Southern Tanzania and Zanzibar
“Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is worst of all” – Brian Jackman. I fully agree and would only add: “The only antidote is to go back on safari again and again.”
Nyerere National Park was our first safari destination and on landing I knew immediately I was going to love this place. The landscape is ever-changing and comprises miombo woodlands and open plains as well as wetlands, lakes and rivers. And as we all know, water always influences a safari experience positively. We saw plenty of hungry crocodile and hippo, as well as lions in action, elephant, buffalo, giraffe and zebra; it also needs to be said that Nyerere is definitely a birding destination!
We really enjoyed our game drives and water cruises; during the latter, we once spotted two lionesses walking on the edge of the lake – phenomenal! But we’ll have to return … to see the endangered wild dog too 😉 … and also because we just loved the remoteness of Nyerere with its variety of landscapes and different safari activities.
Ruaha National Park was our second safari destination. It’s very different to Nyerere, especially in the dry month of October, and therefore ideal to combine! We saw lion, leopard, buffalo, zebra and plenty of giraffe. But what we loved the most here was the contrast between the baobab forest and the golden savannah.
It’s almost unbelievable to think that a massive tree like the baobab comes from such a small seed. And in October the baobabs start to flower too. They bloom at night – big white flowers – so that night-flying fruit bats can see and pollinate them.
Game drives in East Africa are usually between six and seven hours long. But a number of safari camps offer private activities – subject to availability – that allow much more flexibility; guests can, for example, stay out all day on safari or also decide to return to the lodge earlier, if they wish.
We connected between safari destinations on shared charter flights and then flew to the Indian Ocean coast and Zanzibar Island. From the moment we landed, we perceived the coexistence of African, Arabic and Indian cultures as well as many more influences. The most visual evidence of this meeting of cultures is seen in Zanzibar’s historic centre – Stone Town – and its famous carved doors: artefacts that speak history.
Although it’s safe to explore Stone Town alone, we decided to tour it with a local guide so we wouldn’t miss or overlook anything. It turned out to be a great choice! It was a touching experience to walk through the East Africa Slave Trade Exhibit. We also visited the fish, fruit and spice market and we toured the community spice farm. The Island’s fertile land is one of the reasons why Zanzibar has long been one of the centres of Indian Ocean trade.
After much safari and exploration, we decided to spend the last days of our trip at the beach. The ocean tides affect the ‘swimming’ experience and so every accommodation provides swimming pools. But if you are a sea-person, it isn’t difficult to book an excursion on a traditional fishing boat to a snorkelling or diving spot, rich with colourful fish and coral.