I took this trip March 22-April 6, 2014, with my 10 and 12 year old nieces. It was their first time out of the country except for a stay at a resort in Mexico when they were very young. The girls were resilient and cheerful. In two weeks, we had no complaints, no homesickness, no whining, no illness (except a minor bout with diarrhea), and only 1 disagreement between them. The trip was all that I had hoped for and more. The girls loved the Tanzanians and continually remarked on how nice they were.
Our itinerary was – African Tulip Arusha, 2 nights; Tarangire Safari Lodge, 2 nights; Kisima Ngeda (Lake Eyasi area), 2 nights; Ndutu Safari Lodge, 2 nights; Serengeti Wilderness Camp, 2 nights; Rhino Lodge (the Crater), 1 night; Tembo Tamu, Moshi, 1 night; Amsterdam, 1 night. Written reviews of all the lodges are in the lodge listings.
Instead of giving a description of each day, I’m going to share thoughts on general themes from the trip. I’ll break it into parts so it’s not too much all at once.
Our most surprising sighting was a cheetah in a tree, which our guide says he sees maybe once a year. Other great sightings were 8 rhinos in the Crater, including a mother and her 1-2 year old calf, and 7 lions in a tree. First there were 5, then #6 climbed up, then #7. When there were 5, it looked like there were only 4 because 1 was hidden behind a branch. The only way we could tell she was there was by her tail hanging down. We saw many animal young and a number of them nursing their mothers. Of course, we saw a plethora of birds.
We drove 150 kms round trip from Ndutu Safari Lodge to find the wildebeest migration. It was well worth it to be surrounded by a million wildebeest, everywhere the eye could see. They were fairly spread out, not grouped together like we saw them in the Crater.
Some comparisons to my last safari in June 2012 – I saw fewer leopards, many more cheetahs that were quite active (the only one I saw last time was sleeping on a rock), mating lions, lions and cheetahs hunting (but unsuccessfully). We saw a lion eating a recent kill and saw lots of carcasses, some quite fresh.
Animals I saw on this trip that I had never seen before were leopard tortoise, bat eared fox, marsh mongoose, black and white colobus monkeys, and a black mongoose.
I loved Ndutu and being able to drive off-road. Serengeti, which had been a highlight on the last trip, felt somewhat boring in comparison to Ndutu this time.
I bought a Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 before we went, and I loved this camera! It goes from 25-600 mm and took excellent shots. Previously, I took a DSLR with a 100-300 lens attached and an SLR with a regular lens on it and I switched between the two cameras so I wouldn’t have to switch lens. That worked, but this was so much better.
Photos are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7454106@N06/sets/72157643966359435/. I may put up more later, but these are 200 culled from over 5,000. They are not edited.
Temperatures were excellent. The days started cool but temperate. Even when it got hot later in the day, it was bearable. We had some rain some days, no longer than one hour at a time. In the Crater, the rain was so heavy for a short period that it was difficult to see anything. There were places of mud and we never got stuck. We didn’t go to the Gong Rock in Seronera due to the mud but otherwise, it didn’t hold us back.