In late February we went on our first African safari. A friend who has gone on several safaris suggested Tanzania since it has well-known places like the Serengeti plains, Ngorongoro crater, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and Olduvai Gorge.
We chose a tour covering the northern Tanzania safari circuit:
- Lake Manyara National Park. Home to tree-climbing lions and many kinds of birds.
- Ngorongoro Conservation Area. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area includes Ngorongoro Crater (the world’s largest caldera) and the Olduvai Gorge (the site where the early human remains were found.
- Serengeti National Park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to the great migration, the largest herds of grazing animals in the world and the carnivores that prey on them.
Future posts will discuss our experience and show wildlife pictures.
Other tour members asked us how we chose the tour. So, how do you choose a safari when you’ve never been on one? Two years ago we selected a tour of Egypt and Jordan, and we used the same process to choose the safari. Our approach is to gather highly qualified candidates and then make the selection based on value.
Two noted travel magazines, Travel + Leisure and National Geographic Traveler, rate safari operators. We compared northern circuit safaris from highly rated safari operators and calculated the value, the cost per night of lodging. Some tour operators play games with the number of days, counting travel days as part of the package — nights of lodging levels the playing field. Of the highly rated companies, one had a value (cost per night of lodging) that was significantly better than the others. We chose that company.
The selected safari also stays on Maasai lands next to the Serengeti National Park. Staying on Maasai lands offers bush walks, off-road travel, night game drives, open vehicles, and cultural interchanges with the Maasai. Last year, on a shady bench on the Dubrovnik harbor, we chatted with a couple who told us about their safari experience. The woman said the most exciting thing on the safari was the bush walk — she always walked right behind the guy with the rifle! Sounds like great advice.