Two Weeks in Africa, Part 1: The Safari – Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro, Serengeti

We have posted about what to pack for a safari and our safari superlatives, as well as how to get to Africa on points and a review of the gorgeous Park Hyatt in Zanzibar. Now I’d like to share what we actually did in Africa to get the most out of our two weeks!

You might be thinking: How the heck do you decide what to do if you only have 2 weeks in Africa? Luckily, we didn’t have to overthink this because one of my best friends and her boyfriend were living in Tanzania (which was one of the reasons we wanted to go in the first place), so we planned around that. We decided our main priority was going on a safari and getting some beach time in Zanzibar.

Luckily, this was easily accommodated! We found that many safaris that originate in Tanzania end in Zanzibar.

Our friends were extremely helpful with finding a good quality safari with a winning itinerary. Here’s what the first half of our safari looked like (starting on May 18th). I made another post dedicated to Zanzibar for more tips.

Monday: Lake Manyara National Park & Ngorongoro Conservation Area

  • Our guide picked us up in a 4WD Land Cruiser from our friend’s place in Arusha
  • Morning: drove around Lake Manyara National Park. This was a great park, and a good first taste of what was to come. Our guide loved our excitement to see giraffes, hippos, elephants and ostrich and promised that this was only the “appetizer;” that Ngorongoro and Serengeti would be the main course and dessert.
  • Afternoon: drove to Ngorongoro conservation area
  • Dinner and overnight at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, which was built into the rim of the Crater

    Beautiful view from the lodge restaurant

Tuesday: Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park

  • Day: game driving on the floor of the crater. This was Pete’s favorite day; we got incredibly lucky and saw 3 rhinos, lions (male and female), lots of elephants, monkeys, zebras, buffalo…the scenery and wildlife were lush and gorgeous.

  • Afternoon: we drove to and through Serengeti National Park. On the way, we stopped at a Masai tribe for $50 (per car), which was a very unique and humbling experience.

Lookout over the Serengeti
  • The drive through the Serengeti was an adventure in itself! We saw many more animals, including lions, wildebeest, baboons, giraffes and monkeys.
  • We stayed at the Serengeti Sopa Lodge, which had incredible views!

Wednesday: Serengeti National Park

When we began at 8am, our guide was very excited, and Pete and I knew something great was in our future. Sure enough, we saw our 5th animal from the “Big Five” before 9am – the leopard!

Check out that camouflage!

This day kept getting better. We got to see the famous tree-climbing lions! To be honest, I didn’t even know there was such a thing…

Turns out, Tanzania is one of the only places in the world where the lions climb trees – the other place is Uganda.

Our guide kept reminding us how incredibly lucky we were to see so many animals. The rhino and leopard are very hard to find, and he rarely sees so many tree-climbing lions, so we know we were incredibly fortunate!

Serengeti was by far my favorite part of the trip because of the sheer size of the park and the gorgeous animals we saw!

Thursday: Serengeti National Park and Zanzibar Island

We had a final, short game drive through Serengeti to the Seronera Airstrip for our flight to Zanzibar. On the way, our guide took a sudden detour and we knew we were about to see something cool. We found our third leopard of the trip, walking through the bush!

Our guide was astounded and called our experience a miracle 🙂

We also saw a crocodile – something we had been looking for.

It’s that blob on the grass – turns out they hang with hippos

I must admit – even though I’ve been skydiving in a smaller plane, there was something unsettling about boarding a single-propeller plane in the middle of the Serengeti.

Once we were airborne, however, I calmed down and focused on the gorgeous views.

We were sad to leave Emmanual, our guide who we became very fond of, and we could’ve spent much more time doing game drives, but we were excited to explore Zanzibar.

You’ll notice that we saw tons of animals, including babies! That’s because we went in May, and I would highly recommend going during that time, not to mention the great weather and lower prices, since it’s not high season.

You can probably tell from my descriptions that we absolutely recommend this tour company. Our guide was Emmanual, an incredible guide with a jolly disposition!

Please reach out to me if you would like his contact information. The tour company was Regional Tours and Safaris LTD.

That’s it for the game driving part of our safari – see Part 2 for our week in Zanzibar!

4 Comment

  1. Mike Brown says: Reply

    Hi Brittany,

    There are a group of five of us looking to book with “Regional Tours and Safaris LTD” through Maturaf.
    Should we have any concerns? How were the accomodations? Your pics look amazing!!
    It is always slightly risky booking through a local company from afar.
    Mike & Crew from Toronto.

    1. Pete says: Reply

      Hey Mike,

      Maturaf is great! We also had concerns considering we had to wire money so far advance to someone we did not know. However, Maturaf let us pay the remainder of our balance after our 4 day Safari when we got to Zanzibar which helped our concerns. As we left his office in Zanzibar I got a feeling that he deeply cares about his business and reputation. He actively encouraged us to write up a review for him after our trip. Because he cares so much about his business I would have no concerns using him again myself if I were planning a trip.

      The lodges we stayed at at night were very nice. They were the Sopa lodges in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater. The views from both lodges were out of this world. We could watch elephants roam by as we ate breakfast in the morning!

      Let us know if you have any more questions!


  2. I want to thank you for this informative post; I really appreciate sharing this great post. Keep up your work. Thank you so much for this post and honestly I was searching for the same information from last few days. Keep posting and keep sharing.

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      Thank you for reading! We’re glad you appreciate our post 🙂

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