Studytrip to Ruaha National Park

1 December 2022

Marjolijn leaves today on a study tour to Ruaha National Park in Southern Tanzania, to visit different accommodations here. First, she will make a stopover in Dar es Salaam. Curious about her trip? Follow her story on this blog!

Thursday December 1

On Thursday morning, I catch the train from Apeldoorn to Schiphol Airport. Everything goes smoothly and in no time I’m having coffee at the gate. Ready to leave for Dar es Salaam, with a short stop on Zanzibar. My previous trip to Dar es Salaam was in Corona time; lots of queues and waiting for health checks. Now I was only asked for my boarding pass and vaccination certificate. Not much later, I was standing in the new arrival hall where Patrick, my local guide, was waiting for me cheerfully. Great to see him again! About 15 minutes later, we arrived at Dar es Salaam Serena Hotel. Lucky that we are driving down the street at 11pm, at least then you won’t be in a traffic jam. The hotel is perfect for the first night with a friendly welcome, and comfortable rooms. Sleep well!

Friday December 2

Today I will explore Dar es Salaam with Patrick and inspect different hotels. We start at the modern and large Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam The Kilimanjaro. I also visit the neat New Africa Hotel which has nice views of the harbour. We drive on past the fish market and the Mnazi Moja district with a large market. In the supermarkets, I find rows of large wooden buckets filled with all kinds of rice, grain, seeds, dried fruits, herbs and spices that you can scoop yourself. How nice it would be if we had this in Dutch supermarkets too! That would save a lot of plastic.

Our next stop is the office of our local colleagues in Dar es Salaam where I can quietly discuss matters with Monica, Patrick and Charles.

In the early afternoon, we leave the city. Before we actually drive out of town, we make another stop at a new accommodation. Beautifully located with a lovely garden. We’ll reveal more about this later. After this, we leave the city to the north, heading for historic Bagamoyo. After visiting two more accommodations, we return to the airport to pick up Kieke. My friend who spent 10 days on Mafia Island. Together with her, I will fly to Ruaha National Park tomorrow!

Saturday December 3

This morning at 9am we landed at Msembe Airstrip, an airport in Ruaha National Park. Immediately we jumped into the jeep for a game drive. This was perhaps one of the coolest safaris I have ever been on. We were all alone in nature and we saw lots of animals, including hunting lions, baboons, leopards in trees, zebras and the most extraordinary birds. After a healthy lunch, we drove to our overnight spot for tonight. Hodi Hodi Ruaha Bush Camp is beautiful and sustainable, with eight covered tent houses and a great view of elephants drinking from the pool. (The pool has to be replenished 4 times a day!)

Sunday, 4 December

This morning we went on a hike with a guide and a ranger. We walked from one beautiful view to another. Along the way, there are little houses to rest in the shadow. For any hiker, this hike is highly recommended and definitely doable. We passed a huge baobab tree which is thousands of years old. The guide told a lot of stories during the tour. In the afternoon, we enjoyed the view from Hodi Hodi’s terrace. While enjoying a snack and a drink, we watched the sunset.

Monday, 5 December

After a warm farewell to the people of Hodi Hodi, we drove to the entrance of Ruaha National Park. Halfway through the park, we were met by the guide from Ruaha River Lodge. This is the accommodation where we spent the night. All rooms have beautiful views of the Ruaha River. In the afternoon, we went back into the car to watch the animals by the river at a beautiful spot. Slowly the sun set here and the day was over.

Tuesday, 6 December

Getting up early was worth it! An insanely beautiful sunrise awaited us over the riverbed. The sun rose slowly and gave a very beautiful view of the landscape. After breakfast, the guide took us to the Msembe airstrip. Here was a change of guides. Our new guides, Samwel and Jabali, are from our new overnight accommodation, Jabali Ridge. Samwel and Jabali took us on a very nice safari. Along the way, Samwel told the best stories about nature and knew the answer on a lot of questions in great detail. We saw giraffes, impalas, lots of birds and mating lions. Arriving at Jabali Ridge, we found a private villa with eight (huge) cottages. There is a restaurant and even a small library! This is a really nice place to spend the night.

Wednesday, december 7

Good morning! It’s nice and warm  again. I think temperatures reach 40 degrees in the afternoon. At night, it cools down quite a bit. We started the day with a drive back to Msembe airstrip. Here we met our new guide: Elli. With him we drove to the new accommodation Nomad Kigelia Camp in northern Ruaha. A beautiful tented camp where every tent has an outdoor shower. Because it is so hot here, you usually go on safari in the morning and towards the end of the afternoon. This allows time to rest at midday, at the hottest point of the day. In the afternoon, we jumped back into the car for the second safari. The jeeps here are completely open, so you have a beautiful 360-degree view. Elli told us that this area resembles the Serengeti, which is why it is nicknamed Little Serengeti. It is very nice to see that the park, which is about the size of half the Netherlands, has new landscapes everywhere. I admit, it really looked like the Serengeti. We enjoyed the sunset, dinner and campfire after the safari.

Thursday, 8 December 

A new day with a new safari! I notice right away the quality of our safari guide. He is very clear, gives good information and is a great guide. In fact, he has lots of great stories, about the big mammals, but also just the little things in nature. Everything is intertwined, and then it’s nice to have a guide who can talk about that.

We drive to the north of the park to Ikuka Safari Lodge. We can already see the lodge from a distance; elevated on a hill with truly the most beautiful view of the park. We are warmly welcomed by Tommy and Chevy after which we walk to the restaurant/bar/pool. We look out over Ruaha, so nice because we can now point out all the places we have been to.
After a delicious, healthy lunch, we are taken to our rooms. And what a room it is! The whole room is open and only the middle part is a tent (bedroom) that is closed off in the evening. There is a nice sitting area with lovely books, checklists for the animals and birds, veranda and open bathroom. Some rooms even have a plunge pool, the ultimate place for your honeymoon.

Friday, 9 December

Today we spotted the wild dogs! A group of more than 10 wild dogs lay together until a swarm of bees arrived and they ran away. We drove after them in the jeep. They were out of sight for a while and when we saw them again hunting an impala.
Very cool to see them in action! We saw a group of elephants ruin a baobab tree. A nice end to the safari before we drove back to the Airstip. From here, we flew back Zanzibar. We then had a short stopover on Dar Es Salaam. The view from the plane was stunning! A clear blue sea with a number of islets and sandbanks. On Dar Es Salaam, we transferred to the KLM plane that took us back to the Netherlands. And so our visit to Tanzania came to an end. Until next time! Asante!