I have dreamed of a safari for a long time. Already setting foot in Africa, it seemed to me something superb. And then the opportunity came when I was on the island of Mayotte, in the Indian Ocean. Being next door, it seemed a real shame not to go there. So we did a safari in Tanzania in the Lake Manyara National Park, and also other places like the famous Serengeti Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, or the Tarangire. In this article, I present you the Lake Manyara National Park.
First of all, the destination had to be set. We lived on the island of Mayotte and two solutions (without spending too much money) were possible: Kenya or Tanzania. Given the instability that existed at the time in Kenya and after some research on the web, we chose to go on a safari in Tanzania. By the way, if you like African atmosphere islands, come and have a look at the 20 things you can’t miss on the island of Mayotte.
Note that there are many safaris in neighboring countries such as Namibia, Botswana, but this clearly increases the cost of travel from Mayotte. If you arrive from France or any other part of the world, this is an interesting possibility to consider.
We wanted to realize this safari but if possible to consider it in an economical way because photo safaris are clearly not part of the activities known as cheap !
Several options were therefore possible.
- To go through a big travel agency which organizes everything from A to Z (but which will cost at least an arm…)
- Either find a small local agency that would manage everything;
- Get a great deal on the web with a local independent guide, trying as much as possible to avoid scams (there are some). This solution would in any case be the cheapest.
After some research on the web, I found the contact of Moses Cliff Mwanga, an independent Tanzanian guide who seems serious and with good references. So we will go with him. You will find at the end of the article all the details about Moses and my general opinion about the week we spent together.
After a few flights, we arrive in the city of Arusha, in the north of the country, the main departure point for safaris in the area. We begin the safari week in the Lake Manyara National Park.
This park, founded in 1960, has an area of 325 Km². It is located between the Great African Rift Valley and Lake Manyara. It is particularly famous for its colonies of flamingos, storks, in addition to the traditional park species (giraffe, elephant, monkey, etc.).
Regarding the pictures, they were all shot with Canon 6D and 70-300 L IS by me for the wildlife pictures and with 24-70 mm f/2.8 for landscapes pictures. To guide you, I wrote an article on how to choose the right equipment for a safari.
This first park gave us a good overview of the local fauna. Judge for yourself!
This park was the first one when we arrived in Tanzania. We already take the sight of it clearly with a luxuriant vegetation in the forest areas, the pink flamingos on the lake or the numerous giraffes of the park! Nevertheless, it does not remain my favorite national park, compared to the very famous Ngorongoro or the Serengeti. A nice introduction however
It is indeed possible to book a safari at a low price, including less than 3000€ per week?
- To go with several people: the prices drop drastically if you decide to share your car with several people (ex: 4 or 6). We weren’t necessarily lucky in choosing this option, we found ourselves with a young French couple who knew Africa better than the guide and who didn’t stop complaining. So be careful. Ideally, the best would be to go with friends (2 couples for example);
- Go with an independent guide: there are many independent guides on the web. Be careful to inform yourself before choosing and to take a maximum of opinion on the guide.
- Avoid large agencies: This goes a little bit with the previous point. Large agencies in general have (excessively) high prices. Unless you need an air-conditioned mini bus and to sleep on a king size bed at night sipping cocktails, I advise you to refer to an independent guide or a local agency on site.
- Sleeping in tents instead of lodges: Yes, we opted for an economical safari. Who says cheap, says also (very often) tents. Don’t be resistant to the idea, it was pretty cool and frankly sleeping like that in a tent in the middle of the savannah is quite nice!
On our side, we left with Moses Cliff Mwanga. I recommend him 100%. He offers several types of safari depending on the number of days you want to do there. He will adapt himself to your requests without worries and will propose you to reduce costs by sharing your vehicle with other people. We had chosen a type 3B safari: Lake Manyara National Park, Serengeti Park (2 days), Ngorongoro Crater Park, and Tarangire Park.
Moses now offers complete packages with a few days on safari and the transfer across the country to reach the Tanzanian coast, to spend a few days by the sea. Apparently, it’s superb too.
With a little hindsight, and given the experience we have, if you can afford to do it as a couple or with friends, with only two people, I will do it this way. If you are too limited in budget, then go for this solution.
As for the week, everything was very good for us: the copious meals taken in the campsite in the evening when we were there, the good atmosphere with Moses, the visit of the splendid parks… A magic week.
In short, you can contact him from me via his Facebook page.
If you organize your own safari (through a small local agency or through Moses), you will have to make your own way to Tanzania. For a safari in Northern Tanzania, the main gateway will be the city of Arusha. Be careful, often the easiest way is to arrive at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), not to be confused with the local airport of Arusha (ARK). If you want to look at the cheapest flights to Tanzania, I advise you to look at this flight comparator. I have been using it for more than 10 years now.
In general, it is said that Tanzania can be visited all year round. But for a safari, certain periods are to be preferred. Here are some elements that I have compiled. Don’t hesitate to ask your agency or guide for an opinion on the period you want to choose.
A safari in Tanzania: the best period?
A period from May to September/October is recommended. This is the migration period (Tarangire and Ngorongoro mainly). Ideal to see many wildlife. It is also the least rainy season in general.
The birth period?
It takes place between January and March. It is also the hot season and the beginning of the rainy season in the area.
We opted for this season (February 2015) and we did not have any rains!
The rainy season?
The rainy season runs from March to May globally. The tracks are less practicable and the wildlife is more difficult to observe.
A safari between October and December in Tanzania?
It is the wet season during these months and rain and showers are possible. This period is often referred to as the “short rainy season”.
So, I hope this article has made you dream a little bit? In any case, going on safari in the Lake Manyara National Park is great. If you already went on safari, what was your best memory then? Which park in particular? On my side, the Serengeti National Park and my day of safari in the Ngorongoro Crater are even more beautiful!
See you soon for personal opinions on the other parks. If you have any questions and don’t know how to choose your photo equipment for a safari, I wrote an article about it.
If you have any questions about our itinerary, our guide, or anything else, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment at the bottom of the article!