Our safari to Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Lake Natron

1 August 2023 | Ruud & Mirjam

Experiencing the wildebeest migration and especially the crossing of the Mara River in the north of the Serengeti in August has been high on our wish list for some time.

We had already been to the north of the Serengeti eight years ago, but the travel organization we had booked with had not built enough time into the itinerary.
After Explore Tanzania put together a wonderful safari in the south of Tanzania (Nyerere NP, Ruaha NP, Katavi NP and Mahale NP) two years ago, the choice of travel organization for our safari this year was very simple.

We were picked up in Arusha by our guide Gabriel and then drove to Lake Manyara National Park where we stayed 2 nights in the beautiful Green Camp. This camp is located on a (in August) dry riverbed and near a waterfall, which ensures that every afternoon several herds of elephants gather there to drink. A wonderful spectacle, especially when family members in other herds are recognized and greeted. The walking safari early in the morning and the night safari, both accompanied by a park ranger, are definitely recommended!
On day 4 we left Lake Manyara with a morning safari in the jeep and we visited the village of Mto wa Mbu. There we were given a tour of the banana plantations and a tour of the market, followed by a delicious lunch prepared by local residents. From Mto wa Mbu we drove to Karatu for an overnight stay.

The next day we got up early for the real “African massage” on the road from Karatu to Naabi Hill Gate, Serengeti.
We spent the three days that followed in Seronera, central Serengeti. Explore Tanzania chose Pembezoni Classic Camp as a base, a quiet camp that is slightly remote. The campfire stories of Julius, who belongs to the Hadzabe tribe (hunters/gatherers), will certainly stay with us. In central Serengeti it can sometimes be very busy (i.e. a lot of cars around a sighting) and that is why our guide suggested to start early in the morning at around 6.30 am to avoid the big crowds in the central part or. the south, east and west of Seronera. There, away from the central area, we saw a lion pride kill twice, from the beginning (the stalking and enclosing of the prey by the lionesses) to the end (the kill by a lioness and then the brutal claiming of the prey by the dominant male lion) experienced with only two other vehicles. It just shows how incredibly important a committed and well-trained guide is and “our” Gabriel certainly was!

After three days we left for Kogatende, near the Mara river in the north of the Serengeti, close to the border with Kenya. Here we hoped to see the crossing of the wildebeests. Our guide had already told us that it was a matter of patience and luck, he had had companies that had not seen a single crossing in four days.
So we have been incredibly lucky (and patient, waiting in the jeep for a possible crossing can take up to 3 hours…..) because we have seen beautiful crossings four times in total, an indescribably impressive event.

Finally, we visited Lake Natron. Lake Natron is an alkaline lake where thousands of lesser flamingos feast on the crustaceans that are the only ones that can live in this alkaline water. From our tent in Lake Natron Camp we had a view of one pink cloud of flamingos.
Here we also did another hike through the Ngare Sero Gorge to beautiful waterfalls and a hike through the rift valley.
Via a stopover near Lake Manyara in Manyara’s Secret we drove back to Arusha (Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge) where our safari ended.

We’ve been home (and working) for over a week now and busy editing the more than 2500 photos we’ve taken. With every photo we have another “Oh yes, remember” moment and enjoy the memories of a great safari.

Thanks again Team Explore Tanzania!

Ruud & Miriam

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