It was one of those weeks where everything just seemed to be going wrong. Simple, little things that add up at the end of the day and just seem to cause extra unnecessary stress. So when I was reminded by my friend Quinton that it was less than a week before we left for one of our African safaris, I sighed in relief, even if it was only a four day glimpse getaway to Tanzania.
The sunny side of the life
We were picked up at the Arusha airport and taken to the Tarangire National Park for lunch. So far my luck seemed like it had changed for the better, but after such a week, it almost seemed unreal to be able to relax and enjoy the beauty that lied before my eyes. It also helped that one of my dearest friends came along, as Quinton always assures me when things get tough, that it will be okay. I sat back, took in a deep breath of fresh African air and saw in front of me the Tarangire National Park, over 2600 sq km of African grasslands and floodplains.
Surrounding the unspoilt nature of the Tarangire National Park is volcanic mountain ranges that look like purpled formations in the distance. The Tarangire River is a magnet for the migrating wildlife during the dry seasons, and most definitely the best time of the year to visit this area. Between July and September Africa offers you a glimpse of her most beautiful and precious wildlife, some of which include herds of about 300 elephants trumping their way across the land to quench their thirst.
For our first night’s stay, we booked into the Tarangire Sopa Lodge. A low profile structure in comparison to many other lodges, but it’s like Quinton said, it doesn’t distract you from what you are really here to experience, which is the African wildlife and nature. Yes of course a lodge whose standards could be compared to the most exclusive 5 star hotels might be great, but essentially it’s not why you go on an African safari. It had everything and more than what we needed with a view of the Tanzanian landscape filled with baobab trees and the migratory bird life was fascinating.
After a well rested night in our makuti-styled thatched roof room, we enjoyed a good hearty breakfast before heading off to the Ngorongoro Game Reserve. We were booked to stay the night at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge, a lodging built into a collapsed rim of a dormant volcano named Caldera. Very close by to the lodge is Olduvai Gorge, which is often referred to as “the birthplace of man”. Olduvai Gorge is one of the world’s most precious spots since it’s the most important prehistoric site in the world and the fundamental instrument to further our understanding of the early human evolution since the 1950’s.
Quinton and I enjoyed the fact that at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge it almost felt like you co-exist with the wildlife and the local Masai tribe who inhabits this specific area. I think much can be learnt from this tribe, who has this very distinguished way of dressing that separate them from all other African tribes. They seem to have such a peaceful culture that particularly pays a lot of respect to their elders, something that seems lost in a lot of Western cultures today.
After our cultural experience and a tour to the Ngorongoro Crater, known to many as the “8th natural wonder of the world”, we ended our stay with a perfect night at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge and the next morning we were on our way to the Lake Manyara Serena Lodge. On the edge of the Mto Wa Mbu escarpment, this perfectly situated lodge was the cream of the crop regarding our tour, and even if this was just a glimpse of Tanzania we were experiencing, it was the one you should truly witness. Overlooking the Great Rift Valley and the Manyara soda lake, it was the best spot for game viewing. The animals were plentiful in the park, including elephants, lions, hippos, buffaloes, impalas and giraffes, to name a few.
Our last dinner before heading back home was an African buffet, which was absolutely delicious and for desert, sipping hot chocolate while sitting on our private balcony and listening to the sound of the African nightlife. Sitting on the balcony, I was celebrating the sanctuary the African wildlife had given me. Not a word was uttered between me and Quinton because we understood that to really experience the tranquility of the African night, with the stars shining bright above and untouched nature surrounding you, you need to just relax, because there aren’t a lot of places in this world where you can experience so much tranquility.