It's the trip that tops most travelers' lifetime dream lists: an African safari. The words themselves evoke a magic that is unmatched, and conjure visions of lions stalking across the savannah and wildebeest running in thundering, vast herds. It's not uncommon to think that those amazing sights will remain a distant fantasy, but there's no need to give up on the dream. In fact, it's easier than ever to make it a reality.
The African continent's vast spaces and rich assortment of wildlife, living in numerous countries, can make it challenging to know exactly where to go on an African safari. Having professional planners on your side will help enormously, as they have insider knowledge of the best places to go on safari, and can also take care of all the complexities that could otherwise make the trip too difficult or prohibitively expensive. One tour company, Tauck, has more than 88 years of experience, and their African safari, centered on the country of Tanzania, gives you the ultimate experience at a cost savings of up to 40 percent over independent travel. The added bonus is that, as a traveler, all you need to do is focus on enjoying every moment.
Tanzania is home to some of the most spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife and richest culture on the continent, so it's an ideal destination for an African safari. These are just some of the essential, top-of-list experiences that you can enjoy:
1. The Ngorongoro Crater: From the rim of the caldera, you might think you're looking down onto a mythical paradise - and in fact, the area, which teems with wildlife, is often referred to as Africa's 'Garden of Eden.' Of all the sights the continent has to offer, this is one of the most spectacular. It's home to a staggering array of wildlife, including the 'big five' - buffalo, elephants, leopards, black-maned lions and black rhinoceros - all of which you have a chance to see aboard a four-wheel drive safari vehicle.
2. Maasai culture: The distinctive customs of the Maasai people are unlike any other on earth, and the opportunity to meet and visit with them is a highlight of any safari trip. The Maasai are semi-nomadic people and are renowned for their traditions, clothing and jewelry as well as their history as warriors. Tauck tours include visits to a Maasai village and the opportunity to interact with them doing traditional activities.
3. Olduvai Gorge: It was in this steep ravine that archaeologists Louis, Mary and Jonathan Leakey made some of the most significant discoveries of our time. Here, they unearthed the remains of some of the earliest ancestors of humans, thought to date back 1.8 million years, providing new insights. Tauck's African safari includes a docent-led excursion into the gorge that provides exceptional insight into this cradle of humanity.
4. Zanzibar: When it comes to evocative place names, it's hard to top the mystique of the spice-rich island archipelago of Zanzibar, located just off the coast of Tanzania. The principal city of the islands, Stone Town, is an evocative maze of streets that is punctuated by the faded grandeur of colonial architecture. Sail away from the powdery sand beaches on a traditional dhow (sailboat) and look for dolphins that may leap up from the turquoise blue waters.
5. The Serengeti: Imagine floating through the dawn of early morning light in a hot air balloon as the sun rises over vast grasslands where wildlife awakens - if that sounds good, a trip to Africa's Serengeti should be on your itinerary. Not all tour operators offer balloon flights, so make sure that yours does. A wildlife drive will get you close (at a safe distance) to Africa's 'big five' - and you also have an opportunity to see local wildlife from warthogs and cheetahs to giraffes and zebras. Serengeti accommodation includes luxurious safari camps that take you back to the days of Edwardian-era explorers.
The experience of going on an African safari is nothing short of epic. And with today's travel environment making the trip more accessible than ever before, the ultimate travel dream can come true as soon as you'd like. For more information, visit Tauck online.