Studytrip to Northern Tanzania

15 March 2023

On Thursday, March 16, 2023, the entire Explore Tanzania team leaves for a week on a study trip to Northern Tanzania, looking for new places and accommodations, in the vicinity of Arusha, Lake Manyara, and in the Serengeti, in line with our sustainable philosophy. Read our blog here.

Thursday, March 16
GroepsfotoWe leave Apeldoorn early in the morning and arrive at Schiphol at half past six. Everything goes very smoothly up to and including customs and after a visit to Starbucks we continue to the gate. The entire flight takes just over 8 hours. We are also outside Kilimanjaro Airport in no time and soon see our driver Gaudence who is ready to pick us up. It will be a happy reunion and after a pleasant and short drive we arrive at our trusted address just outside Arusha: River Trees Country Inn. We occasionally hear chirping crickets and monkey sounds in the trees. The luxurious bungalows of River Trees Country Inn are located in beautiful shady spots under tall trees, with a babbling brook in the background. After a welcome drink and our first delicious (vegetarian) samosas, we close the first day. Excited about what we will experience tomorrow!

Friday, March 17
After a delicious breakfast with many homemade dishes, our guide Joseph is waiting for us. What a joy to see him again! The last time was always at our 20th anniversary in Apeldoorn, where he was guest of honor, together with guide James. Our first stop is the house where Marjolijn and Marloes grew up and lived for over 13 years. The house is located in a quiet residential area, has a nice swimming pool and is now used as a hotel. For Marjolijn and Marloes sweet memories and also very nice for us to see this (again) :). A little later we drive up the slopes of Mount Meru for the Ngiresi Cultural Program. We are welcomed by enthusiastic guide Andrew, who takes us on a tour of this area and tells about the traditional way of life in Tanzania. Many Maasai live here and we visit a traditional hut, built of mud and cow dung, where the family lives together with their animals under one roof. It is dark and smells of last night’s open fire. At this altitude it can be quite cold at night. He also takes us to a school with 940 very curious children, who, together with the teacher, sing to us! They ask us some questions and suddenly we are singing “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” ourselves…

Back at the village chief’s house in Ngresi, we enjoy a delicious local lunch and drink homemade coffee from coffee beans growing in the garden. The entire coffee process from bean to drink is shown to us with great flair by the daughter of the village chief. Our next stop is the new office of our Tanzanian colleagues at our partner Wayo. There is a lot of snooping, laughing and exchanging canoes. The new office is located in a beautiful garden. Here, we are working hard on making the new Green Camps even more sustainable. It was super nice to see our colleagues with whom we have a lot of contact on a daily basis (again) in person! Tonight we sleep in Tumbili Lodge Arusha, a sustainable accommodation located in a beautiful large tropical garden. You can see that the Dutch owners are working on this with a lot of love. The spacious cottages in chalet style have a large room and a clean bathroom with bath. We enjoy a delicious dinner by the fire!

Saturday, March 18
Because of the extensive and super fresh breakfast, we are no longer on schedule. Kind of a thread through our entire journey… (How bad can it be). We start the day with an initial site inspection of an accommodation where we do not sleep. On the way there we are treated to a real “African massage”. After the inspection it is time to enter Tarangire National Park. As if the animals know what the boundary of the park is (there are no fences around the parks in Tanzania), we immediately see a group of impalas and a group of zebras when we enter the park. We stop at the public campsite to have a look around. This is a nice place to stay for the adventurous campers, but still with toilet / shower building and cooking facilities. We enjoy a lunch with a top view at one of our favorites: Tarangire Safari Lodge. We speak with the owner, view the tents and then go on a game drive. We spot impalas, zebras, buffaloes, different types of birds and see ‘Timon’ (meerkat) and ‘Pumbaa’ (warthog).

Large groups of elephants, for which the Tarangire National Park is known, walk by very relaxed. We are already behind schedule, it is high time to drive to our next overnight stay. It is already getting dark and the signage is not well marked. We are quite lost, keep our spirits up (after all, we are in good company and have enough to eat and drink with us) and meanwhile we enjoy the night safari. In the dark, a rare civet cat just jumps by. Our absence is already noticed and after some phone calls we finally reach our accommodation for the night, the beautiful Olkeri Safari Camp. We are warmly welcomed with a delicious drink and now enjoy a fantastic dinner with pumpkin soup, lots of fresh vegetables and a brownie for dessert!

Sunday, March 19

Jennifer and Marloes are already sitting on their porch at half past six to admire the sunrise. What a wonderful start to the day! After a cozy Sunday breakfast we leave our accommodation and continue our way to Lake Manyara. We drive to the park via a very nice route. We see Maasai with their cows, bomas (traditional houses made of branches and cow dung), rice fields and beautiful landscapes. This way you get closer to the real Tanzania!

We have lunch at a really scenic spot at a waterfall near Lake Manyara. The mountain bike tours that we organize start here. With this tour you cycle over challenging roads to the entrance of the Lake Manyara National Park. Once in the park we enter a wooded area.

This is the habitat of animals such as elephants, monkeys, impalas, hyenas and tree-climbing lions. The beautiful lake has different colors and hippos swim around here. After the safari we arrive at Green Camp Lake Manyara. Home sweet home! What a warm welcome and nice reunion with the crew there. It is very nice to be here (again) and have a chat. The Green Camp is located in an idyllic spot where the elephants pass by every evening. We take a Swahili shower under a large bag of water that has been heated for us. In the evening we sit by the campfire and enjoy our dinner with fantastic leek-potato soup, potatoes and vegetables, freshly prepared by chef Vincent (Recipe in our magazine Gazeti). The high quality of the food in the middle of the bush is incredible every time. At night we are kept awake by roaring lions and honking elephants. Very impressive!

Monday, March 20
In the morning we watch the bush telegraph and see the footprints of the animals that have all passed here last night on the river bed.

Today we are scheduled to go to the Ngorongoro highlands via Karatu. We visited four accommodations in Karatu. Each with their own charm. After lunch, we drive into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It’s so beautiful here! We stopped at a viewpoint and admired the crater. We were lucky, because through binoculars we see two rhinos walking.

It is special to be in totally different landscapes in three days. From the rugged Tarangire National Park, the forested Lake Manyara and the beautiful green hills of the Ngorongoro Highlands.

After a short drive we reach Mysigio Camp, our overnight spot for tonight. A beautiful place in the area of the Maasai, also in the Ngorongoro Highlands. We received a warm welcome here and had a delicious meal of curry and home-baked apple cakes.

Tuesday, March 21
After breakfast it is time to go hiking in the hills around the Mysigio Camp in the Ngorongoro Highlands.
Because of the rain that night it will be quite slippery during the trip. Nevertheless, it is an incredibly beautiful walk. Together with a guide we walk through Maasai area. We walk through a kind of fairytale forest to the Maasai bomas, where Maasai women are busy milking their cows.
Joseph picks us up again and we continue our safari via a beautiful route to the Serengeti. The landscape slowly changes from green hills to a flat area. You can see here as far as the eye can see. Everywhere we see wildebeest and zebras. At the end of the afternoon we arrive at our Green Camp South in the south of the Serengeti. We eat fish and vegetables for dinner and go to bed early, because tomorrow morning there is something very special on the program…

Wednesday, March 22
Marjolijn has a fantastic surprise for us, but for that the alarm must be set at a quarter to four. We’re going in a hot air balloon! Early in the morning we are picked up by a driver who takes us to the place where the hot air balloon will take off. In the meantime we see many (nocturnal) animals, so we have a nice night safari again. The balloon flight is indescribably beautiful. We fly over countless wildebeests, zebras and hyenas. This is an experience that you really have to experience. The landing goes smoothly and we are treated to a glass of champagne (an old tradition to appease worried farmers) and enjoy a delicious breakfast.
The rest of the day we make a jeep safari! Joseph brings us to beautiful places in the Serengeti. Among other things, we see cheetahs eating prey and sleeping lions on the rocks, here called ‘kopjes’. We’ve arrived at another great overnight spot for tonight in the east of the Serengeti; the Olmara Camp.

Thursday, March 23

It’s already the last day of the trip! We have experienced a lot in such a short time. At Seronera Airstrip we say goodbye to our top guide and friend Joseph. See you next time! The flight to Arusha takes only 45 minutes and gives a nice overview of the Tanzanian landscape. We actually experience our safari again, but now in reverse order…

Before we know it you’ll be on the ground again. Our driver David takes us to the last accommodation where we will be this afternoon. At Twiga Lodge we enjoy a delicious vegetarian lunch together with our colleagues from Wayo, James and Odilia. But the inevitable is yet to come; it’s time to go to the Kilimanjaro Airport.

It was a fantastic team trip! We have discovered beautiful new places and gained a lot of new inspiration.

Asante Tanzania! Kwaheri!