Enjoy this music video of highlights from my recent trip to Tanzania! It was tough narrowing hours of video down to just a couple of minutes, but somehow we managed to get dozens of animals and five national parks in there. I think my favorite capture is the cheetah stalking and chasing its prey in the Serengeti. What’s your favorite footage?
The day started at Exploreans Lodge in the Ngorongoro highlands with fresh, local coffee on my cabin’s veranda. Off in the distance, I could see the Ngorongoro Crater rim, while closer by I had a nice view of the neighboring coffee plantation.
Breakfast offered an extensive menu of hot and cold dishes, including a variety of European and American fare and many items that aren’t commonly found in Tanzanian lodges, such as chicken sausage and American-style donuts.
After breakfast, we headed back to Lake Manyara for a morning game drive. Lake Manyara National Park is known for its tree-climbing lions, but unfortunately we weren’t able to spend enough time at the park to find one. Our visit was definitely worthwhile, though.
We encountered a few herds of elephants and saw three species of primates: baboons, blue monkeys, and vervet monkeys (including a 2-3 week old infant that couldn’t have been any bigger than a chipmunk and was absolutely adorable as it gamboled up and down a tree branch within arm’s reach of its mother). There are many creeks in the park, which meant we got to see monitor lizards and a stunningly blue grey-headed kingfisher.
Lake Manyara’s shoreline varies depending on the time of year and weather conditions. The area has been under drought lately, so the shoreline was low and surrounded by vast saltmarsh flats where zebras, wildebeest and warthogs grazed. WIth the help of binoculars, we could see flamingos on the lake itself. When the water is higher and fish begin to breed, the bird population explodes with large numbers of pelicans and yellow-billed storks.
After our drive, we headed toward Karatu to visit lodges and camps. Karatu is a city close to the eastern rim of Ngorongoro crater. Karatu Simba Lodge is a new, 13-unit permanent tented camp on a hill that overlooks a large vegetable farm. The lobby features both traditional wood carvings and modern African paintings. Tents have verandas where guests can sit to enjoy the view. A large swimming pool offers refreshment after long game drives.
Rhotia Valley Camp is a 15-unit tented camp with swimming pool on a high hill outside Karatu. It is associated with Rhotia Children’s Village, which provides housing for 38 orphans and also supports the local primary school and orphaned children who live with relatives in the community. Twenty percent of accommodation charges go directly to the children’s village. From the camp, visitors can look down on Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The children’s village is a short walk away, and guests may visit it before dinner to play with the kids. Other optional activities include village walks to meet people from the community, as well as nature walks.
We headed out of toward the Ngorongoro Crater, stopping at Plantation Lodge for lunch on our way out of Karatu. It was quite the treat, with cream of tomato soup from scratch, an avocado and cucumber salad, succulent beef tenderloin, and a rich custard topped with raspberries and spun sugar. Plantation Lodge is a beautiful 25-room property that overlooks a farm and coffee plantation. It features vast gardens that meld modern European garden design with the local flora. The cabins have a similarly chic flair, and many have verandas with views of the beautiful gardens.
We ended our day on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, world-famous for being the only caldera (depression formed by an erupted volcano) that is surrounded by peaks on all sides. We stopped at a viewing point to admire the crater before finishing our day at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, which features round cabins that sit on the slopes of the eastern rim.