We want to see African animals and birds in their natural environment, quietly, without a big crowd. We had no idea this was possible until we read about Mark Thornton Safaris in the Travel Section of “The New York Times”. His company offers walking safaris as an option and designs each trip specifically for your own group. How cool is that?
Could we do it? The perfect timing for us is to make Africa a stop in June 2014 on our upcoming round-the-world trip. Next, we needed to form a group. This was ridiculously easy as 2 members of Beth’s book group immediately jumped in, with a husband to join as well. Now we are a group of 5.
We all met for Saturday brunch at a local bistro. Mark Thornton’s website offers a number of options, which we used as a starting point to discuss, as a group, the safari we wanted: where to go, how many days, how did we feel about roughing it as opposed to luxury, etc.? Decisions were made and emails were sent back and forth with Mark.
What do you think of the itinerary he has planned for us in Tanzania?:
Day 1: Arrive and overnight at a small quiet mountain lodge
Day 2: Hiking and some game driving in Arusha National Park & Mt Meru – hiking, forest environment, primates, excellent birding, views of Kili, forest antelope, buffalo and just a very different environment than the dry bush country. Overnight back at the lodge.
Day 3: Drive out to the Maasai Steppe, to our exclusive area. Walking, hiking, real authentic interaction and time shared with our Maasai partners in conservation for the area who are in camp with us and on walks. We usually make a full day of it to drive out there because it is very interesting passing through Maasai country that nobody else goes to. We stop for a picnic lunch and get to camp around 4:00pm.This afternoon you can stretch your legs on a walk. For this you’d be wilderness mobile camping.
Day 4: Morning hike and afternoon walk in Maasai Steppe
Day 5: Option of morning walk and afternoon driving into Tarangire. Or you can just head out in the morning in the vehicle to game drive. Camp is moved this day to inside Tarangire National Park.
Day 6: Game driving this day through Tarangire to a tented lodge located near the shores of Lake Manyara which has great views of the Rift Valley escarpment. In Tarangire, it’s excellent wildlife viewing this day.
Day 7: Morning walk, then head to the rim of Ngorongoro Crater. We can even put in an afternoon walk here in the forests here is you like. Overnight at a gorgeous tented camp set on the crater rim.
Day 8: Early morning game drive in Ngorongoro Crater. Afternoon head to a wonderful lodge for the night located in the highlands farms near Ngorongoro.
Day 9: Return to Arusha. You can game drive in Lake Manyara if you want. All depends on when you depart.
We think the itinerary is perfect for us. In the meantime, we’ll be doing a lot of dreaming – and reading up – about all that we’ll see on our safari. Check back in June 2014 for our report.