"We're delighted to tell you that you've won the Mahlatini Luxury Tanzania Safari Competition!"
I couldn't believe what I was seeing... we were actually going to Tanzania! I had always wanted to visit Africa and for good reason; it was an experience I will never forget. My partner Paul and I began counting down the days until we set off. A few weeks before we were due to leave we received a beautiful pack which included our full itinerary, helpful advice and a few travel goodies to take with us. It is fair to say my family and friends were tired of hearing about the "T" word in those final few weeks.
"beautiful pack which included our full itinerary, helpful advice and a few travel goodies..."
"We also got our first taste of wildlife..."
We left in March, which turned out to be just before the rainy season kicked in and the weather was perfect. We landed into Kilimanjaro airport and received a very warm welcome for our first night in Tanzania. Met by our guide Matthew, who would be with us for the next few days, our first stop was straight to The Legendary Lodge to relax and unwind after a day of travel. It was a wonderful way to ease into our trip and our host Lucas showed us around. The location was lovely, with lush green all around and views of Mount Meru. We also got our first taste of wildlife with a few monkeys and dik-diks that lived around the lodge. Although we would have loved to dive straight into a safari camp, looking back this night was a great decision by Mahlatini. It allowed us to unwind after a day of travelling and get a good nights sleep (in a beautiful 4 poster bed) before heading to our first safari camp.
"Ive always loved being around animals and this was my first experience on a game drive."
The next day was our very first drive for the trip through Lake Manyara, and we saw nearly everything in one day - Elephants, giraffe, hippos, zebra, buffalo, flamingos! Ive always loved being around animals and this was my first experience on a game drive. It was fantastic! Matthew was so knowledgeable and also a photographer, so he gave me some tips on how to make my pictures better too. We stopped by a viewpoint for lunch and immersed ourselves in the beauty of Lake Manyara. We were transferred to our next location at the Plantation Lodge where we were greeted by the local host, Sam. At the Plantation Lodge we enjoyed our evenings on their bar terrace watching the sun set for the day.
"the reality surpassed my expectations by a long mile."
Next on our itinerary was the stop I probably had looked forward to most - the Ngorongoro Crater. Having heard so much about it, the reality actually surpassed my expectations by a long mile. This place is almost magical; its own natural sanctuary for the animals that live within the crater. It was here we finally had our first encounters with lions, and not only that, they sat right under our vehicle! With just a car window between myself and the huge 'Mufasa' I couldn't help but feel the beauty and power of this majestic animal. Another amazing moment in the crater was arriving just minutes after an antelope gave birth and watching the newborn trying to stand up for the first time! The emotion of both mother and foal at this time was so raw you couldn't help but feel involved, quietly urging the little one to find its stride.
"We encountered a small pride of lions and... hold your breath,"
After the Ngorongoro Crater, we flew to Mwiba where we stayed at the Mwiba Lodge. This was my favourite Lodge from the whole trip. Here we met our new guide Alex, lodge hosts Oli & Gertrude and our butler Philemon. If you want to stay in one safari destination during your trip, I'd recommend here. Amazing food, spa, swimming pool, hot tub and views over a watering hole for the local wildlife. A Tanzanian paradise! Our first day at Mwiba Lodge was very laid back as we enjoyed the amenities, setting out for an evening drive with Alex later in the day. We encountered a small pride of lions and... hold your breath....cubs! For me this was a real 'Lion King' moment watching the cubs play and pester the older lions. Seeing cubs within the pride really allowed us to witness the dynamic between the big cats.
"...met local Hadza people."
While at Mwiba, we took part in a morning bush walk. This was definitely one of the stand-out experiences of the trip for me. Our bush walk guide was called Alois and along with Alex they led Paul and myself into the wilderness. We trekked along the grasslands and even met local Hadza people. This cultural experience was so unique! The Hadza showed us how they start a fire with dry sticks and other ways they live off the land. They let us try fresh honey from their tree and some hornbill (a local bird) they had caught that morning. I shocked myself but it was delicious. They gave us a short archery lesson and I must say, Im thinking about taking it on as a hobby now.
"This was really a beautiful surprise."
We returned to Mwiba Lodge for the afternoon and enjoyed an evening game drive as our goal was to try to spot a leopard, who are nocturnal and tend to be more active at night. During our evening drive the vehicle stopped and we were surprised with sundowners with our butler Philemon. This was really a beautiful surprise. Sitting on the rocks, watching the sun come down completely changed the grasslands; it is a memory that will stay with me forever. After we took the last delicious sip of our sundowners, we set off again into the lands to continue our night drive. Spotlight in toe, we kept our eyes peeled trying to spot a leopard, and we did! The big cat crossed right in front of us as she was on her way to start her hunt.
"We didnt know what to expect from a tented camp but wow "
Last but certainly not least, we headed for The Legendary Serengeti Camp for three nights. We didnt know what to expect from a tented camp but wow, we were both so impressed! The facilities of the mobile camp were nothing like a typical 'tent' but a large suite. Our sleeping tent had an en-suite style washroom and the rest of the camp included a communal dining tent and a lounge tent. Our host Emmanuel took great care of us as every step of the way. After our daily game drive they would have a campfire prepared, or as they called it “bush television”, with some appetisers and drinks before we settled in for dinner. We even experienced a 'deck chair' safari at the Legendary Serengeti Camp as the giraffe loved to graze nearby. We found ourselves in silence as we were entranced watching these graceful giants nearby as we ate breakfast and lunch.
"I could almost hear the David Attenborough narration. "
Our final game sighting goal here was to see cheetah and thanks to Alex we did just that on our final day! A massive bonus was getting to spot a very rare pack of wild dogs who were hunting wildebeest. We were also lucky enough to see a hyena feeding on a kill while a huge parliament of vultures surrounded him waiting for the leftovers. The drama of these sightings felt like I was living in a wildlife documentary. I could almost hear the David Attenborough narration!
"We will never forget our luxury Tanzania Safari..."
I cant say what the highlight of our Tanzania safari was because there were so many new and exciting experiences. We cant wait to go back and see what else Africa has to offer. We will be forever grateful to Mahlatini, Legendary Expeditions and all of their wonderful staff for the amazing experience. Our luxury Tanzania Safari adventure will never be forgotten and we have both well and truly caught the infamous 'Africa Bug'!
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