An Unforgettable Tanzanian Adventure: From Lake Natron to the Serengeti
The Gallagher family recently did a wonderful Tanzania family safari with Coral Tree. Below is a first person account of their trip from Lizzy.
A family trip to Tanzania has been on our bucket-list for years, so it was incredibly exciting to finally get it organised with Coral Tree.
Our journey took us through some of the most breath-taking landscapes I’ve seen, from the other-worldly rocky vistas of Lake Natron to the volcanic forests of the Empakai Crater, and it really created once-in-a-lifetime memories for us.
Lake Natron Camp: A Tranquil Oasis
The first thing that struck me about Lake Natron was how impossibly far away you feel from your life at home. Panoramic views of the lake, Ol Lengai volcano towering above, and the wind whistling down the Rift Valley are all a constant reminder of the scale of this incredible environment.
Lake Natron Camp’s specially-designed Bedouin tents blend seamlessly into the environment, and made us feel like we were on a pioneering expedition. However, the impeccable service, sundowners at the riverside and ensuite bathrooms provided a luxurious touch to our stay and the lovely Maasai staff really made us feel at home.
The highlight of our stay was undoubtedly the chance to witness the Great Rift Valley’s mesmerising flamingo spectacle. Flocks of these elegant birds painted the shores of Lake Natron in shades of pink, creating a scene straight out of a nature documentary. We took leisurely walks along the lake, capturing photographs and learning about the distinctions between the Greater and Lesser Flamingos.
The history nerd in me also loved seeing the hominid footprints preserved in the volcanic rock nearby; they are thought to be almost 100,000 years old!
Empakai Crater Hike: Scaling the Heights
After two days of relaxation, we were ready to tackle our two-day hike up to the Empakai Crater, a collapsed volcano caldera.
This was my favourite part of the trip by far. Hiking up through open slopes of rock and grasslands with spectacular views over Lake Natron and, as we got over the ridge, onto Mount Kilimanjaro was so rewarding and you really felt like you had earnt a drink by the time you reached camp – already set up further ahead!
The second campsite, set in a spectacular spot looking into the Empakai Crater itself was a particular highlight. All put up and dismantled just for us, the made up beds, dining table and freshly prepared food felt really luxurious in such a remote location.
The 400m descent into the crater on our third morning was a memorable journey as we saw monkeys swinging from the trees, and buffalo grazing on the grassy shores of the soda lake. The armed ranger trekking with us and the complete lack of other travellers also really made us feel like we had escaped the tourist trail.
The Ngorongoro Crater: Game-changing wildlife
Next stop was the iconic Ngorongoro Crater – the reason we had first considered coming to Tanzania.
Arrival at the lovely Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp, perched on the edge of the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater, felt like a return to civilization after an intrepid view days. And the camp’s luxurious tents and incredible three-course dinners were a lovely treat.
Descending into the Ngorongoro Crater was like entering a different realm altogether and we were blown away by the sheer density of game here. Every five minutes we were stopping to snap shots of hunting hyenas, sleeping lions and even a distant rhino meandering through the grasses. We were even lucky enough to witness a Serval cat trotting along the track with its kill hanging from its mouth.
Serengeti Kati Kati Camp: Amidst the Great Migration
The grand finale of our Tanzanian adventure awaited us at the Serengeti Kati Kati Camp.
The camp’s strategically positioned tents meant that even while relaxing at camp we saw giraffes nibbling at the trees and distant herds of elephants walking through the valley. Particularly memorable was a chatty pride of lions who came past the camp one night, roaring to each other as I lay in my bed a little nervously!
On one of the mornings of our stay we were lucky enough to do a hot air balloon safari – organised as a surprise by my parents – and I can honestly say it was one of the most breathtaking things I have ever experienced. Regardless of the game you manage to spot, the tranquil silence of floating along just as a spectacular African sunrise peeps over the horizon is truly magical.
On our final day, our guide advised us that we should head over to the Western side of the park to try and spot the Wildebeest migration in action. After an hour of driving, and some lion-spotting along the way, we quickly emerged into a noisy sea of brown as thousands upon thousands of wildebeest passed us on their well-trodden path north. It is hard to put into words the mesmerising scale of the migration and hours flew by as we watched the incredible sight of these animals determinedly marching onwards. It really brought the scale of Africa and its wildlife home to me, and is certainly something I will never forget.
Mike and Coral Tree Travel helped us craft an itinerary that was really beyond all of our imagination and helped us escape the oversold tourist trail so that we felt like this trip was really personal to us. At every turn Mike had worked behind the scenes to make sure our trip ran like clockwork and to create special moments – especially the birthday celebrations at the Crater Camp for my mum’s 60th birthday.
And if this trip did leave us with any lasting thoughts, it is that we will be back!Request a free consultation
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