Welcome to the Turquoise Travel Diaries, a collection of interviews, stories, and excerpts from our fabulous team, as they travel around the world. Here at Turquoise we pride ourselves on unrivalled knowledge of the destinations in which we specialise, so that we can provide honest, expert advice to all our guests and fellow travellers. This week, our Africa expert Susan has returned from her research trip to Tanzania. She explains how a trip to a country she has always longed to visit didn’t disappoint…
I have wanted to go to Tanzania for as long as I can remember and it didn’t disappoint, I’ve been on safari a few times before and had some wonderful experiences but nothing like this!
We started our safari at the stunning and very luxurious Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. It offers the ultimate in comfort: roll top bath tubs, fireplaces, silk curtains and crystal chandeliers, but it also offers the ultimate in wildlife experiences. One evening while enjoying a gin and tonic on our balcony, we saw four zebras, followed by a troop of baboons and finally a huge bull elephant, all within close quarters. It was very exciting and we hadn’t even left our luxury cottage! Before leaving for our game drive the following morning, a small herd of grazing buffalo wandered past the cottage, too.
Our game drive down onto the crater floor the next morning was very rewarding as well. We saw so many animals during the five or so hours we were there. Our guide Festo was brilliant and spotted animals so well hidden that we couldn’t even see them with binoculars to begin with! We enjoyed a lovely bush breakfast during our drive and that evening we enjoyed a delicious dinner back at the lodge, which was worthy of a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Our next night was spent at Asilia’s The Highlands Camp in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a two-hour drive from the crater itself. This unusual luxury tented camp opened just two years ago and boasts eight tented pod-style rooms with warm rugs and fireplaces, which are needed in the evenings due to its elevated position of 8,850ft above sea level. From here, guests can enjoy drives onto the crater floor, hikes to beautiful waterfalls or a Maasai village visit, which we found very interesting and humbling.
Serengeti National Park
After this, we flew by light aircraft to the Northern Serengeti for the ultimate safari experience. The meaning of Serengeti is ‘endless plains’ and this sums it up perfectly – the scenery is absolutely stunning, as is the game viewing. We stayed at Nomad’s Serengeti Safari Camp for two nights and this mobile camp has just six spacious and comfortable tents with eco-loos and bucket showers. The camp moves four or five times during the season to follow the Great Migration (where over a million wildebeest chase the rain and lush green grass from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara). We were lucky enough to see so many animals, including herds of elephants, two-month-old lion cubs playing on a zebra that had been killed by their mother and a martial eagle eating a hare. We also witnessed two incredible river crossings, where hundreds of wildebeest made it safely across the Mara River but we saw one taken by a huge crocodile!
To finish our epic Tanzanian adventure we stayed at Lamai Serengeti, Nomad’s luxury lodge located on a vast granite kopje (hill) with 10 lovely private tented rooms with stunning views over the plains. Many animals passed by in view from our wooden deck – we watched an elegant giraffe grazing on the acacia trees. Eric, the lodge’s manager, told us that herds of wildebeest galloped past the lodge during the peak summer months, making us gasp in awe! That only means we need to return to this beautiful country at a different time of year…