Dragoman’s Graphic Designer Nathan recently finished an overland tour in East Africa on the Serengeti & Zanzibar Wanderer (YND) tour between Zanzibar and Nairobi. On this overland tour you’ll visit the lands of the Maasai and other tribespeople, go on safari in some of the best wildlife destinations in Africa, including the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, and relax on the sandy beaches of Zanzibar and explore the historic Stone Town.
I arrived early morning into Stone Town in Zanzibar. I took a quick cab from the airport to the hotel, which took about 15 minutes and cost around USD$15. Except for an informal meeting with our local guide, Daniel, in the evening, the rest of the day was free, and I used it to wander around Stone Town, walking along the sea front and visiting the Old Fort and the Old Dispensary. I had lunch in a little cafe and got lost a little bit, but the locals are friendly and helped me with directions back to the hotel. At 6pm we met our local guide and went out for an orientation walk, went for food at Zanzibar’s Night Market, which is held every night and has loads of stalls selling really good local food, and then went out for drinks to get to know each other.
After breakfast at the hotel, the group went out together for another wander around the sights of Stone Town. Later we met up with our Dragoman leaders and the previous group who have travelled from Victoria Falls. We all went out on one of the small boats to a couple of islands, about half an hour off the coast. We snorkelled just off the coast of one of the islands, then had a little lunch on the boat. In the afternoon we went over to Changuu, also known as Prison Island, and explored the site of the prison that was built there. It was never actually used as a prison, but was used as a quarantine station for yellow fever epidemics. One of the main attractions on the island is an Aldabra Giant Tortoise Sanctuary. Some of the tortoises here are over 150 years old. We got to feed the tortoises, then headed back to the mainland for our joining meeting at the hotel with our leader, Kylie, then out again for a group dinner.
On the morning of day 3, we went on a group trip to the Old Slave Market and the Anglican cathedral which now stands on the site there. This was the first Anglican cathedral in East Africa, built in the 1870s, and the altar supposedly stands on the same spot as the old whipping tree. In the grounds outside there’s a memorial that pays tribute to the slaves that were sold here. We then went around the corner to the local fish and meat market, before hopping onto a minibus to go and visit a government-run spice plantation, where we had a tour and smelt and tasted some of the spices. For lunch we went to our local guide Daniel’s mother’s house, where she served us some delicious home-cooked food. In the afternoon we took the minibus to Nungwi Beach. Nungwi is a large village at the northern end of the island of Zanzibar with a beautiful white sandy beach, where we’re staying in beach huts for the next two nights. We had the rest of the day here free to do whatever we wanted, so I just chilled on the beach, then in the evening we went out for a group meal.
We had the whole day free again to do whatever we wanted on Nungwi Beach. There are loads of optional activities like hiring buggies to go round the village, and various watersports. One of the group went on a snorkelling day trip. I personally did nothing, just chilled out on the beach for the day. We went for another group meal in the evening, before looking around some of the local market stalls.
Tomorrow we’re heading back to the mainland at Dar es Salaam.
This morning we had an hour's drive back to Stone Town where we said goodbye to our local guide, Daniel, and boarded the catamaran over to Dar es Salaam. The crossing only takes a couple of hours and is quite comfortable (depending on the weather). The catamaran has refreshments and snacks on board but you can also take on your own snacks if you wish. Once we arrived, we hopped into a couple of taxis and travelled to Bagamoyo which was roughly two hours away from the port. This was a slight change to the itinerary but our leader did this to save us an uber-early start the following morning.
At the campsite we met our local driver David and our chef Kingston, who prepared a lovely meal for us as we set up camp and got settled in for the evening.
Today was our longest drive day at an estimated 500km/9 hours long. We started early but after a couple of hours we encountered our first traffic jam due to an accident further along the road. It took a couple of hours for the accident to be cleared, and then we were off on the road again. After a few comfort breaks we reached Marangu in the early evening, where we set up camp in the grounds of an old colonial hotel (a few of us chose to upgrade to the rooms that were available). After dinner we celebrated a fellow passenger's birthday with a few beers and cake!
This morning was free to do as you wish, and a few of us chose to go on the optional village walk for 3 hours. We visited a local school, wandered through several farms, visited a local waterfall and the Chagga caves. We rejoined the rest of the group before driving on to Arusha. Our campsite was the Meserani Snake Park which is a famous overlanding site in Arusha. As we arrived the party was in full swing at the bar, which had its walls covered in overlanding memorabilia from years gone by.
Before bed we had to re-pack our bags for our four-day safari excursion. Our bigger bags stayed with the truck at the campsite.
We were picked up early by our safari guides from Safari HQ and began our journey into the Serengeti. Our itinerary changed slightly as we began our safari on the far side of the park, which is a considerable drive from the campsite in Arusha. We arrived at the campsite at about 7pm but we did enjoy game viewing throughout our drive. The camp was surrounded by wildlife and we even had a hyena visit our tents! The team from Safari HQ cooked us a huge three course evening meal which set the tone for the rest of the meals that they would provide for us during the next 3 days.
It was early to bed for a very early start tomorrow!
This morning there was an optional activity of a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti, myself, our leader and 3 others chose to do this so we were up at 5am to be driven to the launch site. Soon after the sun had risen over the horizon we were up and floating over the plains of the Serengeti for the next hour. We spotted gibbons, hyenas, giraffes and numerous hippos lazing around in their watering holes.
After the ride we were treated to a champagne reception and then a traditional english breakfast in the middle of the Serengeti (with more champagne for good measure). The excursion was a real treat and although expensive it really was worth every penny! Ask your sales agent for more details!
For those that didn't do the hot air balloon, they went on a morning game drive before meeting us at about 11am. We then continued our game drive to our next campsite on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.
We journeyed down into the crater this morning and began our game drive through this wildlife haven. We continued to tick off our list of the Big 5 which consists of lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant. We'd already seen a leopard and lion yesterday! By late afternoon we'd ticked the rest of the list so it was a successful day.
We then drove out of the crater and on to our next camp site which was located outside of the national reserve. Once we'd relaxed for a bit and showered we then went to enjoy a traditional Tanzanian meal prepared for us at a local house, the food was delicious and included a host of various dishes for us to sample.
Our final game drive was in Tarangire National Park, which was a short drive from our camp site. The reserve is known for its elephant population and we saw a huge number of them in the park, along with cheetahs and various birdlife. After lunch we began our journey back to our campsite in Arusha where we were reunited with our Dragoman truck and local crew.
Today we have a short distance to cover on the road as we cross the border into Kenya. We all successfully get our passports stamped in and out and make our way to Nairobi. We stay at the Wildebeest Eco Lodge, where I chose to upgrade to a fixed tent for the last two days of the trip. For the remainder of the afternoon I chilled by the pool before the group enjoyed a dinner buffet provided by the lodge.
This morning we visited the local giraffe sanctuary and David Sheldrake Elephant Orphange in Nairobi. You can take the opportunity to get "kissed" by a giraffe along with learning all about them and the important work that goes on at the elephant orphange to raise awareness of human/wildife conflict and the continuing affect of the ivory trade.
The rest of the day was free to do as you wished. I continued to laze by the pool for our final afternoon of the trip. In the evening we all went out to a local restaurant for our final meal together.
I had an early morning flight so left the accommodation at 6am. The rest of the group had a breakfast before saying goodbye to each other.
Overall the Serengeti & Zanzibar Wanderer (YND) is a great introduction to overlanding and at two weeks in duration it eases you into the overlanding lifestyle with a mixture of accommodation and not too many long drive days!
If you have any questions regarding this or any other Dragoman tour then please contact the sales team.