Before embarking on my Kilimanjaro climb with World Vision Canada, the group and I had the opportunity to go on a ‘mini-safari’ in Tanzania. While most safaris are a multi-day event, we only had one day to spare before starting our climb. None-the-less, I was so excited to be going on a safari in Africa, something I had only dreamed about up until this point! We headed to Tarangire National Park hoping to see as much amazing wildlife as possible.
Tarangire National Park is located about a 3-hour drive from Arusha and spans an area of around 2,900 square kilometers. It has the highest concentration of animals outside of the Serengeti and you can regularly see impalas, gazelles, birds, giraffes, and elephants.
When we arrived at the park, our vehicles were prepped for the day. Tires were checked, windows were opened, and the tops popped up giving us a 360o unobstructed view of our surroundings. We loaded back into the vehicles and off we went.
It was such a magical feeling cruising around Tarangire National Park. All around us were wide-open plains for as far as the eye could see. The breeze kept us cool as we drove along the marked path and we kept our eyes peeled for any signs of wildlife.
Our first major sighting was a herd of elephants walking right alongside the vehicle pathway. My heart skipped a beat as we neared them, almost oblivious to our presence. There must have been at least a dozen elephants just going about their daily routine. Our driver, Daniel, turned the car off and we spent a good twenty minutes just observing their movements.
Back on the road, we continued to seek out more wildlife. Unless animals were right beside the pathway we were driving along (we were not allowed to deviate from the marked path), it became a bit of a game trying to spot the animals. All the drivers operating within the park could communicate with one another through radios and would alert each other if they spotted something worthwhile.
About an hour into our safari, word came through that 2 lions were spotted sleeping under a tree. We made a quick u-turn and headed in their direction. The roadway was crammed with about 6 vehicles when we arrived all jostling for a peak at the lions. It was hard to see them at first but with a pair of binoculars I could just make out the heads of a male and female lion lounging in the grass in the shade of the tree. They were unfazed by us, more interested in enjoying their afternoon nap but it was just amazing seeing these two animals mere feet away from us.
A lot of patience is required while on a safari. As guests to these animals’ habitat, we’re on their time and schedule and they’re not going to appear just because we want them to. But I found this added to the experience, a little scavenger hunt on the African Plains!
Even though our time in Tarangire National Park was limited, it was an incredible experience to see these animals in the wild – free to roam and live as they’re intended to. The day gave me the opportunity to see what a safari was all about. I plan on coming back to eastern Africa to really do a proper safari but for those with a limited budget and amount of time, a day safari in Tarangire National Park is simply perfect.