AT A GLANCE
Tanzania, the country of natural beauty, fantastic wildlife, beaches, ancient towns, archaeological sites and geological wonders. It’s on most travellers’ bucket list and rightly so. Our expert-guide will focus on showing the highlights of Northern Tanzania, taking you on an unforgettable safari.
Arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, transfer to Arusha
Welcome to Tanzania! Your fantastic safari will start as soon as you touch down at the Kilimanjaro International Airport in northern Tanzania. The airport is not called the “Gateway to Africa’s Wildlife Heritage” for nothing; you are close to some of the planet’s best-known wildlife reserves.
You will be met by your Nature Travel guide, we will pack our bags in our comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle and we will transfer to our comfortable hotel in the city of Arusha, less than an hour away to the west. Arusha is the safari capital of Tanzania, located on the southern slopes of Mount Meru, close to Mount Kilimanjaro. The city is close to the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park, Olduvai Gorge, Tarangire National Park and Arusha National Park.
Built by the Germans as a centre of colonial administration because of the temperate climate (sits at 1,400 metres/4,600 ft above sea level) Arusha is a good spot to take a day off from your safari if you have extra time. It is a major international diplomatic hub and has been a crucial city in the history of modern Tanzania. Arusha was also the setting for the 1962 film Hatari!, starring the legendary John Wayne.
We will have dinner at the hotel tonight and get to know each other a bit better. We will also learn a bit about where we are; fantastic Tanzania! It is the world-class safari destination (together with neighbouring Kenya), boasting some of the best wildlife reserves on the planet, as well as incredible cultural richness and some very cool geographical features, not least the magnificent and iconic Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain on Earth. Certainly one of the major attractions when visiting Tanzania is the large herds of migratory Common Wildebeest (and their companions such as Plains Zebra) in the annual Great Migration. These herds constantly move in search of new grass, so their location varies with the time of the year. It is probably the greatest wildlife spectacle on Earth.
The country has three main geographical regions, namely the coastal region (high rainfall area with lush forests), the central plateau (where the vast plains and major national parks are and where the focus of this safari lies) and the mountainous region that contains Mount Kilimanjaro and the eastern Arc mountain range.
After learning a bit about Tanzania we will also discuss our plans and the target fauna and flora species for the exciting safari ahead, so that everyone gets a chance to enjoy themselves fully and create memories that will last a lifetime. We will then retreat to our rooms for our first night in Africa!
Arusha to Tarangire National Park
After an early breakfast at the hotel we will depart for our first park of the safari, namely the Tarangire National Park.
It is a drive of about 2 and a half hours in a southwesterly direction, skirting Lake Manyara to our right, where we will be in about 10 days’ time. We will enjoy some wonderful scenery along the way today.
We will reach our home for the next 3 nights, in time for lunch. Surrounded by giant acacia trees in the heart of the Maasai nation, our chosen camp’s accommodation consists of en suite deluxe tents which offer stunning views over the surrounding savannah.
After lunch we will have some time to relax and then we are off on our first game drive of the safari! We will learn some more about this wonderful park as we drive along looking to start our trip lists of mammals, birds and more.
Tarangire National Park is a lovely quiet park, off the beaten safari track, most famous for its huge elephant migration and named after the Tarangire river that crosses the park. The landscape of Tarangire is primarily open savanna dotted with Acacia woodland and large Baobab trees, with the areas next to the river containing dense patches of riparian woodland and even some palm trees. The 2,850 km2 (1,100 sq mi) park is a dry season refuge when large numbers of migratory wildlife such as African Elephants, Plains Zebras, Common Wildebeest, Common Eland, African Buffalo and other antelope concentrate around permanent water sources. Elephants congregate in herds of up to 600 animals, and the large numbers of game animals attract numerous predator species, especially Lions. In fact, after the Serengeti, Tarangire has the greatest concentration of wildlife in Tanzania!
After our exciting first game drive we will return to our lodge to freshen up and have dinner. Remember to look up at the sky tonight before settling in to your tent – the stars are truly remarkable out here!
Tarangire National Park
We have our first full day on safari in the wonderful Tarangire.We will enjoy morning and afternoon game drives, and return to camp for lunch and a siesta in the heat of the day.
Tarangire is one of our favourite parks in east Africa, partly because it is quieter than the other reserves, but also because of its incredible natural beauty. It really is an awe-inspiring place, comprising of granite ridges, river valleys, mixed vegetative landscapes, and swamps. It provides breathtaking views of the Maasai Steppe and the mountains to the south.
Tarangire is also the one place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope such as Beisa Oryx and Gerenuk are seen regularly. We will also look for Waterbuck, Giraffe, Impala, monkeys, Olive Baboon, Cheetah, Caracal, Honey Badger and African Wild Dog. Another attraction of Tarangire is its many termite mounds that dot the beautiful landscape. The ones that have been abandoned by termites are often home to families of Common Dwarf Mongoose.
We will return to our lodge in the early evening, have another superb dinner and enjoy being out in the African bush – a truly special experience that we will savour forever!
Tonight might also be a good idea to do some “owling” before or after dinner, and on a short walk, we might be lucky to get Slender-tailed and Freckled Nightjar, or even African Scops Owl.
DAY 4: Tarangire National Park
This morning after breakfast we will go out on another game drive, looking for mammals and birds we may have missed out on during our earlier excursions into the reserve.
We will once again return to our lodge for lunch and some down time, before we head out again on an afternoon game drive.
Over 550 species of birds have also been recorded in the park, and specials include Yellow-collared Lovebird, Ashy Starling, Red-throated Tit, Red-necked Spurfowl, Red-winged Prinia, Lazy Cisticola, Black Bishop, Pangani Longclaw, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Red-and-yellow and D’Arnaud’s Barbet, Mottled Spinetail, Banded Parisoma, Jameson’s Firefinch, African Silverbill, African Broadbill, Rufous-tailed Weaver and Northern Pied Babbler, along with a host of vultures, eagles and other raptors, including African Hawk-eagle and Pygmy Falcon.
After another fantastic day in Tarangire, we will return to the lodge for our final dinner here. We will sit under the African sky and reminisce about our wonderful time so far before heading to bed and a good night’s rest. Tomorrow we go to the most famous crater on Earth!
DAY 5: Tarangire National Park to Ngorongoro Crater
After a short morning game drive we will return to camp for breakfast. We will then pack our bags, check out and set off westwards to the Ngorongoro crater for the next part of our adventure.
En route we might have time to visit an authentic Maasai Village and learn a lot about their fascinating culture and everyday way of life. The name Ngorongoro actually comes from the Maasai; the Maasai pastoralists named the area after the sound produced by the cowbell (ngoro ngoro)!
We will also pass through the town of Karatu, a small, colourful town that serves as a popular overnight stop for visitors exploring the area’s many game parks. The town offers a variety of activities including browsing the bustling marketplace, sampling beer at a local brewery and more!
We will reach our destination, and home for two nights, in time for a late lunch. The lodge is situated beneath the majestic Oldeani volcano, and boasts easy access to both the untamed wilderness of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, as well as the simple pleasure of a ramble through 500 acres of farmland. The accommodation is built on the style of an old colonial farm and rustically decorated with local materials and full of details of good taste, with the purpose of offering you an imaginary journey to the life of the days gone.
After lunch we will have some time to relax and then we will go on a game drive; we will descend to the crater floor and look for the mammals and birds that call the inside of Ngorongoro their home. It will be an unforgettable experience! On the way into the crater we will learn some cool facts about this incredible natural geological wonderland.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) covers some 8,500 km2 (3,300 sq mi) adjacent to the plains of the Serengeti, with which it shares an 80 km (50 mi) border. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and listed as an International Biosphere Reserve. The conservation area’s main feature is the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater, the largest unbroken volcanic caldera on the planet. The caldera is surrounded by incredibly steep walls rising 600 m (2,000 feet) above the floor of the volcano. It’s gobsmackingly beautiful and definitely a must-visit place on any tour to Tanzania or even east Africa.
The grasslands within the crater are the permanent home to about 25,000 large mammals. The most numerous ungulates are Common Wildebeest, Hartebeest (Coke’s subspecies), African Buffalo, Plains Zebra, Thomson’s and Grant’s Gazelle, and Common Eland. Other mammals that we will look for include Hippopotamus, African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros (there are only about 20 in the entire crater but we see them regularly), Waterbuck, Bushbuck, baboons, monkeys, and the rare Bohor Reedbuck. There are of course also predators present, with the crater boasting sizeable Lion and Cheetah populations, and some Leopard, Spotted Hyaena, Bat-eared Fox and Serval also. Mysteriously there are no Giraffe or Impala inside the crater.
We will return to the rim of the crater and go back to our lodge. We will have dinner and some socialising time at our lodge before falling asleep under the vast, star-filled African sky. Enjoy!
DAY 6: Ngorongoro Crater
We will spend the full day inside the crater, enjoying a picnic lunch on the 260 km2 (100 sq mi) crater floor and returning late afternoon to our lodge on the rim of the crater for dinner. Get ready to see some spectacular fauna and flora! Pick a superlative: amazing, incredible, fantastic… they all apply to Ngorongoro!
The Ngorongoro Crater, sometimes referred to as “the eighth wonder of the world”, is best known for its natural beauty and abundance of diverse wildlife, which makes it one of Africa’s most popular safari destinations. Surrounded by Tanzania’s highlands, this UNESCO-listed crater is truly something every naturalist and wildlife lover should witness. It is also a photographer’s dream… Most of the animals are very relaxed and habituated to the presence of humans and vehicles, and the cloud-draped crater walls make for dramatic pictures and memories.
While a major attraction for us is of course the mammals, birding within the crater and on the top of the crater rim is very good, and we will certainly spend some time ticking a good number of special species. These include Common Ostrich, Secretarybird, Kori Bustard, Grey Crowned Crane, Bateleur, Martial and Long-crested Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Schalow’s and Hartlaub’s Turaco, Shelley’s Francolin, Black-bellied Bustard, Dusky Turtle Dove, Kenrick’s Starling, Hunter’s Cisticola, Jackson’s Widowbird, Brown-headed Apalis, Mountain Yellow and Brown Woodland Warbler, Black-crowned Tchagra, Moorland Chat, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Cinnamon-breasted Bee-eater, Mountain Greenbul, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Rüppell’s Robin-Chat, Quailfinch, and Tacazze, Malachite and Golden-winged Sunbird.
We will again return to the lodge for an authentic Tanzanian dinner and a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow we are off to the fabled Serengeti!
DAY 7: Ngorongoro Crater to Central Serengeti
After an early breakfast and a short crater rim walk (fantastic for dramatic crater photographs) we will say our goodbyes to the wonderful staff at the lodge and set off to our next exciting destination of this wonderful safari.
Our drive will take us through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and into the famous Serengeti Game Reserve, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Serengeti, together with Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Park, form Africa’s (and the world’s?) most famous wildlife park. The image of Acacia trees on an endless grass plain epitomises Africa for many, and then add a Maasai warrior and some cattle to the picture and the conversation need go no further. This is Africa!
We will enjoy a packed lunch en route, as to not cut into our game viewing time in this part of the Serengeti.
We will reach our camp in the central Serengeti in the mid-afternoon and spend three wonderful nights here. The central Serengeti encompasses the world famous Seronera Valley which is known for its prime big game and other wildlife. This picture-perfect landscape is characterised by endless stretches of savannah-covered open plains, interspersed by rocky outcrops of granite, scattered with acacia woodlands and covered in a network of rivers and streams. This part of the Serengeti forms part of “the Great Migration” and provides an ideal habitat for a variety of African mega-fauna wildlife such as Giraffe, Impala, Waterbuck, Hippopotamus, African Elephant, African Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, Spotted Hyaena and much more.
Our camp for the next three nights is located in the Makoma hills of the central Serengeti and offers splendid views of the surrounding African savannah plains. Here you can listen to the sounds of nature and simply take in this once-in-a-lifetime experience of being in this perfect wildlife setting of Africa.
After settling in and taking some pictures, we will go on our first “official” game drive in the Serengeti. We will learn more about this legendary reserve as we drive along and look for some of the fantastic fauna and flora that call this place home. In this part of the Serengeti we are almost guaranteed several sightings of Lion, Leopard and Cheetah!
One of the seven natural wonders of Africa, as well as one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world, the Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest and most scientifically significant ecosystems on the planet. Its weather patterns, fauna and flora are believed to have changed very little for as long as a million years or more, giving the area an incredible prehistoric presence.
The Serengeti has become world famous for its annual wildebeest migration, an iconic and dramatic scene in wildlife documentaries for decades, and a true bucket list experience.
We will return to our lodge to freshen up and to enjoy dinner around a classic African camp fire tonight. Just sit back with a drink in hand, listen to the amazing stories of the other travellers around you and just enjoy the time under the vast east African sky.
DAY 8: Central Serengeti
This morning we will enjoy an early breakfast at the lodge and then set off on a morning game drive.
We will return to our camp for lunch. After lunch we will have some time to relax and then we go out in search of more animals and birds on an afternoon game drive.
The central Serengeti forms an integral part of the great wildebeest (Common Wildebeest) and zebra (Plains Zebra) migration, and even though one can get fully mesmerized by watching these two species, the Serengeti has a prolific array of other wildlife; and big game at that.
Approximately 70 large mammal and 500 bird species are found here. These high numbers are due to the diverse habitats, including riverine forests, swamps, kopjes (small hills), grasslands, and woodlands. Packs of African Wild Dog, prides of Lion (the population here is over 3,000), Cheetah, Leopard (over 1,000) and Spotted Hyaena (almost 8,000 in number) are often seen tailing the herds of Common Wildebeest, Plains Zebra and Thompson’s Gazelle. The Serengeti is also home to a diversity of grazers, including African Buffalo, African Elephant, Common Warthog, Common Eland, Waterbuck, and Topi. With so much on the go, it’s not hard to see the full spectrum of classic African wildlife on even one game drive!
We will return to our camp for some relaxation time and dinner. Our camp offers you the perfect blend of old African charm and elegance in the heart of Serengeti. The intimate camp has breath-taking views of the surrounding savannah plains. If the weather is good we will once again relax around the fire before settling into bed.
DAY 9: Central Serengeti
We have another full day in the central Serengeti today. We will enjoy breakfast and lunch at the camp, with morning and afternoon game drives included.
The local Maasai people have a name for the Serengeti; ‘Siringet’ or ‘the land that goes on forever’. Great stretches of grassland dotted with flat-topped Acacia trees give the Serengeti that classic “Out of Africa” feel. Many people claim that the sunsets in the Serengeti are the most spectacular on earth, with the sky turning a palette of pinks, purples and oranges before disappearing over the horizon. The dust that had been kicked up from the migrating wildebeest and the threatening rain clouds sometimes even add to the whole scene. Truly magical!
We will once again not let our feathered friends feel left out, so in between hopefully gasping at the phenomenal migration scenes around us, we will make some time to tick off some of the Serengeti’s star birds. Nearly 100 species found in the Serengeti have restricted ranges in the country of Tanzania, and of these 11 are endemic or near-endemic. Some of the specials we will look for during our time here include Fischer’s Lovebird, Kori Bustard, Saddle-billed Stork, Coqui Francolin, Temminck’s Courser, Secretarybird, Grey-breasted Spurfowl, Grey-crested Helmetshrike, usambiro subspecies of D’Arnaud’s Barbet, Steel-blue Whydah, Rufous-tailed Weaver, Red-fronted Parrot, Hildebrandt’s Starling, Southern Ground and Tanzanian Red-billed Hornbill, Red-throated Tit, Eastern Plantain-eater, Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Beautiful Sunbird, Karamoja Apalis, Abyssinian Wheatear, Swahili Sparrow, Verreaux’s and Martial Eagle, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse and Rüppell’s Vulture, among many others.
Reptiles in Serengeti that we will look out for include the massive and numerous Nile Crocodile, Leopard Tortoise, East African Serrated Mud Turtle, Common and Mwanza Flat-headed Agama, Nile Monitor, many species of chameleons, African Rock Python, Black Mamba, Black-necked Spitting Cobra, Puff Adder and many others.
We will again return to camp after our game drive to relax and have dinner. Afterwards we will retire to our beds for a good night’s rest, listening to the magical African bush sounds as we drift off peacefully. Tomorrow the final part of our fantastic Tanzania safari starts.
DAY 10: Central Serengeti to Lake Manyara National Park
We will enjoy an early morning game drive and then have our final breakfast here on the plains of the Serengeti.
Then we will pack our bags, say our goodbyes to the friendly staff at our camp and set off.
We are aiming for the last park of our safari, the Lake Manyara National Park. It is a drive of about 5 to 6 hours, depending on what we see along the way. We will have a packed lunch to enjoy somewhere en route. We will once again be traversing a good portion of the Serengeti, as well as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, so you won’t be bored!
The last park we will drive past on our journey today is the Lake Manyara National Park. Seventy percent of the park’s 325 km2 (125 sq mi) area is covered by the shallow, alkaline lake itself. The park actually used to be an area used for sports hunting, but it was given national park status in 1960, and is now an important stop-over for birders visiting Tanzania. In fact, some expert say that if a birder only had to choose one park to visit in Tanzania, then this is it! The Manyara lake has no outflow, but is fed by underground springs and by several permanent streams that drain from the surrounding Ngorongoro highlands. Interestingly, during the dry season the lake is virtually non-existent, and only fills up after the rains.
We will arrive at our accommodation just outside the park in the late afternoon, just in time to take in our beautiful surroundings. The camp provides incredible views of the savannah plains around us, well as the Great Rift Valley, and has a main area built on a raised deck to make it even more spectacular. Every evening a fire is lit where we can relax and enjoy the sunset whilst enjoying a drink, and if the weather is good we can even have dinner outside under the stars tonight. Magic!
DAY 11: Lake Manyara National Park
We have the full day to enjoy this little gem of a park.
We will start with an early breakfast at the lodge and then drive the short distance into the park. We will either have a packed lunch and stay in the park the whole day, or return to the lodge for lunch and some down time, before going on another outing to the park in the afternoon.
The park is not all about the lake, and as you will see there is much more to it! The park has a variety of diverse habitats, including acacia woodlands, wet forests, Baobab-strewn cliffs, algae-streaked hot springs, swamps and of course the lake itself.
The park boasts over 670 flowering plant and fern species, and while most are widespread species, there are a few rare or endemic species that occur only in the park. Furthermore, the park has the highest concentration of baboons (Olive Baboon) anywhere in the world! Other mammal species we will look for today include African Buffalo, African Elephant, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, Plains Zebra, Common Wildebeest, Thomson’s Gazelle, Impala, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Kirk’s Dik-dik, Common Warthog, tree-climbing Lion, Leopard, Spotted Hyaena, Black-backed Jackal, Honey Badger, African Clawless Otter and Egyptian Mongoose.
One of the main reasons naturalists visit Lake Manyara is, however, for the birds. The park has a bird list of over 400 species, and is especially known for the flocks of thousands flamingoes that feed along the edge of the lake in the wet season. In 1991 there were an estimated 2 million Greater and Lesser Flamingoes here, along with 200,000 Great White Pelicans! Although we won’t get to see that, there are still some excellent species we will look for on and around the lake today.
We will hope for Yellow-billed and Marabou Stork, Grey Heron, Greater Painted-snipe, Chestnut-banded Plover, various other ducks, herons, storks, egrets, cormorants, kingfishers, jacanas, plovers and lapwings, Palm-nut Vulture, Ayre’s Hawk-eagle, Martial, Tawny and Crowned Eagle, Gabar Goshawk, Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, White-headed Buffalo Weaver. Blue-capped Cordonbleu, Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird, Southern Ground Hornbill, Purple-crested Turaco, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Baglafecht Weaver, Grey-olive Greenbul, Crested Guineafowl, D’arnaud’s Barbet, Superb Starling, Lilac-breasted and European Roller, Fischer’s Lovebird, Black Bishop and many more.
We will return to our lodge late in the afternoon to freshen up. Then we will sit around the fire again under African skies and enjoy our farewell dinner together, chatting about the fantastic Tanzania trip we’ve had. Then we are off to our rooms for a final night’s sleep on this amazing continent.
DAY 12: Lake Manyara National Park to Kilimanjaro International Airport and Departure
And so an amazing Tanzanian safari, unfortunately, comes an end. What a great time we had!
After breakfast at the lodge, we will pack our bags and head to Arusha (about 3 hours away) and stop for lunch or some last minute shopping. We will then make our way to Kilimanjaro International Airport for our flights home.
*Please note: Extensions to Zanzibar, parks in Kenya or even Mombasa can easily be arranged. Don’t hesitate to contact us.
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