After the arrival of the group flight, we travel northwest into the Great African Rift Valley to Lake Naivasha. In the afternoon we visit Elsamere, the former home of Joy Adamson, now a conservation centre, where we can enjoy afternoon teas on the lawn and watch the cheeky Black and White Colobus monkeys.
En route to Kembu we stop in Nakuru to do some shopping and look around this typical African town. We stay on a farm for two nights and have an opportunity to do a farm walk this afternoon.
This morning we drive to Lake Nakuru National Park where we enjoy a superb game drive. Although this is a small park it is home to an amazing variety of animals and birdlife. The park contains a soda lake, which is sometimes home to thousands of flamingos. We hope to see the endangered White and Black rhinos, lion and if we are very lucky the elusive leopard. There is a stunning view from baboon cliffs above the lake, and here we may see the small furry Rock hyrax, which is related to the elephant!
Our long drive today is up through the Western highlands and allows plenty of time to appreciate the superb scenery. The road begins to descend and we leave behind the neatly ordered rows of tea bushes as we cross the border into Tanzania at Isebania. We camp in a pleasant spot at Musoma on the shore of Lake Victoria.
We turn east and enter the vast Serengeti plain, one of the largest parks in Africa. There is a choice of routes into the Serengeti, depending on the weather: if it is dry, the 130km of the Western Corridor, usually well stocked with all the plains game, is open. If it is wet, however, this road, which is built on black cotton soil, turns to glue, and we have to enter the park from the north, at Ikoma gate. We have plenty of time to enjoy the vast open spaces and the variety of game, and eventually come to Seronera. Here there are various camping areas, all of them in open bush, with no fences to prevent the animals from visiting during the night. We'll get a real taste of wild Africa!
We leave early and it is often possible to watch elephants and other animals browsing close to the campsite. The morning is spent game driving in the eastern part of the park, where it is unusual not to spot a pride of lions, in their favourite place - under a big, shady tree. After crossing the vast grasslands we come to the Ngorongoro entry gate at Naabi Hill. The truck bumps its way up towards the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, the wide-open plains below stretching as far as the eye can see. Finally reaching the top, the Ngorongoro Crater opens up in front of us, a huge, natural amphitheatre, one of the great sights of Africa. Ngorongoro is a caldera, a collapsed volcano 16 km across and with steep walls up to 600m high. It acts like a natural zoo, and over 100,000 animals co-exist here with a population of Masai herdsmen and their cattle. Our campsite here is very basic indeed and can be very cold at night so please come prepared.
We descend to the crater floor in 4WD vehicles and spend the morning watching large numbers of plains game, and the ever-present predators around them. We'll search for hippos in the murky pools, and try to protect our food at lunchtime from the fearless Brown kites, as they swoop and snatch anything that appears to be edible; please take care. After a fantastic morning we continue our journey through beautiful country to the edge of the Rift Valley, where there is a great view over Lake Manyara (often tinted pink around the edges from large numbers of flamingos) and on to Arusha. Depending on the time available we will visit the Snake Park and Masai Museum either today or tomorrow morning.
Day 9 - 10
Drive from Arusha to Marangu. Depending on the cloud cover, there may be a chance to see all or part of Kilimanjaro, which at 5895m is a breathtaking sight. There are many optional activities available from our campsite in Marangu, including a day walk on Kilimanjaro, or shorter walks exploring the local villages and waterfalls.
Leaving Marangu, we drive south past the wonderfully lush and green Usambara Mountains then turn eastwards towards the bustling port of Tanga, Tanzania's second port after Dar es Salaam. Tanga has a quiet, laid-back feel to it and boasts of old colonial architecture from the days that it served as a German centre of colonial administration. We spend our last camping night here as we enjoy this lovely town.
Day 12 - 15
Today we say goodbye to the truck. We take an afternoon flight over to the island of Zanzibar, 35km from the mainland. First visited by Arab traders in the 8th century, and countless travellers in the following centuries, the island is most famous for its spices, and infamous for being the centre of the East African slave trade. There is plenty to occupy our days here as we spend two nights in Stone Town and two by the beach. Stone Town is a myriad of small alleys and markets. We recommend a spice tour, around the island's plantations, with chances to taste and buy. We can visit Prison Island, where difficult slaves were kept and relax on the eastern and northern beaches, with excellent snorkelling, sailing in a dhow and plenty of fresh seafood. The local buses are efficient and enable you to travel all over the island, although hiring a jeep for a day or two is a more exciting way of getting about and not expensive. It's a fascinating mixture of culture, history and wonderful beaches.