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.
If you want to see as many parks in Northern Tanzania as can reasonably fit within twelve days, this is the trip for you!
Including Arusha National Park, Lake Natron, the Eastern Serengeti, Central Serengeti, the Southern Serengeti, Lake Eyasi, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara National Park and Tarangire National Park, you will have seen all the highlights. But at a pace that is enjoyable rather than rushed. Relax and let your guide show you around some of the less travelled areas of Northern Tanzania as well as the regular highlights. You’ll never forget this trip.
This safari is twelve full days, where you arrive in the afternoon or evening beforehand. (You may discover that many ‘twelve-day’ itineraries are actually eleven full days plus your evening arrival…) You will see an amazing amount of wildlife and birds, and, with our expert guides, enjoy a carefree and exhilarating adventure in this African wildlife safari. Visit hidden corners, see the hotspots, and linger along the way. You have plenty of time to see these places that many can only dream of.
Full Day One
Have a relaxed breakfast and then head to Arusha National Park with your guide. Arusha National Park is easy to miss as it is relatively small and many itineraries skip it in their rush to the glories of the Serengeti. But you have time to explore, and a hike or canoe ride in Arusha National Park is the perfect way to start exploring and leave your travel rush behind. Arusha National Park is one of only two places in the world where you can see the famous white Colobus monkeys. In Arusha National Park, you can expect to see Cape Buffalo, Zebra, Giraffe, Warthog, a variety of monkeys (the white Colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, baboons) and many birds, from flamingos to coucals. After a full day of game drives, return to your lodging in Arusha for a dining experience and spend time dreaming under the stars as dark descends early here.
Full Day One
FULL DAY TWO
Have a wonderful early breakfast at your hotel in Arusha and let the adventure begin on the road to Lake Natron (famous for its flamingo herds). 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 Lake Natron. You’re likely to start spotting animals as you get closer to Lake Natron, too; watch for giraffes, zebra, and warthogs. Watch the scenery change as you get closer. As you approach Lake Natron, you will see Ol Doinyo Lengai, the famous “Mountain of God” rising above you. For the Maasai people, this mountain is the home of God. It is also the only active volcano in the world that erupts natrocarbonatite lava. As the day warms up, stop for a packed picnic lunch, and then as you get near Lake Natron, stop and go for a walk with the local people up to a cooling waterfall. Then visit the lake for a bit of a walk before dinner. Watch for kingfishers and other interesting birds at your lodge.
FULL DAY THREE
Visit Lake Natron again, and then continue on your way. Today you will have a fascinating drive through the Rift Valley, as you climb up and over towards the Serengeti. It’s a full day’s drive, and dry and dusty along the way, but with fascinating scenery as you go up and up and up. Watch for raptors and other birds high up in the mountains. As you approach the Serengeti, you will enter via Klein’s gate, and game drive towards your accommodation. Excitement builds from the moment you see the signs welcoming you to the Serengeti, and animals are often near the gate waiting to welcome you in!
FULL DAY THREE
FULL DAYS FOUR TO SIX
Where you go in the Serengeti will vary depending on the time of year, and your particular interests. If the Great Migration is your dream, then your guide will take you wherever the massed herds of the wildebeest are at this time of year (August-September, up in the Mara, other times of year in other parts of the Serengeti). If you want to spot predators above all, you’ll head for the Southern Serengeti in March through May, and into the Seronera or Central Serengeti in June through September. If you want to see crocs and hippos, your guide will take you to one of the big rivers (Mara or Grumeti) and the Retina Hippo Pool. Or you can sit back and relax and simply soak up the atmosphere and all the wild animals of the Serengeti. You will spot them everywhere as you travel! From lions to cheetah to leopards to elephants, zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, Cape Buffalo. The wonder never stops in the Serengeti and you’ll have three full days to explore and get off the beaten track to find the animals in their home territory.
Full Day SEVEN
Savour your last morning game drive in the Serengeti as you head down towards the Naabi hill Gate. As you leave the Serengeti, you may want to walk the trail at the gate and enjoy your last views – and see what birds you can spot here! Then head down towards Lake Eyasi, which during the rainy season fills with shallow water and birds that come from far and near to breed in these waters. See if you can spot a honeyguide; the birds that are said to help the Hadza tribes locate bee’s nests in trees. Go out on a ‘hunting’ adventure on foot with the Hadzabe hunter-gatherers, one of East Africa’s oldest tribes who still live by hunting and gathering. You will get to see their skill with bow and arrow, and how they follow tracks, and possibly even how they track mice by listening for movement under the sand.
Full Day SEVEN
Full Day Eight
After a relaxing breakfast, head to the Olduvai Gorge Museum, where you will find a beautiful scenic picnic area with very scenic views out over the Oldupai Gorge and towards the Ngorongoro Crater. This museum is a must-see for anyone interested in anthropology (and even for many who wouldn’t think they were!). Exhibits in the museum present some of the most significant anthropological discoveries about the evolution of humankind, including five significantly different types of human forbearers from different periods of time. The nearby lakeshore has just the right environment to preserve an amazing fossil record. Mary and Louis Leakey conducted digs in the Gorge for decades, where they found fossils from the earliest hominins, as well as stone tools, and fossilized footprints; some of which were more than 3.75 million years old! The Olduvai Gorge Museum has exhibits as well as guides who offer lectures. Spend the morning here, and take advantage of the facilities and the lovely picnic area with its stunning views, then head for the Ngorongoro Crater, an extinct and exploded volcano caldera chock full of animals! Your accommodation is situated right on the Ngorongoro Crater rim, with spectacular views down into the crater, from your room and from the terraces. Enjoy the view, meal and luxuries while you look down into the world-famous Ngorongoro crater.
Full Day NINE
This day will be spectacular. After breakfast, descend into the Ngorongoro Crater for a full day of game drives. You will 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. Your guide will point out birds as you explore, but you won’t need his or her help to find the masses of pink flamingos that congregate on lakes inside the crater! The pink spectacle explodes all around you. Stop for a delicious picnic lunch under the yellow fever trees, and then continue your game drives all afternoon. Imagine the Maasai walking their cattle down into the crater for grazing for the day, and then back out again before nightfall!
Full Day NINE
FULL DAY TEN
As you leave the Ngorongoro Crater, you may want to stop briefly at one of the viewpoints that look back down into the crater. You get a spectacular view of the whole from up here. Watch for leopards, warthogs and various other animals as you drive out! Then descend towards Lake Manyara.
Your next stop will be for a tour at Mto Wa Mbu. Mto wa Mbu is a farming community where representatives from all 120 Tanzanian tribes live in proximity to one another. A local tour guide will walk you around the village and show you:
- how rice is cultivated & processed
- a banana plantation and how banana beer is made (you may even get to taste some!)
- a children’s school
- local artists, including painters and woodcarvers
- the colors, sounds and smells of the local market
After the tour of Mto Wa Mbu (always a highlight for our guests!), travel on to Lake Manyara National Park. You are likely to see hippos, warthogs, Cape Buffalo, zebra, and giraffe. Possibly even the famous and unique tree-climbing lions, so keep your eyes open! Likely, too, to see all sorts of birds; egrets, spoonbills, storks, bee-eaters, lilac-breasted rollers, kingfishers, herons of various types, and many, many more. As the evening approaches, you will be ready to stop and relax for the night with a delicious dinner at your evening’s accommodation.
FULL DAY ELEVEN
Spend the morning exploring Lake Manyara, with lots more opportunities to find the tree-climbing lions! Stretch your legs at the boardwalk and hot springs, and watch all the hippos in the Lake. Go for a walk high above the treetop canopy on a suspended walkway and see what more birds (and butterflies) you can spot as you look down on the forest canopy from above. How many different colors of birds can you spot? The malachite kingfisher is a glorious burst of color, as are the different types of bee-eaters. As you game drive down the lake, you are already heading towards Tarangire National Park, your next stop. The drive itself is fascinating as you watch the scenery change along the way from the Rift Valley Walls to the dryer land towards Tarangire, home of the elephant herds, Baobabs, and termite mounds. You will see (and possibly drive over) sand rivers, and see the land change to slightly more cultivated land with small houses scattered across the landscape. During the afternoon, you may even have the chance for a short game drive inside Tarangire. 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 ELEVEN
FULL DAY TWELVE
Enjoy a full morning and early afternoon 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. 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. When your mind is full of elephants, lions, and giraffes, it is time to head back on the road to Arusha for your departure.