You can see Tanzania on the map just south of Kenya, nearly on the dashed equator on the east coast of the African continent. We’ve come a long way in six weeks by Africa in Focus bus, starting out in Cape Town, South Africa, winding our way up the west coast of Namibia, going east through Botswana and Zambia, turning north through densely populated Malawi and nearly to the end of our journey in Arusha, Tanzania.
We change tour companies here in Arusha, leaving Africa in Focus and picking up a custom safari with the highly rated Tanzania Travel Company. That private safari is just the cook, John (our driver and guide), Chiyemi and me. Left to see are four of the great game parks of Tanzania: Tarangire, Serengeti, Ngorogoro and Lake Manyara.
First the satellite photo of Tarangire National Park. This makes the park look harsh, forbidding and barren but it is not that as the pictures below will show. We parked for lunch overlooking a river canyon with animals, elephants, antelopes and whatnot far below us, birds in the sky and a very peaceful and beutiful setting.
We spent the night in Endoro Lodge which must have been just opening or had a special relationship with Tanzania Travel because the low season, cheapest room I could find was $349. We had a package and didn’t care what the rate was, but just check those pictures of the room, suite really. All dark wood, iron sculptured accessories (like over those white window covers) shaped to form animals. Yards and yards of white fabric and stunningly beautiful.
I kept expecting someone to come through and say, “there’s been a mistake, you’re in the hovel down the hill.” But they didn’t. Almost no one else was there, maybe one couple in the twenty or so chalets perched on a green hillside overlooking the forest. Certainly one of the two or three fanciest digs we’ve been privileged to stay. Clearly a mistake in our itinerary or the most fortunate of chances because we’d impressed upon Tanzania Travel the need for economy.
They said “Are you sure?” and we said “Yes, yes. Keep the costs down!” Check the bush camp in Serengeti and get an idea of what we’d actually paid for. Tent, cot, sleeping bag. Nice but not the Endoro lodge!
We spend a bare afternoon in the park, not enough but too much to see. John Timothy, our guide was insistent on the schedule. John knew best and Serengeti and Lake Manyara exceeded expectations.