Days 5 and 6: Northern Serengeti

Ok, after my posts about Tarangire NP, Lake Manyara and Lake Natron (1, 2, 3), i’m going to continue with my Tanzanian journey and switch now to the Serengeti national park. This park is one of the most famous national parks in the world. It’s famous for its huge diversity and for the wildebeest migration together with other herds of cloven-hoofed animals like zebras, gazelles and impalas. It’s really an amazing and spectacular sight, but i was not lucky enough to watch it. The problem is that the animals migrate in the very northern part of the park which is quite far away from the northern entrance. So if you visit the Northern Serengeti, give yourself at least one full day and two nights to surely visit the migration at the river spot. The best time to see it in the Northern part is September.

We arrived there from the lake Natron, the road was astoundingly beautiful, but extremely bumpy. A good idea was to bring some radio or iPod dock station so you can entertain yourself a little bit. I also had a gauze bandage, since it’s really dusty! In total, it took us about 8 hours to get there and we saw a few jeeps got stuck on the way, basically in the middle of nowhere. So be sure that your driver is experienced enough and be prepared for some “unexpected” adventures 🙂

So, on our day 5 very late afternoon we arrived at the Northern Serengeti and on the way did some safari in the park till we got to the overnight stay spot. The spot is really amazing. Since not so many people visit this northern area, it’s quite empty, just a few tents. And the most exiting thing is that animals can visit you along the night. Well, i mean here buffalos, leopards, lions can walk around the tents during the night time. It was really a good idea to bring a disposable urine pack, so we could use right in the tent 🙂

Then in the early morning we continued with safari in the northern part of the park till lunch time. And afterwards we proceeded to the Central Serengeti. It takes about 2-3 hours to get there, but since it’s inside the park you still can see lots of animals on the way, so it may take a bit longer.

1. An Agama lizard right at the entrance.
agama lizard northern serengeti

2. Baby Coke’s hartebeest was just lying at the road.
baby reedbuck northern serengeti

3. A Black-backed jackal at the dawn.
black-backed jackal northern serengeti

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Day 3 and 4: Lake Natron – Maasai People!

This post will be the last one about lake Natron. I’ll show you some photos of Maasai people. I’m not going to tell you about them, there is lots of info available. I just say that they are very very different from all the people I’ve ever met in their way of thinking and mentality. They are really very proud and have their dignity. They don’t try to please you as a visitor or whatever. But if they sort of like you 🙂 they treat you with an extra respect and curiosity 🙂 Again, I loved being there and if you have a chance to stay at lake Natron for a few days to get this amazing atmosphere, do this!

Since they live very poorly, it would be nice if you bring something for the kids like sweets, cookies, pens, pencils, copybooks and some clothes would work as well. Honestly, it’s a bit hard to do, when you travel. But try at least to bring a little bit of presents 🙂 They’ll be happy about it! Don’t give them dollars or euros, they won’t have any chance to change it to their schillings.

They all have two names: “western” (or Christian-like) for tourists and their own Maasai name. It was always interesting to know their beautiful true names.

1. This young Maasai man Bronson (western names, of course) was our guide.
Maasai warrior portrait

2. Every man wears weapon and some decoration. Well, they all wear decoration made from glass beads. Before, they wore some decoration made from seeds.
Maasai man portrait at lake Natron

3. For their culture it’s quite unusual to smile at you. But since we became very friendly to each other, Bronson is smiling here 🙂
Maasai man and white girl

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Day 3 and 4: Flamingos Paradise at Lake Natron!

Continuing with Lake Natron, you can find there one of the most beautiful creatures – flamingos. After I saw these amazing pictures by photographer Nick Brandt, I so badly wanted to go there and just walk around and enjoy the atmosphere. Lots of flamingos around you, beautiful landscape, what else one would need?

The reality turned to be a bit different, though as always 🙂 Flamingos are very shy birds. So as long as you try to sneak around, they’re slowly moving away from you or simply fly away! They’re very hard to photograph… On top of that, they basically stay in a very muddy area, which is very wet and slippery. So be prepared to get really dirty 🙂 Anyway, they are truly beautiful creatures and I really enjoyed walking around. Hope, you’ll like some of my photos.

0. If you want to see these “frozen” dead birds, like Nick Brandt did, you should go there in April. We were there in September, so I found only a baby bird.






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Days 3 and 4: Lake Natron

So far, so good! Hope you’re enjoying my Tanzanian experience and maybe consider similar trip for yourself 🙂

Our next stop after Tarangire NP and Lake Manyara was Lake Natron. On the way to this conservation area we observed amazing landscapes. Some of them were really like from another planet.

1. On the way to Lake Natron
On the way to Lake Natron

2. Giraffes on the way to Lake Natron
On the way to Lake Natron

3. On the way to Lake Natron
On the way to Lake Natron

4. Entrance to the park

This area belongs to the Maasai tribe, so there are basically two accommodation options: campsite near village on the hill (about 15 minutes to the lake by jeep) and a luxury lodge right at the lake. Both have some pros and cons. The second option allows you to get to the lake when you want to and just spend more time there, though it’s more expensive. The second option is nicer in a sense that you live in a close proximity to the village, so you can talk to locals, talk to the kids and just walk around on your own. We didn’t know about the second option so we stayed at the campsite. The atmosphere was really amazing: very quiet, peaceful and relaxing. There are not so many tourists around. I loved this place. Down the road is another Maasai village, so you can watch how the people pasture cattle, mainly cows and goats.

As a visitor, you are equipped with your own Maasai guide who takes you to the lake and to the waterfall. Well, there are mainly three things you can do there: walk at the lake and enjoy flocks of flamingos, walk to the waterfall and enjoy refreshing swimming and climb Gelai Volcano (at night). So if I knew, I would spend not 2 but 3 days there and would definitely climb this amazing volcano. Hopefully, next time…

5. Gelai Volcano

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Day 2: Lake Manyara National Park

I really recommend to go to Lake Manyara, if you make Northern Tanzanian circuit. Lake Manyara National Park is located nearby Tarangire, so it makes lots of sense to combine these two parks in two days, in my view it’s an optimal way!

1. Mommy Olive baboon
Sad mother baboon in Lake Manyara

2. Mommy is taking care of herself
Thinking female baboon in Lake Manyara

3. In a minute this sad mommy was looking after her playing child
Mommy baboon in Lake Manyara

4. Playing babyboon
Baby baboon in Lake Manyara

The reason to visit this great place is simple: Lake Manyara is the only place in Tanzania where you can make WALKING SAFARI. Which is a real excitement and a very thrilling thing you can ever make in african savannah. Since usually you make a morning and/or afternoon jeep trip to the park, you won’t have much time to see a lot. You mainly drive through the south-western or western part of the lake and that’s it. Depending on how much time you have for Lake Manyara, you can arrange a walking safari with a guide from the park and together with your own guide. As far as i remember the price is about 20 or 30 USD per person for a few hours. It’s really worth it!

5. Our walking safari team 🙂 In this picture you can see that i’m having something in my mouth, well it’s a piece of tree that i was learnt to use as a tooth brush! Yeah, there is a tree or sort of a bush (i forgot its name), which sticks you can use to clean your tooth, so in case you’re lost in the african bush you can follow up your hygiene 🙂
Walking safari in Lake Manyara

In our case we had a very good guide and his trainee, so in total we were 6 in our jeep up to the starting walking point. Then our permanent guide (Jolis) has left us for a few hours and we continued with our Manyara walking safari guide. What we did was absolutely amazing. We started walking through the bush and inspected some excrements from various animals. This guide and his trainee were very good at knowing all the animals and his typical behavior. We learned so much about animals that I don’t think we learnt more afterwards!

6. Our guide and I are walking through the bush
Walking safari in Lake Manyara

7. Our guide is equipped with Kalashnikov rifle (AK-47) in order to protect people if needed… But we didn’t need it 🙂
Walking safari in Lake Manyara

For instance, did you know that for hyenas it is hard to get food, so mother is feeding her child for about a year? In order to have milk, she has to eat anything she can find, even bones of the animals, that is why their excrements are white, since it contains calcium!

Did you know that those black strips that cheetah has under the eyes are for the sake of the shadow so the cheetah can hunt the prey and the sun is not distracting from it?

Did you know that african buffalos are very-very angry and mad? Especially when it is one standing in front of you? The reason? When they see some danger, they are considering about to find the their escape route. So if there is a group of buffalos, then they can sort of discuss possible danger and decide if it is worth to attack or to run away. If it is only one buffalo, he/she cannot talk to his “friends”, so he can really get mad and start attacking you!
If there is a way for him to run away, he looks and searches if it makes sense to do so in terms of his energy costs and “danger” size! If he decides to attack, then he can easily and quickly approach you and try to get you on his horns. The best strategy in this case for you is to lay down and wait. Then he can start rolling you, and that can still hurt you and bring lots of damage, because his tongue is very-very rough, so if he leaks your hand, he can leak it up to the bones for a few seconds!

8. African buffalos
African buffalos in Lake Manyara

What we did was a real adventure. We were walking and walking through the bush and the suddenly our guide bended down! And started running on his bended knees! We, of course, did the same and run like this for about 10 minutes. Then he suddenly stood up! And pointed his hand in the direction of a group of buffalos. We started looking at them standing as we were. They were lying, but after noticing us one of them stood up and started watching at us. This lasted for a bout 5 minutes. Then two other in the group stood up and also started watching at us… As the guide told us, there were discussing whether it was worth or not to attack us. We were five and they were three… And the reason we were running on our bended knees was that we wanted to stay invisible for them while leaving their escape route. So when the buffalos were sure that it didn’t make any sense to attack us and their escape route to the bush was free, they run away so fast! It was like a real BBC movie, simply stunning! Where else you can have such an experience? So really go to this wonderful Lake Manyara national park! I can tell you that my adrenaline was so much up and heart was beating so fast, oh amazing!

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