Safari in Tanzania with a 3 year-old

Now, first of all, sorry for the delay. We went to Tanzania in July 2019, so a whole lotta time ago. Since then life has been incredibly hectic, and I have not had time to sit down for longer than a few minutes before passing out in bed at night. You’d think Corona and all had given us a break, but alas, we have been kept busy with house moving, fixing up, and working a whole lot. But let’s get to it…

Our trip to Tanzania was planned a long time in advance because friends of ours were getting married there. Of course we wanted to take advantage and do our first safari!

When we first started planning our trip we weren’t sure we’d want to do a safari with Maya, as she’s not used to sitting in a car for long periods at a time, but after some research and chatting with the organizers of the safari that most of the wedding guests were using, we decided that it would be worth the try.

We opted for a short safari trip, only the three of us in a car for two days. The guide picked us up day one at 8am and we drove out to the park area. Day one was a game drive in the Lake Manyara national park. It took about three hours to get to the park, and after a quick stop by the entrance to use the toilets and change clothes – the chilly morning had turned into a hot day under the bright African sun – we got to it.

Our first close encounter with animals came quickly. A family of elephants stood amongst the trees by the road, scratching their bums on the tree trunks and wandering about. Maya loved it, and so did we. We stood there for probably a good half an hour observing, taking pictures and taking it all in. After that we saw various types of big birds, monkeys, gazelles, zebras, wildebeest etc. Our guide, Simba, shared his knowledge whilst he showed us around the park. We stopped for lunch at a lookout point by the lake from where we could see the flamingoes in the distance, and even some colourful birds letting their curiosity get the best of them. We each got served a lunch box prepared in advance by a company that specialises in making lunch boxes for these safari trips, and sadly I have to say; most of it was not good. The chicken, bread and cakes were dry, the eggs overcooked, etc., but it didn’t kill the mood. We were happy as fish in the sea!

Towards the end of the day we saw lions relaxing and even some giraffes in the distance (truth be told that was the one animal I had most looked forward to seeing and I was quite disappointed we couldn’t get closer).

Shortly before the sun set we were taken to a safari lodge to have dinner and spend the night. A safari lodge is a bit like a hotel, but feels a bit more unique and special. The place we went to was called Ilboru Safari Lodge and it was magnificent! We got a huge room with three queen size beds, each equipped with beautiful wooden canopies for the mosquito nets. The room also came with a lovely seating area, equipped to make coffee and tea, and a walk-in wardrobe area in front of a large bathroom. Apart from our room (which was more of a house, really) there was a nice pool area with a bar where we spend the last remainder of the sunlight minutes to have a beer and relax before getting ready for dinner. The whole lodge area was very large and there were several exquisite flowers and plants along the footpath that connected the rooms and the lodge facilities. Dinner was served buffet style in the restaurant. They served several local dishes that we absolutely loved, many of them reminded us of Brazilian foods that we already know and it was fun to connect the dots and see where they originated. We were actually a bit sad to not have more time at the lodge, because it was such a lovely place.

The second day started really really early. I can’t remember the exact time, but it was before the lodge breakfast, so we had to get it to go. We drove up over the hill of the Ngorongoro crater. The early morning mist was still thick and the entrance to the park was packed with baboons. When we got down into the crater itself we stopped by a little grove and set up a picnic table where we had our breakfast. It was a cool morning and we enjoyed our hot coffees whilst watching elephants stomping amongst the trees and a troop of monkeys in the high grass right next to us. Definitely a memorable moment! The next many hours were spent looking for rhinos that we never saw, catching a glimpse of a pack of young lions trying to hunt down buffalos and observing countless other different animals that we had never seen before. For lunch we stopped by a lake and watched the hippos bathing. This day was longer and slower than day one, and we also experienced a different climate to what we previously had; the crater was mostly pretty cool. Around three o’clock we drove out and got to see the view from the edge that we previously had been unable to see due to the mist. It felt like being in the Lion King!

The drive back to Arusha was long and Maya complained quite a lot. We had brought some entertainement, though, and spent some time reading books and watching Peppa Pig. Frankly, I was quite surprised she’d taken that long to start complaining, so that’s something we were pretty pleased with.

Back in Arusha we had a fantastic dinner at our lodge whilst we talked bout our experience. We agreed that we could have done more, but that it was probably for the better that the experience left us wanting more than the contrary.

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