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Kent’s Return to Tanzania

February 16, 2024  By: Kent

On my recent return to Tanzania, one of my travel companions asked if it was still fun for me, considering I had lived there for years and have been back countless times since.

Immediately, images of the past 10 days flooded into my head – incredible lion sightings, baby elephants playing and peaceful beachside sunsets, along with some travel hiccups like unexpected rain, rough roads and a lost passport.

“Yeah, I still love it!”

A safari to Tanzania is always an adventure. Challenges require focus that force you into the moment as normal everyday concerns like emails, house projects and dentist appointments drift into the background. And these challenges nearly always result in something good – maybe something incredible – which, in turn, helps to create memories that last a lifetime.

Take, for example, the aforementioned challenges.

Zanzibar boat and water

Zanzibar Island

When we arrived in Zanzibar at night it was still hot and muggy, which soon turned into a torrential downpour. I knew that East Africa’s ‘short rains’ are not the archipelago’s top season, but it’s such a special place, it’s still well worth going. I especially wanted to share its culture and beauty with my travel companions. The next day, the sun came out (the short rains are typically just that – short storms with plenty of nice weather in between) , as did the humidity. With each step on our walking tour, my shirt became more and more soaked. But the heat was overshadowed by all I learned from our excellent local guide, Yusuf, who not only shared the fascinating history of the Spice Islands and pointed out local landmarks and beautiful carved doors, but also shared a bit of himself and the challenges of living there. It’s these kinds of experiences that help immerse travelers into a place.

spice farm tour

A rooftop dinner at Emerson on Hurumzi guarantees to get anyone into Zanzibar mode. We enjoyed a cocktail as the sun set over the Indian Ocean, followed by a Zanzibari-themed four course dinner eaten while sitting on pillows, followed by dessert enjoyed while local musicians played their lilting East African melodies. After a visit to Jozani Forest to view playful Zanzibar red colobus monkeys, we arrived at Kilindi on the northwest coast where we enjoyed swimming, strolls on the beaches, a sunset dhow cruise with singing and more.

elephant herd in Tarangire

Tarangire National Park

Tarangire is most famous for large elephant herds, giant baobab trees, great general game and, unfortunately, tsetse flies, the bite of which will bring obscenities from the mouths of even the most gentle visitor. That said, we know how to protect ourselves from them – by avoiding dark colored clothing and covering the skin with light layers. Also, tsetses are localized in pockets of forest and thickets, rather than being around everywhere and visitors should not be deterred because inevitably, post swat, a visitor will look up and see something amazing in this park. I personally loved seeing multiple cheetahs hunting and hippos honking and wheezing in Silale Swamp because both species were rare to non-existent in the park in past years. But it’s the elephants who impress most here – elephants drinking from the river, baby elephants charging then thinking twice about it and running back to their mothers, elephants enjoying mud baths, elephants so close you can look them in the eye and appreciate their long lashes.


Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro is a World Heritage Site and UN Biosphere Reserve and deservedly so. There’s nowhere like it in the world. The 100-square-mile caldera (collapsed volcano) is home to 25,000 large mammals and many more birds. Sure, the roads are less than ideal and it can get quite crowded, but I tell all first-time visitors that it can’t be missed because of its incredible game viewing! We particularly enjoyed watching double rainbows appear over grazing wildebeest, both greater and lesser flamingos skimming Lake Magadi for plankton and algae, a black rhino with her calf resting in a meadow, big tusker elephants tilling the swamps for soft vegetation and hyenas harassing everyone within loping distance. And, a specially catered lunch provided by the friendly staff from The Highlands was a special treat.

lions on rock

Serengeti National Park

There’s no place like the Serengeti. It’s nearly 6,000 square miles of animal heaven on earth. Superlatives abound here, but catching a glimpse of the great migration with countless wildebeest and zebra was a highlight only possibly superseded by the volume of lions around Dunia Camp and Moru Kopjes: lions sleeping (of course), lions lounging on rocks, lions sleeping in trees, lions growling, lions hunting, baby lions chasing after their moms and aunts, lions roaring at night and lions right next to the Land Cruiser. There’s a reason why our incredibly knowledgeable and patient guide Erasto says this part of the Serengeti is his favorite place in all of Tanzania.

lion pride

It was Erasto, along with The Highlands camp manager Richard, who also showed what Tanzanian’s are all about in terms of their hospitality, but also their concern and helpfulness when one of our group lost her passport. They did everything possible to find it, and although that was unsuccessful, they helped make all the arrangements to get her to Dar Es Salaam to get a new one so she could get home in time to enjoy Thanksgiving with her family.

Kent with elephant

I am always grateful to get back to Tanzania and revisit my old haunts, better yet while sharing it with a group of people who had not yet experienced its wonders. Every time I visit, I am reminded of how incredible the country is – full of amazing wildlife, warm and wonderful people, unforgettable landscapes and beautiful beaches. It will always feel like a second home to me and I’m so happy to be able to send others to discover its magic.

giraffe up close

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Photos courtesy AAC President Kent Redding