Study trip Marjolijn Serengeti part 1

28 November 2023

Discovering Serengeti, Katavi and Ruaha
Such a cool job also includes a regular visit to new locations in Tanzania. And so this time we go to Serengeti National Park in Northern Tanzania where the vast savannas and wild animals await us. Then to the remote Katavi National Park in Western Tanzania and then to the enchanting Ruaha National Park in the south. A great trip full of safaris, discoveries and new experiences.

The plane doors swing open and there it is: a warm, distinctive scent of Tanzania greeting me. It immediately feels like home again. Despite the rain, we are welcomed on the runway by happy faces; ‘karibu Tanzania’ (welcome to Tanzania). We had already arranged the visa online and we were able to quickly collect our luggage and meet our driver. He takes us to our first accommodation, Katambuga House. A homely place where we are welcomed with a drink and some snacks.

Early in the morning we enjoy our first breakfast with fresh, juicy, sweet fruit and a cup of delicious Tanzanian coffee. Try to imagine the smell of it… and the fact that you have a view of a green garden with singing birds… well, that’s what it feels like to have breakfast.
This time the visit to Northern Tanzania is only short, so we fly straight to the Serengeti to visit two of our new camps. We fly over the Mara River and make a stop in Northern Serengeti to pick up other guests and then continue over the vast plains where we see many animals from the air.

Zaki is ready when we land, our guide for the coming days. Our first stay is in Green Camp Wildernis. This camp has undergone some adjustments and it is nice to see that the charm is still palpable. It feels like coming home, a nice welcome from all the lovely people who have been working with us for years. You feel the spontaneity, hospitality and satisfaction of the colleagues here.
The service is faultless, the tents tidy and comfortable, the showers hot and the meals fresh and nutritious. In the evening we gather around the campfire together with the two guides who are also in the camp tonight. We share stories, laugh outright about all the memories we’ve already made together. This is Tanzania: where time is made to be together, share stories and enjoy each other’s company.

One of the guides, Zeph, explains so beautifully how the day here has 12 hours. Where work is done at a leisurely pace and there is always time for others. The local view of time is different, where 7 a.m. equals 1 hour and 6 p.m. equals 12 hours. And at 7 p.m. it’s 1 o’clock again. We laugh at the irony of our fast-paced society, where haste often prevails. How nice it is to be here again and to be reminded of the simple things that make a person happy.

With Zaki by our side we go on safari in the Serengeti National Park. We are in Central Serengeti, here too there are certainly parts that other travelers do not visit. Our camp is remote, with no other lodges or camps nearby, so we seem to have the entire area to ourselves. A vast landscape, endless, with hills and plains as far as you can see. We hear lions and hyenas in the distance. This is also a place where you can go on walking safaris. It’s a nice change to take a walk in the morning and go in the car in the afternoon looking for bigger game. During a walking safari you feel one with nature, you experience everything more intensely and you gain more insight into the smallest details thanks to the guide’s stories. And it’s so nice to exercise after regularly sitting still in planes and cars.

During our jeep safari we come across a lioness calmly chewing her prey, surrounded by dozens of hyenas and vultures quietly waiting for their turn. The hierarchy is clear, as soon as the lioness is ready, the hyenas dive for the remains. Growling and screaming, pulling and pushing and before you know it almost everything from the wildebeest has disappeared. And then we also see a dung beetle doing its best!

A little further on, a bunch of hair suddenly appears… behind the small hill we spot two lions mating. After a short, intense session, they rest briefly before starting again. This ritual repeats itself for hours, at intervals. We also have to recover from all these impressions and Zaki stops at a beautiful place, spreads a blanket on the front of the car and prepares a nice cup of coffee. Here we are alone, surrounded by the amazing nature, the beautiful view and each other’s company.

After a beautiful safari day we arrive at Usawa Camp in the north of the Serengeti. This exclusive camp with six luxury tents is located in a place where no other accommodations can be found. For those looking for the ultimate luxury safari experience, this is the place. The camp is located on an elevated location, which offers beautiful views. The large central tent is stylishly furnished with comfortable sofas, a cozy dining table to share stories, a bar with a nice selection of wines and an attractive outdoor area where you can enjoy your dinner under the stars by the campfire in the evening.

Our guides know this area like the back of their hand and take us on safari. We see many elephants, birds and impalas, and see the pride of 19 lions that dominate this area. We quietly watch their interactions and listen to the many stories our guide tells about them.

Read more in the next blog.