A Budget Camping Safari in the Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater

A safari on the savanna has been on top of my bucket list since I first saw The Lion King as a child. I have also been on a continent conquest to visit all 7 continents by the time I am 30 years old, with only Africa and Antarctica left on my bucket list. I was determined to make 2019 the year I finally visit the amazing African continent. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to visit an old friend of mine studying Swahili in Tanzania. Of course, a trip to Eastern Africa would not be complete without booking a safari tour.

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A herd of elephants roaming the savanna!

Since my trip to Tanzania was a spontaneous one, I decided to check out Tourradar for any last minute safari tours. Luckily, I was able to find a tour that fit my budget and schedule, a four days, three nights safari in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater with Perfect Wilderness Tours.

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This four day adventure cost approximately $750 USD, which included everything: accommodations (camping tent, sleeping bag and bedding), transportation, guided safari, bottled water and all meals personally cooked by our own chef in our tour (private transportation to and from the airport are also available at an additional cost)!

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Nothing beats seeing a majestic giraffe out in its natural habitat!

If camping, adventure, or budget friendly travel is your thing, I highly recommend this tour. The company goes above and beyond to ensure travelers see the Big Five (lions, leopards, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo), as well as many other species, such as cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, and hippopotamus. Here are some of the highlights of this safari:

 

Witness the Great Wildebeest Migration

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Who knew there were so many wildebeests existed out in the wild

The Great Wildebeest Migration occurs year round throughout Tanzania and Kenya. Over two million wildebeest, gazelles, and zebras migrate through the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems in search of green pasture, in a regular pattern. These magnificent beasts follow the rainfall throughout the savanna. Their calving season is between December through March.

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Wildebeests and zebras enjoying a nice mid-day swim

 

Having baboons climb all over your vehicle

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Making new friends on the road

These quirky creatures were most certainly not shy. Once we parked and turned off our vehicle, an entire group of baboons emerged from the trees and curiously checked us out. We almost had one baboon be brave enough to enter inside the car!

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How cute are these little guys?!

 

Get up close with different types of “big cats” out in the wild

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Cheetahs out in the hot sun

Nothing beats coming up close with some of nature’s biggest hunters out in wild! We found these cheetahs out in the middle of the savanna alone, catching their breath while out under the hot African sun. We were also fortunate enough to discover several lions, some taking naps in the shade, some overlooking their prey from “pride rock”, and others enjoying a freshly caught meal.

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This lion was exhausted after feasting on a buffalo all morning!

 

Watching rhinos wander in Ngorongoro Crater

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Real life unicorns

These magnificent, real life unicorns of Africa are incredibly endangered. Back in 1968, there was an estimated 108 rhinos who were residents of Ngorongoro Crater. Nearly ten years later, that number dropped tremendously down to 25 rhinos. Re-introduction of rhinos in the crater began in 1990 through the support of international conservation bodies. Today, it is estimated to be over 50 rhinos back in Ngorongoro Crater. Therefore, being able to see these amazing animals out in the wild is a very special experience.

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What to Know Before Going on Safari

1. You will be sitting, a LOT

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Our home on the road for four days

For some reason, this did not dawn on me until I was actually on safari. There’s quite a long distance between Arusha (where you depart/return), Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti, not to mention the distance driving around within Serengeti National Park and to Ngorongoro Crater.

 

2. It’s not safe to leave the vehicle (unless otherwise told by your driver)

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I was completely happy getting a “selfie” with elephants from inside the car!

This, too of course makes sense but should definitely be noted. Wild animals are unpredictable and therefore, leaving the vehicle would be a major liability and safety issue for tourists and guides. However, the tour guides go above and beyond to safely get as close to wild game as possible without spooking the animals. And trust me, you can still get some pretty epic selfies with the animals in the comfort of your own car!

 

3. You’ll run into many other safari groups out in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater

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Relaxing at the campground in Ngorongoro before the other groups arrive

I went during shoulder/low season in March and even then, there were quite a few tours we ran into. However, we found Ngorongoro Crater and campground were more crowded than the Serengeti. July and August are considered high seasons and according to my tour guide, Elle, you may literally be “waiting in line” during this season in order to get a glimpse of that lion feasting on a wildebeest. I highly recommend visiting during shoulder season, where it is more manageable to share viewing the game with other safari groups.

 

Which animals would you love to see on an African safari?!

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