A Tanzanian Safari promises to paint a mesmerizing picture for you. Lush green grasslands that merge into the horizon with exquisite wildlife wandering about, But you might be in for a surprise or two if you’re unaware of what to expect while on your game drive. Riddled with a few uncertain surprises, the adventure might catch some enthusiasts off guard. Despite the odds, Tanzania is a prize worth paying the price for. Equip yourself with some know-how to evade some popular mistakes and misconceptions. Here are some quick tips to toughen you up for what’s in store.
- Road conditions and drive time
At Tanzania, when you hit the roads, the roads hit you back. The roads are effectively tarred in cities like Arushi, Moshi etc, and ensures quite a comfortable journey up until Karatu. Thereafter, you will be weaving your way through muddy roads and trail paths that set you against a bumpy ride. This is where your REAL safari begins. Stay warned that itineraries usually feature long travel days. Long hours of travelling in hot, dusty and unfriendly paths can put you in a pickle. Keep an eye on the approximate distance and duration of your journey and consequently brace yourself.
Moreover, none of the national parks are equipped with tarred roads, which goes to say that your game drives are going to be slightly hard on you. On your game drive, your driver cum guide strives to create your ultimate Safari experience. While you get to witness and absorb a miraculous intimacy with the wilderness, such spotting could put you in a tough spot when it comes to physical exertion. Are you game for the game drive? You’ll need to judge your physical capacity in bearing the brunt of the road conditions of the continent as every muddy trail only contributes to the authenticity of your Safari experience.
Chalking out your travel plan and stretching out your hours to cover all the attractions, is the general traveller’s routine prior to the big adventure. While you’re at it, you must know that your real-time travel duration can vary vastly from what Google Maps promises you. So, don’t take Google too seriously. Such differences can sometimes occur due to animal crossings or even just the bad roads that we spoke about earlier. So plan out a flexible adventure with an ample breathing space on your schedule. Make sure you don’t miss out on account of the clock.
Here’s a table that gives you approximate realistic travel times for Tanzania Safari:
|From||To||Google Maps Travel
|Arusha||Serengeti NP (Seronera Region)||6h 40min||7h|
|Arusha||Tarangire NP||2h 50 min||3h|
|3||Arusha||Lake Manyara NP||1h 45min||
|4||Serengeti NP(Naabi hill Gate)||Ngorongoro
|From||To||Google Maps Travel Time||Expected Travel Time|
|Dar es Salaam||Selous Game Reserve||3h 50 min||5 to 6h|
|Dar es Salaam||Mikumi NP||5h 45 min||6 to 7h|
|Dar es Salaam||Ruaha||13h||
|4||Selous Game Reserve||Mikumi NP||1h 35 min||
3h 30 min
- Vehicle conditions and facilities
You will be escorted into the wilderness in a robust 4×4 Toyota land cruiser built to endure the rough terrain and shoulder your adventure. As you’ll be spending long, exhausting hours in the off road SUV, you might as well brace yourself for your ride. What can you expect and what can you not? Let’s understand the basic facilities you can avail in the cruiser that’s going to take you places?
A regular land cruiser can accommodate upto 5 adults and a long base land cruiser upto 7 adults. Travelling among the wild isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be queasy either. The cruiser is designed to strike a balance between ensuring your comfort, braving some of the most jumpy, adrenaline inducing rides that Tanzania puts you through and at the same time, is purpose built to serve your primary intention of enjoying game drives and wildlife spotting.
The cruiser is equipped with a pop-up roof that can be thrown open for hindrance-free wildlife sightings that lets you soak in a spectacular Safari experience. Also, wildlife viewing is a ‘throw yourself in the open’ kind of adventure. Though the vehicle may not have the option of air conditioning, with your windows down it should be plenty of air and ventilation. To keep you clicking away in the wild, there are charging ports provided in most vehicles for your mobiles and cameras. For those of you who are accustomed to an air-conditioned comfort zone, stay warned that your drive may be slightly hot and stuffy at times, but with all the windows down it is an absolutely enjoyable time.
- Whether to brave the WEATHER or not!
Owing to Tanzania’s close proximity to the equator, Tanzania has a tropical climate with climatic disparities in various regions influenced by several factors like altitude and location.
With altitude being one of the key factors, mind you, altitude will invariably impact your attitude in Tanzania as the temperatures drop by 15°C/3.5°F per 1000 ft.
In Serengeti, the average temperatures range from 25°C/77°F in the day to 14°C/57°F at night. What stands out, is that the temperature in the Serengeti remains quite uniform throughout the year.
Expect a lot of rains in the Ngorongoro Crater rim as heavy downpours are common and it gets very cold during evenings and mornings due to its high altitude (about 2,300m/7,545ft). Lower lying parks, such as Manyara, Selous, Mikumi, Ruaha, Gombe, Mahale Mountains and Katavi, are slightly warmer than major cities,especially at night.
Let sunscreen have your back if you are travelling to the coastal part of Tanzania as it witnesses the highest temperature making it the hottest and the most humid part of the country. Chill out, as the rest of Tanzania is not that hot and cools down significantly at night.
However, unlike the rest of the world, Tanzanian season is classified as dry season and wet season.
Dry season (June to October)
During the dry season, your umbrellas get as much rest as one can, as the rainfall is minimal and humidity is extremely low. Due to the scarcity of water, most of the animals gather around renowned waterholes making it the best chance at spotting the four-legged wonders. .
June, July, August, September & October
Afternoon temperatures are usually between 20°C/68°F and 30°C/86°F and fluctuate extensively in accordance to the altitude and location.
With clear sky and sunny weather, most days bestow pleasant weather and cools off at night. These are the coldest and least humid months and the most conducive time of the year to visit the coastal areas. This is also the time when there is very little rain in most parts of the country.
Pro-tip – If you are visiting the Northern parks, pack warm clothing to beat the cold during the morning game drives in open vehicles which tend be cold.
Wet season (November to May)
Brace yourself as the temperature is consistent throughout the country which is a bit above or below 30°C/86°F and gets colder above 1,300m/4,265ft.
Due to high altitude, it gets cold and chilly in most of the northern parks, although the morning temperatures are relatively moderate.
Pro-tip – It is advisable to pack a windproof jacket and warm sweater for early morning game drives in open vehicles.
- November & December – ‘Short rains’
The most traveller friendly rains as they rarely interfere with your safaris. However, the timing of the rain is slightly unpredictable and if you are in Northern Tanzania, expect these showers even in the month of October.
- January & February
So, the Northern parks and the coastal areas are prone to dry spells as there is a dearth of rains around this time. However, the exact timing of the dry spell is unpredictable.
- March, April & May – ‘Long rains’
Umbrellas, raincoats to the rescue!
The wettest months of the year as it tends to rain heavily everyday. In the Northern parks, it is often cloudy and in the Southern and Western parks, the humidity is high and gets hotter than the Northern parks.
- Baggage Baggage!
Whether you are packing for a 2 day safari or a 10 day safari, the trick is to pack light and only the essentials. Sometimes, during heavy air traffic at the airports, baggage delays are no surprise and this can significantly delay you for the start of your adventure. Stay ahead of the game by packing essentials like medicines, contact lenses (only if you need them of course!) and 2 pairs of clothes in your handbag and getting on with your safari without a hassle. Don’t worry too much about the luggage, the operator can help you track it while you are on the safari!
Mark your calendars, pack your bags, get set to visit Tanzania when the sun is smiling down and the weather is peppy, dry and cool – best for memories wild and free! Let the adventure begin!