by Matthew Sterne on March 7, 2016
3 min read

Rhino Africa’s founder and chief, David Ryan, has been to more African lodges than there are wildebeest in the Serengeti. It’s one of the perks of the job.

And recently, he was at it again. This time following the classic Tanzania route. The Arusha, Ngorongoro Crater, Zanzibar circuit is a popular one with travellers and so we caught up with David to find out some of his expert tips for those interested in exploring Tanzania.

Ngorongoro Crater

Three lions in Ngorongoro CraterZebra and wildebeest in the Ngorongoro CraterThis, everyone will tell you, is a special place. Animals flourish here like nowhere else on earth, in a truly unique setting.

Once the tallest mountain in Africa, the giant volcano erupted three million years ago creating the world’s largest unbroken caldera. The crater is a massive bowl – it sinks to a depth of 600 metres and has a base area of 260 square kilometres. Within the crater, there are two lakes and a forest but mostly, it is grassland. 

“The Ngorongoro Crater is beyond spectacular. It’s insane,” David says. “One of the things you’ll never see in Southern Africa is hyenas hunting. And in the crater, you actually see clans of them. I think there are about 175 hyenas in the crater itself and you see the clans interact. We watched them hunt zebra and we also saw them even take over a hunt of buffalo that 13 lions had started. That is just one example, but the whole interaction of animals there is phenomenal and so different to anywhere else. The animal behaviour is so different to what you learn and see on a normal safari. The crater has to be the closest thing to the Lion King. It has massive herds, from big tuskers to zebra, wildebeest and buffalo.”

Top Tip
“The crowds at the crater can be quite a thing, but it is possible to have a few hours to yourself if you stay within the park. Nothing beats Ngorongoro Crater Lodge for location. It is Versailles meets Maasai, and is one of the only lodges with a view overlooking the crater. Location-wise, nothing can beat it.”

Zanzibar

Breezes Beach Club and SpaKayaking at Mnemba Island Lodge, Zanzibar“Safaris can be quite demanding. There are early morning starts and late afternoon excursions, so many people like to finish their trip with a beach holiday. In East Africa, that means one place: Zanzibar.

“The South Eastern region has some of the best lodges in Zanzibar offering exclusivity and privacy on white sand beaches with excellent staff and service. The beaches are beautiful but the island is surrounded by a coral reef so there are certain times during the day when you can’t swim. Breezes, Baraza and Mnemba Island are a few of our favourite places to stay.”

Top Tip
“Zanzibar has amazing beaches and is a great place to relax, but if you want to go snorkelling and diving then Vamizi is the best option by far. Vamizi is just south of the border in Mozam but not far from Dar es Salaam, so it’s a little more tricky to get to, as things naturally are with remote destinations. But it’s in a different league. It is pristine, the reefs are spectacular and the diving is incredible. If snorkelling and diving are high on your agenda then go to Vamizi!”

Arusha

An aerial view of Legendary Lodge, TanzaniaArusha is a holding point, a kind of a gateway to the rest of Tanzania. East Africa and Tanzania works on a kind of circuit that generally starts in Arusha and then goes on to the Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and the Serengeti with possibly finishing off in Zanzibar. Arusha is very close to Kilimanjaro and is a holding point for those arriving and acclimatising.”

Top Tip
“The coffee plantations are interesting, you get to see a bit of that colonial heritage. It’s a great place to acclimatise after a long journey and prepare yourself for your travels. Legendary Lodge is ideal for both of those, as it is set in a coffee plantation.”

Keep an eye out for our next Tanzania blog, where we will visit the Serengeti National Park and Lake Manyara.