It’s hard to believe that just last month I spent 11 nights in northern Tanzania. Let me tell you, there’s so much more to experience here than simply game drives. My trip was less focused on wildlife, wildlife, wildlife and more focused on “alternative” activities, like hiking and biking. Let me explain…
Like most travelers to Tanzania, my journey began in Arusha, a bustling little city near Kilimanjaro International Airport, and known as the “safari capital” of Tanzania. And the views aren’t half bad either: It sits in a lush valley at the base of Mt. Meru. Here, I spent one night at Rivertrees Country Inn. Rivertrees is a lovely place to rest up after a long transatlantic flight, complete with an enormous, relaxing garden onsite. It’s always nice to have one night of “recovery” in-country before safari.
Lake Manyara National Park
In the morning we drove about 2 hours toward Lake Manyara National Park. It’s an easy drive, but for those with the money and without the time, flying is often recommended. That said, my entire trip was driving and it does have it perks. Flights are quick but driving gives you a sense of the “real” Tanzania, with greater exposure and understanding of local life. Also, road transfers provide you with more opportunities to get to know your guide and ask more questions. The connection is much more personal and the conversations are often more insightful.
Enroute, our driver pulled over on a rural side road and surprised us with a picnic lunch next to a beautiful waterfall. From there, we hopped on mountain bikes and cruised through some villages and winding dirt roads until we arrived at the southern gate to Lake Manyara National Park. It was so much fun! The sun was shining, we could see the lake in the distance, and were greeted by countless school children on their way home. It was a refreshing and laidback kickoff to the safari. And it really felt like we were seeing Tanzania. Side note: If you are relatively in shape, it’s an easy ride but do make sure you feel comfortable on a bike first. After going through the park gate, we drove to Lake Manyara Green Camp for our first night in the bush.