The Prize for Climbing Kilimanjaro
It’s hard to believe that in less than a month I’ll be leaving for Tanzania. Nerves are running high, not just because I’m going to attempt to climb the highest mountain in Africa but because I’ll be traveling solo for the first time. Sure I’ll be climbing Kilimanjaro with a large group of adventurous women but aside from the owners of WHOA Travel I haven’t met any of the ladies going on this trip. It’s enough to make any introvert nervous. Still, I have to remind myself that I was equally nervous about attending WITS last year by myself and I made a ton of friends that weekend. I’m hopeful that this trip will be the same.
After our 7-day hike up the mountain our group will spend a day volunteering with the local community. Then most of us will part ways, some going back home, some flying on to other destinations like Zanzibar. Twelve of us, however, have made plans to take a safari around Tanzania.
Seeing the Big Five on safari has long been on my bucket list and when I heard that WHOA was offering a 2-day safari option I knew I had to find a way to make it happen. After doing a little research, though, I realized that 2 days would be far too short for me. I decided to reach out to WHOA’s outfitter to design a private safari extension, adding an additional 3 days to my itinerary. Therefore half of my safari will be with the WHOA ladies and half will be by myself and a private guide. Below is an itinerary of my 5-day safari through northern Tanzania.
Day 1- Tarangire National Park
The first place we’ll go after leaving Moshi will be Tarangire National Park, an area famous for its abundance of elephants and ancient baobab trees. I’m also going to keep an eye out for this rare beauty, a white giraffe that was recently seen wandering in the park. After spending most of the day here we will leave the park to continue driving an hour west, staying overnight at the Manyara Wildlife Safari Camp. A lodge with a pool? Yes, please!
Day 2- Ngorongoro Crater
Our group will wake early for a morning game drive at Ngorongoro Crater. This conservation area was declared a UNESCO Heritage site in 1978 and is the largest volcanic caldera in the world. Wildlife viewing is top notch but can get pretty crowded compared to the rest of northern Tanzania. Here we’ll try to spot a black rhino, if we’re lucky!
After lunch the WHOA ladies will return back to Moshi and I will continue on with my private safari. In the afternoon I will take a walking tour along the crater rim, ending the day with an overnight stay at Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge, a hotel with sweeping views of Ngorongoro Crater.
Day 3- Serengeti National Park
After another early morning game drive in Ngorongoro Crater I’ll head northwest to Serengeti National Park. The Serengeti is a vast, open plain and unlike Ngorongoro Crater the wildlife can be hit-or-miss. One could spend hours searching the grassland and not see much at all but the good news is that the Serengeti tends to offer a more quiet, private experience to view wildlife than the crowded crater.
From December through June the Serengeti is the place to be as over one million wildebeest and thousands of zebra move north to Kenya in an event known as The Great Migration. February is an especially good time to be in the southern Serengeti as thousands of baby wildebeest are born. It’s a good opportunity to see not only the young calves but lions and cheetahs on the hunt for an easy meal.
I will spend the day hoping to see some herds of migrating wildebeest and other animals as we spend the day in the southern Serengeti. My lodging for the evening will be at the rustic Kati Kati Tented Camp, so close to the wildlife that I might hear them right outside my tent at night. Good thing there is always someone to escort me to my tent after dark!
Day 4- Lake Ndutu
Today we drive a little south to Lake Ndutu on the border of Serengeti National Park where I hope to see more of the wildebeest migration. I will spend the night in another tented camp, Ndutu Kati Kati camp. There is no internet at either of the tented camps so I’ll get to spend the evenings enjoying “bush tv”, a lovely campfire outside the mess tent where I can hear the sounds of the Serengeti.
Day 5- Heading Home
After an early morning game drive around Lake Ndutu I’ll pack up my belongings and take the roughly 6 hour ride back to Moshi where I board a plane home that night.
This is a short, action-packed safari but I’m okay with that because the big plan is that I’ll get the chance to return with Brandon and Stink in a few years. I honestly can’t wait for the next 4 weeks to go by, this is going to be the adventure of a lifetime!