Africa Travel Articles
Our Latest Travels - On Safari In Kenya And Tanzania
Author: Sandra Mallinson
Date: April 2012
That is, until last month. Joined by former colleague Catherine Fouche they set off on a combined Kenya & Tanzania safari that began with Kenya's Masai Mara and Amboseli National Park before hopping across the border to Tanzania's famous Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, finishing with Lake Manyara and Tarangire.
Back in the office I gave them just enough time to check their emails before we sat down to chat.
"Firstly, what really stands out on an East Africa safari?"
Liesel: The game viewing. I’ve had fantastic wildlife sightings in South Africa but it's only in the Masai Mara and Serengeti that I've seen herds in their hundreds.
Kate: And it's not as flat as you think: East Africa has an incredible diversity of landscapes. In Amboseli we drove through open savannah to wetlands and palm forests - that was unexpected!
Cath: We also passed traditional mud-hut villages and saw Maasai boys out walking with their goats and cattle - the real deal.
"You packed in a lot of reserves. Did any exceed your expectations?"
Kate: For me it was Amboseli and its perfect view of Mount Kilimanjaro. There's something pretty special about watching animals with a snow-capped mountain as the backdrop.
Liesel: I was blown away by the private conservancies that border the Masia Mara National Reserve: the game viewing was far better than I'd expected and you enjoy all sorts of things that you can't do in the Masai Mara itself. Your guide can drive off road for the best sightings, you can go on walking safaris, night drives, have breakfasts out on safari and visit local villages.
Cath: I particularly loved the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area with its green hills, coffee plantations, Maasai villages, and that wonderful feeling of being so close to something so ancient and iconic. And Tarangire. I didn't know what to expect but it's a truly beautiful reserve with amazing scenery and loads of elephants.
Liesel: Absolutely! I don't think I've ever had such good elephant sightings. In fact, our guide told us that during the June - October dry season, Tarangire has one of the greatest concentrations of game in Tanzania.
"Judging by your photos, it seems you had fantastic wildlife sightings throughout the trip."
Kate: In the Ngorongoro Crater we saw the Big 5 within the first hour!
Liesel: And although we only spent one night at Porini Lion Camp - in one of the Masai Mara conservancies - we saw lion, cheetah and leopard.
Cath: We also caught the great migration on the Serengeti's Ndutu Plains; imagine wildebeest in every direction and as far as the eye can see.
Kate: I also enjoyed seeing endemic East Africa animals such as the weird looking gerenuk and the beautiful reticulated giraffe. And the birdlife is phenomenal! I have this vivid memory of sitting at Mara Plains Tented Camp surrounded by birdsong.
"Many travellers go to East Africa only for the Serengeti or Masai Mara. Are they missing out by not visiting the smaller reserves too?"
Liesel: If you've got the time, I'd highly recommend combining different areas - the diversity is unbelievable.
Kate: You could focus on one country and do a multi-destination safari circuit in either Kenya or Tanzania. Bear in mind though that there are large distances to cover; the logistics can be tricky but that's where we come in!