You can't beat this itinerary for a trip that combines African cultural immersion with safari fun. It starts with some beach time in Zanzibar before hitting the road on off-the-beaten-path routes between cities in Tanzania. After relaxing at Lake Victoria, you'll cross over to Kenya for game drives in the famous Maasai Mara Reserve, plus spend time in tribal villages and participate in Maasai warrior ceremonies.

Highlights

  • Tour the historic center of Zanzibar and laze on its white-sand beaches
  • Take a road trip between Tanzania's largest and most culturally rich cities
  • Embark on game drives in the Maasai Mara and see Big Five animals
  • Experience authentic Maasai culture at Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Days 1-2 Arrive in Zanzibar Zanzibar Beach
Day 3 Flight to Dar es Salaaam Dar Es Salaam
Day 4 Drive to Dodoma Dodoma
Day 5 Drive to Shinyanga Shinyanga
Day 6 Drive to Mwanza Mwanza
Day 7 Mwanza Optional Activities Mwanza
Day 8 Drive to Kisumu Kisumu
Day 9 Full-Day Village Tour Kisumu
Day 10 Masai Mara National Reserve, Game Drive Maasai Mara
Day 11 Masai Mara Game Drives Maasai Mara
Day 12 Transfer to Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp Maji Moto
Day 13 Maasai Bush Camping Maji Moto
Day 14 Return to Nairobi, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2: Arrive in Zanzibar

Zanzibar Beach
Stroll the sunbleached sands of Zanzibar

Welcome to Tanzania! And what better introduction to this wonderland of unspoiled national parks and stunning coast than by arriving on the island of Zanzibar? This archipelago is regarded as one of East Africa's most beautiful island destinations. Upon arrival at the airport on the main island, a personal driver will be waiting to transfer you to your beach hotel.

On the way, you'll stop at a countryside spice farm for a tour. This is a fun (and delicious) way to learn about Zanzibar's historical legacy as one of the world's leading producers of spices like clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. On a walking tour, you'll sample these aromatic treasures, plus learn about farming techniques and the various uses for the types of spices, tropical fruits, and root crops grown on the property. Afterward, you'll sit down for a farm-fresh lunch.  

Once you've checked in to your hotel on the tranquil northeast coast, you can spend the next few days. Maybe tour medieval Stone Town (Zanzibar's historic center) or sample more exotic spices at the massive outdoor Market. You could also head to the southeast coast and tour the Kuumbi Caves or hit the water for kayaking, wind-surfing, snorkeling, or other aquatic activities. Of course, one of the most popular past-times is to relax on Zanzibar's famous white-sand beaches. 

Day 3: Flight to Dar es Salaaam

Next, Dar es Salaaam

After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport to catch a flight to Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania. Upon arrival, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel, which features stunning views of the Indian Ocean. You can choose to stay in or head out and enjoy a few of the dynamic port city's cultural offerings.

For fun in the sun, head to Coco Beach. It's a great place to mingle with locals, sample street food, enjoy live music, and revel in waterfront nightlife. For more local flavor, browse the city's markets, like the Mwenge Woodcarvers Market, which sells artisanal wood carvings and sculptures. The National Museum is another local highlight that showcases the history and development of Tanzania. Head to a waterfront restaurant and indulge in Dar es Salaam's famous seafood when you get hungry.  

Day 4: Drive to Dodoma

Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania

Get an early start today for the drive inland to Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania. Along the way, you'll stop for lunch in the scenic city of Morogoro, located at the foot of the Uluguru Mountains. From there, head down into the vast plains of Tanzania. Once in Dodoma, you'll check into your hotel and have the remainder of the afternoon free. 

As far as activities, a popular option is to visit Simba Hill, which is Dodoma's most iconic landmark. A relatively short 3-hour hike will take you to the top, where you'll be rewarded with views over Dodoma and its surrounding villages. You could also visit the impressive religious landmarks in town, such as the neoclassical Anglican Cathedral and the Gadhafi Mosque. The latter is the largest mosque in Tanzania, funded by the former Libyan dictator.

Day 5: Drive to Shinyanga

Sukuma tribe members

After an early breakfast, you'll hop back in the 4x4 and embark on a full-day drive north across the plains and foothills to Shinyanga. At about the halfway point, you'll stop in Singida for lunch. The city sits on an alkaline lake of the same name, home to exotic waterbirds like flamingos.

Once in Shinyanga, you'll check into your hotel. While there may not be much in the way of tourist attractions, this city does offer a glimpse into the daily lives of the tribal communities who live here. Specifically, the Sukuma, Nyamwezi, and Sumbwa are the population's major groups. The primary industry is agriculture, specifically cotton, maize, and rice. 

Day 6: Drive to Mwanza

Bismarck Rock, Mwanza's most iconic landmark

It's another early start as you continue north in the morning to the port city of Mwanza, located on the south shore of Lake Victoria. You'll arrive in time for lunch at your hotel and have the remainder of the afternoon to relax. Alternatively, you can head out and explore. After all, this is the second-largest city in Tanzania after Dar Es Salaam.

You'll want to snap a picture of Bismarck Rock, Mwanza's iconic landmark. This unique rock formation rises out of the water and was named after Otto von Bismarck. Supposedly there was once a statue of Bismarck here that the conquering Germans erected, then later torn down by the British when they took over after World War I. 

Plan your trip to Tanzania
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 7: Mwanza Optional Activities

Go birding on Lake Victoria

Today you can choose from many activities in and around Mwanza. The nearest attraction is Lake Victoria. This body of water is notable for Africa's largest lake and the second-largest freshwater lake globally. It spans 210 miles (337 km) from north to south and 150 miles (240 km) across, with a coastline of more than 2,000 miles (3,220 km). One popular activity is to grab a fishing pole and see if you can catch some tilapia.

Other highlights include the many archipelagos located within the lake. You can visit Rubondo Island, one of two Tanzanian national parks situated on an island in Victoria. Rubondo attracts a small number of visitors each year, mainly game fishermen and bird enthusiasts looking to spot resident water birds like herons, storks, ibises, and more. The island is uninhabited by humans and is protected as a refuge for threatened chimpanzees. 

Then there's Saanane National Park, which is comprised of three islets. Here you can spot exotic animals like impalas, velvet monkeys, the rock hyrax, and wild cats. It's also a natural home of the De Brazza's monkey, a genuinely unique primate species notable for its stern expression and white beard. Reptiles are also prevalent here and include crocodiles, lizards, tortoises, and snakes—including pythons.

Day 8: Drive to Kisumu

Impalas at the Kisumu Sanctuary

After breakfast, you'll drive north to the Kenyan border and say goodbye to your Tanzanian driver. Then pass through immigration and meet your new Kenyan guide, who will be waiting for you in a 4x4. You'll then continue to Kisumu, a port city on the northern end of Lake Victoria. 

You're in for a treat, as you'll be staying in a peaceful ecolodge on the lakeshore outside the bustle of the city. Moreover, your lodge is within the lush grounds of the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary. This protected area is home to antelope, big cats, buffalo, giraffes, cheetahs, and various primate species. Built to minimize ecological impact while maximizing comfort, this is the perfect base for exploring Kenya's western safari circuit while enjoying different activities around the lake.

Day 9: Full Day Village Tour

Tour traditional villages

You'll head out on a day tour of different villages near Kisumu in the morning. This is an enlightening cultural experience, as residents of these tribal communities live simply and traditionally. Yet, the villages are home to cottage industries and tradespeople. It's also a scenic excursion, as the villages are located in the beautiful countryside around Lake Victoria.

Activities on the itinerary include a stop at a village nursery school to observe a lesson and meet local children; dropping in on community groups to see their traditional weaving and pottery-making methods; and meeting local workers for demonstrations of traditional handicrafts. You'll also take a stroll through the village of Kanyadhiang to see the grave of Barack Obama's grandfather before enjoying refreshments with the women's group back at the weaving center. 

Lunch will be served picnic-style on the shore of Simbi Lake, a small crater lake where you may be lucky enough to see flocks of flamingos mid-migration. Then you'll continue to Kisii to visit this city's famous soapstone workshops and do a bit of craft shopping.

Day 10: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Game Drive

Wildebeest in the Maasai Mara

After breakfast, you'll drive to Maasai Mara National Reserve, arriving in time for lunch. This 580-sq-mile (1,510-sq-km) game reserve borders Serengeti National Park (in Tanzania), and together they host the great migration of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles that occurs from July to November. Named in honor of the Maasai tribespeople, the unspoiled savanna is home to significant numbers of lions, leopards, cheetahs, African bush elephants, rhinos, and more. After lunch, you'll get to see these animals on an afternoon game drive. 

Then you'll head into the heart of the reserve and your lodging for the night. It's a peaceful bush camp off the tourist trail with a full-time staff on hand to attend to your needs. 

Day 11: Maasai Mara Game Drives

Mara Cheetah Family
Cheetah family in the Maasai Mara

Today you'll embark at first light on a morning game drive around Maasai Mara. Dawn is the best time to go wildlife spotting here since the animals are at their most active as they search for food. You can see the wildebeests grazing on the savanna as the big cats hunt for prey. After a leisurely lunch, hit the road again for an afternoon game drive to follow the animals as they search for shade and water. 

Then, once you've filled your camera with pictures of some of the most exotic animals in the world, you'll return to camp for dinner. 

Day 12: Transfer to Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp

Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp Warrior training
Warrior training in the Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp

Wake up early for another unforgettable game drive, then return to the camp for breakfast. Head back out for some wildlife viewing before driving to the airstrip, where you'll catch a flight to Nairobi. Upon arrival, a personal driver will meet you for the drive outside the city to the Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp. This is not a commercial, cultural experience but an authentic Maasai community, where real tribespeople still live according to ancient traditions. It's a fascinating opportunity to interact with an authentic African culture that has changed little over the centuries. 

Activities include walking in the hills with Maasai warriors, witnessing warrior training, and stopping at a natural hot spring. You'll also visit a Maasai widow village to meet residents. Because Maasai women traditionally marry older men, many are often widowed with young children. To offset these hardships, initiatives were created to help teach Maasai widows skills to earn a living, like crafting and beadwork. Besides visiting the village, you'll tour community projects like a school, tree nursery, and beekeeping operation. End the day sitting around the campfire with Maasai warriors.

You'll overnight in the camp, staying in traditional cottages made by Maasai women.

Day 13: Maasai Bush Camping

Spend time with the Maasai people

Today, walk in the footsteps of the Maasai as you trek across the plains to a forest bush campsite. With the help of tribespeople, you'll construct a traditional Maasai camp and sleep out under the stars. If you have the constitution for it, you can participate in slaughtering a goat in the traditional Olpul style. This celebration for returning warriors and elders includes much singing and merrymaking. Then everyone will join in the feast as they share stories and blessings around the campfire. You'll also share the local ceremonial brew made from aloe root, honey, and herbs.

Spend the night at the bush camp, on traditional leafy beds, and rest easy knowing mighty Maasai warriors will protect you.

Day 14: Return to Nairobi, Depart

Goodbye, Africa

After a final early morning game drive, return to Nairobi and transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. Safe travels! 

More Great Tanzania Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Tanzania? Check out these other Tanzania itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

Map

Map of Tanzania & Kenya Road Trip - 14 Days
Map of Tanzania & Kenya Road Trip - 14 Days