Another week into the year, and another country ticked off the bucket list 🙂
This time the girls and I headed off to Tanzania for some wildlife and beach life… this post is about the wildlife. The next one (Week 8) will be about the beach life 🙂
Lots and lots and lots of planning and research went into this holiday because it was to be something completely different to what we’d done before, and none of us had been to these particular places before, so we didn’t want to be disappointed when we got there.
We flew into Dar es Salaam on a Friday and spent the night in town, early to bed for our super early pick up (5:30am) the next morning.
We booked a hotel, Tanzanite Executive Suites, close to the airport and in a neighbourhood where we could walk around nearby the hotel and still feel safe at night… so on arrival we dumped our bags and headed out in search of dinner.
After heading in totally the wrong direction at first, we eventually found a place that came highly recommended on TripAdvisor – Mamboz Corner BBQ – where they grill meats on grills out on the street corner. We got a bunch of different dishes to share – not really knowing what any of them were but took guesses based on what we were seeing on other tables – and tucked into our food when it arrived. And boy was it YUM! We hoped that this was a good sign for the food to come on the holiday.
The next morning we were off before the sun came up, settling in for our +- 6 hour journey ahead. We stopped off at some little corner cafe of sorts for breakfast where we enjoyed some hot tea & coffee, and very basic but tasty ‘breakfast’ made up of samoosas, rice cakes and fruit.
We eventually made it to Mikumi National Park about 8 hours after leaving Dar, got taken to our cottages which were to be home for the next 2 nights (Mikumi National Park Cottages), and then headed straight to the bar for a beer and some late lunch – which turned out to be yet another delicious meal 🙂
After lunch we were picked up by our driver of that morning – who turned out to be our game driver for the next day and a half – and headed off on our first game drive / safari for the holiday. And boy were we in for a treat! We had barely driven away from the cottages (which are located within the National Park) and we’d come across impala, zebra, we’d seen elephant while having lunch, and then not much long after that we came across a pride of lions having an afternoon nap under the bushes 😮
The game drive lasted until sunset, giving us some absolutely spectacular sightings of animals, and then we headed back to the cottages for dinner and an early-ish night. We all headed off to bed around 11pm, only for some of us to be woken up around 1am, completely drenched in sweat, boiling hot, and no electricity – therefore no fan or AC! At this stage we weren’t sure if it was just our cottage(s) that had this problem, but we didn’t dare venture out in the dark as we’d been warned that there may be leopard(s) wandering around the site so best to stay indoors!
We survived the night and at 6am sharp the lights and electricity came back on – which led us to believe that it was a power thing where all electricity was cut off at a specific time, and then back on at 6am.
We contacted the agent who we’d done all of our bookings through (Watu Safari’s) and complained about this – we had specifically booked accommodation that had AC because we knew it was going to be hot and we didn’t want to be suffering at night unnecessarily… and after some negotiations and explanations – due to us being within the park, all power is shut off for preservation – they managed to move us to a lodge just a few minutes outside of the park. And it had 24/7 power 🙂
We then spent that day on full game drives, even heading off to another lodge within the park for a change of scenery for lunch, and again seeing some amazing wildlife sightings, and that evening after sunset we took our belongings off to the next place to be spending the night. Night #3, Bed #3.
We arrived at Tan Swiss Lodge and were immediately wowed by it and were very happy with our decision to switch accommodation. And after another yummy dinner and some card games, we once again headed off for an early-ish night… another long drive ahead of us the next morning back to Dar.
The initial plan had been to get up at the crack of dawn on this last day, head out for a brief game drive, and then off to Dar, however during the day of full game drives the day before, we all decided that we didn’t need the final morning as we’d been so super spoiled by what we’d seen… and the idea of getting an extra hour or so of sleep in the morning was extremely appealing to all of us.
And when we woke up in the morning to pouring rain, we once again were very happy with our decision 🙂 We climbed into the car, settled back for some naps and headed for the port in Dar es Salaam where we’d catch the ferry to Zanzibar.
We made the fatal error of not stopping for lunch on the way, assuming that we’d be able to either buy lunch at the port or on the boat (and we were not given any advice to the contrary), but were gravely disappointed when we arrived to absolute madness and the only things to eat were cashews, eat-sum-mores or some random crisps… and the price they wanted for the food was ridiculous so we went hungry 😦
The port is utter chaos, but they seem to have some method in all the madness – we showed our passports & tickets as we went through the gate, then head off to the scanning machines, and then to baggage drop where our bags got tagged and sent off to a crate. We were told to remember the crate number for when we get off on the other side and then we left them in the hands of the port authorities.
After some sitting around playing card games to kill time, we eventually boarded the ferry. We had booked business class (sounds super fancy, and although it is enclosed and has AC, the entire ferry is fairly basic but absolutely good enough for its cause.)
The trip across to Zanzibar is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 hours, and on arrival in Zanzibar we exited the ferry and hung around like lost lambs for a while until we saw some crate movement off to the side. We looked out for our crate number, headed up to the authorities, they passed us our luggage and off we went… passing through immigration, showing our passports, and off we went into Zanzibar!
The Zanzibar adventures are continued in Week 8 – head over there for the full story 🙂