Romantic walks on the beaches of Zanzibar, four Great Migration river crossings and a private dinner in the middle of the Serengeti that ended in a marriage proposal – Thomson staffer Kristina’s second time to Tanzania was memorable to say the least.
We caught up with her for a Q&A about the whole experience.
How was this trip different from your first journey to Tanzania?
The second time was even better than the first! The first time you go on safari, everything is so much to take in. All the new sights, smells, sounds, people… the beauty everywhere you look. You try to soak it in and fully enjoy it, but it’s easy to feel overstimulated.
The second time around I was much more relaxed, not so focused on seeing everything and checking the boxes. Everywhere you go you see something different and spectacular, and no two days are the same.
What were you most looking forward to?
Northern Serengeti camp to see the river crossings, Ruaha (hadn’t been to either) and enjoying Gibb’s Farm again.
Wildebeest crossing the Mara River in the Serengeti
Gardens at Gibb’s Farm
Why did you choose the North & South Safari?
This is a fantastic safari for those who have been on safari before. You have the highlights in the north and the best in the south. To have the two different perspectives (dense concentrations of wildlife vs. more off-the-beaten-path, up-close and personal interactions) is unique and pairs extremely well together.
Large herds of giraffe in the Serengeti
Elephant at sand river in Ruaha National Park
What was it like to see a river crossing?
WORTH THE WAIT! We were lucky enough to see four river crossings in two days. Twice we just came upon it and the other two times we waited for 2-3.5 hours. We spent quality time sitting in the Land Rover chatting about life, culture, getting to know our guide, and then BAM we would rush in when the wildebeest made their move down the riverbank.
River crossing #1
River crossing #2
River crossing #3
What was your favorite wildlife viewing moment?
Seeing a pack of 20 hyenas in the Serengeti and tracking the lion prides in Ruaha.
Tracking prides of lions
Your favorite animal?
How could you not like these little guys?
Your favorite location?
Gibb’s Farm is always a top highlight. The Northern Serengeti camp is also incredible because it’s close to the Mara River.
Private table at Gibb’s Farm
Kristina on the path to their cottage room at Gibb’s Farm
Did anything surprise you about the journey this time compared to last time?
It’s so much fun to see others (my fiancé) get excited about being in the bush for the first time.
You started with a Zanzibar extension – what was that like?
Zanzibar is gorgeous. It’s a great way to start the trip to get over the jet lag, but also a great place to end your adventure. Turquoise waters, white sand beaches, fresh seafood, delicious fruit cocktails, kayaking – it’s paradise.
Do you recommend any particular activities?
The Stone Town Tour is a must. It’s so easy to get lost down the windy streets.
Overlooking the streets of Stone Town, Zanzibar
What was it like to go on safari in September?
September is one of the best times to go on safari. Prime time for the river crossings, cool weather (70-75 degrees) and little to no rain. If traveling to Ruaha, I recommend a property with a pool to cool off in during the heat of the day; it can get up to 90-95 degrees in September.
Could you describe the proposal? Did Steven make special arrangements?
He spoke with the Thomson founders and president prior to figure out the best place for the proposal. They worked with the camp manager and decided on the Central Serengeti camp.
At the beginning of the trip, Steven told me he thought it would be nice to watch the sunset every day. Without hesitation I said, “that sounds amazing!” Each night we would watch the sunset with a glass of wine. Little did I know that was part of his plan.
We were traveling from the Northern Serengeti to the Central Serengeti and that morning we decided we would leave early enough to get a workout in and still watch the sunset at the Central Serengeti Nyumba. We arrived, we went running, showered up and headed to the dining area. I saw a private table was set up for us on a platform, lanterns hanging from the trees.
Steven wanted to take some photos by the table with the hills and plains in the background while the sun was setting. A few camp staff members came over to take some photos. Steven then walked over to the dining tent (about 100 yards away) and back a few times… and I started to feel like something was fishy.
He turned me around towards the sunset and Dominic (the camp manager) was taking photos of us from behind. At this point I knew what was happening! After I said yes, I found out Dominic was videoing the entire time!
We have yet to watch the video. Maybe we will on our wedding night. It was perfect! He even brought a dress for me to change into for a mini photo shoot.
Was it difficult keeping track of the ring?
He carried it around in his backpack for seven days before he popped the question. It was even sitting on the beach in a backpack while we went for an hour walk down the coast in Zanzibar. Luckily our beach had security! I would have freaked out.
Do you plan on going back to Tanzania in the future?
100 percent yes. Now Steven gets it, and it was amazing for him to experience one of my all-time favorite places and share those memories.