Safari

Tanzania with Mefi

I LoVe being on Safari.
Absolutely love the feeling of being in the wild, with abundant wildlife and myriad of amazing birds, the amazing scenery of this un-spoilt land, and the people. 

My smile pure joy and pretty much 'on' the whole time.

My smile pure joy and pretty much 'on' the whole time.

My Safari this past May was just that. And I got to share this with two Houston Bloggers Sheree and Natalie. This is my second time taking guests on Safari with me and seeing Tanzania through their eyes has just added to my Safari love affair. 

When my guests travel with Journey To Africa, I plan Safaris where I draw upon the many connections I have in Tanzania from my years living there. I also tap into all the Safari knowledge I have accumulated in the 16 years I have had the pleasure of showing clients my Tanzania. 

And I take my own advice and plan my own Safaris accordingly. 

Natalie and the kids having a good time.

Natalie and the kids having a good time.

Our first stop was the village of Mkuru with my friend Tati. Tati and I go way back to early 2000 when she and Paul Oliver used to run the original Oliver's Camp. The Oliver's Camp that was a mobile camp before the current luxury glamping. 

She has started a project where she works with an Italian jewelry designer to create modern jewelry using traditional methods, each hand-crafted by Maasai women at the village, or at her store in Arusha. 

The day was spent with the Maasai ladies and their children who showed us how they live in a lifestyle that is so different from our western ways. Having grown up in Tanzania, their lifestyle is not surprising to me, but observing from Sheree and Natalie's perspective was an eye opener.

We had lots of discussions on this difference. I feel we need to come to terms that just because it is different, it does not mean it does not work. That lifestyle works for most of them and those that seek change, have options like work shops and teaching colleges. We can not force change on anyone unless it is desired.

Trying out original Maasai necklaces.

Trying out original Maasai necklaces.

This day also presented many commonalities. Jewelry. Sheree and Natalie got to indulge with fashionable accessories worn by the Maasai women themselves as well the jewelry that is Maasai-inspired. A fun day.

Then ...  a glorious Safari. Ah! My favorite activity. 

Elephants in Tarangire

Our first stop was Tarangire National Park. For Natalie, her request when we met in Houston, Texas for our pre-Safari planning was she wanted to see elephants since she missed seeing these mighty giants in South Africa.

Well, her wish got fulfilled - over and over again. Sheree, her eyes were just lite with awe. Her first ever Safari and any animal that moved made her jump with delight. Pumped me up to be with a first timer on Safari.  We were serenaded by birds, amused by elephants, babies and young ones as well, given a show by monkeys, peeked by giraffes and more. Tarangire, as always, did not disappoint. 

Rift Valley Children's Village.

There is also the people connection you make on Safari. Natalie had brought in a bag full of under garments from Peach. We got to hand deliver the bag to our friends at Rift Valley Children's Home. This home is truly a special place for the many children who would have had to struggle but instead found love, support, shelter built warmly by Mama India and Peter. Asante for all your do guys. We support you!

Our Safari Life. Pretty Amazing.

Our Safari Life. Pretty Amazing.

Ngorongoro Crater was our own little park. The advantage of going in May is that high season is not in full swing. Besides Sheree showing us her ninja moves and flamingo dance, Natalie taking a post breakfast nap, we got to spend time with the endangered black rhino, three lion cubs just a few months old, zebras, flamingoes and more. Fazo, our guide, helped out Mama Simba, the local Crater researcher, in updating her on the new cubs. We just chimed in on how we thought those little goobers were so darn cute. 

Sheree, co-piloting.

Sheree, co-piloting.

Our last stop, mighty Serengeti. Sheree flew us there, well, almost. She used to be a pilot about 20 years ago and she has not forgotten. The pilot let her handle a control or two and Natalie and I held our breath when she pulled the knobs. Suffice to say, we landed safely.  :)

Hippos in Serengeti

Serengeti! Serengeti Shall Never Die. Really, this place never disappoints.

The different habitats gifted us with a range of wildlife. Cheetahs in the plains near Namiri, Wildebeest and Zebra Migration in the tall grass around Central Serengeti, elephants in the savannah bushes, giraffes near the acacias, lions on the kopjes warming themselves, 100 + smelly hippos that we were so lucky to see, baboons and so much more. And birds, don't over look birds. These beauties were everywhere. Sheree would draw upon her Colorado birding knowledge and Natalie, I have to work on her some more for our next Safari together. 

The Crew at Dunia Camp. We were sad to leave on our last day.

The Crew at Dunia Camp. We were sad to leave on our last day.

Besides amazing wildlife, birds, landscape, on Safari there is friendships to be made, dancing to be enjoyed, lots of stories to be shared with people from all over this World and Tanzania. 

This is why I love my Safari Life. I encourage you to come on a Journey To Africa Safari.
There is so much to explore in amazing Tanzania. 

Sign up for our newsletter if you want to know when I will be leading a group on Safari to Tanzania or another part of East or Southern Africa. But, with me or not, I encourage you to go - Life Worth Exploring. 

Best time to go on a Safari?

One question we get a lot is what is the best time to go on Safari in Tanzania?
Really, anytime you can make it, is good time for Safari. The wildlife is always present.

Having said that, some people are extremely sensitive to heat and dust.  If that is the case, stay away from December to March as Serengeti can be dry, dusty and hot [90Fs during the day with cooler 70Fs during the evening]. Our camps + vehicles do not have air condition which can be an issue for those with respiratory problems. 

Weather Guideline for your Safari Planning.

  • November to December // Short rain season + Hot.
    Sporadic showers will not hinder your Safari. Wildebeest and zebra migration, one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on Earth, are heading to Southern to Eastern Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Southern Serengeti is the place to be as the lawn-mowers - our wildebeest and zebra - will be coming here. The southern parks like Selous, Ruaha and Katavi will start sprouting up grass. They don't have lawn-mowers. 
     
  • January to Mid-March // Can be dry + Hot.
    Birthing season for the Wildebeest and Zebra. Still in Southern to Eastern Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Tarangire National Park with its resident wildlife and its rivers and swamps will make you fall in love with this park anytime. The southern parks are still wonderful to explore. 
     
  • Mid-March/April to May // Long rain season + Warm to cool.
    Showers can last a few hours but when it clears, fresh skies. If you don’t mind being adventurous [plans may change but we always have a Plan B] this is a great time to visit and get some amazing deals on lodges.  Paul Oliver, a specialist guide calls this the secret season – less crowd but awesome wildlife. Tarangire National Park, with tall grass and abundant water everywhere allowing wildlife to spread out, has black cotton soil which is tricky to drive on when it has rained hard but as we mentioned, get ready for an adventure. Ruaha will also have tall grasses and wildlife will have spread out but that surprise eye peaking out will make you scream -  but don't - they walk away. 

    Some lodges also take this time to close and work on their tents and give the crew training. Never fear, there is always a Safari Lodge open. 
     
  • June to July // Dry + Cooler months.
    June is green after the rains. Enjoy the sea of wild flowers. Migratory animals are roaming from Central to Western Serengeti on their way to Northern Serengeti. Wildlife from the surrounding areas are about to enter Tarangire National Park.
     
  • August to October // Dry season + Cool to warm during day and cool during night. 
    The wildebeest and zebra population is dispersed in Masai Mara to Northern Serengeti. Mara River crossing is a site to witness. Tarangire National Park is alive with wildlife thanks to its permanent Silale Swamp and Tarangire River.

But, the weather is never predictable. Hence the adventure on Safari. Now, twende, let's go.

Don't Mess with Me!

When Heather T. kindly shared her November 2015 Tanzania Safari photos with me, this sequence of photographs made me want to know more. What happened here? What was the end result?

I emailed Heather and this is her account.

” The elephant was chasing a lion couple because it was leading a small group of elephants which included a baby elephant they wanted to protect.  Indeed there was trumpeting and the elephant stood its ground, scaring the little cats away – twice!  The first time they did not move far enough away for her liking. ”

Oh, I would have loved being part of this conversation in the Safari vehicle with my friends.
“Here she comes.” “She’s scooting them away.” “Oh watch out lions. Don’t make her angry” “What, moving in again” “Go get them mama elephant.” “Oh, the look of defeat.” “Better luck next time.” “Pick another animal.” “She was so scared, she pissed in her pants”

Okay, this is what is going through my mind when I am looking at these photographs having read Heather’s account.

A memorable moment on Safari!

Write your on Safari Story!

April Showers, May Flowers

"I bless the rain's down in Africa" - Toto.

We do love it when it rains in our National Parks. The animals and birds depend on the rain to fill up the water sources layers deep. The grass, bushes and the trees flourish during the rains providing food for countless wildlife. From the lakes, the rivers and its many tributaries, to the swamps and water holes, life depends on the rains to swell these life-lines come the brutal dry season which is usually from July to September.

April and May are usually the rainy season in Tanzania and Kenya. This year we have had some good rains in the National Parks. From wild Ruaha to Masai Mara, the parks have had some good downpour. In fact, some areas in the parks are still experiencing rainfall. That is nature for you. Awesome yet unpredictable!

Here are 5 reasons to consider an April + May Safari :

  • Low number of people on Safari.
  • Great rates on many of our luxury Safari lodges and tented camps.
  • Wildflowers galore.
  • Dreamy sky for great photography.
  • Wildlife is always there!

Hardly any people on Safari. The rains tend to scare people. But don't be. It usually rains for a few hours and then you have a clear day to enjoy. Be ready for an adventure.  Sometimes you have to wear a poncho on Safari or sliding around during your game drive -- all memory makers. 

Seeing only a few other vehicles in your own private park. Sure Tarangire and Ruaha will have long grass but if you are patient, the sightings are going to be that much rewarding.

Most of our preferred lodges offer great rates around this time. Take advantage and escape right after school closes [in the US which is usually end of May] for a Family Safari.

Green green grass with lots of wildflowers and blue grey skies. My photographer clients love this time as they say the background for their subjects tend to be dreamy. The harsh sun can be tamed and the whole day can be a photoshoot. And the subjects are always spectacular and sometimes freshly cleaned.

Come. Explore Tanzania in April and May.

The Great Wildebeest and Zebra Migration

One of the biggest draw to the wildlife-rich Serengeti National Park in Northern Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya is the wildebeest and zebra migration. The 1.5 million wildebeest and 0.5 zebra strong herbivore team, and its many herbivore and carnivore co-dependants, are constantly roaming this expansive area. The phenomenon is one of the Natural Wonders of the World. An experience that must be witnessed first hand as words alone can't justify this wonder.

The large herds are constantly moving this approximately 7,000 sq. miles area in search of fresh food and water.

They will feast on the nutritious mineral-rich grass of the Southern Serengeti during birthing time. With lots of calves, the cats have easy target. They sustain themselves on the long grass of Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara after rutting in Western Serengeti. And pass through Central and Eastern Serengeti / Loliondo area when heading back to Southern Serengeti. While on the move, you may be lucky and witness the Grumeti River crossing in Western Serengeti  and Mara River crossing in Northern Serengeti. That is bonus.

Quick guidelines ::

- November to December // short rain season.
Sporadic showers will not hinder your Safari. The wildebeest and zebra migration are heading to Southern Serengeti from Northern Serengeti. They are moving down via east of Serengeti in the Loliondo area and the many private concession areas. During this time, it is best to hedge your bets and stay in two regions of Serengeti.

- January to March // hot.
Birthing season for the wildebeest and zebra. The place to be is Southern Serengeti to Loliondo and the many private concessions areas. The herds will also spill over to Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
A good time to enjoy lots of hunts as cats come out to play with lots of young calves around.

- April to May // long rain season.
Showers can last a few hours but when it clears, fresh skies. If you don’t mind being adventurous this is a great time to visit and get some amazing deals on lodges. Central Serengeti to Western Serengeti is the place to be.

- June to July // cooler months.
June is green after the rains. Enjoy the wild flowers. Migratory animals are roaming from Central to Western Serengeti on their way to Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara. During this time, the herds may be crossing the Grumeti River to get to Northern Serengeti or may already be in this area. Grumeti River is home to large crocodiles. Areas outside western Serengeti are also prime viewing spots.

- August to October // cool and dry season.
The Wildebeest and Zebra population are usually in the long lush grass of Masai Mara and Northern Serengeti. They are in this region for a few month enjoying vegetation that long rains of April May brought about. The herds are going back and forth between Tanzania and Kenya and increasing the odds of seeing a lovely Mara River crossing.

Planning a Safari to Serengeti and Masai Mara?
The wildebeest and zebra herd of a million plus are always moving. The thing to remember is getting to the right place, right Safari Lodge at the right time.  We know.

Flying Taxis.

What would we do without our flying taxi planes.

  • They have made planning Safaris to less visited areas simpler.
  • They save a lot of transfer time.
  • They are pretty cost efficient and with more carriers, prices are getting competitive.
  • They offer great aerial views.

Places like Northern Serengeti which about 6 + years ago was only accessible via driving. You needed to spend 2-3 days just getting to lovely Northern Serengeti to enjoy this remarkable space. Some clients still do of course enjoy drive and exploring different regions slowly.

Flying from Serengeti to remote parks in Southern Tanzania is now possible. Daily Safari flights to Ruaha National Park have been scheduled from Serengeti and Ngorongoro Region. You can now easily make Southern Tanzania an extension to your Northern Tanzania Safari. Heading to Lake Tanganyika and beautiful Greystoke Mahale to spend time with the human-like chimps after your Safari - zip away.

Thanks little zippers.  Even if you have a 33 lbs. weight limit, you make getting from A to B convenient. Now let's get you flying on Safari.