It’s strange for me to think about now, but we actually debated whether or not we were going to do a safari in Tanzania. Now I can’t believe we ever considered not doing it. We were concerned because it was going to be more expensive than we had hoped, and we had already spent a substantial chunk of change for our safari in Uganda. Ultimately, though, I couldn’t imagine leaving Tanzania without seeing the Serengeti. Who knows if/when we’ll ever have the chance to go back? As you will see below, the experience was amazing, and we have no regrets about doing it!
Unlike Uganda, we didn’t book this safari much in advance. We waited until we got to Tanzania and hoped to use some of Lilly’s contacts from her 2013 summer in Arusha to find a good/affordable safari operator. We ended up arranging it with the guide who took Lilly up Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2013.
We decided to do a 3-day, 2-night safari just like in Uganda, but this one was even more expensive, despite the fact that it wasn’t private and we were sleeping in tents on the ground. The park fees in Tanzania are crazy high, and they actually went up starting July 1, 2016. (Our safari started on July 2.) Once we looked up the park fees, it put the overall cost in perspective, and we didn’t feel so bad about it anymore. For example, we spent 24 hours in Ngorongoro Crater. For the Crater, you have to pay $60 per person to enter, $40 per person to camp, and then a vehicle fee of $250 per car, which was divided among the 5 people in our car. We paid our safari operator $200 per person per day. That means that for our 24 hours in the Crater, $150 of my $200 was going toward park and camping fees, leaving only an additional $50 to go towards paying our guide, paying our cook, and buying gas and food.
I would call our Uganda safari lodging “glamping” whereas this was just plain camping. Not terrible, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed doing it for much more than the two nights we did. There’s plenty of fancier lodging in Tanzania’s parks, but that wasn’t in our budget. We stayed in the public campsites, which are perfectly fine. Both campsites where we stayed had the same basic amenities. There was a large open area for pitching tents, a bathroom with showers and toilets (mostly squat toilets which are not my favorite), a large kitchen/cooking area, and a covered pavilion type thing where people set up chairs and tables for eating.
Our safari guide provided sleeping bags, sleeping mats, and pillows, as well as chairs and a table for eating. He also brought all the food and cooking/eating utensils we would need. Freddie, our cook, was fantastic. He was really friendly and funny, and his food was delicious. Just as an example, one of our dinners included: soup, roasted goat leg, chips (a.k.a french fries), a vegetable quiche, a salad of cucumber, tomato, and avocado, and fresh fruit.
Day One: Meet our guide in Arusha and start driving west around 7:00am. Stop at a campsite near Lake Manyara to eat breakfast. Continue on to Ngorongoro Crater. Drive down into the Crater and game drive. Eat our packed lunches. More game driving. Drive back up to the rim of the crater to camp for the night. Eat dinner at the campsite.
Day Two: Pack up and drive along the rim of the Crater towards the Serengeti. Drive through the Serengeti, viewing wildlife as we go, until we get to our campsite. Unload our stuff and have lunch at the campsite. Go out for a game drive until sunset. Go back to the campsite, eat dinner, and go to sleep.
Day Three: Get up extra early to go watch the sun rise over the Serengeti. Return to the campsite for breakfast. Pack up and head out, viewing wildlife as we make our way out of the Serengeti back towards Arusha. Stop at the Lake Manyara campsite for lunch again and split off from the rest of our group who were going to one more park. Drive back to the town of Moshi, arriving in the evening.
Okay now for the fun part. Here are some of our best experiences and favorite photos from our 3-day Tanzanian safari…
The Serengeti was absolutely amazing. It’s famous for good reason – It’s beautiful, and there are animals everywhere. We’re so grateful for the experience and day dreaming of coming back one day with our future children.