Africa is the stage for the world’s best wildlife viewing – after all, the continent holds a staggering 25% of the world’s mammal species! East Africa holds a prime spot on the continent in terms of the wildlife spectacular – the Wildebeest migration; Elephants or Giraffes on the plains with a snow-capped peak as a backdrop; ancient volcanic craters packed with plains game… for the Africa-enthusiast East Africa is a must, and Tanzania is our destination for this epic wildlife safari. The in-country leg starts in Arusha near the base of Mount Kilimanjaro and heads toward the Rift Valley escarpment and Lake Manyara, with two nights at Maramboi on the shores of Lake Manyara and a full day exploring the nearby wilderness of Tarangire National Park. We then ascend the escarpment and make our way to Ngorongoro, overnighting at a lodge on a coffee plantation near the gate to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. We access the Serengeti via the Ngorongoro Conservation Area after viewing the magnificence of the crater from above. This is the wild land of the Maasai. We spend several nights under canvas on the Serengeti following the great herds and the associated carnivores. We return to Ngorongoro and spend a full day in this most unique and utterly surreal “lost world”, with a last night at a beautifully appointed lodge on a coffee plantation before returning to Arusha and departure flights.
15 – 24 May 2019 (9 nights / 10 days)
2020 DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED
Starts in Arusha on the morning of the 15th May 2019. Tour ends in Arusha on the 24th May 2019. Please check with us before booking any flights.
2019: US$ 5 300 per person sharing, US$ 300 single supplement
Price subject to change based on external factors. Price is based on a minimum of 6 participants. Small group surcharge will be levied for groups smaller than 6 participants. Please contact us for more detail.
- All meals (except dinner on first night in Arusha)
- Bottled water on game drives
- Entrance fees into all National Parks
- Specialist naturalist and photographic guides
- Local guides where required
- Photographic tuition
- All airfares and travel insurance
- Visa fees
- Airport transfers
- All drinks
- Optional balloon safari over the Serengeti at US$600 per person
- Tips and gratuities for drivers and guides
- Please express interest in the additional balloon flight over the Serengeti at the time of booking so provisional places can be made and the correct price quoted. Flight price varies dependent on the number of passengers
- This itinerary is subject to change due to weather conditions at the time and other factors beyond our control.
- Birds and mammals mentioned on this itinerary do not represent all that can be seen. A full list of possibles appears on your checklist.
Group size: limited to a maximum of 6 participants.
Areas visited: Lakes Burunge and Manyara, Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti.
Expected weather conditions: generally warm to hot and humid, with afternoon thunderstorms occurring regularly.
Tour tempo: medium to medium-plus; some long travelling days and some full days out on safari.
Accommodation standards: good to high: private guest houses, lodges and mobile camps.
Mammal viewing: Outstanding! Unbeatable for multitudes of plains game and predator action.
Top mammals: Maasai Giraffe, Thomson’s and Grant’s Gazelle, Defassa Waterbuck, Topi, Coke’s Hartebeest, Plain’s Zebra, Bearded Gnu, Leopard, Lion, Cheetah, Elephant, Buffalo, Black Rhino, Kirk’s Dik-Dik, Olive Baboon, Golden Jackal.
Birding in brief: Excellent, many of the East African specials to be seen.
Top birds: Rüppell’s Griffon, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Black- faced Sandgrouse, African Orange-bellied Parrot, Yellow-collared Lovebird, Bare-faced Go Away Bird, Slender-tailed Nightjar, Von der Decken’s Hornbill, Red-and-Yellow Barbet.
Day 1: Arusha
Arriving at Kilimanjaro International Airport in the shadow of the great mountain we will be transferred to the beautiful and tranquil surroundings of the River Trees lodge, nestled between the Usa River and the Wildlife Sanctuary. Both the Lodge and the Sanctuary were established in 1959 and remains in family hands till today. The Sanctuary is home to Zebra, Ostrich, a wide array of birds and monkeys, including the elusive Colobus Monkey. Surrounded by exotic bird calls and indigenous forest, the lodge is an ideal base to unwind after your night and prepare for the adventure ahead.
Days 2 – 3: Tarangire
After breakfast we make our way north toward Tarangire to explore the evocative savanna landscapes of this National Park for a game drive and picnic lunch in a Baobab-filled wonderland. One of the lesser-known game reserves in Tanzania, Tarangire rivals the Serengeti in its great number and diversity of wildlife. It is a good choice for travellers who wish to encounter more animals and fewer tourists while on safari. Tarangire National Park is known as a wonderful birding destination and also features large numbers of game. The landscape is of particular interest too, due to the high number of Baobab trees and enormous herds of Elephants. An often-overlooked gem, Tarangire’s characteristic skyline, framed by the stubby branches of fat Baobab trees, is the backdrop for superb game viewing. Lion and other predators are frequently spotted. The park boasts over 500 species of birds, including some species endemic to Tanzania. We end off the day with a late afternoon stroll on the shores of Lake Manyara guided by one of the local Masai Morani. We’ll also visit Lake Manyara National Park, which offers a wilderness experience in diverse habitats, from its Rift Valley soda lake to dense woodlands and steep mountainsides. Apart from its spectacular setting, the park is famous for its unusual tree-climbing Lions and the vast Elephant herds it was established to protect. The shores of the lake, encrusted with flocks of pink Flamingos, attract more than 400 species of birds, many of them waterfowl or migrants. Herds of Buffalo, Masai giraffe and Impala roam the lake shores and the forested valley slopes. A Lake Manyara safari is a fascinating experience, as the park also features a ground-water forest, Acacia tortilis woodland and hot springs called Maji Moto. Troops of several hundred Olive Baboons appear alongside Sykes Monkey and Short-eared Galago. Cape Clawless Otter, Egyptian Mongoose, Hippo and Klipspringer are other park residents.
Overnight at Lake Burunge Tented Lodge, located on the shores of Lake Burunge in the Lake Manyara / Tarangire corridor, with elaborate safari tents on wooden platforms, affording views over lake Burunge from private porches.
Days 4 – 5: Ngorongoro Crater
Today we make our way to the lost world of the Ngorongoro Crater, spending much of the day getting there, and on our full day we’ll have a day trip down into the crater as one of the many highlights of the trip. The Ngorongoro Crater, once a gigantic volcano, is the largest intact caldera in the world. Some maintain that before it erupted, it would have been higher than Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. Today the nearly three million year old ancient caldera shelters one of the most beautiful wildlife havens on earth. Lean Masai, resplendent in their beads and furled in scarlet shuka robes, tend their herds on the crater rim. A burbling spring and a large soda lake quench the thirst of the crater’s inhabitants. Black Rhino are protected within the crater rim, giant tusked Elephants wander the forests, black-maned Lions stalk the grasslands and Flamingos crowd the soda lakes. An estimated 25 000 large mammals are resident in this bowl of plenty, including a large population of Lions. Cheetahs move in and out of the crater, while Leopards are most often encountered in the spectacular Lerai Forest. Among the smaller carnivores, both Golden and Black-backed Jackals are abundant, while normally shy and nocturnal Servals are frequently seen during daylight hours. Vast numbers of Buffalo, Zebra and Thomson’s Gazelle can be seen grazing the crater floor, unwittingly providing the food base for the predators of the area.
Overnight at Ngorogoro Farm House, a colonial-style coffee plantation farm house located close to the Lolduare Gate to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Days 6 – 8: The Serengeti
After breakfast we depart for a drive around the cloud shrouded rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, followed by a descent onto the endless of plains of the Serengeti. With a name that means ‘endless plains’ in the Masai language, the Serengeti National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stretches along a vast plateau between the eastern arm of the rugged Rift Valley and the huge expanse of Lake Victoria. The park covers an immense 1.5 million hectares. The park is famous for its vast, open grasslands, which allow for excellent sightings of abundant wildlife. Tanzania’s oldest game reserve, it is also one of the oldest ecosystems on earth and its climate and vegetation have remained largely unchanged for millions of years. While the Serengeti boasts incredible numbers of resident wildlife, it is perhaps best known as the site of the annual Great Migration, when an estimated three million antelope – mostly Wildebeest — migrate to Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve. One of the greatest spectacles in the natural world, the migration follows the seasonal rains, spending the wet season on the south eastern plains of the Serengeti and the dry season in the woodlands of south western Kenya. Between January and March the wildebeest give birth on the short grass plains of the south eastern Serengeti. This time of year attracts a vast plethora of predators, from Lion to Hyena, Leopard and Cheetah. As the grazing runs low in this area the Wildebeest move to the central Serengeti and then the Western Corridor before crossing the Grumeti and Mara Rivers on their journey north toward Kenya. Here the horizon fills with the dust of millions of hooves and the timeless drama of predator and prey interaction takes center stage. We’ll have two full days exploring the vast plains, with opportunity to get into some of the more remote and secluded areas for some true wilderness seclusion.
We overnight under canvas at the Serengeti Kati Kati ‘low impact’ mobile camp in the central Serengeti, evoking the spirit of the classic safari of days gone by (with a few modern upgrades!). Mobile camps are moved along the Wildebeest migration route and cycle so as to be at the heart of the spectacle at all times.
OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Dawn balloon flight* over the vast herds and endless plains.
*See booking form for requirements
Day 9: Ngorongoro Crater
From the plains we’ll begin the journey back to Arusha, making our way back up onto the crater rim for a night at Ngorongoro Farmhouse once again, where we can relax after the excitement of the Serengeti, catch up with friends and family back home via WiFi and do some casual birding on the property for those interested.
Day 10: Departure
Today we enjoy a last morning at the Farmhouse before we make our way back to Arusha for our departure flights.
Species lists coming soon!
Trip Report coming soon!