Exploring Tanzania with Jules Verne

Tarangire zebra

From Arusha to the Serengeti, we travelled in the northern area where national parks and reserves offer incredible wildlife and ever-changing scenery. Add Africa’s largest lake and Little Okavango, what more could we want? Perhaps a few days by the Indian Ocean? I could not wait… 

Highlights around Arusha

Tarangire National Park          

Full of anticipation, we were off on our first game drive, south west of the city. Past the baobabs – ‘the upside down trees’- and a sprinkling of acacias, the bumpy track led us to a viewpoint, looking down on the river which gave its name to the park. Zebra, impalas, warthogs and more, the guide pointed all around but what was that? A lioness and her cubs parading along the bank? Then it was an elephant herd, drinking and splashing before tiptoeing up the slope in search of juicy leaves. After dark, a lonely male feasted by my room so the escort guided me in, a different way. Animals come first.

The World’s Largest Unbroken Caldera    

Two days later, having enjoyed Lake Manyara National Park, we continued north to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, its massive caldera created over two million years ago when a volcano collapsed. Stretching 16 km across, it is listed by UNESCO and one of the ‘Seven Natural Wonders of Africa’. Slightly alarmed, we bounced down the old elephant trail, hoping to see a few of 25,000 residents. Zebra, gazelles, wildebeest, ostrich, they’re all there (except giraffes), including the ‘Big Five’ and the world’s largest concentration of lions. Enclosed by high walls, the caldera is a heat trap and the Magadi flamingo lake almost looked like a mirage.

Meeting the Maasai     

Tanzania Maasai market
Tanzania Maasai market

Early next morningwe visited the indigenous tribe, semi-nomadic herders in the conservation area.They welcomed us like royalty, men in traditional red performing the high jumping dance (no bending knees), women in blue, shifting shoulders up and down to show off their heavy necklaces threaded with colourful beads. We sat in a small family hut, popped into the school -one teacher, one room- and learned how to light a fire with soft and hard wood. Now, the market was ready, beautiful jewellery, painted bowls, woven baskets, how could we resist?

‘Serengeti shall never die‘          

Land without End     

Tanzania Serengeti cheetah
Tanzania Serengeti cheetah

Time to move on since after the Olduvai archaeological site, the huge National Park of Serengeti was waiting. The Maasai called it ‘the plain that never stops’ yet after endless clouds of dust, the first acacias appeared and we spotted a feeding leopard and a lioness dozing up in a tree. That was a rare sight and the following day we met the cheetahs, a family of four, lapping away around a puddle before climbing up a termite mound for safety. After a while when we approached the green hills, we caught the tail end of the Great Migration, wildebeest, buffaloes, zebra and so on, grazing on lush grass, no rush, as they headed south to the rain.

Tent with a View in Bush Rover Camp     

Tanzania Serengeti Bush Rover
Tanzania Serengeti Bush Rover

Our tented accommodation was great throughout, yet when we settled in our Bush Rover Camp up in the north, this was awesome, everything fitting perfectly in private land rovers, from downstairs bathroom to upstairs bedroom and balcony with a view. All safely zipped up after dark so if you heard the odd leopard or even a lion, no need to worry. More eco-friendly than permanent tents, the camp is moved to the best viewing areas three times a year.

Wildlife around the Mara River        

With some 30,000 square km across Serengeti, expect long game drives, best sightings early morning or mid-afternoon till sunset. The river beckoned straightaway, time to drive along the shore where hippos with pink ears gathered in the water and a lonely crocodile shifted along the bank. We promptly escaped to our campfire glowing on the hill. Dawn came early as we forded the river, driving north towards the Kenyan border where the grass was green but short. I had never seen so many lions, pride after pride nursing their young, resting in the shade or wandering in search of water. Then there were elands, impalas, long-horned oryx and more, and I loved the giraffes, so elegant and cool. 

Mighty Lake and Little O’                           

Lake Victoria                      

Lake Victoria, Tanzania
Lake Victoria, Tanzania

Shared by three countries, Africa’s largest lake stretches south into Tanzania on the edge of the Serengeti. What a change this was after the bush, a huge expanse of water where we went to a fish market, bursting with colour and noise. Men fished at night, women sold in the early morning, squatting in gorgeous African dress, nursing babies, bargaining, cleaning fish. There were nets to dry, things to check – hammers echoing around – while pelicans waited on deserted boats (10). We chatted and laughed with the villagers before sailing back to our last safari camp.

Little Okavango                          

Tanzania Little Okavango
Tanzania Little Okavango

Known as Little O, our hidden gem had tented rooms spread across the marshlands, perched on stilts and connected by elevated walkways. This is hippo land, you’ll hear them after dark but they can’t climb. Safe with the guides, we canoed through thick vegetation in a birds’ haven, looking out for pied kingfishers, blue shoebill, African Jacana to name just a few. Later, after a storm, a rainbow rose above Little O’, an auspicious sign before our propeller flight to Zanzibar. 

Peaceful Paradise

Stone Town                    

Zanzibar Stone Town market entrance
Zanzibar Stone Town market entrance

Near the city’s bustling market, alleyways meandered in the historic centre, lined with one-man shops, bazaars and 19th century coral buildings, draped in verandas and carved wooden doors. We saw the Sultan’s Palace, now a museum, two cathedrals, a few mosques and the impressive old fort with towers and city wall. We strolled along the seafront promenade, gazing at local boats, a ferry in the distance, and relaxed in welcome shade under the swaying palms.

Monkeys, Spice and Sea         

About an hour from town, we reached the Jozani reserve to see red Colobus monkeys, endemic and now endangered, then went off to the nearby spice plantation where lost in the fragrance of cinnamon and clove, we discovered all about the legendary trade. Later, back up north on a quiet lane, our Zanzibari Boutique Hotel was the ultimate treat, its lush tropical garden leading to pool and private beach, miles of golden sands, the incoming tide all shades of turquoise and blue and around the corner, the most fabulous sunset over the Indian Ocean.

Pool Ocean View from Zanzibari Boutique Hotel
Pool Ocean View from Zanzibari Boutique Hotel

The mainland truly impressed me, so much wildlife roaming freely across parks and reserves, but we felt safe, always escorted in the wide-open camps. Then after the long but exciting safari rides, the Zanzibar extension was the perfect place to relax right by the sea. 

Next Steps                  

Solange Hando travelled with Jules Verne on the 10 night escorted tour of Serengeti and the Great Migration and a 4 night extension to Zanzibar. Find out more and book through Silver Travel Advisor on 0800 412 5678. 


Share Article:

Solange Hando

Award-winning travel writer & member of BGTW

Leave a comment


Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Mark Nicholls visits Austria’s snowiest ski resort and stumbles across a chapter of pop history….

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.