- Molly Gone Wild
This Epic 14-Day African Safari is Perfect for Your Adventuremoon
Updated: Feb 15, 2022
The magic of being surrounded by such diverse and abundant wildlife is unmatched.
When T and I started talking about where to honeymoon, I quickly added ‘African safari’ to the top of the list. In college, I studied abroad in Botswana and have been lucky enough to travel to a number of other African nations (Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania). I knew that I wanted to share the experience of a safari with T and our honeymoon seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.
Planning a safari for the first time can be overwhelming. First, consider your priorities - do you want to see primates? The ‘Great Migration’? Do you only want to focus on wildlife or do you want some urban / cultural experiences as well? Based on your priorities, you can decide which country (or countries) to visit. Next, you’ll want to select a safari operator. While you can arrange your own self-driving safari, it’s still a whole lot simpler to book your trip through an experienced safari operator. Plus, one of the most valuable parts of the safari is traveling with a guide who can teach you about the wildlife, history, culture, and more. Except in rare circumstances, I don’t recommend arranging a self-driving safari.
Today, there are hundreds of safari operators working across the continent of Africa, meaning that choosing one can feel like a real chore. If you’re willing to do a bit of research, try finding a locally-owned company that works in the country of your choice. For decades, nearly all safari companies were owned by foreigners, meaning much of the wealth generated by safari tourism never made it into the hands of the locals. Thankfully, this is starting to change with more and more small, locally-owned, or locally-co-owned, operators popping up. Take a look at Kazinga Tours and The Wild Source for examples of safari companies that are prioritizing local ownership.
In the end, T and I decided to travel to Tanzania with The Wild Source. We spent 14 days on safari and had an absolutely epic, action-packed adventure. The magic of being surrounded by such diverse and abundant wildlife was unmatched.
Day 1-2: Arusha, Tanzania
After more than 24 hours of travel from the United States to Tanzania, we needed to catch up on sleep. We spent two days in the town of Arusha where we visited a Maasai market, hiked around Lake Duluti, and toured Sanaa, a craft and training center for people with disabilities.
Our sweet little a-frame cabins at Karama Lodge were the perfect place to rest up. Our balcony offered sweeping views of Mount Meru and the lush valley below. Each morning, the hauntingly beautiful call to prayer echoed through the misty light.
Where We Stayed: Karama Lodge & Spa
Day 3-4: Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Tarangire National Park, named for the river that crosses the park, covers more than 2,600 sq km and is home to thousands of animals. It’s especially well-known for its high concentration of elephants and many baobab trees. We spent time exploring the stunning Silale Swamp, took a night drive, and explored the bush on foot with a walking guide.
We stayed at Lolkisale Camp, a relatively new tented camp situated in the heart of Tarangire National Park. Every about the camp was delightful - incredibly friendly staff, exquisite food, and well-appointed tents. We enjoyed “bush tv” around the campfire each night as we toasted to the day with gin and tonics.
Where We Stayed: Lolkisale Camp by Topguides Bush Camps
Day 5-6: Ngorongoro Crater
The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact and unfilled volcanic caldera (no longer active). it is estimated that the crater was formed about 2-3 million years ago when a large volcano exploded and collapsed in on itself. today, the crater floor - which sits at about 5,900 feet above sea level - is home to an abundance of wildlife. approximately, 25,000 critters live in the crater, including black rhinos. many of the animals move freely from within the Crater to areas beyond its rim and back and sometimes you’ll see them climbing the steep walls of the caldera.
We stayed at a tented camp just below the rim of the Crater. Due to its elevation and the low cloud cover that often sits over the Crater, it can be very chilly in the mornings and evenings. Our camp provided hot water bottles (called “bush babies”) in our beds which may or may not have been my favorite part. We entered the Crater early in the morning when there were few other vehicles around and had so many special sightings, including an African Wild Cat, dozens of hyenas, and a crash of rhinos. We even saw a pair of rhinos mating! All vehicles are required to be out of the Crater each evening, so we returned to camp in time for cocktails by the fire.
Where We Stayed: Lemala Ngorongoro Tented Camp
Day 7-9: Serengeti National Park (Central)
Even if you’ve never set foot on the continent of Africa, you’ve probably heard of the Serengeti. The region, which spans a large portion of northern Tanzania, is world-renowned for the annual ‘Great Migration’ of more than 1.5 million wildebeest that move through the ecosystem each year. In addition to this breathtaking phenomenon, the Serengeti boasts healthy populations of many large predators, grazers, birds, and more. A diversity of habitats are found within the Serengeti, including swamps, lakes, grasslands, and kopjes (rocky outcroppings that form stunning scenery), which in turn supports an amazing abundance of animals.
We started in the Central Serengeti, near the Seronera Valley. It’s a beautifully scenic region with rolling hills, rivers, grasslands, and exquisite sunsets. In order to make the most of our games drives, we would wake around 5:30am to start driving by 6:30am. Our camp sent us out each day with packed lunches so that we could spend a full 12-hours exploring the park. And it did not disappoint - we saw cheetahs hunting, lionesses stalking zebra, a caracal jogging through the grass (incredibly rare!), leopards in trees, a family of hyenas cuddled in an acacia thicket, two elephant families greeting each other, and so, so much more.
Where We Stayed: Lemala Ewanjan Tented Camp
Day 10-14: Serengeti National Park (Northern)
If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous ‘Great Migration,’ the Northern Serengeti is where it’s at. But there’s much more to the region than its magnificent herds of wildebeest and zebra. Big cats thrive alongside an abundance of hippos, crocodiles, and ungulates. It’s an expansive area, so unless you’re congregated by the river waiting for a crossing, you can easily go for hours without seeing another safari vehicle.
We stayed at Njozi Camp, owned by The Wild Source, and spent our days exploring the seemingly endless rivers, kopjes, and grasslands. We logged long hours in the car and enjoyed some truly incredible sightings, including the most adorable family of lion cubs. We loved our time at Njozi Camp, particularly because it is locally-owned and operated, something that is still far too rare in the world of safari camps. As an added bonus, the guides that work at Njozi Camp monitor and collect data on the big cat populations in the area, so they are especially knowledgeable about the comings and goings of the area’s felines. We ended each evening with some pretty spectacular sunsets and an excellent buffet dinner.
Where We Stayed: Njozi Camp