Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! I’m finally over jet lag from my safari experience in Tanzania, Africa. The trip was a life-changing experience, and I’m excited to share it with you in this and future newsletters.
If you read my recent newsletter covering safaris for first-timers, you might ask where is Tanzania and why there? Tanzania is found in east Africa, and it’s the largest country in the region about twice the size of California. It’s home to the tallest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the Big 5, Little 5, and the Great Migration. You’ll see incredible animals everywhere! The exotic, diverse wildlife (which you will see up close), rich culture, and friendly people make Tanzania an incredibly special place in which to immerse yourself.
If you have a safari on your travel bucket list, Tanzania delivers. Read on for the scoop about going on safari in Tanzania (part one)…
How I Traveled To Tanzania
My flight left from JFK in New York City at 10pm and flew 14 hours to Doha, Qatar arriving the next evening with the time difference. Doha is considered one of the best airports in the world and is in top shape as Qatar prepares to host the FIFA World Cup (soccer) in a few weeks.
I had plenty of time to explore the modern airport as the layover is long. It felt fantastic to stretch and move my legs for a while. The lounges are fantastic, there’s an attached hotel as well as Sleep & Fly pods, and shops of all kinds. A Harrod’s Tea Room is centrally located for a leisurely meal or snack.
The next leg of the flight is 5 hours, 40 minutes direct to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Tip: you’ll want a window seat so you can see the Kili peaks from the plane window. The mountain is hard to view from the ground due to the omnipresent cloud cover.
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: If you’re already intrigued, you can schedule a chat with me here!
Day One – Arrival
Upon arrival in Kilimanjaro, I was met by my partners in Tanzania once I exited the building. It was a surreal experience setting foot on African soil. Luckily, I was whisked to a charming boutique hotel with a pool where I was able to relax, sleep, and swim in preparation for the safari experience ahead.
This property is special as it’s on a private estate that also offers golf and a horseback trail ride safari. If you’re lucky, you can watch a rousing polo match on the grounds. These experiences are very unique, and I highly recommend them if you have the time and energy. The evening was spent watching African TV (an open fire under the stars) and enjoying a delicious dinner with South African wines.
If you have a small group, there’s another beyond-lovely property that I will recommend. It’s truly out-of-a-magazine charming, and the service is very personal.
💎Hidden Gem Tip: Be sure to have a pen handy for each person in your traveling group as there is an arrival form that needs to be completed before you leave the airport.
Day Two – Small Plane Ride to the Northern Serengeti
Day #2 was filled with surprise and delight! The property where I stayed also offers its own airstrip. After a hearty breakfast, I took a short drive to the “airport” which is just a small open-air structure. Because it’s private, there’s no security, baggage check, or really any hoops to jump through.
The small, charter plane ride was a jaw-dropper! The highlight occurred when the pilots circled over a volcano crater called Ol Doinyo Lengai meaning “Mountain of God” in the Maasai language. That was a bucket list check I didn’t know I had.
Landing in the northern Serengeti was surreal, and my first introduction to the gorgeous landscapes. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the drive to the first lodge was an introductory game drive with an up-close experience with the circle of life. There were white bones everywhere, and I saw a wildebeest carcass being eaten by enormous vultures and Marabou Storks. Zebras crossed the road in front of the 4×4 and a young giraffe came up close and personal! The first day of any safari is extra-special.
First Nights in the Northern Serengeti
For the first two nights in the northern Serengeti, I stayed in a lodge property which felt luxurious compared to the rustic landscapes all around me. The elegant, African-design suite included a seating area, king sized bed, closet area, huge bathroom complete with a tub, indoor and outdoor showers, and an expansive deck with built-in loveseat and plunge pool. The views were spectacular! The sides of the suite were thick tent material which gave the feeling of living in an apartment made from canvas.
The location of the lodge was near the famed Mara River and within the main corridor of the Great Migration. I knew that the next day’s game drive would be epic. Stay tuned for the next chapter of my safari adventure in Tanzania!
Make your own Wanderlist for Africa! As a reminder, Wanderlist is an online portal where you can research, explore, and create shareable lists of destinations and experiences. Share your list with me so I can make it happen for you! Check it out here!
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Wishing you and your family continued good health,