The Treasures of Tanzania - United Hub

The treasures of Tanzania

By The Hub team

Each week we will profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location for every employee's story. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.

By Flight Dispatcher Jonathan Uhrig

I originally intended to do this trip as a Kilimanjaro climb and trip to Zanzibar Island, however, I settled on two safaris due to time constraint. The first part of the safari was visiting four national parks and the second was visiting Selous Game Reserve in the south of the country via Cessna on a dirt airstrip. I used Tanzania-Experience.com for my planning. I flew from Chicago to Dubai and from there to Dar Es Salaam. I then flew on Dar Es Salaam to Kilimanjaro Airport, which is surprisingly a very modern airport.

A bit of history about Tanzania: It was formerly the German colony of Tanganyika and was taken over by the British as part of Germany's war reparations from World War I. Tanganyika got its independence from Britain in 1961 and was renamed Tanzania to incorporate Tanganyika and the former independent colony of Zanzibar Island hence the name, Tanzania.

During my first two nights, I stayed in the African View Lodge in Usa River near the town of Arusha. On the first full day of my vacation, I had a free day so I went to the Arusha Central Market where spices, coffees and souvenirs can be purchased. I also visited a snake farm and the Maasai museum. The Maasai people are natives who live in mud huts in the area and are mainly farmers. It is not uncommon to see children, as young as five, with a stick on the side of the road guiding 50-60 head of cattle.

On the first full day of the safari, you get a safety brief and meet the other people you will be traveling with. All safaris use Land Cruisers with a capacity of seven passengers. There is a small compartment in the back for luggage as you travel from lodge to lodge. I traveled with two German couples and a man from Minneapolis. Our first stop was Tarangire National Park, known for its native Baobab Tree. As we made our way to this National Park I saw every animal imaginable, including lions, elephants, giraffes and hippos. I didn't see a rhino until I got to Ngorongoro Crater.

We spent the second day at Lake Manyara, which has more than 600 species of birds. I saw a ton of baboons -- about 200 migrating from one area to another. Lake Manyara is also part of the African Rift Valley, the mountain chain runs from deep in the continent north to Kenya and beyond. The mosquito and Tse Tse fly is prevalent in this area so be sure to use repellent. The Tse Tse fly has a long needlelike proboscis and its bite can be painful.

The third day was the height of the trip with a visit to the Serengeti and a hot air balloon ride. The hot air balloon stays low initially so you have great views of the wildlife below, including the hippos in the river. Then the balloon gently climbs to an altitude of 3,000 feet. From this height, I saw giraffes, gazelles, lions and many acacia trees. It is the only way to see the Serengeti. Afterwards, there is a champagne salute at the landing site to commemorate the first balloon flight in the 1700s. After the toast you are treated to an outdoor brunch and get to sit and talk with the balloon captain. You are even given a certificate for the ride.

The balance of the trip was spent going to Ngorongoro Crater which is home to 27 rhinos. The rhinos are protected here because their horn is coveted by illegal hunters/poachers. I saw hundreds of animals in Ngorongoro Crater thanks to migration season - mainly for zebras and wildebeests. After Ngorongoro, I spent time at a real Maasai Village where they greeted us with their native dance and we got a chance to see their mud hut first hand. Their "kitchen" consists of an open fire, and a typical mud hut has two simple compartments for sleeping. That night, we drove to Ngorongoro Farm House located on a coffee plantation. We took a coffee walking tour and were briefed in detail about the seeding, planting, harvesting and processing of Arabica coffee.

The last two days were spent in the Selous. I flew there in a Cessna Caravan out of Arusha Airport - not as modern as Kilimanjaro but interesting nonetheless. The Selous has its own dirt airstrip so our pilot had to do two go arounds because there was a giraffe on the active runway. In the Selous, I went on another safari that also included walking the safari the next morning and a river cruise on the Rufiji River.

On the last day we were in Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. I had just enough time to witness the colorful and chaotic atmosphere at the fish market before heading home.

If Tanzania is in your travel plans, you won't be disappointed - it was a wonderful learning experience and very fun.

Things to note before you go:

  • A Visa is required for Tanzania.
  • Yellow Fever vaccine is not required, however, see your physician about other medical requirements.
  • If you plan on doing the hot air balloon trip, be sure to bring plenty of sun block, a hat and warm clothing.

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