Group of Lions and a Buffalo in Ngorongoro crater: who’s the hunter?

Contributed by Dawrat Duangdee, August 2013

Link to Ngorongoro Ngorongoro Conservation Area blog page.

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Arusha National Park

Size: 325 sq. miles (137 sq. km.) Best Time to Visit: July – March

Arusha National Park is one of the most easily accessible of north-eastern Tanzania. Situated between the peaks of Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro (less than an hour’s drive from Kilimanjaro airport and only 20 minutes from the city of Arusha itself) the park is home to many varieties of smaller game as well as giraffe, elephant, leopard, hippo, colobus monkey, water buffalo, bushbuck, and over 400 species of birdlife.

The views of Mt. Kilimanjaro are breathtaking but it is Mt. Meru that dominates the park. Excursions can be made to Meru’s summit (with an armed ranger because of the animals) and it is a popular “practice” run for those whose destination is the peak of Kilimanjaro. Although not as high as Kilimanjaro, the view from Meru’s peak is spectacular and includes a magnificent crater and eruption cone. The hike itself traverses a variety of landscapes including plains, forest and lava desert. For the less ambitious, Arusha National Park is one of the few parks where a walking safari is possible (also with an armed ranger). Walking safaris can be as short or as long as desired..

The slopes and summit of Meru are only one type of protected habitat in the park, others include the Momela Lakes region and the Ngurdoto Crater, all of which afford spectacular views of the African countryside and wildlife. The lakes are very salty and the animals do not use them for drinking but the high mineral content gives each lake a different colour and each supports a unique array of insect and bird life. The Ngurdoto crater, which measures nearly two miles across, remains undisturbed by humans. The views from the rim are magnificent and a variety of wildlife can be spotted grazing on the crater floor.

For those on safari, one of the unique aspects of the Arusha area is its dense population. It is possible to experience Africa as its modern inhabitants do by visiting one of the local communities that has initiated grassroots tourism. You’ll be charmed by the authentic African meals, songs and the hospitality of Mama Anna as she demonstrates her cheese-making techniques. You may also be able to purchase coffee – and even help roast and grind it using traditional methods! For a small fee, breakfast lunch and/or dinner can be provided.
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Accommodation

Moivaro Coffee Plantation Lodge

Built on a former coffee plantation, the Moivaro Lodge (link) features individual thatched cabins, beautiful gardens and a large colonial style verandah that can’t be beat for relaxing with a cool drink after a long day or breakfasting in anticipation of one. Moivaro has nature trails on the grounds and is optimally located near Arusha and Kilimanjaro airport.

Mountain Village

Similar to Moivaro, although somewhat older, the Mountain Village Lodge offers individual cabins and fantastic views. Nature walks can be arranged and the hotel is located near Arusha town and Kilimanjaro airport.

Novotel Mt. Meru

The Novotel at Mt. Meru is a large, western-style 1960’s hotel just at the edge of Arusha town. The Novotel is a pick-up point for shuttles to and from Nairobi and is slightly more central to the town and airport than the above-mentioned lodges.

Mountain Village

Similar to Moivaro, although somewhat older, the Mountain Village Lodge offers individual cabins and fantastic views. Nature walks can be arranged and the hotel is located near Arusha town and Kilimanjaro airport.

Dik-Dik

Named for the smallest of the African antelope, the dik-dik is a newer hotel, centrally located and features 18 double suites all with modern amenities. Typical east African flora can be viewed throughout the grounds.
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Mikumi National Park

Size: 3,200 sq. km. Best time to visit: Anytime

Mikumi National Park is one of the largest and most accessible parks in Tanzania (appx. four hour drive from Dar es Salaam) and is often a destination for students of ecology and conservation.

A variety of wildlife inhabits the park including giraffe, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, eland, elephant, python, and the little-seen tree-climbing lions. African hunting dogs, which have become rare throughout the continent, can also be seen mainly in the southern end of the floodplains.

The landscape is dominated by open grasslands; at the northern end of the floodplains some areas remain swampy year-round. These swampy areas are separated by hard ridges that remain relatively dry and treeless. Swamp life includes monitor lizards that grow up to 6 feet (2 meters) long, frog-eaters and other types of large waterfowl.

The elephants in the area are small but have caused some areas of the park (including that surrounding the park headquarters) to become increasingly open through their taste for the Sclerocarya tree. The elephants like the fruits so much that they will shake and push the trees when there is no fruit to be found on the ground.
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Accommodation

Mikumi Wildlife Camp

Situated near the main park entrance, Mikumi Wildlife Camp has stone-built African cottages, spacious bedrooms, bathrooms with showers and verandahs with beautiful views.

Hotel Oasis

Located in Morogoro town, this mid-sized tourist hotel features 37 comfortably furnished rooms (link). All rooms are ensuite with bathrooms, telephones and televisions. The restaurant offers Indian, Chinese and Tanzanian cuisine.
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Mahale Mountains National Park

Size: 1,600 sq. km. Best Time to Visit: Oct. – May

Located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika on the western border of Tanzania, Mahale Mountains National Park combines elements of eastern and western African flora and fauna.

Walking is the only way to get around in this research and conservation-oriented park, which is home to nine different species of primates including the last wild chimpanzees in Tanzania. The park is home to lions, leopards, and African hunting dogs as well as eland, kudu, buffalo and hundreds of insect species including a striking array of butterflies.

The sunsets over Lake Tanganyika are stunning and the park is hailed as one of the most beautiful in the country. Snorkelling and fishing in the lake can also be arranged. The park itself is one of the least accessible in Tanzania, requiring long journeys by boat and train/automobile unless you arrange for a private charter flight.
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Accommodation

Nare Sero Luxury Tented Lodge

The tented lodge at Mahale is brand new and promises to deliver one of the only luxury accommodation experiences available in western Tanzania.

Camping in the park

There are rudimentary camping facilities in the park, bring your own tent and supplies.

Kigoma Hilltop Hotel

Overlooking the blue waters of Lake Tanganyika from a rocky outcropping above, the Hilltop Hotel offers 30 luxury cottages each with hot/cold water, ensuite bathroom facilities, satellite TV and beautiful views.
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Mount Kenya National Park

Size: 700 sq. km. Best time to visit: Jan.-Feb., July-Oct.

Mt. Kenya National Park has got it all… from icy glaciers to bamboo forest. The mountain can be climbed by trekkers of many different skill levels and always offers breath-taking views.

Wildlife at Mt. Kenya is diverse and includes many of the safari favorites including black rhino, leopard, Black and White Colobus and Sykes monkeys, bushbuck, buffalo, elephant, baboon, waterbuck, giant forest hog, genet cat, and hyena. Because of the ever-changing altitude, the plant life in the park is varied as well; among park plants grow the striking Giant groundsel and Lobelia. Habitats like mountain forest, bamboo forest, high-altitude heath and moorland all support a variety of animals and birds.

Another attraction associated with Mt. Kenya is the equator, which runs across the mountain’s slopes. There are many places to pay a visit to the equatorial boundary and snap a few pictures straddling the hemispheres.

Did You Know?

According to the Kikuyu, Mt. Kenya is the home of the supreme being, Ngai. The Kikuyu word for the mountain is Kere Nyaga, meaning Mountain of Brightness.

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Accommodation

Mount Kenya Safari Club

Elegant cottages, manicured lawns and decorative ponds provide a backdrop for the jet-setting crowd that frequents the Mt. Kenya Safari Club. With 114 luxury-class villas, cottages and suites and unparalleled gourmet dining, the club is sure to satisfy the most discerning guests.

Sweetwaters Tented Camp

Located outside of Mt. Kenya National Park, in a private 24,000 acre game reserve, Sweetwaters offers spectacular views of Mt. Kenya. En-suite luxury tents under thatched roofs ensure a pleasant stay while photographing the animals that come drink at the floodlit waterhole ensure an exciting one.

Lewa Downs

On the northern slopes of Mt. Kenya lies Lewa Downs, one of Kenya’s original colonial ranches and home to the Craig family. Wilderness Trails, the Craig’s safari operation, caters for 12 guests in comfortable cottages. Horse-back riding, nature walks and night game drives are all available.

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Nairobi National Park

Size: 117 sq. km. Best time to visit: Anytime

The park is home to black rhino, buffalo, eland, Maasai giraffe, plain’s zebra, wildebeest, coke’s hartebeest, Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelles, impala, waterbuck, bushbuck, warthog, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, jackal civet and genet.

Over 400 species of birds have been recorded as well. The park is unfenced to the south and migratory animals move in and out according to the seasons. The park serves as a sanctuary for black rhino, which provides a certain opportunity of seeing the rhino in its natural habitat. Over 50 rhino have been moved to the park from areas where they were endangered by poaching.

Nairobi Animal Orphanage

At the main gate of the park, the Nairobi Animal Orphanage provides a safe home and upbringing for baby animals orphaned by poachers or other disasters. The orphanage only allows viewing for an hour a day while the animals are being fed. These orphans are not zoo animals; once they have matured, the babies will be reintroduced into the wild.

Karen Blixen Museum

Made famous by her autobiographical Out of Africa – also an academy award winning film – Karen Blixen‘s stay in colonial Kenya was a constant adventure. Her love of the country and its people is now world-famous and her house, which has been made into a museum, can be visited on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Giraffe Manor

Giraffe Manor (link), a rambling stone residence built in 1932, has become a haven for the endangered Rothschild giraffe. The giraffes roam about the grounds freely (along with a few resident warthogs) and guests at the manor can feed them through the windows and doors of the building. Adjacent to the manor is the giraffe sanctuary, where anyone is welcome to pat, feed and even kiss the giraffes!
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Accommodation

Giraffe Manor

Guests at Giraffe Manor (link)can pet and feed the Rothschild giraffes that wander freely about the grounds. These giraffes are part of the adjacent giraffe sanctuary (on Giraffe Manor grounds) but are by no means the only reason to stay at the Manor. The resident owners of the rambling stone manor, Jock and Bryony, will welcome you as their guests and you’ll enjoy the finest cuisine and most comfortable lodgings in their home. The location is just a few miles outside of downtown Nairobi.

Ngong House

A truly unique and luxurious lodging, Ngong House is located on the land once cultivated by Karen Blixen. Guests stay in one of five wooden houses raised on stilts with views of the misty Ngong Hills and the surrounding countryside. Gourmet cuisine may be served in the main dining room or under the trees in the open air. There is also a further bedroom within the original house.

Grand Regency

A brand new, elegant Western-style hotel in the city centre, the Grand Regency is a favourite among heads of state and other important visitors to the city. An all-weather pool, conference rooms and exquisite cuisine ensure that no Western comforts will be missed during your stay.

The Norfolk

One of the original colonial hotels, the Norfolk has been visited by many a famous historical figure. Luxuriously decorated and beautifully maintained, the hotel offers all the modern amenities of a world-class hotel in an historical setting right in the heart of Nairobi.

The New Stanley

Like the Norfolk, the New Stanley (link) is one of Nairobi’s original hotels that has been maintained impeccably and now offers all the modern amenities as well as a charming atmosphere and ideal location.

Nairobi Serena

Another of the finest hotels in Nairobi, this is the flagship of Serena hotels. With colour TVs in every room, a beautiful pool area, lush gardens, and international cuisine the Serena Nairobi is definitely a luxury accommodation.

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