Go on an African Safari in Tanzania

I am very familiar with the saying “expect the unexpected”. Yet, not one little part of me expected to be on a plane alone to Tanzania, Africa. Come on, it was AFRICA, 38 hours of travel time from my Northern California home and a completely different culture from any place I had ever been to. I was scared. But, when the opportunity came to go on a four-day safari with Shadows of Africa, I just had to say yes to a once-in-a-lifetime experience that kind of made me want to poop my pants.
African Safari Wildebeest

I had to conquer 5 fears before I even started the African safari journey. Every one of them worth the anxiety involved.

Fear 1 – Flying
Yep, I am one of those world travelers who is actually afraid of flying and the anticipation of 2o hours in the air wasn’t doing me any favors. But, none of my planes on the way to Africa crashed, the wine on KLM was free and I safely arrived at Kilimanjaro airport.

Fear 2 – Vaccinations
I hate shots. Who doesn’t? But, I had heard a rumor that you could be stopped at the airport and asked to submit proof of your yellow fever vaccination. If you weren’t able to provide one, they’d administer it to you right on the spot. And that’s why I got all my vaccinations prior to leaving.
Annette White Vaccinations for Tanzania, Africa Africa Vaccinations

Upon landing, I was immediately stopped at the Kilimanjaro airport by security requesting vaccination records. I happily pulled out my record book.  You ain’t taking me in no back room to poke me with a needle.

Fear 3 – Getting My Checked Luggage
With my new $100 Tanzania visa in hand, a requirement for US citizens, I went to pick up my luggage…and it was actually there. This bag went from SFO > DTW > LHR > NBO > JRO. Even the check-in attendant in San Francisco said that that flight pattern would test the skills of the luggage handlers.

Fear 4 – No One Would Be at the Airport to Pick Me Up
I had programed every contact number and email into my phone just in case this fear came to fruition. But, even though my flight was an hour delayed, the Shadows of Africa driver patiently stood at the exit holding a sign boasting my name.

Fear 5 – I’d be Traveling with Douchebags
I would be on this African safari with two other travel bloggers whom I had never met, Jonny from Don’t Stop Living & Raymond from Man on the Lam. What if they were total douchebags? They weren’t. Actually, just the opposite. Between Raymond’s witty sense of humor, Jonny’s inquisitive mind and all the travel stories between us, I was entertained the entire trip.
Tarangire African Safari

Together we would be taking Shadows of Africa’s 4-day Tanzania Express tour. This trip would bring us to Tarangire, Serengeti National Park And Ngorongoro Crater.

Me and three complete strangers (including our trusty guide), on the road for four days. Let this journey begin…

After a three hour drive from the town of Arusha, we arrived at Tarangire National Park to start our very first game drive on safari.

Tarangire is 1,096 squares miles with an abundant mishmash of animals, including 550 species of birds.

We didn’t have to wait long after entering the park to see the very first animal, an Impala. And dozens of others followed; wildebeest, wart hogs, elephants, baboons, etc. One of my favorite sights of the day was the “hugging” zebras, that were in this position as a form of protection. Sweet.
Elephant on Safari  Zebras on Africa Safari in Tanzania

After a few hours driving the bumpy roads on the game drive, it was time for the typical safari afternoon meal, a box lunch. Most safari drivers and their guests will gather at a local “safe” spot to eat lunch, but ours wanted to enhance the experience even more by choosing remote locations. And even though we had to eat in the car for safety, today our view would be that of a riverbed, elephants and colorful birds. Much better than a tourist infested picnic bench at the parks gates.
African Safari Bird

Lunch this day was peanuts, green beans, a muffin, an apple and a beef sandwich. A nice and abundant selection. All of the afternoon meals were too much food, so we got into the habit of saving our uneaten portion for the sweet children of the Maasai, a colorfully dressed ethnic group, on the side of the road who all graciously accepted our offerings.
Maasai on Safari

We continued on our game drive until 5:30, then we were taken to Osupuko Lodge, a paradise amongst the paradise we had already witnessed. I had assumed I’d be peeing in the woods every night of this African safari and to my pleasant surprise tonight I would be staying in a fully equipped, luxury room with a stunning view of Tarangire and majestic elephants as greeters. Pure heaven.
Osupuko Lodge Safari, Tanzania

Plus the Maasai staff seemed to always be ready to help. They even walked each visitor to and from their rooms, transporting the luggage, but also as a security in the evening.

We were in lion and hyena land after all.
Osupuko Lodge Tanzania

The delicious mutton dinner at Osupuko’s outdoor restaurant was accompanied by a welcome dance show featuring the Maasai people. Just to make the evening more memorable, they brought me into the mix and taught me their traditional dance which featured neck rings, chanting and a bouncing motion. I officially still have no rhythm, but no one seemed to mind.

The hotel is run on a generator, so there was no electricity after ten, but you won’t mind at all because the best time is in the peaceful night listening to the animal calls.

The next days game drive was in the famous Serengeti National Park. Over 90,000 travelers visit this park and there is no doubt why; it is stunning with its seemingly endless dusty plains that are spotted with wildlife.
Dusty Road to Serengeti

Serengeti is blessed with an abundance of animals, leopards, ostrich and buffalos. And this is where we not only spotted our first hyena, but also saw the largest flying bird in the world, the Kori Bustard. Stretching Hyena on African Safari in Tanzania

After spending a long day with cheetahs, gazelles and lions we headed to our lodging for the night, Osupuko Camp, tented camping at its finest. This is a mobile campsite where the wild animals are residents too. I typically don’t enjoy camping, it just seems like too much work. But, this was different. Staff prepared all the meals, set up the campsite and cleaned your living quarters. And my tent had a flushing toilet.

This is the kind of glamorous camping I can do, glamping. Osupuko Camp Tent in Serengeti

On the last day of safari, we made the steep drive down into Ngorongoro Crater, a caldera with more than 120 species of mammals. Though it is densely populated with animals, there was one we would not see, the elusive Rhino. We searched hours, but not one of the estimated 21 were to be found. Bummer.

Though, the slew of flamingos in lake Magadi and clusters of wildebeest may have made up for that. Maybe.
flamingos on African safari
Ngorongoro Safari in Tanzania

At the end of the four days the species of animal count was a whopping 67, some varieties that I ever even knew existed.

The safari was an incredible adventure, but what I realized is that your driver/guide is the one who can truly enhance your experience by being knowledgeable, patient and safe. Our Shadows of Africa driver, Timo, was all that and more. Though all safari guides must go to school, so they are well educated in safari and Tanzania, there was something extra special about him. We couldn’t stump him with the thousands of questions thrown his way. Never. Okay, Jonny may have stumped him with the question “if a lion drinks vodka what would happen?” Apparently that answer was never given in a text book.
Roaring Lion on Safari

SAFARI TIPS The companies website had a great list of what to bring on safari, but here’s a few personal suggestions:

  • Bring toilet paper, 50% of the time you will need it.
  • Big breasted ladies, unlike me, wear a sports bra. The roads are beyond bumpy and your girls will be bouncing uncontrollably.
  • Photographers, don’t forget to bring your longest zoom lens. Many good finds, especially the birds, are from afar.
  • Layer your clothing, the weather can vary depending on the park and time of day.

. . . Read More . . .

Bucket List of 15 Things to Do on a Safari in Tanzania
Spot the Big Five on an African Safari
Visit a Maasai Tribe in Tanzania, Africa
Eat Traditional African Ugali. A Stiff Porridge.
Visit An Orphanage in Tanzania, Africa
Go Glamping in the Center of Africa’s Serengeti
Get Travel Vaccinations for an African Safari
9 Things To Do on a Long Haul Flight to Cure Boredom

Disclosure: I was a guest of Shadows of Africa on this safari, but all the words I write come straight from my, sometimes distorted, mind. Just as it should be.

2018-12-13T09:57:59+00:00August 20th, 2013|Categories: Africa, Tanzania, TOP PICKS, TRAVEL|Tags: , , |


  1. Jonny Blair August 20, 2013 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Absolutely fantastic article Annette – LOVE it and will share it on my networks! It was great to meet you and spend such a wonderful time on the safari together. It truly was a once in a lifetime. Your photos are great too. I’ll never forget the 5 fake leopards and that Corey Bustard!! Glad you’ve ticked this one off your bucket list journey and hope our paths cross again! Safe travels. Jonny

    • Annette White August 21, 2013 at 6:47 am - Reply

      Thanks Jonny! I’ve enjoyed telling the five leopard and cow story to my friends 😉
      Happy to have met such an interesting guy and looking forward to seeing where your journey will take you next.

  2. Heather August 21, 2013 at 7:08 am - Reply

    Love your photos and this post! I’ve been eagerly waiting to hear more about your trip 🙂 And glamping sounds like the best kind of camping — much better than what I did in Australia. I’d love to participate in this tirp!

    • Annette White August 21, 2013 at 7:17 am - Reply

      It truly was amazing and there is so much more to share that I couldn’t fit in this one post. I will definitely be writing a full story about glamping 🙂

  3. Andi August 21, 2013 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    Your pics are absolutely amazing!!!!!!!!!!

    • Annette White August 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm - Reply

      Thank you! I took a couple thousand, so there are many more to come 🙂

  4. Barbara August 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Hi Annette, I’m new to your site and really enjoying reading about your travel adventures and look forward to following along in the future! I’m so glad you were able to conquer those 5 fears and take this amazing trip, 67 species of animal is incredible! This is definitely on my bucket list! Loved the story and of course the beautiful pictures. Happy Travels!

    • Annette White August 21, 2013 at 5:32 pm - Reply

      I am so happy to have pushed through the fear, because this safari was an AMAZING experience! I hope you can check it off your bucket list in the near future 🙂

  5. Allison The Ultimate Life List August 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    Oh Annette, what an incredible experience!!!! Your pics are great, Shadows of Africa sounds like a great company, good to keep in mind!

    I have 1 question if I may…you said this “opportunity came up”…how so? A good deal on Groupon?

    Also, I FEEL SO GOOD EVERYTIME I LEARN ABOUT ANOTHER NERVOUS NELLY FLYER! I’m terrible, that’s why we didn’t fly to Disney World! Which worked out better getting to spend a few days in Savannah!

    I’m glad you had a good and safe trip!!

    • Annette White August 21, 2013 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      This was an incredible experience! I am a terrible flyer, but I promised myself to never let it get in the way of me seeing the world. So, I just drink a lot of wine 😉 Though, this 20-hours-in-the-air flight definitely tested my limits.
      This opportunity actually came to me because of my blog, the companies marketing team invited me knowing that it could be an experience my readers would enjoy. Even so, their prices are way more reasonable than some of the other companies I saw out there!

  6. I am more and more convinced your bucket list is MY bucket list–this is so amazing!

    • Annette White August 22, 2013 at 7:48 am - Reply

      Well, cooking some of the yummy things that you do is on my bucket list!

  7. simply Paul August 22, 2013 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    Annette as always your travels are the envy of most of us. For me I’m more impressed that you didn’t let a littlethinglike great stand in your way and instead conquered 5 of them. Congrats!

    • Annette White August 22, 2013 at 4:20 pm - Reply

      Thanks Paul! It may have not been very graceful, but I am proud to have pushed through the fear 🙂

  8. The Yum List August 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    This too is on my bucket list.

    • Annette White August 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm - Reply

      I do hope you have the opportunity at some point 🙂

  9. Heather August 23, 2013 at 10:20 am - Reply

    Amazing!! Gosh, I would love to do something like this. Hasn’t been in the cards yet, but I will get to see all those incredible animals in Africa one of these days!

    • Annette White August 23, 2013 at 1:57 pm - Reply

      I hope you do! It is quite an adventure!

  10. Crushing Fears, Riding The Bull and Hitting Delete | Bucket List Heroes August 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    […] Earlier in the week I talked about the reasons why I couldn’t be a Bucket List Hero and one of those reasons was being scared and not being able to face my fears. Annette from Bucket List Journey recently over came FIVE FEARS to to go on amazing adventure in Africa with people she had never met before! Her time in Africa provided a good tale to tell on its own and made it incredible to hear what she overcame. Read Go on an African Safari in Tanzania. […]

  11. GiselleandCody August 26, 2013 at 10:15 am - Reply

    Tanzania is such a beautiful country. We did an overland Safari from Kenya to Ngorongoro Crater and it was so incredible. Not as good as the Safari in Kenya but still beautiful and exciting. Would love to do it all over again.

    • Annette White August 26, 2013 at 11:08 pm - Reply

      If Safari in Kenya is better, then I MUST got there too!

  12. Arianwen August 29, 2013 at 5:30 am - Reply

    This was well worth fighting your fears for. I’m not a big fan of flying either, but this was probably the best trip of my life. I loved looking through your photos. It brought back so many memories! Having said that, I think you stayed in slightly better accommodation that I did!!

  13. […] my fellow traveller from Bucket List Journey and Raymond from Man on the Lam also opted for Zanzibar Coffee and we just sat and relaxed taking […]

  14. CeCe September 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    I can’t wait to go next year! Amazing shots. I agree…a good zoom lens is a must!

    • Annette White September 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      You’re going to have an AMAING time!!

  15. Raymond @ Man On The Lam September 15, 2013 at 2:34 am - Reply

    Sigh. You’ve got me longing to go back! Great meeting you Annette! Hopefully our paths will cross again one day!! 🙂

    • Annette White September 15, 2013 at 7:47 am - Reply

      I’m hoping that are paths will cross again, so I can whoop your ass at thug bug (is that what it’s even called?)! 🙂

  16. […] Timothy, our safari driver and native Tanzanian, did the ordering. He also answered our two dozen food related questions. Just like he did with the animal inquiries while on safari in Serengeti. […]

  17. Lee February 25, 2014 at 3:11 am - Reply


    Lovely! Can I interview you for my afri-travel blog please?


  18. […] list adventure, but a couple high on the list are swimming in Jellyfish Lake in Palau and going on safari in Tanzania. Though, thinking about it got me wondering if other travelers had a life list check that stood […]

  19. […] my time there, I was able to take a four day safari, go glamping in Serengeti, eat a traditional Ugali meal at a local restaurant, spend time at an […]

  20. […] Shadows of Africa and was accompanied by two cool travel bloggers, Raymond from Man on the Lam and Annette from Bucket List Journey. After waking up in the Osupoku Lodge we got into our jeep with our guide Timo and headed to the […]

  21. Surender August 4, 2015 at 6:12 am - Reply

    Great post with amazing photos!!! I just know Serengeti National Park is oldest and most popular national park of Tanzania. I’m sure African Safari will be the best things to do in Tanzania.

  22. […] hunt for the perfect backpack, one that will take me from hiking an active volcano to going on an African safari to comfortably carrying all my technology while traveling by […]

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