and worthwhile in their own way. The best part: both offered good views of neighboring areas – and both sold wine and beer, something we were ready to partake in since we were eager to celebrate our climb of Kili.
The Highview Hotel, offered more standard hotel rooms which was nice from a normalcy standpoint. Of course, being in Africa, A/C is not a common amenity and this hotel was no exception but the building does sit high on a mountainside so there was a little more chance for a breeze. You could sit in the hallway which was one large, open porch and view the land around the hotel. Or you could go downhill to the hotel main building and sit there, sipping a glass of wine (likely South African) and watching the sky’s colors change. When our last day of safari ended, we loved getting back to the hotel to jump in the pool which, oddly, was very cold!
The Ikoma Tented Camp was a great place to stay right outside the northern boundary of the Serengeti The advantage of staying here is the proximity to the park (less time driving). The camp’s tents are not small thing: our tent had two full-sized beds with plenty of room around us to spare. Each tent also had its own bathroom which though not luxurious were the size of a normal bathroom
The restaurant was perched on top of a small hill, offering EXCELLENT sunrise and sunset views over the plains of the Serengeti. See for yourselves!
You can stay in lodges inside the Serengeti too (if you want to dish out a lot more money) and that may be convenient but I have nothing but good things to say about where we stayed!
Of course, the reason you came here was, first and foremost, animals! So let me share a little on that… First, let’s debunk that you have to be up at the crack of dawn. Yes, less people out and about and yes, the animals don’t like the heat of the early afternoon. However, we managed to see lion kills and all the animals we wanted to see without an absurd wake-up time. Now, if you want to maximize how many hours of daylight you spend out there, then yes, wake up really early. While having a lot of vehicles can be a nuisance at peak times, it also helps your driver pinpoint where there may be something interesting as there are more driver-eyes looking out for things!
We saw everything… Here are some of my favorite shots.
But that’s not all…
OK, the lion kill I saw will go in another post as this one has become quite long. But I will leave you with two beautiful parting shots as we left the Serengeti one day… Breathtaking.