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Tanzania's treasured national parks

Updated: May 27, 2022

Photo credit: Britannica

Where is Tanzania? It is a country on the east of the African continent. Dodoma is the legislative capital of Tanzania and Dar es Salaam is its most prominent city.

I talk to my travel nomad brother, PJ who tells me all about his trip - where he stayed, what he saw, and his recommendations.

Q. Why Tanzania? How do you get there?

It's been my dream to see the wildebeest in migration ever since I saw Lion King! When Mom and Dad said they wanted to go for a safari, that's the first thing I looked up.

Serengeti is the best place to see the wildebeest migration so that's how we ended up in Tanzania in November. We landed in Kilimanjaro (its too bad we didn't have time to climb it) and then we rented a private bus to take us to the different national parks in Tanzania. 

Q. Which cities did you visit and why? 

Since this was a trip dedicated to safari's we planned it accordingly:

We added Zanzibar as an add-on since we wanted to see some ocean and learn some history before leaving. 

Q. One of the main tourist attractions is the Safari. Did you see any wildlife on your visit? What stood out?

For anyone travelling to the Serengeti, spotting one of the Big 5 — a lion, rhino, leopard, buffalo, or elephant — is the main event. We were able to see all of them on our trip. 

The Serena Lodges were fantastic, each one more special than the other.

The Manyara Lodge had a beautiful view of the lake, the Serengeti one had an open concept where the animals can wander right through the lodge, and the Ngorongoro one had a fantastic view of the whole crater where we could watch the animals from our balcony. 

The lodges and the safaris were quite the surprise for me. I was there for the animals but the scenery, the beautiful lodges and the experience of chasing a good sighting were as much an attraction. 

What stood out were the East African people! They were so welcoming and had such a good grip on English. We may be 8 hours on the road but none of the drivers ever complained, they were extremely friendly and they genuinely cared about these animals. They were so good about never scaring them, never going too close or interrupting the natural rhythm of life in the wild. 

In terms of food, the Africans went above and beyond at these lodges. We were assigned a chef at each of these lodges who would sit with us at the beginning of our stay and create a menu for us. We asked for Indian food and they made us some of the best vegetarian Indian food we could have gotten. There was always a beautiful buffet with live counters for fresh food and lots of fruits to choose from. 

Q. Describe your experiences: The culture and history, adventures, eco-tourism, and the tranquility of this beautiful country

We had two mind blowing experiences:

Wildebeest - Lion stand off at Serengeti: We were at the wildebeest migration path and were following along quite closely when suddenly everyone stopped (must have been 3-4 jeeps with us).  A little distance ahead we spotted a pride of lions, 2 big males, 5 females and 5 cubs. The lions started spreading out in the path where the wildebeests were about to cross. Next thing we know they pounced right in the center stopping the advance of thousands of beests.

The beests turned around, they were on a standoff. Every time they tried to cross, the lions would charge towards them, the biggest of the beests started moving to the front and testing the waters. We were there for close to 5 hours where we kept wondering if there was going to be a kill. We were told this would go on till the lion pride is relocated and then the beests will continue.

The beests have a fixed path that they will follow and will eventually make it. It was truly awe inspiring to see the raw power of lions that could turn back thousands of beests. 

Zebra - Hyena hunt at Ngorongoro: We were on an early morning safari in the crater where we saw a hyena following a zebra that was standing apart from the rest of the herd. As were explained, zebras weren't social animals like the beests, if one of them goes apart from another, the others wont come to rescue if they get attacked. They only travel in herds so that the chances of them getting hunted down are less.

The hyenas however hunt in packs and they go for the lone rangers, by surrounding them, injuring them and then harassing them for hours at a time till they get tired and then pouncing on them. It was very painful to watch this zebra getting maimed part by part by these 10-12 hyenas while none of the other zebras came to help. It was still incredible to see the strategy of these hyenas, because one kick from the zebra could have injured or even killed them but they came in pairs from all sides and never stood close enough or long enough to get kicked. 

About our travel nomad, Pranjal (PJ)

"I have designed my life so that travel is front and center of it, first via IT consulting and then gradually by adopting the digital nomadic lifestyle. I got introduced to travel via a study abroad program in sophomore year of college and then after graduation I started looking for jobs that geared towards it. What motivates me as a traveler is the knowledge that every person and every place is unique and will teach me something new. Food is something that connects me to a place and the people in it. As a vegetarian, I am always trying to understand how the locals relate to nature around them.The evolution of food through history also helps in understanding the local culture and customs. To me that is the most fascinating aspect of travel." 

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