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Big Adventures in Africa

A visit to Africa is a big adventure, the size of the continent, varied countries, wildlife and cultures all combine to make this trip one you will never forget.

We opted for a photo safari which was a long -time dream of mine. I researched and purchased a wonderful new camera and began to learn how to use it as part of my trip planning.  We chose to concentrate in Tanzania and planned our trip around the weather at the time of year best to see the biggest variety of animals and to be the most comfortable.  You are outside for long hours each day.  Our safari was 2 and ½ weeks followed by a week in Zanzibar to relax at the beach.

We used an outfitter, Adventures Within Reach who have helped us with other trips (Galapagos, Patagonia and Machu Picchu). We were a group of six so we had our own on the ground guide, and truck driver for the entire trip.

The adventure begins right away, the trip is long and once you arrive in Dar es Salaam we boarded an in country flight to Arusha. Flying over Africa and viewing the vast plains below reminded me of books I had read about the beauty of Africa.    

Our trip began in Arusha where we picked up our guide and driver. The safari truck had view windows on all sides but was well protected which is a good thing when elephants are running after you.   Lake Manyara National Park was our first stop.  This region is known for the flamingos at the lake, and is home to 400 species of birds.  Leopards, West African lions, cheetahs, elephants, blue monkeys, dik-dik, gazelles, hippopotami, Masai giraffe, impala and zebras are some of the animals we saw. We stopped at a hippo park where we could disembark the truck (not allowed elsewhere) where we were told we could observe form a safe distance.  After stopping I wonder about this, it is dangerous.  But it was fun to be so close.

Massia Mara National Reserve

From there we went to Norongro crater which was a natural wonder. Our tented camp in Manyara was a former hunting camp, now a preserve, our huts at the rim of the crater overlooked a beautiful forest full of leopards, and birds.  It was stunning.

We visited Olduvai Gorge in the Great Rift Valley to experience one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Then on to The Serengeti to stay on the vast plains.  We arranged for a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti at dawn, which was breathtaking, followed by a brunch in the bush.  A singular experience.

We were fortunate to see all of the big game, lions, hunting at night and during the day, leopard, rhinoceros, and elephants (my favorite) African buffalo, along with the hippos, various snakes (black mamba and pythons) and countless birds. The love birds flew in flocks of hundreds and were magnificent.

The people were wonderful and interesting, we visited an orphanage and walked through villages, stopped at a Maasi village, and talked to the women there, attended a prince’s funeral, participated in an annual Massai mating celebration, and were taken to a nomadic camp of Bushman where they showed us how to use their bows and arrows to kill scarce game.

Relaxing in Zanzibar was wonderful, the beaches are beautiful, accommodations perfection and the history of the spice trade very interesting. The Red Colobus monkey is beautiful, filled with personality and is only found in the forests of Zanzibar.

This is a trip I would highly recommend to everyone, it can be dangerous, tiring, sad, and thrilling, but is truly a singular experience.  I would love to go back to see the gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda-my next African stop!