Tanzania Safari serviceperson extraordinaire, Paul, first traveled to Tanzania over nine years ago. Today he says that “every time I go back it feels like a part of me is coming home.”
Recently, he had a chance to experience the beauty of Tanzania all over again on a Thomson Safari. We wanted to learn more about Paul’s “first true safari experience,” one more magical than he’d ever expected:
When did you travel?
I went in early March, which was fantastic. The weather was amazing, but we missed most of the crowds. It was a win-win!
Which itinerary did you choose?
I figured that for my first true safari experience, I had to go with the best, so I traveled on a Signature Safari. I got to see all the highlights of the northern circuit, but the two nights at Gibb’s Farm might have been my favorite part! There’s just nothing that compares with the views out over the [Ngorongoro] Highlands, or the luxury of a farm-fresh meal.
Tell us a little more about what you saw on safari.
Well there were just hundreds of giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of wildebeest and zebra. I did spot a leopard lounging in a tree, which I counted as lucky; I’d hoped to spot one close-up, but they’re so elusive that even from a distance it was a magnificent sight.
Was that your favorite sighting?
Actually I think the thing I was most excited about was seeing black rhinoceros, both in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater. They’re incredibly endangered in the wild, so it’s never a guarantee that you’ll spot one. But I also got to see honey badgers and an aardvark during our night drive at the Eastern Serengeti Nature Refuge—they’re both nocturnal, so that was a real treat. Oh, and we spotted a whole litter of baby cheetahs! Honestly, I could go on for days. So much of what we saw was just spectacular.
Tell us about something that you’ll never forget, a stand out memory from the trip.
There were dozens of those moments! But one in particular happened our second night in the Southern Serengeti. We were all sitting down to dinner when an entire herd of elephants came strolling through camp. They were so at peace, and so clearly unperturbed by our presence, that I wasn’t even nervous, just amazed. It was a good reminder, though: this isn’t our territory, it’s the wild. It belongs to them.
What would you do on your next trip that you didn’t get to on this one?
I’d love to camp out up by the Mara River and see the migration (which I know is a crapshoot at the best of times, but a guy can dream, right?). And I’d love to return to Gibb’s Farm. I could spend an entire trip just doing the activities there—going on hikes, or biking through the highlands, or just relaxing around the fire with a sundowner cocktail.
If you could send people to just one spot in Tanzania, where would it be?
There’s this spot at the Eastern Serengeti Nature Refuge, in the valley just near the Nyumba camp. You look around there, and the spectacle of the landscape, and of the wildlife—because giraffes and wildebeest are just strolling by—feels so truly wild. It’s a really amazing feeling.
So when’s the next trip?
As soon as I can manage. Even now, if I close my eyes, I can almost taste the crisp early morning air off the long grass plains. It’s a life-changing place, in ways I almost can’t describe.