Sunday, March 19, 2017

Africa- Tanzania: Lake Manyara National Park

I heart is so sad to write this final post of our Tanzania trip. Here I am, over a full month later, still missing this place and this trip. Africa, I would come back in a heart beat. Thank you for being so absolutely amazing, and beautiful, and peaceful, and simple. Thank you for the fresh air, the brilliant blue skies, and the calm that you brought to my often too-chaotic soul. Thank you for reminding me what being here is really about.

Our final stop was Lake Manyara National Park, and while it was no Ngorongoro Crater, it was still absolutely wonderful. Apparently, many tours focus primarily on this park, skipping going into the crater and opting to do the rim instead, to be more cost sensitive. Honestly, I would have felt fulfilled with the trip if I didn't know what I would have been missing by going into the Crater.

I see you peaking little monkey!


The local Masai tribe

From the inside of a Masai hut, made of branches and dung

So many newborns!

Life abounds from the hot spring

So many more flamingos!

Us and our amazing trip guide Jeff. He was absolutely AMAZING!

So the trip details for this, as I highly recommend absolutely everything about it:

Tour Company: Benson Safari Tanzania

  • We corresponded directly with the owner who always responded promptly to emails, often within the hour.
  • Apparently all of their guides are great, but I really cannot imagine any of them being better than Jeff. He was truly focused on ensuring every aspect of our care, that we were comfortable, and trying to maximize our experience. 
  • They took care of all of our accommodations, transportation, and meals (except for the first and final night in Arusha). This includes transportation to and from the airport. It really was an effortless and worry-free trip.
I came away from the trip desperately wanting to own a rugged Land Cruiser with a pop-up roof and to spend the majority of my daylight outside in nature. 

Africa, we will be back!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Africa- Tanzania: Ngorongoro Crater

After a few more hours of sleep following a very early morning wake up (hello 0300) due to cape buffalo stomping around and snorting outside of our tent, we were very excited to get the day started. As awesome as the trip had been thus far, this was the day that we were most anticipating: Ngorongoro Crater!

We saw EVERYTHING that we were hoping to see, many times over (except for the elusive rhino, of which we only saw twice). This place not only lives up to the hype, it far exceeds it in the most wonderful of ways.

I was positively high from the number of elephants that we encountered!

Wildebeest crossing, the line when for miles, and there were THOUSANDS of them!

Cheetah on the hunt

Could not believe the color of this lizard! I did not know this color could exist in nature!

Hello Ngorongoro Crater!

And down into the Crater we went:

There were two lionesses moving around with 6 cubs between them...oh, I was in love. We enjoyed just standing still and watching them for a good 15-20 minutes.

It is newborn season <3

Two of the 3 rhino that we saw on the entire trip, this was the closest we were able to get!

So many hippos!

And SO many storks!

Watching the rainstorm come in

It was a beautiful moment having a strong rainstorm blow in and across us. That change in the air, and that smell of the air, as the rain approaches.

We enjoyed seeing, quite literally, thousands of animals in the full day and a half that we spent in the Crater. Of note, the entry fee to the Crater is quite expensive, thus why most tour companies don't do more than a day here, but I promise that it is totally worth it. Plus the fee goes completely back into protection and conservation efforts, so you feel good knowing that your money is going towards such a great cause. Adam and I both agreed that they should double the price, as it would still garner them the money that they need, but decrease the tourism numbers that are slowly eroding the natural beauty of the place.