Posted on Sunday, 6th July 2014 by

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Tanzania, Northern Circuit Safari

Waking up in the Serengeti with a chill in the air and the sound of birds you’ve never heard before is an appetizer for your day ahead. The camp crew has a warm basin of water waiting outside your tent to freshen up before breakfast. What is awaiting you in the dining area? How about eggs cooked to order, toast, bacon, fresh roasted vegetables, fresh fruit and coffee. Then you climb in the safari vehicle to spend your next 9 to 10 hours driving through the park looking for adventure and any animals that come our way.

That first morning we stopped by a large swampy section of the Senera River. There were birds in the reeds and Giraffes off in the distance gracefully walking and looking for an Acacia tree to munch on. All of a sudden a spray of water shot up from the swamp and a huge Hippo emerged. It was amazing! He was alone, away from a huge number of females and babies that just appeared to be rocks in the water. The water was keeping him cool and he may have been napping. After letting out a big yawn he rolled upside down showing us his feet and did a 360 to cover his back with mud to prevent a sun burn. Those animals are huge but to the untrained eye, I hadn’t even noticed they were present until that fellow exhaled a spray of water. Our guide Adam knew they were present but didn’t spoil the surprise.

While in the Tarangire National Park, early in the morning, we took a box breakfast with us into the park so we could see the animals at dawn. Our first sighting was a family of Vervet monkeys around a group of trees. It was playtime for the little ones. They would climb the trunk of a large tree and jump into the bush on each other then chasing and trying to catch each other. It was a great way to start the day watching those little ones at play.

As we were driving through the park our guide Adam spotted a lion print in the soft dirt along the road. We followed the trail until we finally came upon the pride. There were four females, two cubs and a large male in the pride. They were looking for pray but the only animals in the area were elephants. The pride stopped in an open area and they seemed to be taking a break. But after several minutes the male wandered off alone. We continued to watch the older cub sit on a raised spot in the dirt. The young cub, probably just 3 months old, was out of sight.

Suddenly, a family of nearby elephants nearby started trumpeting, waving their ears and running toward the road ahead. The male lion had gotten too close to their family and the older elephants were protecting the young. The elephants circled facing out with the littlest elephants in the center protecting them from the lions but it was only the male that had approached. The elephants trumpeting were much louder than I would have ever thought. Don’t get on the wrong side of an elephant. Adam explained to us that the lion was doing the same thing as the elephants. He needed to keep the elephants from charging the pride to protect the two cubs. It was on our last game drive that we saw this confrontation and it was a highlight of the entire safari experience.

The safari was full of wondrous sights: Giraffes walking amongst trees with only their heads visible above the branches, a leopard perched in a tree keeping an eye on a lion pride 100 feet away, a two week old baby elephant learning to use its trunk, zebras daring to get a drink from the watering hole but running for their lives at any sudden movement, lions moving stealthily through the tall grass in hopes of surprising zebras at the water’s edge for a much needed meal, elephants raising their trunks using their tusks to face off in a practice for future status in the elephant male pecking order, a secretary bird dancing away in the tall grass in hopes of stirring a small rodent to move for a meal. These are the things that await you on any given day, and every day is different. Everywhere there is an animal or bird waiting to show you what it’s like to live in the African Savannah.

Lodging in Luxury Tented Camps

What exactly is “Luxury Tented Camps”? There are two kinds. A mobile tented camp and a permanent tented camp. A permanent tented camp has permanent flooring, wood or cement, and has a flush toilet, vanity sink and shower permanently plumbed. The walls are canvas and the roof might be wood, thatch or canvas. The interior is set up like a hotel room. You will either have twin or a king size bed. There is often a table to write at, a dresser or chest to put clothing in and a place to hang clothing. You won’t find a couch or recliner in the tent but the furnishings are comparable to a standard hotel room. Most of the camps also offer laundry service.

The mobile tented camps are inside the parks and have to be moved periodically due to animal migration patterns or weather during the rainy season. The mobile camp rooms are fully enclosed with a durable floor that ties into the canvas walls with canvas roof. There is a secondary canvas roof to prevent leaks. The mobile camps do not have permanent plumbing but they do have flush toilets and a vanity sink. The camp crew keeps the water tank full for the sink and toilet that has a pump flush. The shower is by a scheduled time. You tell the staff at what time you want to take a shower and they raise a canvas bag full of warm water on a pole at the designated time. The water temperature is perfect for a shower. You use a pull chain to turn the water on and off to soap up and rinse off. The mobile camps do not usually offer laundry service but they provide laundry soap and a place to hang clothing to dry.

Security is provided after dark at all the camps, often by Maasai tribesmen. This is for safety reasons in case an animal is passing through and so you can see where you are going. Each camp will have you signal with your porch light or a flash light that you need an escort to go to the dining area or bar. They will escort you back to your room when you are ready. We also found that the staff was very helpful at clearing your tent of the occasional spider or frog you find out of reach or just too creepy to get yourself.

Animals and canvas a concern? We could hear animals at our camp in the Serengeti and our camp near the Tarangire National Park. We did hear lions, elephants, and probably hyenas. The low moan of elephants in the distance and the occasional grunt of lions probably sounded much closer than they actually were. We had heard both during game drives and they could be heard during the day when they were a good distance away. I can tell you it was more fascinating listening to them make sounds in the night than fearful because of it.

I did however have a hard time going back to sleep one night in the Serengeti after hearing an unknown animal that must have also marked the area somewhere near our tent. I suppose it could have been a Hyena. The smell was over powering and very disgusting. The hyenas often come to camps at night looking for garbage to eat. The staff warned us if we washed any clothing not to leave it outside after dark. Apparently Hyena’s like to steal your clothing, whether it fits or not.

Lodging and Safari Links

This site is a link to the Tanzania Northern Circuit Safari area. It is set up for travelers to plan an independent safari. I used it as a resource to explore lodging options with the safari company I booked with. Plan to depart from Arusha Tanzania if you choose the Northern Circuit.

This is the link for the safari company I traveled with. I recommend the company and would use it again. There are no prices on the site. Contact the company for a quote. Magda is very responsive via email.

Other safari company links including southern African destinations.

Luxury Safari Links

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The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances. Travel policies and packages are subject to change without notice. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact travel providers and hotels at the time of your bookings to confirm pricing, itinerary, and all costs. The comments and observations are limited to the author’s personal experience and your results may vary significantly. This article and replies to comments are not intended to substitute for professional travel services. Our reply is time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change.



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