The third album for our Tanzanian birding trip covers the so-called “Northern Circuit”, which includes the Serengeti and Ngorongoro, renowned for their wildlife. Having been brought up in England on a TV diet of BBC wildlife programs with David Attenborough and others, many of which were based on this area of East Africa, visiting this area had been a dream of a lifetime. Now we were there and would spend a week of our Birding Safari in this area!
On day one, we headed north from Arusha to Gibbs Farm, a luxury lodge located on the boundary of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (CA) whose grounds are renowned for the Sunbirds and other species. After birding the grounds in the morning, and the eating a sumptuous lunch, we walked up the “Elephant Trail” on the outside of the crater rim. Once we heard an Elephant returning towards us, we decided it was time to turn around!
The next morning, day two, we headed into Ngorongoro CA, and drove through into the adjacent Serengeti NP with birding stops along the way. We then continued through Serengeti and into the Western Corridor, heading towards Speke Bay on Lake Victoria. The vastness of the area is awesome – the combined area of Ngorongoro and Serengeti is about 23,000 sq. km (9,000 sq. miles), which is about 10% of the area of Great Britain. It took the whole day to reach Speke Bay (with, of course, many birding stops)!
We spent two nights in Speke Bay at a lodge right on the shore, with day three being spent birding the area around the hotel. We had some fantastic birds with some species we would not have seen further east, but Alison’s enjoyment was tempered by a stomach bug she had picked up. Alison was still unwell on day four for our return journey through the Western Corridor of Serengeti. After lunch at the rest area, we slowly meandered northwards towards Ngorongoro. The journey became a phenomenal “Three-Cat” afternoon! We had three lots of Lions, an amazing Leopard only a few feet from the road, topped off by a Cheetah with two cubs as the sun set in Ngorongoro CA! Awesome, plus we had great birds too!
We spent the night at Ndutu Lodge in Ngorongoro CA prior to birding the Crater floor on day five. Alison was still not well but mustered all the enthusiasm she could through the haze of medications! A phenomenal day – the elegant Gray Crowned Cranes were definitely the bird of the day. Since it was not the peak season, the crater was not too crowded: there were probably 20-30 vehicles there, but our guide said there can be up to 200 vehicles in the crater in the high season. Following some afternoon birding, we had to head for the gate to exit before our permit expired (valid 24 hrs).
After the night at the inn just outside the park, day six started with a visit to the Fame clinic to get medications, both for myself (very nasty cough and congestion) and Alison. Armed with the meds, we set off for Tarangire National Park, the last birding destination in the north, arriving just in time for lunch. The lodge was spectacular, set on a ridge looking down on the plain, and the accommodation was in Luxury Tents, complete with bathroom. We had a great day and a half birding in Tarangire before setting off for the south after our second night of luxury.
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