Tanzania Game Parks 2001.03.01 - 03.04


We couldn't come to Tanzania and Kenya and forego a safari despite the ridiculously high costs. Since our Mt. Kilimanjaro experience with Zara was exceptional, we arranged a safari to Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater with them too.

Safaris in Tanzania are much more expensive than in Kenya. In Tanzania, camping safaris average US$100 per person per day. In Kenya, the same can be found for US$50 per person per day. One major cost difference is the National Park entry fee. Tanzanian parks charge US$25 per person per day whereas Kenyan parks normally charge US$10 per person per day.

Still, we chose to safari in Tanzania, partly because of Zara and partly because we don't trust any of the tour operators in Nairobi.

For US$100 per person per day (in effect US$800), Zara took us on a (sort of) 4-day fully catered camping safari. We had a Toyota Land Cruiser with pop-up roof, driver, and cook to ourselves. Each day, the cook stayed at the camp to set up / take down the tent and prepare our meals while we rode around looking at animals. The 4 days includes all the travel from Moshi to the parks, travel between the parks, and travel back to Moshi. The net effect is about 2 full days of game watching for the cost of 4.

Lake Manyara

Lake Manyara National Park, located about 90 minutes by Land Cruiser west of Arusha, has a perpetual underground water supply that keeps the forest green, the animals nearby, and the mosquitoes reproducing.

Our safari began with a game drive on the west side of Lake Manyara in the afternoon and continued with another drive through the next morning. Safari drives tend to be scheduled when the animals are most active in the afternoon several hours before park gate closing time at 18:00 and early in the morning. During the late morning and early afternoon hours, the animals tend to take shelter from the sun. In the first hour of the drive we saw very few animals. Masami instantly became bored and regretted spending so much money. The drive became a bit more interesting when we spotted lions in the trees and a family of giraffes.

Masami wanted to see elephants. She got lucky today. This elephant practically brushed up against our Land Cruiser.

Wes wanted to see lions. On our first drive through Lake Manyara, we saw a female lion. On the second drive we saw this panting male. This lion was so hot and exhausted, he probably wouldn't have bothered to catch a tasty morsel wandering below.

Ngorongoro Crater

One hour up the Rift from Lake Manyara is a 20km wide crater at an elevation of 1600 meters with a 2200 meter high encircling rim. This Ngorongoro Crater is reputed to be one of the best wildlife viewing areas in Africa. We had a full day in the crater, entering in the morning and staying until mid afternoon. The animals are truly profuse. When we found zebra, there were tens of thousands of them. Buffalo traveled in herds. Hippos bumped into each other in the pond. Elephants roamed in groups of 5. 100,000 flamingoes stood in the lake. Gazelle were everywhere. And we even saw 3 lion cubs.

Even so, a safari is spending the day in a car. It's a sedentary activity that's very tiring. 2 days in a game park was all the safari we cared for.

This buffalo didn't get enough to eat.

There must be an incredible amount of food in the lake for 100,000 flamingoes to feed. Some flamingoes are light colored, almost white, while others are fuchsia.

Every zebra has a unique set of stripes. Wes finds the pattern above the nose to be the most interesting.

Our driver found an animal kill and parked near it. Subsequently, the lion cubs approached to protect their food. Bored waiting for the big white 4-wheeled animal to move, one cub decided to take shelter from the sun under our car.

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