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Tanzania: Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Ruaha and The Selous!

Guest kuduuu

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Had a magical trip with Thomson Safari in East Africa! Getting ready to go back in February. Thought I would share with you guys some of the highlights. Amazing service, great guides and best of all they have their own permanent tents in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro! I highly advice traveling with them!

















































































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Beautiful pictures. Thanks. If you can we would appreciate a trip report.

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Stunning photos! How long did you stay in each reserve?

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Yep, come on, let's have the full itinerary :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I embarked on my 14 day journey through Thomson Safari. Why? They had been doing safaris in Tanzania for nearly thirty years at the time and really knew how to take care of Americans. I was a bit worried about giving up any of my western amenities and really wanted to feel comfortable, safe and taken care of. Not only were all of these needs met but I ended up being blown away by my experience with Thomson Safari. Their guides and trucks were far superior to any other groups that I encountered on my trip. The guides were polite, never spoke Swahili unless they had to and were constantly teaching me things about the wildlife, from the small and mundane to the great and flamboyant.


When I landed in Arusha I was driven to my over night lodge called Serena Mountain Village. I was greeted with steaming towels and papaya juice. The bungalows were stereotypical (In my mind) with a thatch roof, beautiful flowers all colors, a net around the bed and wood carvings of animals in the furniture and molding. It was really a beautiful place.








While I was with Thomson I embarked on 3 days in the northern circuit of the serengeti where I stayed at Thomsons Safaris very own private tented area called Thomson Nyumbas Camps. They were these quaint little eco-friendly tents with amazing gourmet cuisine. It really made the trip comfortable and in a way private and posh like, I felt like I was in a Ernest Hemingway book except with showers and toilets;). I was very very lucky in my first three days I saw everything from a young female Leopard sort of showing off in the middle of the road to a pride of Lions take down an injured wildebeest, it really felt like Jurassic Park! OMG, and the hippos, it was unbelievable! I was struck with the immensity of the Serengeti and really had no clue how intense the cohabitation of all these animals were.











Vanity mirror with sink, notice the walkway to the toilet.


The next three days were in the southern circuit of the Serengeti, I stayed at a lodge called the Ndutu Safari Lodge. Gorgeous little huts truly surrounded by nature, from love birds to impala, the place was teeming with wildlife. This area was exactly how I picture the Serengeti to look like, wide open plains and hundreds of thousands of mammals. It was really hard to keep my composure, I felt so blessed to see all of this at such a young age. I feel that most people put safari at the bottom of their bucket list, boy was I happy that I put it on the top.





The view from my room



The view from right outside my doorstep



The lounge


After that I headed on over for two days at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge were I had a spectacular view of the crater from my room, I can even see Mount Kilimanjaro! The crater was wonderful but pretty crowded with tourism. I plan on returning in Feb but will only be staying for one day. At the crater I got to see a cheetah and her cub, a male black rhino from a far and a gorgeous flock of lesser flamingo, one of the most magical memories of my life.











The view from my room



The view from the dining hall



The over crowding of tourism in the crater


I personally hate flying, but am no coward, I do what I have to do and got on a small propeller plane an headed towards Ruaha. While in Ruaha I stayed at the Ruaha River Lodge Ruaha is where I want my ashes to be scattered when I pass. To me Ruaha is what the garden of eden looked like. Animals everywhere, trees that looked like something our of the bible. I got charged by a rather angry female elephant when my guide and I had come between her and her herd. My heart had never raced so fast, but I was so happy and thrilled at that moment. I remember saying to myself, "If I see nothing else on this trip, it was all worth it for just this moment."



My vehicle in Ruaha







The view from my room







The dining hall from the outside



The dining hall from the inside



The lounge


The Selous was the last chunk of my trip. Once the plane landed I headed on over by truck to the Sands River Selous Lodge It was by far the nicest of all of the lodges. I felt like I was on a honeymoon, only by myself. The view all around was really nice but jeez was it hot. It was almost unbearable. Thank goodness they had a pool, I sure did take advantage of it. What I really enjoyed about the Selous though the most was the option to do a boat safari. It changed it up a bit and gave me a chance to look at some animals from a different perspective. I saw some of the largest crocodiles I have ever seen in my entire life and seeing African Wild Dog was pretty spectacular, about 6 of them. The Selous is definitely a gem and should not be missed.



The vehicle during my time at the Selous



















The view of the lodge from the boat



The view from my room



My room from the view of the boat



The dining hall



Inside the dining hall



The lounge


All in all I fell in love with Tanzania and cant wait to go back again with Feb to experience it all over again!

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Great photos and a great trip!! I came back from Selous and Ruaha in May and will be going for the 5th time to Ndutu lodge for 10 nights in three weeks!!! I will give a trip report on my Seloue/Ruaha trip soon!! I think that we are the luckiest people in the world to be able to follow our dreams and go to these places!!

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I will give a trip report on my Seloue/Ruaha trip soon!!


I'm glad you said that ;)

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Danny - Great report and great photos - thanks! I'm envious that you saw a rhino in the crater, that's totally cool! I used Thomson in 2007 and had a great time and have since recommended them as well. Unfortunately, they have been involved in a land dispute in the eastern Serengeti region for a few years with some quite nasty accusations being made against them. If you do a Google search you can locate an article that mentions this issue in Conde Nast magazine -


There seems to be an effort to mediate a resolution as mentioned on the below blog -


I can’t speak to the validity of these claims as there seems to be a lot of he said/she said and local politics, but this issue is still lingering around after a few years. Presumably this may have caused some damage to this company’s reputation. In fairness, Thomson has gotten plenty of praise and recognition for the way they conduct their operations in Tanzania and their philanthropic efforts. Lots of companies get involved in controversial issues so I guess it’s just up to the people that are consumers of these services to try and make an informed decision and do what they are comfortable with.

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Great photos and a great trip!! I came back from Selous and Ruaha in May and will be going for the 5th time to Ndutu lodge for 10 nights in three weeks!!! I will give a trip report on my Seloue/Ruaha trip soon!! I think that we are the luckiest people in the world to be able to follow our dreams and go to these places!!


Swahealy, great comment on luckiest in the world!


The Conde Nast article was very interesting. Many factions at odds. The losers are the Maasai and the wildlife. Ortello Business Corporation is a very bad actor in all this threatening Maasai and it looks like AndBeyond's Klein camp, which inconveniently stands in the way of the corporation's contiguous hunting grounds. The article described this massive area as the size of the Serengeti. Thanks for the link PT123.


Some interesting context for the report. Looking forward to Selous and Ruaha!

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Thanks for the report and pics. They have Maruti Gypsys as safari vehicles in Ruaha??? How about that!!!!!

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You packed quite a lot in, doing the North and South and it looks like you had a fantastic time. Thanks for the report and photos.

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Lovely photos of what sounds like a great trip. You were lucky with the dogs in the Selous!


I also wish there were some way to get rid of those Loliondo hunters, PT123!

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Thanks for your annual contribution Nyamera ;)

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Thanks for another set of wonderful pictures. Read this before leaving for work, which will make being at work all the more difficult!


How did you feel the game concentration in Ruaha and the Selous stacked up against the Serengeti? How about tourist volume? And I'm also curious about how much tsetse fly nuisance you encountered.

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The game concentration in Ruaha was incredible, for me, it exceeded the Serengeti. Really, Ruaha has everything that the Serengeti has plus more for instance like African Wild dog and Greater Kudu. Just the amount of animals alone was something out of this world, everywhere you would turn it was an adventure, and I would hardly ever bump into any other tourists during the three days I was there. Plus the Baobab trees, they were spectacular! Attached are some photos to show you the immense size of the trees.



I mean, look at the size of the tree next to the Giraffe.













This is to give you an idea on the concentration of the animals in Ruaha, mind-blowing.


As for the flying from Northern Tanzania to Southern Tanzania, I don't know, I'm just a nervous nelly. Any little bump makes me start with Hail Mary's and Our Fathers. I vividly remember the flight from Ruaha to the Selous we had the on board alarm system going off for a whole 45 minutes repeated "Pull-up Pull-up!", let's just say I needed a fresh pair of underwear by the time we landed ;)


Another little secret about my next trip to Ruaha, I plan on proposing to my loved one while I am there in Feb 2013. I cant wait!

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A Ruaha proposal, how romantic. What a lovely idea.


The flight to Selous sounds like a nightmare of nervous anxiety. Did the pilot try to reassure the passengers at all?

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Hey Danny,


Thanks for this installment. Just fantastic pictures of the baobabs - the scale is truely amazing. I've haven't been to Ruaha yet but it seems to remind me a bit of Tarangire. How does it compare? Based on your comments it seems like more game and less tourists? Also, if you happened to have a spare wild dog or kudu from Ruaha...please share!


PS - great news on the potential proposal, I can't think of a better place!





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The pilot, again, in my opinion, was an idiot. To him it was as if it was a normal day. I'll do it all over again though, totally worth the trauma.


Go to Ruaha if you can. It is similar to Tarangire in terms of the vegetation, dry riverbeds and Tsete-flies ;) But the main difference is the sheer size of the park, it's the largest in all of the Tanzanian Game Parks and the hardest to get to, thats why its less populated with tourists, it's located in the heart of the country and for some reason felt wilder if you could believe that. Everything felt a bit more aggressive, alert and on edge hence what I said about the element of adventure. You could also, as an option, do river boat safaris in the Rufiji River if you would like which in my opinion is a big added bonus, especially during the dry season when animals are more likely to be by the river bed.


As for the African Wild Dog, I saw them from afar in Ruaha, which I am hoping to have a closer look at them in Feb. The 6 or so that I saw up close were in the Selous. Attached are some extra highlights from my time in Ruaha. I only got ONE good shot of a Kudu while I was on safari there, I hope my luck will be better in Feb


And thanks for all of the warm wishes in terms of my engagement guys!



Notice how gorgeous the topography and vegetation is in Ruaha. Oh, and take a look at that stud in the front ;)



















Notice the two Giraffes laying down on the ground, I had never one do that before.










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Very nice to see all the green! And those baobabs in leaf.


Here's another thumbs up for the Romance in Ruaha :)

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Fabulous pictures and trip report - really made me feel I was there! Love the proposal idea too, awesome. <3


I didn't see if you said in here when you went?

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