Johnson and Wales University group, Study abroad in Tanzania

With Nature Guide Training

The group arrived relatively on time with the plane from Dar es Salaam, after a three hour delay in Zanzibar, but still managed to get the connecting flight to Arusha! Diana Griffioen, the Nature Guide Training Principal Trainer had flown up to join them and was to host this adventure for the University.

At 15.30 they arrived, and we managed to get going soon after that. The three guides, Geitan, Mozes and Roger were there and loaded the three Toyota Land Cruisers with the luggage. As soon as everything was packed we started with the afternoon program. We went straight to the Maasai Market in Arusha, to give the students an opportunity to get some curios from mainland Tanzania. The market was recently rebuilt because of a fire. The students had a look and some of them found something worthwhile buying, but most of the students had already bought curios in Zanzibar and were already over the limit for their luggage in the plane!

The tour continued with a view of the Clock Tower, which people once believed was exactly the halfway point between Cape Town and Cairo. However nowadays it is realised that it is not quite the halfway point. After this view the guides took the group to a supermarket to get some water and snacks for the forthcoming trip. Then it was time to get to the accommodation at The Korona Village.

On arrival at Korona the students were seen to their rooms. The rooms were clean and of a good standard. After an hour of settling down, dinner was served. It was a nice buffet with chicken and goat and good options for the vegetarians. There was also a soup for starter and ice cream for dessert. At the end of dinner we discussed the program for the next few days.

At 5.30 the next morning the group got a wakeup call and breakfast was ready from 6.00 o’clock. Breakfast consisted of toast, yoghurt, fruit and eggs. The bags were loaded on the game viewers again at 06.30 and just after 07.00 everyone was ready and the group departed for Tarangire National Park. It took about 2 hours to get to the entrance of Tarangire NP. There was a short leg stretch at the entrance. The group was welcomed by many Vervet or Green Monkeys. The monkeys were on the lookout for anything they potentially could grab and eat. The students enjoyed photographing them.


When all was done at the entrance the group entered the park. The three game viewers drove most of the time in convoy to make sure everyone got to see the same things. The first animals that were spotted were the Impala. There was a large herd of about 40 animals just inside the park. These were all females with only one male. The group stopped and the students were able to get some nice photographs. Inside the park the students were allowed to stand on the seats during driving and look out the top of the game viewers. The guides had pushed the roofs upwards so there was an easy way for the students to look at game!

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After the first herd of impala there were several male impala that were congregating in bachelor herds. The guides stopped again and spoke about the social structure of the herds. Because the group was divided in three smaller groups each group had their own guide and thus their own experiences. Diana was in one of the game viewers and added information where and when it was asked.

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After these Impalas the group went on and searched for Elephants. Tarangire NP is world famous for the big numbers of Elephants in the park. The group kept on going and after about a half hour they managed to see an Elephant in the distance. Unfortunately not close but it was definitely their first African Elephant! A few minutes later the group spotted another Elephant and this one was about 20 m from the road. The students went wild and took many photographs. At this point in time the group had not seen any large herds of Elephants. After another 15 minutes driving the convoy came around the corner and had a view of a few dozen of Elephants in a valley. It suddenly seemed like they were everywhere!!

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Then looking for a spot to have the best view of the Elephants the group spotted two lions in the distance! They were asleep in a dry riverbed. The group had a clear view but the lions were many meters away and there was unfortunately no possibility for the group to get closer. The group watched the lions for a bit and tried to get some photographs from afar. After a several minutes the group noticed another Elephant. This Elephant was walking in the dry riverbed and seemed a bit annoyed. Suddenly this Elephant changed direction and chased the lions! The lions ran away from the Elephant and went towards the road. The Elephant just kept coming for the lions. The guides were very quick and turned back towards the road we had just come from. They were in time to get the lions walking 8m in front of the car crossing the road with the Elephant still being annoyed with them. After a short while the Elephant turned away and the lions lay down in the grass 6m next to the road. The students had an amazing view of the male and female lion. The students were very enthusiastically leaning out of the car and as a result the lions growled and gave a short ‘charge’. However, the guides immediately spoke to the students about game drive etiquette.

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After watching the lions for some time the group moved on in search of other animals. The next focus was searching for Giraffe. They were soon found on the way to the picnic spot, where there are some bathroom facilities and a few tables. There were lunch boxes for everyone and so we had a 45 min break. Whilst there the students had to be careful because of the naughty Green monkeys who were very capable of stealing food. After lunch the guides drove in convoy to find some more game. They found some Waterbuck, more Impala, Olive Baboon and some more Elephants. The guides explained that with the current water level and the tall grasses it is very difficult to see the cats and other smaller game, but the topography was beautiful and the students managed to get some good scenery photographs.

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Around 14.00 the students were quite exhausted, and the decision was made to slowly get to the camping place for a good rest. On the way out a few Southern Ground Hornbills and Warthog showed themselves to us. Camp was about 1.5hrs drive from the park and our group arrived just after 16.00 at the camp.

On arrival they were taken to their camp spot, which was an exclusive area, separate from the other campers. The tents were positioned safely in a circle. The students were given a tent to share and the professors had their own personal tents! The group settled in and played some soccer and used the Wifi. Dinner was served at 19.00 in a separate dining area. There was soup as a starter and for main there was enough choice for everyone, including our vegetarians. Dessert was a fruit kebab. The group enjoyed the food and the quantity was good.

Directly after dinner there was entertainment, so the group moved to the public area. The local entertainment group was dancing and singing some traditional and English songs. The best part of the performance was the acrobatics. They managed to keep the attention of the group with several acts that were unusual. During this entertainment the whole camp had come on down to have a look! After the performance the students went to bed, in order to be fresh for the next day.

The next morning the wakeup call was a 05.30 and breakfast was at 06.00. The day was spent at the Ngorongoro Crater. This was 1.5hrs drive from the camp and breakfast was fine with yoghurt, toast, fruit and eggs. Lunch packs were taken for later. The group was mostly sleeping during the drive to the Crater, but when the group arrived at the Crater the temperature had dropped. It was quite cold and windy. Before the group went through the gate Geitan spoke about the Crater at a model. This to give the group a better back ground to the Crater.


Relatively soon after the group had gone through the gate they noticed some Buffalo next to the road. The guides stopped for some photos. The drive to the top of the crater was long and took the group through Maasai villages. These people are resident on the rim of the Crater, but do not go down into the Crater, which is reserved for wildlife. There were some young children posing for photographs to the side of the road. The view of the top of the Crater was unbelievably beautiful. The group got several photographs of the entire Crater. After this session the guide drove down. On the way down several Olive Baboons were seen. At the bottom of the crater many antelope were seen. These antelope ranged from Impala to Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, through to the White-bearded gnu. Zebra were also present in good numbers. The group managed to take photographs of Zebra’s standing knee deep in water and drinking at relative close range! It was a typical African scene. The guides had to stick to the rules to the park, as in no off-roading, which made sense. It was still the low tourism season, however at one lion sighting there was easily a good few cars at any one time parked on the road watching them. High-season would be much busier and would put much more pressure on the guides to move on so others can also watch. Our timing was perfect!

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After a hour and a half at the bottom of the crater the guides took the group to a picnic spot for a leg stretch and an ablution stop as there are designated spots in the park where game viewers are allowed to stop and people can climb out. After a quick leg stretch the group headed out again. Relatively soon the guides found one lioness fast asleep out in the open. There was no sign of other lions in the area, although there were some reeds which could have hidden her fellow predators. In the crater the lions are the Apex predator and there are a good number of lions. Predators do not seem to leave or enter the crater easily.

A bit further in the drive it was possible to see a few Black Rhinoceros in the distance. It is a privilege to see these magnificent creatures in a natural ecosystem as the Ngorongoro Crater. Soon after this it was time to go for a lunch break. The guides took the group to a dam with hippos. The students were warned to finish their lunch in the cars and not out in the open as amazingly the yellow-billed kites (a predatory bird) would otherwise swoop down and steal their lunch. And this was indeed observed when it happened to some other less-informed tourists!

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After the lunch break it was time to slowly head back. There was no rush and on the way back the group watched some Grants’ gazelle. Also a Golden Jackal showed itself out in the open. Earlier the group had seen some Spotted Hyena in the distance. They were feeding on a carcass of some long dead prey item. The bird life was good and many larger birds were seen such as Ostrich, Grey-crowned Crane, Southern Ground Hornbill and Kori Bustard.

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The drive back to the camp was long and the students were becoming hungry so at the exit of the park the group stopped and many students got some extra snacks.

At the camp everything was fine. The students had some time to themselves to rest or investigate the camping area. Dinner was fine with more than enough food, a soup as a starter and a pie as dessert. The students wanted to roast some marshmallows and thus the staff had made a braai for them. After this Diana took the group to the back of the camp and did an Astronomy talk with a laser pointer. Different facets of Astronomy were discussed and the students asked many questions.

The next morning was the last day of the journey. In the morning everyone got up at the normal time and the group headed out towards Lake Manyara, which is a smaller National Park close to our camp. On entry of the park the group was welcomed by a troop of Olive Baboons and some Blue Monkeys. They were close to the road and did not mind the cars at all. The little ones were chasing each other and posed so the students could take some nice photographs. The goal for the morning was to get to the lake and see if there were any Hippo’s out of the water. Fortunately the group was there in time to see one Hippo moving back into the water. Around the lake the birdlife was good with some interesting birds such as the Black-winged stilt, a huge flock of Yellow-billed storks and a Glossy ibis. As the group drove away from the lake a young Hippo got a fright and came out of the water and ran towards another pond. The students also got a fright but were also very enthusiastic about seeing a Hippo behave like that and be so close to the cars! After this excitement it was time to get back to camp and pack-up. The packing up did not take too long and there was time for the students to have some breakfast and a quick shower. The drive to the airport was about 2 hours and the group was there in time. On arrival the group got their lunch packs and settled down. There was some confusion about the weight limits and hand luggage limits for Precision Air, but the gentleman from Precision Air was friendly and helped the group check in as one group to distribute the weight of the bags! After this check in it was time to say goodbye.


This concluded the short Study Abroad trip through some of the National parks of Tanzania, and it certainly seems like some amazing things were seen along the way. Well done to Diana, and of course Erin, who led the group.

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