Things I Learned on my African Safari in Tanzania: Do’s and Don’ts
Going on an African Safari has always been at the top of my bucket list. I have spent decades researching, planning, and dreaming about the Serengeti. I had the most amazing trip and definitely learned a few lessons!
- DO BE PREPARED FOR THE SMALL PLANES- There isn’t an interstate system for obvious reasons bush planes are common. What is that you might ask? Think of a flying church van (max 12 people) with your cousin Eddie piloting. Fun fact- the runways are grass. We had to abort a landing once because there were zebras on the runway, and ended up having to circle back and try again. Word to the wise if you get motion sick: Bring Dramamine.
- DO GO ON AS MANY GAME DRIVES AS YOU CAN- The game drives are incredible and you will see many, many animals everywhere and hopefully take millions of pictures. After all that’s why you came! Ideally you will spend much of your day on game drives looking for the big five. Bring extra batteries for cameras (or phones), some toilet paper, and wipes. Plastic isn’t legal, so reusable bottles for water, and a paper bag for when you will (probably) have to pee outside. Keep your eyes open, and your guide is everything! Some of our guides I swear were eagle eyed. One spotted a rhino a football field away. I still don’t know how he did that. Our amazing guides also packed lots of snacks and drinks for us. Your guide can make your African Safari experience go from enjoyable to out of this world.
- DON’T GO ANYWHERE ALONE AT NIGHT- This is an important one. It doesn’t matter if you stay at Four Seasons Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, or Serengeti Under Canvas, don’t break this rule. The animals are more active at night, especially the predators. Serengeti Under Canvas was so dark that when I was walking from the dinner tent to my sleeping tent I couldn’t look down and see my own feet. Twice I accidentally startled some zebra and wildebeest and started a mini stampede even with my guide and a flashlight. After laying in my bed in the tent and listening to the lions and hyenas at night, I didn’t need to be told this rule twice. One couple in a neighboring tent was radioed by the staff they had to stay in their rooms for a bit due to lions in the area. At Ngorongoro Crater Lodge there was an elephant right outside our door who left us a present in the morning.
- DO RESPECT THE ANIMALS- This may seem obvious, but Tanzania and the animals protected here are incredibly special and some critically endangered. If you don’t like animals or are afraid of them then rethink this trip. The animals see the safari vehicles every day and view them like moving trees. At Ngorongoro Crater the animals are especially relaxed. At the Crater Lodge, baboons roamed freely so double lock your doors, don’t leave anything out or it might be gone. It’s not just the baboons- I was walking back to my room (middle of the day) and not only were the baboons roaming, but there was a family of zebras with little ones eating the grass outside. I made a little noise to alert them of my presence, they just snorted and kept eating so I slowly eased by and into my room. Another time we went on a a walking safari with an armed ranger and startled an elephant who trumpeted his displeasure (believe me, we were just as startled) and later walked up to a giraffe family. An African Safari in Tanzania can be the most amazing vacation on Earth…just respect the animals and your place in the food chain. Don’t assume you are at the top.
- DO BE READY FOR INCREDIBLE LUXURY- Do not think that Africa means you will be roughing it. Quite the opposite. Some of the world’s most incredible luxury hotels can be found here. We stayed at the Four Seasons Serengeti, which had one of the best breakfast buffets with every type of cuisine imaginable along with a stunning infinity pool by a watering hole frequented by elephants. We then moved on to AndBeyond’s Serengeti Under Canvas where we were greeted by our private butler who made us cocktails on arrival and turned down our beds every evening. Even though we were technically in a tent, we had real beds, flush toilets and hot showers. The most luxurious of them all was Ngorongoro Crater Lodge- multi course meals paired with wine, hot baths with rose petals, and the kindest people in the world. I didn’t want to leave and will definitely return.
- DO BE READY TO GET UP EARLY EVERY MORNING- Sun rises and sunsets are just magnificent. Don’t miss them! This makes for some long days. You will be more tired than you think- but get up early! One of my favorite memories was getting up long before the sun and heading out to a sunrise hot air balloon over the Serengeti. It was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes.
I recommend everyone go on an African Safari to Tanzania and see the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. Use keep these lessons in mind and remember Hakuna Matata and enjoy yourself on this experience of a lifetime!
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Jacqueline S HeardMarch 12, 2023 at 7:00 am
Amazing article. Great read!!!