Great Migration Photo Safari - Tanzania, East Africa ~ November 3rd - 16th, 2017

Trip Leader: Jeff Koss and Bob Parda

There are adventures in life that teach us much about ourselves and experiencing the Great Migration of millions of wildebeest, zebra and antelope was such an adventure. After 18 months of planning, your SCSTC recently completed an epic journey to the highlights of Northern Tanzania and the exotic isle of Zanzibar. 24 travelers participated in this trip and this African adventure exceeded every traveler’s expectations.

Our travels to Tanzania: The 24 travelers flew from various parts of Florida and all 24 met in the Atlanta International Terminal. Delta/KLM then provided international flight service to Amsterdam and then on to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) outside Arusha, Tanzania. Our five safari guides and land cruisers met us as we completed customs and made our way out of the terminal. These guides proved to be one of the unexpected highlights of the safari. The guides remained with us from pick-up on arrival day until 10 days later when they dropped us off at the Serengeti airport for our flight to Zanzibar. They were upbeat, professional guides with over 90 years of safari guiding between them. They were fluent in the wildlife of Northern Tanzania and very proud of their country, cultures and past guiding experiences. We ensured all travelers rotated between the five guides so all shared in the individual stories and knowledge of our superb guides.

So, what did we do while on safari? We traveled by road from Arusha to West Kilimanjaro, and then on to Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater and our final safari stop was the Central Serengeti. Our travels across Northern Tanzania introduced us to the varied geography and climate that added to the wonder of exploring this exceptionally diverse African nation. Each area was chosen for the unique environs and abundant wildlife. In each area, we made multiple game drives and our guides showed us the full beauty of the countryside and the animals that live in these diverse landscapes.

Arusha National Park

This exceptionally beautiful area is located between Mount Meru and the Momela Lakes and has a wide range of habitats. Arusha is not known for its big game viewing but offers a wide range of smaller animals, plenty of birds and breath-taking highland forests. We were fortunate on our first game drives to observe many giraffe, zebra, cape buffalo, several types of antelope and troops of baboons to include a rare albino adult.

Sinya, West Kilimanjaro

Sinya is a Maasai homeland of about 600 sq kilometers located to the north of Mount Meru and on the west side of Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. This remote, off-the-beaten-track destination combines Maasai culture and private wildlife game viewing in a spectacularly scenic semi-arid environment. With our tented camp being in a Maasai concession area, we had the opportunity for private bush walks with local Maasai guides. The group also took advantage for a morning roundtrip hike to the Shiraicamp on Mount Kilimanjaro at an altitude of 11,300 feet. The weather was a bit of a challenge but this spirited group was not deterred. The number of animals in the West Kilimanjaro area was more limited but the tented camp and time with the local Maasai made for a thrilling outdoor experience.

Lake Manyara National Park

With the lake on its east and the Manyara Escarpment to its west the Lake Manyara National Park offers breathtaking views and a large variety of habitats. The Park includes Acacia woodlands, water forests, baobab strewn cliffs, algae-streaked hot springs, swamps and the lake itself. And thanks to this abundant water, the Park is able to support a large number of animal species and incredible bird life. Manyara has the largest concentration of baboons anywhere in the world and tremendous numbers of elephants, hippos and colorful birds like the Flamingoes.

Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater is an exceptional area for game viewing and it is not surprising that it is one of Tanzania’s major safari touring areas. Within the crater rim, a daily wildlife drama is played out as large herds of zebra and wildebeest graze with nearby lions, leopards, and elephants.

Central Serengeti

The Serengeti together with Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Park form Africa’s most famous wildlife park. The image of acacia trees on an endless grass plain epitomizes Africa for many. The annual wildebeest migration through the Serengeti is the largest mass movement of land mammals on the planet – with more than a million animals following the rains. But that is not where the game viewing ends; large prides of lions, elephants, giraffes, gazelles and eland live amongst the migratory animals in this expansive grassland. Before entering the Serengeti, our group took the opportunity for a side trip to tour a Maasai Boma (local village) and also to the Oldupai Archaeological site and visitor center.

Where did we stay? We chose a variety of lodging types to enhance the experience of each safari area. On our arrival, after 20+ hours of travel, we stayed at the Rivertrees Country Inn, 45 minutes from JRO airport and outside the city of Arusha. This modern lodge was once a coffee estate and now a restful inn along the Usa River. This gave our travelers a chance to rest overnight and prepare for our first game drives the following day. After the Rivertrees Country Inn, we drove to West Kilimanjaro for our first Tented Camp. The Kambi ya Tembo is located near Sinya with magnificent views of Mount Kilimanjaro, and Mount Meru. The camp consisted of 14 permanent tents each with private en-suite bathroom facilities. This was an excellent location to explore the semi-arid land of Sinya and to hike a portion of the Kilimanjaro National Park. The Kitela Lodge in the Ngorongoro Region was our lodging for exploring the Manyara National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation area. This small lodge overlooked a working coffee plantation with opportunities to wander the grounds after a day of game drives. Our last safari lodging took us to the central portion of the Serengeti and was situated to maximize the viewing of Great Migration animals in early November. The Kubu Kubu Tented Camp was positioned in one of the main migration areas and provided stunning views of the Serengeti.

Was there anything else? Well yes, after 10 days of game drives and touring Northern Tanzania, our group flew from the Seronera Airport, in the Central Serengeti, to the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar. This gave the group a chance to relax at the Breezes Beach Resort on the shores of the Indian Ocean. The beautiful tropical landscaping and exotic Zanzibar decor made this an especially relaxing location before our return flights to the US. Multiple water sports opportunities were available at the resort. The group also made a guided tour of Stone Town, the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar famous for its winding alleys, bustling bazaars and markets plus multitudes of shopping opportunities. The history of the Zanzibar Slave Market was chilling.

That is a summary for the Club’s trip to Tanzania in November 2017. This was a unique travel opportunity for seeing the natural wonder of hundreds of thousands of animals and the inspiring land that is Tanzania. We would highly recommend this travel location again for a future SCSTC group.

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