Category Archives: Safaris

{Gentle Living Safaris} Tanzania National Parks: Northern Circuit

{Gentle Living Safaris} Tanzania National Parks: Northern Circuit

Tanzania National Parks: Northern Circuit

Elephant in Tarangire National Park

Traveling to Africa is the trip of a lifetime, that should be repeated. The word “vacation” is too shallow to do it justice. It’s a cultural exploration, a deepening of roots, a stimulation of sensations, an enchantment with the people and animals, a mystical awakening that gets inside you, if you let it. The more time you spend there, the better.

Safaris are an animal and nature lovers utopia. Tourism protects the national parks from poachers and land destruction and you get to see hundreds of animals living freely. 

We sell trips to Tanzania, one of the safest countries in Africa and the country with more national parks and protected land than any other African country. 

Most people traveling to Tanzania for the first time stick to the Northern Circuit. Here is a description of the national parks you can visit in the Northern Circuit.  

Lake Manyara National Park

This small but striking park is on the way to the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. Often overlooked by tourists eager to reach the Serengeti, the alkaline lake covers 89 square miles of the 127 square miles that make up the national park. While the lake sits on the east end of the park, the Gregory Rift wall sits to the west and is characterized by volcanic activity.

Lake Manyara is known largely for its baboon and pink flamingo populations but also has a number of other wild animals, such as elephants, hippos, giraffes, tree-climbing lions, and birds. Colors of teal, yellow and red mesmerize bird-watchers as they come across the headed kingfisher, yellow-billed stork and others. Lake Manyara is a hidden treasure of breathtaking landscape and abundant wildlife.

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Tarangire National Park

This park is named after the Tarangire River, which flows through the park and is the only source of water for the animals. Large communities of elephants and African pythons inhabit the park as well as many other animals. The park is infamous for its unique Acacias and baobab trees. Similar to Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire is sometimes overlooked on the tourist circuit but it’s a beautiful park full of animals and it’s the best place to see elephants.

Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park is a small, 52.9-mile park with three different topographical features: Mt. Meru, Ngurdoto Crater and Momela Lakes. The vegetation and landscape of each area varies greatly. Ngurdoto Crater’s floor is swampy but the crater is surrounded by forest. Around the peaceful Momela Lakes are grassy hills and an alkaline lake, attracting flamingos to its more shallow parts. Mt. Meru is an active yet dormant volcano with rocky terrain.

Arusha is the only area in the Northern Circuit where the black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen.  Giraffes and zebra can be found grazing in the grasslands of the park while hyenas and leopards peruse the land. The region is another bird-watchers delight with over 400 species of birds living in and around the park. Walking safaris are available in Arusha National Park. 

Serengeti National Park 

The Serengeti National Park is 5,700 square miles. The annual Great Migration starts in the Serengeti Plains where the wildebeest gather from December to March for calving season. Wildebeest and zebra inhabit the region during this time but you’ll also see lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes and countless bird species all year long.

The Serengeti National Park is split into three parts: the Seronera Valley, the Western Corridor and the Lobo. When you first arrive at the park, you enter through the Seronera Valley, the southern/central region. This is the area known for its vast grasslands and beautiful acacias, unique trees that resemble umbrellas. The Western Corridor is the section where you can find the Grumeti River. When the wildebeest and zebra herds encounter the river on their migration, it’s quite an obstacle because of its deep waters and infestation of Nile Crocodiles, a vicious predator. Lobo, the Northern part of the Serengeti National Park, is untouched mainly because it’s not easily penetrated due to its terrain. The best way to see this area is by air, in a hot air balloon!

Ngorongoro Conservation Area 

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is an extraordinary place to visit. West of Arusha is a range of volcanic mountains with the Ngorongoro Crater as the highlight of the region. The crater, formed about three million years ago from a volcanic explosion, is the world’s largest caldera.

This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means the land is protected for its cultural significance. The Maasai people still practice traditional customs in the area where their culture is preserved. When you visit Ngorongoro, you’ll often see herdsmen in their native garb watching cattle. The region also plays a crucial in role in understanding human evolution. Based on evidence found in the Ngorongoro Conversation Area, the hominid species inhabited the area for over three million years.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the best place to see all of the “Big Five” in one safari drive. This is one of the only areas where the endangered black rhinoceros are easily seen and it has one of the most densely populated regions of lions. You’ll also find rhinos, gazelles, hyenas and cheetahs.

Mount Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro is a giant stratovolcano that began forming a million years ago when lava spilled from the Rift Valley zone. It is the highest mountain in Africa and fourth highest of the Seven Summits. It’s the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. Kilimanjaro is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo – 5,895 meters (19,341 feet), Mawenzi – 5,149 meters (16,893 feet), and Shira – 3,962 meters (13,000 feet). Uhuru Peak is the highest summit, it lies on Kibo’s crater rim and rises to an altitude of 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) above sea level. Two of Kilimanjaro’s three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct while Kibo (the highest peak) is dormant. The last major eruption has been dated to 360,000 years ago, while the most recent activity was recorded 200 years ago.

To learn more about our travel services, click here.

Zebras in Serengeti National Park

 

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Gentle Living Safaris: Monkeys in Tanzania

Gentle Living Safaris: Monkeys in Tanzania

Monkeys on Safari in TanzaniaIn the previous Tanzania safari post I gave you my top 15 safari pictures. Today’s picture post is completely dedicated to monkeys. 

In Tanzania you’ll see Vervet Monkeys, Olive Baboons, Blue Monkeys, and more. They travel in very large packs and don’t show too much fear of humans. The baboons walk with an air of arrogance I’ve never seen before.

Our guide told us that the Vervet Monkeys are not afraid of Americans but will run away from the locals. When our guide later went to the bathroom a monkey came over to our picnic lunch to steel our papaya. My husband tried to chase him away and the monkey practically laughed at him. Another guide nearby took just one step forward and the monkey sprinted away and up a tree. I sat there laughing hysterically, such smart little guys :) You can see this monkey eating our papaya in one of the pictures below. 

Gentle Living has a travel department called Your Time Travels (YTT). YTT plans premium trips for discerning travelers with a focus on the respect for and celebration of animals. We believe in using tourism as a tool for animal welfare. To learn more about our travel services click here

Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania

Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania

Monkeys on safari in Tanzania

Monkeys on Tanzania Safari

Monkeys on Safari In Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari In Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari In Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari In Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
Monkeys on Safari in Tanzania
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Gentle Living Safaris: Top 15 Tanzania Safari Photos

Gentle Living Safaris: Top 15 Tanzania Safari Photos

Every moment in Tanzania was breathtaking, like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve traveled all over the world but this trip was truly magical. I now understand what people mean when they say you feel like you’ve gone home when you go to Africa.

We took so many photos as everyday was full of amazing sights, cultural experiences, and animals roaming freely through national parks. I wanted to share some here so I picked 15 photos I love. If you’d like to see more, I’ll be posting many more on my Facebook page.

Tourism is such a powerful tool for animal welfare and it was nice to be in a country where there were no elephant rides or other animal performances. Just animals roaming freely in protected parks living by the rules of nature.

If you ever want to go on safari in Tanzania I’d love to arrange it for you. You can learn more about my travel planning services by clicking here or emailing me at liz@gentlelivingonline.com. I’m sure you will fall in love with this country as much as I did.

I hope you enjoy the photos. Asante Sana (thank you very much in Swahili)!

P.S. Just fyi, we used a Nikon D60 digital SLR with a Sigma 70 – 300mm telephoto zoom lens. It’s a great camera but I am a complete photography amateur ;)

A member of the Maasai tribe

Giraffes in Serengeti National Park
Mama & baby Baboons


Giraffe in Serengeti National Park

Elephants in Serengeti National Park

Lion in Ngorongoro Crater (she just finished eating)

Vulture in Serengeti National Park (with a Thomson Gazelle)
Ngorongoro Crater (pink flamingos in the background)
Baby Zebra in Ngorongoro Crater

Elephant in Tarangire National Park
Zebras in Ngorongoro Crater
Elephant in Lake Manyara National Park
Hippo in Serengeti National Park
Elephant in Serengeti National Park

Beach on Zanzibar Island
Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda & Uganda. How We Can Help This Endangered Species.

Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda & Uganda. How We Can Help This Endangered Species.

Gorillas are the largest of the primate species. They are highly intelligent gentle creatures who live rich emotional lives, feeling things deeply. They play, laugh, grieve, and develop strong family bonds. They think about the past and the future, remembering things for years. They smile, chuckle, and purr. They care for their young with great affection and patience. They make and use tools. They have at least 25 distinct vocalizations. They live in groups and even develop their own varying group cultures. Some researches believe they even develop spiritual or religious feelings. Other than two chimpanzee species, they are the closest living relatives to humans, sharing 95 – 99% of our DNA. Needless to say, they are magnificent creatures.

Tragically, like so many species, gorillas are endangered due to human activities - intense poaching for the bushmeat trade, trophy poaching, and habitat destruction. Man is a 500 pound gorilla’s only predator.

However there are areas where the gorilla’s land is protected and you can see these magnificent animals in their natural habitats. The two best places to see gorillas are the mountains of Uganda and Rwanda where you can go on gorilla tracking safaris. Mountain gorillas are the most endangered of all apes, with only about 700 individuals remaining.

Gorilla trekking is highly regulated for both the protection of humans and gorillas. Only 8 people may visit a gorilla family group on any given day and can only stay for a maximum of one hour (less if the gorillas get nervous). This is to minimize behavioral differences and exposure of the gorillas to human-borne diseases (if you are sick with a cold or flu, you may not participate).

Gorillas are gentle creatures (despite how Hollywood portrays them) who eat a vegetarian diet. They will likely absorb you and your movements with interest as you’re absorbing them. While you’re there you never know what you’ll witness: gorillas feeding, playing, interacting, moving through the forest, etc. The range of emotions you’ll feel seeing these animals in the wild is a life changing experience.

In Rwanda, gorilla tracking takes place in Parc des Volcans, Rwanda’s acclaimed national park. You’ll hike up one of the six Virunga Volcanoes, passing through bamboo forests and rainforests, in search of gorilla family groups. You can also visit the grave of famed primatologist Dian Fossey, who dedicated her life to the conservation and protection of these animals.

From Rwanda you drive to Uganda, a birdwatcher’s paradise, where you’ll have another opportunity to go gorilla tracking in Bwindi National Park, seeing gorillas in a completely different environment. You’ll be able amazed at how differently these gorillas are from the ones you saw in Rwanda. You’ll also see a variety of other primate species such as the back-and-white colobus monkey, red-tailed monkey, blue monkey, baboon, etc. Bwindi National Park is home to almost half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas and is the only place on earth where gorillas and chimpanzees live in the same habitat.

During your safari you’ll not only have the opportunity to track different gorilla family groups but you’ll also learn about the cultural heritage of each country. When you’re not trekking for gorillas, you’ll visit national museums, participate in cultural activities, interact with locals, and explore each country’s mountainous terrain, enchanting swamplands, lakes and national parks. You’ll observe countless other animals found in each country, including elephants, lions, buffalo, and hundreds of bird species. If you’re lucky you may even spot a mysterious tree climbing lion while in Uganda. All the while you’ll be staying in beautiful lodges amidst natural surroundings.

We don’t live in a perfect world. Endangered animals are hunted and their land is destroyed unnecessarily. Without tourism, the habitats of wild animals succumb to the needs of impoverished communities. In many cases, tourism is the only thing protecting these animals in a sustainable way.

How you spend your tourist dollars is important. Show the countries you visit that you care about the well-being of the animals that inhabit each country. Use your tourist dollars to see animals in the wild, never in captivity. In doing so you help protect the land the animals live in and provide jobs to the local people so there is less need and less opportunity for poaching and land destruction. You also end up having a once in a lifetime experience.

Tourism has already contributed greatly to saving the gorillas, but the future of these magnificent animals remains uncertain.

If you like this post please ”Like” it and share it with your friends and family. Also leave me a comment letting me know what you think of gorilla tracking safaris and our role in protecting these amazing animals.

If you’re not on my newsletter list, please sign up here and you’ll receive 3 free guides and stay up to date on all of the unique animal-friendly adventures you can go on.

Contact me at info@yourtimetravels.com if you’re interested in going on a gorilla tracking safari.

Photos courtesy of hjallig, dbking, nailbender, and belgianchocolate.

Safari in Tanzania!

Now that we’re launched and in biz it’s time to start featuring our fabulous animal focused itineraries! With our safaris you can see animals in their natural environments, as mother nature intended!

Situated on the Indian Ocean just below the equator, Tanzania is one of the friendliest and safest countries on the African continent. Tanzania has a unique abundance of wildlife and more national parks and protected land than any other African country. Tanzania includes several World Heritage sites including Serengeti National Park, Kilimanjaro National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Zanzibar Stone Town. Tanzania is also home to many other national parks and conservation areas including Arusha, Gombe, Lake Manyara, Saadani, Tarangire, Ruaha and Mikumi.

Zanzibar is one of the best kept secrets in the Indian Ocean. It’s located just 15 miles from mainland Tanzania. The Zanzibar Archipelago consists of the main island Unguja, Pemba and many other small islands. Zanzibar City’s old quarter, Stone Town, is one of the World Heritage Sites. Zanzibar’s nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and other spices are why it’s known as the Spice Islands. You can visit ruined palaces, coral caves or catch a glimpse of the rare leopards of Jozani Forest.

Check out this 11 Day Safari & Zanzibar Beach trip. It’s sure to get your heart purring for some serious wildlife!

Day 1: Arrive in Arusha

Arrive late in the evening at Kilimanjaro Airport. You’ll be met by your local guide and transferred to your lodge in Arusha.

  • Dinner and overnight: (Luxury/Deluxe/ Standard) Hotel/Lodge

Day 2: Lake Manyara National Park

After breakfast drive to Lake Manyara National Park, a unique park with an alkaline lake and breathtaking views. Here you’ll view a wide variety of wildlife including lions, baboons and countless varieties of birds.

  • Morning wildlife viewing at Lake Manyara National Park
  • Nature walk with naturalist guide
  • Dinner and overnight: (Luxury/Deluxe/ Standard) Hotel/Lodge

Day 3: Ngorongoro Crater

Depart from your Lodge after a leisurely breakfast and drive to Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is a geological marvel boasting several vegetation zones from lakes to forest to savannah. It is home to about 30,000 animals, despite its tiny size of only 10 miles across.

  • Wildlife viewing on the floor of Ngorongoro Crater
  • Late in the evening drive back to your lodge
  • Dinner and overnight: (Luxury/Deluxe/ Standard) Hotel/Lodge

Day 4: Serengeti National Park

After breakfast, continue your journey into the heart of Tanzania by heading west, toward the Serengeti Plains.

  • Brief stop at Olduvai Gorge
  • Afternoon wildlife viewing in Serengeti National Park
  • Dinner and overnight: (Luxury/Deluxe/ Standard) Hotel/Lodge

Day 5-6: Serengeti National Park

Enjoy another 2 days of wildlife viewing from a second location deep in the Serengeti. Home to literally hundreds of thousands of hoofed animals, the Serengeti is a pristine and unique sanctuary that will give you a glimpse into “the world as it was in the beginning.” Relish the vastness of the Serengeti, “the land that flows on forever,” along with some of the best wild animal viewing that Africa has to offer.

  • Full day of wildlife viewing in Serengeti National Park

(Opt. If you have advance reservations, make an early departure for your hot-air balloon excursion today or tomorrow $500 extra)

  • Dinner and overnight: (Luxury/Deluxe/ Standard) Hotel/Lodge

Day 7: Serengeti National Park

After breakfast, you’ll continue with your Serengeti safari adventure. After a hot lunch you’ll be transferred to Seronera air strip to catch a flight to Zanzibar. On arrival at Zanzibar Airport, you’ll be met by your local guide and transferred to your hotel/lodge in Stone Town.

  • Morning wildlife viewing in Serengeti National Park
  • Catch a flight to Zanzibar
  • Dinner and overnight: (Luxury/Deluxe/ Standard) Hotel/Lodge

Day 8: Zanzibar-Stone Town Tour

After breakfast start your Stone Town & Spice Tour. Sultan Palace House of Wonders, Old Slave market and other interesting Historical sites are among the sites to be seen and visited in this guided tour. Have lunch at one of the best local restaurants in Stone Town then proceed with your town tour.

  • Stone Town & Spice Tour
  • Dinner and overnight: (Luxury/Deluxe/Standard) Hotel/Lodge

Day 9-10: Zanzibar-Beach tour

After breakfast you’ll be transferred from your beach hotel to a full day of leisure at the northern part of the Island (Nungwi Village ). You’ll observe turtles & sea creatures, visit Dhow Building, and have fun snorkeling, sun bathing and doing other sea activities before you return back to the hotel for dinner.

  • Dinner and overnight: (Luxury/Deluxe/ Standard) Hotel/Lodge

Day 11: Zanzibar

After breakfast you’ll have a free leisurely day at your beach hotel. Optional activities include visiting Stone Town, shopping in the Narrow Street of Zanzibar, visiting a bazaar, souvenir and antique shopping, etc. You’ll later be transferred to Zanzibar Airport for your trip back home via Dar Es Salaam.

End of your safari

PRICE PER PERSON: (Note: Prices per person change depending on the amount of people booking and the time of year. The prices below assume 2 people are booking during peak season from December 22nd to February 28th.)
LUXURY ACCOMMODATIONS: $5,544.15
DELUXE ACCOMMODATIONS: $4,509.15
STANDARD ACCOMMODATIONS: $4,192.90

Price includes the following services:

  • Arrival and departure airport transfers
  • Domestic flights Serengeti-Zanzibar-Dar-Es-Salaam
  • Accommodation double room occupancy
  • Activities and meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All park fees and government taxes
  • Services of our own trained English-speaking driver-guide
  • Game drives in Land Rover/Cruiser with pop up / flip-flop roof tops
  • Bottled water while on safari
  • Unlimited mileage on the safari
  • Flying Doctors Services

Price excludes:

  • International flights
  • Passport, visa, traveler’s insurance
  • Excursions in Zanzibar (boating, fishing, snorkelling, scuba diving, etc., these activities can be arranged by hotels at extra cost)
  • Tips to driver-guide

(photographs courtesy of yaaay, Angela Sevin & cjessen)