A trip you will never forget

24 April 2024 | Roland en Linda

Our story actually starts many years ago. Linda has indicated for a long time that she really wanted to go on safari in Africa. In September 2023 I made an appointment at Explore Tanzania in Apeldoorn and took Linda there as a surprise. And that’s where our journey actually started, because the Explore Tanzania team had created an example journey for us and it was presented on the screen. However, with the note that it was an example, so we could add or adjust steps ourselves. It was all very flexible and completely customizable to our wishes. That was also one of the reasons why we chose Explore Tanzania. After processing our wishes and ideas, but also with the advice and ideas from Explore Tanzania, a wonderful travel program was created. Now we had to wait until April 24, 2024.

And then suddenly the time has come…. Our flight went from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro Airport. A great trip, good seats and plenty of legroom. Then you “suddenly” find yourself in Tanzania, where we were picked up from the airport and taken to our first stay, Rivertrees Country Inn, in Arusha. Oh yes, they drive on the left in Tanzania, so that took some switching!
After a wonderful night, with the sound of birds and monkeys in the background, we left for Africa Amini Life Original Maasai Lodge the next day to stay there for two days with the Maasai. This was recommended by the Explore Tanzania team, because this is a very wonderful experience. Africa Amini Life supports many projects in the area and together with the Maasai we went to a school project and an orphanage. Fortunately, there was a tip box at the lodge in which money could be donated to support these projects.

After two days with the Maasai, we were picked up by our guide Benson. What a great guy he was. He asked us what we all wanted to see and what our interests were. During the entire safari he tailored everything to our wishes. That was wonderfully relaxing!!

From the Maasai Lodge we drove to Tarangire Safari Lodge, in the Tarangire National Park. When you talk about beautiful views… then this one is at the top. We slept in tents here and we were advised to make good use of the “monkey lock”, with which the zippers of the tent were locked. Monkeys were eager to go through the luggage in search of food. In the evening you were escorted to and from your tent by a security guard. After all, you are in the middle of nature and elephants and lions can walk freely around your tent at night. From Tarangire Safari Lodge we have made a number of beautiful safaris. It really is one big zoo, but without signs showing where which animals reside. There were so many wild animals! Sometimes very far away and only visible with binoculars, but often very close. The jeep in which we made the safaris had a roof that could be pushed up. During the safaris you could stand and take a good look at everything. We felt completely one with nature.

After two nights we drove towards Keratu. On the way we stopped for a tree top walk. Via ladders and rope bridges through the treetops, with a beautiful view and beautiful nature. After this we continue by Jeep to Lake Manyara National Park. After about 15 minutes of driving into the park, there is a stubborn elephant in the middle of the road. Six Jeeps in a line had to wait, because no one could pass. This took quite a while, because the elephant walked leisurely across the road. That’s the great thing about such a trip: the animals are more important than your schedule!! After a delicious lunch in the middle of Lake Manyara National Park, we drove to Marera Valley Lodge. Our stay for the next two nights. A lodge with a completely different atmosphere, but super cozy and everything beautifully laid out.

After breakfast a safari to Ngorongoro Crater was on the program. The journey there was an experience in itself. Drive all the way up along the crater rim, through the low-hanging clouds on narrow, unpaved roads. As soon as you emerge from the clouds, you have a beautiful view of one of the craters. Breathtaking!! We also drove past several Maasai villages and finally arrived at the crater in question. That nature can be so beautiful! And here too we saw so many wild animals. At the entrance to the park, Benson immediately spotted a lion in the tree. Later it turned out that there were many more lions. But not just lions, there were so many wild animals to spot. You are amazed. The enormous group of pink flamingos was also very impressive. They made a lot of noise, but how beautiful to see. Especially when a large part of the group started flying. Here we also spotted hippos and our first and (as it turned out) only rhino.
From Keratu we drove to the Serengeti the next day. We had barely entered the park when we were in the middle of migration. Zebras and wildebeest as far as you could see. In between there were also hyenas (looking for an easy snack) and birds of prey looking for leftovers. The Hippo Trails Camp is located somewhere in the middle of nowhere. A main tent with a number of tents, where visitors can sleep. Here too there was guidance to guide you to and from your tent. And that was a good thing. During one of the nights we slept there, lions and a buffalo walked around the tent. Fortunately, we only heard about this from the crew the next morning. Here too we had a breathtaking view. In the evening there was a beautiful purple/orange setting sun.
After we returned from one of the safaris, there was a tall giraffe standing in front of our tent. Enjoy a relaxing meal from one of the trees. After he saw us coming, he ran away, but when we later sat quietly in front of our tent, he came back and “just” walked past the tent less than 10 meters away from us. Then shivers really run down your spine. It is so beautiful and impressive in the middle of nature. From the Hippo Trails Camp we did several safaris and saw so many beautiful animals. So impressive.

And then the day came when the safari part was finished and we had to say goodbye to our guide and driver Benson. That wasn’t easy, because if you hang out together for a while and share all the beautiful things you see, a connection is created. Benson took us to Seronera Airstrip and there we flew in a small plane (12 passengers) to Stone Town on Zanzibar. Here we had an overnight stay in the Swahili House, in the middle of the old part of Stone Town. What is different here, when you have just spent two weeks in nature and are now in the vibrant heart of the city. That was quite a switch…
In the evening we enjoyed a delicious dinner on the roof terrace of the hotel, with a beautiful view of the city and the setting sun. The next morning we took a city walk with a guide. Stone Town is a city with a rich history. Unfortunately, not always beautiful due to the former slave trade, but we really enjoyed all the beautiful old buildings and the stories of our guide. It is also nice to hear and see that different faiths can live and live together here. After the walk and a quick lunch, we were picked up for the drive to our hotel. The Ocean Paradise Resort & Spa really lived up to its name. What a great hotel resort. We had a bungalow right on the beach, with a view of the ocean.

The whole picture was complete now and we could relax here for a few more days. The first day we recovered from all the impressions of the past few days and in the evening we had a beach BBQ on the other side of the island, with freshly caught fish from the ocean. The second day we had a Spice Tour at one of the local spice farmers. Not a large, massive, government-subsidized company, but a local farmer, who grew herbs and fruit on the company that had been in his family for years. Nice to see how the various herbs and fruits can grow and bloom together. We got to see a lot and were allowed to smell and taste a lot. Explore Tanzania also supports small, local entrepreneurs with this. The rest of the week we didn’t do much more than relax on the beach, eat delicious food and relax even more. Enjoy the beautiful weather, the delicious food, the hospitality and friendliness of the people and the big difference between low tide and high tide.

After almost three weeks we really had to go home again. First with a transfer to the airport at Stone Town, then a flight in another smaller plane to Dar-Es-Salaam and from there with KLM back to Schiphol.
We enjoyed it immensely. What a great holiday we had and we are so happy that we chose Explore Tanzania. Along the way you regularly speak to other travelers and often enough it turned out that they listened to our story with some jealousy. How our trip was organized, that we could provide maximum input when putting together the program, that our driver did not race during the safaris, but that he took his time everywhere and much more!

We look back on this holiday with great pleasure and we are very happy that we booked it through Explore Tanzania. We certainly don’t rule out doing this again!!

Roland and Linda
April/May 2024

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