Some destinations will leave you completely breathless and can bring out a better you. Tanzania is one of those destinations where you will come back a different person.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much this trip means to me. I’ve always wanted to go on safari but had always put it on my honeymoon bucket list. But then I remembered I’m still single haha. A girl can’t wait forever! Plus this year has been the best year of my life! And it was about to get better!
This was my 30th birthday present to myself.
I landed in Tanzania at 5 am, and watched the sunrise from my taxis. The African sunrise is unbelievably beautiful, with its big orange hue over the horizon, it was something I was going to be obsessing over on this trip. As a side note, for anyone who is going to Tanzania, make sure you get your visa paid for and signed off prior to your trip at your local Tanzanian embassy, it will save you time at the airport. Oh, and don’t forget to get your Yellow fever vaccination!
I travelled alone on this trip so I booked myself on a tour for 10 days from Dar Es Salaam, Zanzibar to Kenya, with a safari tour in the Serengeti. I’ve chosen Africa Travel Co after reading up on their rave reviews, plus it was the perfect amount of time that fitted in my schedule.
This was my tour bus/truck where it will be my home for the next 7 days, be prepared to rough it up and camp under the stars! I love camping, I know a lot of people think I’m a princess in my everyday life, but there’s nothing I love more than to strip back to basics and get down and dirty with mother nature. Every day when the truck stops at a campsite you will have to put up your own tent and pack it up early the next morning ready to hit the road by 6am. At least I was awake to watch the sunrise everyday. On tour we had a tour guide, a cook, and a driver. I was quite lucky to travel with another three tourists on my tour – kinda felt like a private tour!
My tour started on the beaches of Dar Es Salaam, but the others had been travelling on tour for the last few weeks. As we shared our first dinner together, they shared their stories of what they’ve done so far in Africa. Made me so jealous, wished I had more time and money to do more of Africa! We then had a movie night where we watched ‘The Gods must be crazy’, highly recommend you watch that movie before going on safari, it’s very funny! I was very impressed with some of our campsites, came equipped with running water, power outlets and some places even had wifi!
This was my early morning sunrise on the beach before we headed off on our Zanzibar adventures!
Our truck dropped us off at the ferry station in Dar where we boarded on a fast ferry for 2 hrs to Zanzibar. We were lucky to not experience any rough sea, but on our way back it was getting quite choppy and a few people onboard got sick – you might want to take motion sickness pills with you.
Once we arrived in Stone Town – Zanzibar, I immediately fell in love.
A floating bar, there’s a little boat to get you to the bar!
View from a rooftop cafe
There’s so much history in Zanzibar and you will see the markings of different influences left from the colonisation, from Portuguese empire in their architecture, to the Arab Middle Eastern influence in the religion and some still speak Arabic today. Before it was taken over by the British Empire which helped shape it to become an independent state.
I stayed at a beautiful hotel, Africa House, with its amazing terrace overlooking one of the most gorgeous sunsets!
The next day we headed out to Prison Island, which is roughly 30mins on a boat out to a small island. As the locals would call it Changuu island, while under the Arab empire it was used as a slave trade island and also as a quarantine island for people with yellow fever. Now, it is known as Prison Island with a tortoise conservation, one of the oldest in the world is 200 years old!
Me next to one, just to compare it in size! Giant Tortoise.
They converted one of the slave trade rooms into a bar, but if you look at the floors you can still see where the chains were being locked, such a horrible part of history that I didn’t know existed.
After this we caught a taxis north of Zanzibar to Nungwi. We stayed at The Sunset Bungalow Hotel, which was right on the beach and next door had a full moon party the Saturday night we were there! It’s a bit more touristy here but the good thing is they cater well for tourists, you can’t be bored – they offer you so many activities, like swimming with the turtles, scuba diving courses, and a lot more water based activities. Or you can be like me and just enjoy the beautiful long stretched beaches.
Look at how blue the water is! And there are plenty of beautiful starfishes you can pick up and rescue back into the water.
After spending 3 days in Zanzibar, we sadly had to say goodbye and continued on with our tour.
Our next major stop was at this beautiful campsite in Arusha, called Meserani Snake Park. Here you will find some of the deadliest snakes (behind cages), birds and other reptiles. There’s also a medical centre to treat people with snake bites for free. The campsite operates by a South African couple, Ma and BJ who puts the heart in this campsite, you should check out their bar filled with t-shirts from visitors from all around the world.
The next morning was going to be the start of my Serengeti Safari! Another tour group came to pick us up, in a 4×4 wheel drive. I should also mention that any safari excursion was extra, I paid US$550 for three days in the Serengeti.
When we entered the Serengeti Park we were instantly greeted by giraffes and baboons. It took us a little longer to start spotting the Big Five. But we had an amazing guide who could see cats from a mile away!
Greeted by the Maasai people.
We were incredibly lucky to spot many cheetahs and lions, I even saw a leopard – but no photos as it was amongst the long grass from a distance. I was even lucky enough to see lions mating which lasted all of 3 seconds, but apparently they do this many times throughout the day.
Saw cheetahs dining out on an Impala.
Can not get enough of the African Sunset!
Sunrise over the Serengeti.
You can even do hot air ballooning, but it will be an added US$500.
Getting close and personal with the lions.
For two nights we camped out in the middle of the national park unprotected. It was quite an experience to be sleeping in your tent and hearing the lions roar outside, followed by hyenas laughing, and with a full bladder, didn’t make it a comfortable sleep (I was too scared to leave my tent). But if you do leave your tent for a bathroom break, make sure you bring a torch with you to shine out in the distance for any glowing eyes.
It wasn’t til the last day of safari at the Ngorongoro crater that I saw my favourite animal; a herd of elephants crossing the road in front of our car! What incredible luck we had! I got to see a baby elephant and his family. They are such beautiful and surprisingly quiet animals!
Sunrise in the Ngorongoro Crater
View of the crater from the top
A pride of hungry lions.
My favourite moment!
By the time we reached Nairobi it marked the end of my trip.
I managed to squeeze in two more animal experiences, one was visiting the Giraffe centre which is next to the famous Giraffe Manor where you can have breakfast with them if you were staying in the hotel. Or you can do what I did and go next door to the Giraffe centre where you can feed, pet and even kiss a giraffe!
My final stop was the elephant orphanage, where animal protectors find abandoned baby elephants and nurse them until they’re 3 years old before they return them back into the wild. You can even adopt them online virtually. Check out their website to see all their amazing work.
This trip by far has been the best experience of my life. I feel like I came home as a different person. I now have more of an appreciation for the little things in life. It is so easy to fall in love with Africa and get swept up in the moments. I only wish I had more time there. More importantly I am so happy I didn’t wait for my ‘honeymoon’ to go on this adventure, as I surprised myself at how comfortable I was being outside my comfort zone. Africa will forever hold my heart.