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Sensory Safaris: Experience the living landscapes of Tanzania

 
There are places that delight the soul. They make you want to stand tall, spread your arms wide, breathe deep and shout for joy. Tanzania has an abundance of such places. You feel that gigantic geological forces are still at work everywhere you turn. A landscape torn apart to form a rift valley sprinkled with lakes. Volcanoes thrown up, some conical, others which exploded long ago.
North, south, east and west, Tanzania has Africa’s greatest and most spectacular wildlife reserves. Some like the Serengeti, are well known. Others, like Mahale, Ruaha and Katavi are hardly touched. All though, with vantage points where you can stand and gaze in wonder.
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Serengeti 

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Serengeti 

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Serengeti 

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Serengeti 

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Ngorongoro 

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Serengeti 

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Serengeti 

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Serengeti 

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Serengeti 

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Serengeti 

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Serengeti 

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Serengeti 

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February, and you’re standing high on a great granite dome staring across miles of grasslands and bush. The sun is setting and earlier you were down there winding by vehicle across the plains amidst calving wildebeest, zebra herds and doe-eyed gazelle. The day’s work is done and a table is being set with a gingham cloth and an array of hors d’oeuvres and bottles. Hmmm, what to choose for a sundowner?

A safari in February is all the sweeter for the winter weather you’ve left behind at home. But you can watch the migration, sundowner in hand, any time of year – we just switch the scenery. In June, you would stand among the trees near the crocodile infested Grumeti River. August, and you might watch them crashing across the rivers in the far north. December, and you’re watching the herds flood an undulating ocean of grassland on the southern plains.
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Ngorongoro 

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Ngorongoro 

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Ngorongoro 

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Ngorongoro 

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Ngorongoro 

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Ngorongoro 

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Ngorongoro 

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Ngorongoro 

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Ngorongoro 

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Ngorongoro 

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Dawn, and you’re standing 8,000 feet up on the very rim of a ten-mile wide crater. The original volcano was over 25,000 feet high, so ten times higher than Krakatoa and a much louder bang! All is peaceful now, especially after a sound night’s sleep in your fairytale suite at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.

Actually, the lodge is such a wonderful place that you’ll be forgiven for bunking off safaris today to simply sit on your veranda with a good book and, as soon you decently can, a glass of bubbly! The 20,000 elephant, rhino, big cats and buffalo will still be there tomorrow. So too will the flamboyance of flamingos – yes they are called that - twittering on the lake at the very bottom of the crater floor.
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Selous 

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Selous 

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Selous 

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Selous 

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Selous 

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Selous 

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Selous 

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Selous 

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Selous 

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Selous 

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Selous 

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Breakfast, and you’re standing on a sandbank in the Great Rufiji River with a good mug of coffee as the aroma of frying wafts towards you. A pied kingfisher hovers busily before plunging in for her own breakfast and the hippopotamus contentedly bob up and down or lean back for a cavernous yawn.

Lazy as this sounds, Sand Rivers Selous, deep in the reserves, is somewhere you can get out and be as active as you like in the wilds. Explore the gorges, dry riverbeds and uplands on foot as an expert guide leads you on the trail of elephant. Continue and sleep out overnight in a simple fly camp beneath a starry canopy. There are few people, an enormous variety of animals and so much to see and do that you could easily stay here a week, with the freedom to roam and the space to just be.
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Mahale 

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Mahale 

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Mahale 

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Mahale 

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Mahale 

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Mahale 

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Mahale 

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Mahale 

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Mahale 

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Mahale 

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Afternoon, and you’re standing at the prow of a motorised dhow as it putters along the shoreline of Lake Tanganyika. Earlier, you flew for several hours west from Arusha over uninhabited landscapes, so the sense of remoteness is palpable. From the shoreline rise the steep forest clad slopes of the Mahale Mountains and coming into view as you round the final headland are the shaggily exotic thatched roofs of Greystoke Mahale.

The main reason for coming here is that it’s one of very few places where you can track habituated chimpanzees through the forest, watching them as they move through the trees feeding, playing and squabbling. Return for a quick swim in the world’s second deepest lake before sitting down to lunch at a long table on the golden beach. Is it a safari lodge or some exotic beach resort? You may have come to see the chimpanzees, but you will leave knowing that you have spent a few days somewhere truly magical.
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