On arrival, your friendly guide will welcome you and take you to your accommodation, and help you get settled in. He or she will make sure you are all set for supper and will go over your planned itinerary with you to answer any questions you have. He or she will also want to hear about any special dreams you may not yet have mentioned, as all our guides want your entire experience to be superb. Once you are settled and comfortable, your guide will leave you to enjoy the evening and the sounds and smells of the Tanzanian night.
This particular itinerary is best enjoyed July – September when the wildebeest are migrating in the Northern Serengeti (Mara region). At other times of the year, we will vary where we take you within the Serengeti (days 7-10) so you get the best experience of the wildlife and migration patterns. Ask us about alternatives if you are coming at a different time of year!
Soak up the experiences that just keep piling up as you explore with your private vehicle and guide. Look forward to bush lunches, photographic vistas, and big cats galore. Not to mention hippos, elephants, crocodiles, zebras, wildebeest – and so many more! Dream under the African stars, and hear lions calling in the night. Wildebeest munching right outside your tent while you listen in wonder is an experience you won’t find anywhere else in the entire world. Then relax by the water in Zanzibar and head home refreshed and full of stories!
This safari is fifteen full days, where you arrive in the afternoon or evening beforehand. (You may discover that many ‘fifteen-day’ itineraries are actually fourteen full days plus your evening arrival…) You will see an amazing amount of wildlife, and, with our expert guides, enjoy a carefree and exhilarating adventure in this African wildlife safari.
FULL DAY ONE
Have a wonderful early breakfast at your hotel in Arusha and let the adventure begin on the road to Tarangire National Park (famous for its elephant population and baobab trees). If this is your first trip to Africa, you’ll learn that the journey is half the fun! Watch for donkeys, cattle and all sorts of new flora and fauna on your way to the Park, then enjoy your first afternoon game drive inside Tarangire. You are likely to see elephants and birds of all stripes and colors. Likely, too, to see giraffe, zebra, impala; and possibly even lions. Dinner and overnight at a lodge at Tarangire.
FULL DAY ONE
FULL DAY TWO
Enjoy a full day of game drives in Tarangire. Watch elephants thundering down the hillside towards you, or Zebra kicking up the river water with their hooves. Watch giraffe running through the acacia, and see if you can spot a lion, just waiting for someone to come near. See how many different varieties of birds you can spot, as your guide is quick to point them out if you are interested. Watch for leopards if you’re lucky. With a full day to explore, you may choose to drive down to the Silale Swamp where you can watch elephants and hippos eating their fill in the reeds, and see more birdlife than you have probably even imagined. Egrets, Egyptian Geese, storks, eagles, ducks, lilac-breasted rollers, and many more birds hang out near the swamp and enjoy the lush greenery and plentiful water. Stop for your packed lunch whenever the mood suits, and let your guide show you all the natural wonders to be found in Tarangire. Maybe spot the banded mongoose stretched out over termite mounds enjoying their afternoon naps. Many guests have said that Tarangire is really their favorite of all the national parks they visit; you might just find yourself among them!
FULL DAY THREE
Leave Tarangire after a good breakfast and head up via the Rift Valley to Lake Manyara National Park, where you will look for the famous tree-climbing lions. The drive itself is fascinating as you watch the scenery change along the way. Cruise slowly along the lake and stop to stretch your legs at the hot springs, or the boardwalk. Watch for hippos, warthogs, zebras, Cape buffalo – and the ever-present baboons! You will find kingfishers, herons, spoonbills, storks, pelicans, bee-eaters, and many other species by the lakeshore. If you’re lucky you may even see the amazing fishing hunt/dance of the night herons. Enjoy Lake Manyara, and then as the afternoon goes on, head off on your way towards Ngorongoro, where you will spend the night. Enjoy the view, evening meal and luxuries from your accommodation perched high on the rim overlooking the world-famous Ngorongoro crater.
FULL DAY THREE
FULL DAY FOUR
Today will be spectacular. After breakfast, descend into the Ngorongoro Crater for a full day of game drives and see the large numbers of animals living in this (relatively) small space, a World Heritage Site. The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest inactive, intact volcanic caldera formed when the Ngorongoro volcano exploded some 2 million years ago. Some 25,000 animals live in the Crater, including Cape buffalo, hippopotamus, wildebeest, zebra, eland and many other species. You may even have a chance to see the endangered black rhinoceros. Visit the yellow fever tree groves, and ask your guide about them. Watch for flamingos on the lake in the middle of the Crater, and keep your eyes peeled for all sorts of animals – large and small. Then return to your accommodation on the Crater rim to download pictures, dream about your day, and eat a wonderful evening meal.
FULL DAY FIVE
This morning you will head into the world-famous Serengeti itself. The drive through the Ngorongoro Conservation area is an experience in itself. Watch for Maasai villages, donkeys on the road, scenic lakes, and the dry, dry regions where any vehicle moving kicks up dust you can see an hour away! Pass through the Naabi Hill Gate into the Serengeti. There is a bit of a walking trail at the Gate if you want to stretch your legs and some amazing views from here. Depending on the time, your guide may take you on a brief tour of the kopjes (look for lions lolling in the sun). Then you will drive up towards the central Serengeti and your tented camp. Note that calling it tented fails to describe the luxury you will find; this is not camping but luxury accommodations under canvas in the midst of the animals!
FULL DAY FIVE
FULL DAY SIX
The Central area of the Serengeti is full of wildlife, especially in the July-October period. You can expect to see the great cats; lions, cheetah and leopards, as well as many other animals: elephants, zebras, giraffes, warthogs, hyenas… The list doesn’t end there! And the birdlife is also likely to be amazing. Watch for francolins, red-necked spurfowl, raptors of various types, lovebirds – and again, the list could go on and on. Colours and sounds will call for your attention from all around you. Photographers will be in heaven with the amazing golden Serengeti light. Simply immerse yourself in the experience and enjoy your first Serengeti day!
FULL DAY SEVEN
After breakfast, you will start your journey up towards the Mara area of the Northern Serengeti. As you leave camp, depending on what time it is, you may well be able to spot lions or cheetah – as well as all animals that are now becoming old friends; impala, elephant, giraffe, and zebra. Maybe even a few wildebeest stragglers. And you’ll start to recognize a few birds now, too. The Serengeti is well on its way to feeling like home – although excitement still lurks around every corner. Enjoy the Seronera area, which is always rich in game at this time of year. Today the journey itself will be a large part of your adventure. Your guide will drive you towards the Ikoma gate, where you will temporarily leave the Serengeti and drive through the Ikorongo Game reserve. This road is bumpy and dusty but quite the adventure as you travel back towards the Tabora B Gate where you renter the Serengeti, now in the Northern Mara Area. You’ll start seeing larger and larger groups of wildebeest as you move into this area. You will likely pass the very small Kogatenda airstrip (watch for wildlife on the runway!) as you approach the Mara river and your accommodation for the next few nights. Depending on how much stopping you did along the way, you may even have time for a late afternoon game drive by the river.
FULL DAY SEVEN
FULL DAYS EIGHT AND NINE
Depending on how you feel after the drive yesterday (and whether the wildebeest chewing near your tent or lions roaring in the distance kept you up in the night!), you may choose to relax a little this morning, or, you may be so excited you want to get up early and explore. Either way, your guide and the camp will be happy to accommodate your wishes. When you’re ready, you will head down towards the Mara river, seeking that first exciting crossing. You may have seen National Geographic or other videos of the great herds of wildebeest crossing the Mara River. They slowly make their way towards the river, and then a pathfinder will gradually test the waters and decide whether it is safe to cross. Once he makes up his mind, thousands of wildebeest will follow in a great explosion of dust and thundering herds. With the right timing, you may get to see this once-in-a-lifetime explosive crossing, with crocodiles and hippos lurking in the shadows. Whether you see a crossing or not (or more than one!), your game drives through the Mara region will show you distinctive landscapes and an abundance of wild animals. Watch for vultures circling to see where someone has eaten his lunch. Watch hippos coming out of the water and walking across the grass – but stay out of their way as hippos are actually the most dangerous animals in Africa! Look for hyrax or klipspringers in and around the kopjes, and smile at the banded mongoose who travel in groups and look like children’s toys. Enjoy a full day of game drives in the Mara region, and return to your tent at night ready for a hot meal and sundowners around the fire. Your second day can be a search for more crossings or you can head up the river exploring, or towards the triangle where Serengeti meets Kenya – either way, the sights and sounds will continue to fill your dreams at night!
FULL DAY TEN
Enjoy another morning game drive in the Mara area. You may want to seek out one more crossing, or you may be more interested in exploring along the river (hippos, crocodiles and river birds galore), or you may drive up towards the kopjes and enjoy the views out over the river and maybe find a klipspringer or some hyrax in the rocks. Either way, enjoy your final morning with the great herds of wildebeest, and then take the trip back down into the central Serengeti region. Along the way, stop at the Retina Hippo Pool for an experience you won’t find anywhere else. There can be multiple hundreds of hippos in this relatively small pool, and happily, there is a parking area above with an outlook so you can get out, stretch your legs, and enjoy the experience for as long as you like. Watch baby hippos bobbing, hippos getting in and out of the water, sloshing each other and sometimes play fighting or asserting their dominance. The stench can be outrageous, but you’ll hardly notice with all there is to see. Elephants and dik-diks often hang out around this pool as well, as do a variety of birds and – of course – monkeys, so keep your camera ready and any food in the vehicle! As dusk draws in, you will arrive at your evening accommodation, ready for bush T.V. and drinks and a good meal.
FULL DAY TEN
FULL DAY ELEVEN
This will be a travel day, but no less interesting for that. An early morning start will see you travel Southwards through the Serengeti and out the Naabi Hill Gate. Then you will pass along the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater (take a quick peek down!) and back to Arusha airport, where you will catch a flight to Zanzibar. Flying towards Zanzibar, you pass right near Mount Kilimanjaro and may be able to get some great pictures from the air. Then watch as the many islands of the Zanzibar archipelago come into view below you, and marvel at the deep blues and greens of the ocean, and how clear the water is! You will spend your first night near Stone Town and have the opportunity to explore Stone Town and discover the unique Zanzibar carved doors and the busy markets. Then…
FULL DAYS TWELVE AND THIRTEEN
On the first morning you may choose to travel to Jozani National Forest to see the red Colobus monkeys – which live only on Zanzibar – and the mangrove forest, then head to the beach resort where you will have every opportunity to kick back and relax. Or you may want to transfer directly to your selected and luxurious beach resort to enjoy a full day right by the ocean. Feel the ocean breezes, and let the dust from your travel wash away in the wonder of the blue blue waters. Your time at the beach may be for lazing around and simply enjoying yourself (massage? swimming? beachcombing?) or you may want to take advantage of your location to go looking for dolphins or to go snorkelling off Mnemba Island. Whatever your pleasure, these will be days full of interest and indulgence. Relax on the beach in the evenings and feel the ocean breezes while you watch the brilliant stars above.
FULL DAYS TWELVE AND THIRTEEN
Full Day FOURTEEN
Relaxing by the ocean (especially after a dusty safari) is wonderful, but it would be a shame to leave Zanzibar without a chance to explore Stone Town and the adventures nearby, so your final full day here is set aside for a few last adventures. Pick from a variety of possible activities. Visit a spice farm (nutmeg, cloves, vanilla!) or visit Changuu Island (an easy boat trip from Stone Town to see Giant Aldabra Tortoises) or take a guided walking tour of Stone Town and visit the Old Fort, the House of Wonders (as much as you can see; it partially collapsed in 2020), and the Hamamni Persian Baths. Pause for a moment at the Slave Monument, and visit the Livingstone House (home of David Livingstone and now headquarters to the Zanzibar National Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture). Watch for the architectural details, which reflect the influences of many different cultures over the years, and, in particular, check out the Zanzibari doors. You will find food available throughout Stone Town (see where the locals are eating for a tasty meal), as well as artists selling their wares. You can buy paintings, jewelry, carvings, cloth, spices, and almost anything you can imagine. Bartering is expected, and part of the fun!
Full Day FIFTEEN
Enjoy one last morning relaxing by the beach near Stone Town – or taking photographs of the brilliant colours and the busy local life around you. Watch fishermen going out for the day’s catch, or listen to the birds singing. You even have time for a little further exploration of the markets of Stone Town if you didn’t get your fill yesterday. After lunch, we will take you back to the airport for your departure flight. You may be sad to leave, but you’ll have safari stories to tell for years to come!
Full Day FIFTEEN