- See exotic animals on game drives in Serengeti National Park
- View grazing giraffes and wading flamingoes at Lake Manyara
- Go on game drives across the crater of Ngorongoro and spot rhinos
- Tour the historic center of Zanzibar and laze on white-sand beaches
|Day 1||Arrive in Arusha||Arusha|
|Day 2||Transfer to Karatu, Lake Manyara Game Drives||Karatu|
|Day 3||Transfer to Serengeti National Park||Serengeti National Park|
|Day 4||Serengeti Game Drive||Serengeti National Park|
|Day 5||Serengeti to Ngorongoro||Ngorongoro|
|Day 6||Ngorongoro Crater and on to Tarangire||Tarangire National Park|
|Day 7||Tarangire Game Drive||Tarangire National Park|
|Days 8-9||Transfer to Zanzibar, Optional Activities||Zanzibar Beach|
Day 1: Arrive in Arusha
Welcome to Tanzania! This gem of a country is a wildlife lover's paradise, home to some of the most popular safari destinations and unspoiled national parks in Africa. Located in the Great Lakes region of East Africa, Tanzania is known for its vast wilderness regions. After all, this country is home to the Serengeti ecosystem, where millions of plains animals migrate around its fertile savannas. Also, here is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the only place you can see all Big Five animals—lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes, and black rhinos—on a single game drive.
Upon arrival in the northern city of Arusha, your driver will be waiting at the airport to transfer you to your hotel. After unpacking and unwinding, take some time to head out and admire the views. Not only does this city sit at the foot of the 14,980-foot (4,566-m) Meru Volcano, but at certain places, you can also glimpse the snow-capped table of Kilimanjaro. Coffee lovers will want to hit a café and sample this country's famous robusta and arabica roasts. After all, Tanzania is the third-largest coffee producer in Africa, and this bean is its largest export crop.
Day 2: Transfer to Karatu, Lake Manyara Game Drives
After breakfast, you'll transfer west from Arusha to the Karatu region, in the heart of the Tanzania safari circuit. After checking in to your lodge, you'll head to nearby Lake Manyara National Park. This region is most famous for the wildlife around its namesake body of water. Manyara is an alkaline lake home to vast populations of bright-pink flamingos that form a colorful blanket on the water's surface.
You'll get your first taste of safari fun on morning and afternoon game drives through the park. During the 4x4 excursions, you'll view these colorful birds wading in the water and looking for food as giraffes graze near the shore. The area is also home to Tanzania's largest elephant population, plus East Africa's famous tree-climbing lions. In the evening, return to your lodge for dinner.
Day 3: Transfer to Serengeti National Park
Wake up early for the drive north from Manyara to Serengeti National Park. This legendary wildlife reserve is the archetypal safari destination. In the Maasai language, the name Serengeti means "endless plains," and this protected area's 5,700 sq miles (14,763 sq km) deliver on that promise. The park is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve that supports the largest concentration of plains game in the world, including the famous Big Five animals.
With any luck, you'll arrive in the Serengeti in time to witness the Great Migration, which typically occurs from June to November. This "greatest wildlife show on earth" sees more than a million wildebeest, plus hundreds of thousands of zebras and Thomson's gazelles, undertaking the long trek to new grazing grounds. To maximize your chances of seeing this occurrence, you'll head to the Ndutu region, located in the Serengeti's southeastern plains.
Upon arrival, you'll head to your camp situated right on the plains and looking out over Lake Ndutu. This may be a tent camp, but it's fully staffed and has en suite bathrooms, comfortable beds, and modern conveniences. You'll have dinner in camp before retiring for the evening.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Serengeti Game Drive
This is the moment every wildlife and wilderness lover dreams of: a safari across the great Serengeti plains. You'll start early, as mornings are the best time to see the animals at their most active. Here, you'll likely see grazing giraffes, zebras, and perhaps even lions as they hunt wildebeest and gazelles. Other animals you're likely to spot include elephants and buffalo, with leopards and rhinos being a less common sight. You can choose to have lunch on the road or back at camp, after which you'll continue the game drive into the afternoon.
Day 5: Serengeti to Ngorongoro
After a dawn game drive on the Serengeti, you'll return to camp for breakfast. Then head right back out for another wildlife excursion before lunch. Afterward, you and your guide will travel to Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Like the Serengeti, this region is also home to abundant exotic animals and plains game due to its fertile grazing grounds.
On the way there, you can choose to stop at Olduvai Gorge. This vast gorge (about 30 miles long and 300 feet deep) is home to paleoanthropological sites that have been crucial in furthering our understanding of human evolution. It's famous for the evolutionary discoveries of some of the earliest signs of human development. Hundreds of fossilized bones and stone tools have been found in the area dating back millions of years, concluding that humans evolved in Africa.
Once in Ngorongoro, there will be ample opportunities to spot exotic wildlife. This area, which is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, is home to over 20,000 large animals. Here you can see buffalos, elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, hippos, hyenas, jackals, ostriches, warthogs, and vast herds of gazelles. Also, thanks to anti-poaching patrols, the crater is one of the few places in East Africa where visitors are sure to see black rhinos.
After enjoying lunch and wildlife spotting, you'll drive to your accommodation for the night. This camp sits on the eastern side of the Ngorongoro crater rim, just inside the park boundaries. Each guest tent has an en-suite bathroom with a shower, vanity desk, and flush toilets.
Day 6: Ngorongoro Game Drive, Transfer to Tarangire
After breakfast, head down to the crater's base for a 6-hour game drive by 4x4. You're all but guaranteed to spot exotic wildlife throughout the day on this safari. This otherworldly "land that time forgot" is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and abounds with bull elephants, buffalo, rhinos, wildebeests, and the highest concentration of lions in Africa. Ngorongoro is also unique in that over 40,000 Masaai tribespeople live here, and their livestock grazes right alongside the wildlife.
Later in the afternoon, you'll proceed south to Tarangire National Park. This 1,000-sq-mile (2,600-sq-km) protected area may only be the sixth largest national park in the country, but there's no shortage of incredible wildlife here. It's one of Tanzania's finest birding destinations, as there are almost 500 avian species in the park. Plus, during the migratory season of July to October, there are incredible numbers of plains game like wildebeests, antelope, and zebras. When you arrive, you'll head to your tented lodge, strategically located in the corridor between Manyara and Tarangire.
Day 7: Tarangire Game Drive
After breakfast, you'll head out on morning and afternoon game drives. Elephants are the main attraction in Tarangire, with up to 3,000 roaming the park during the months of June to November. Other common animals include giraffes, the Thompson's gazelle, greater and lesser kudus, elands, leopards, and cheetahs. However, the real prizes in the park are the dwarf mongoose, oryx, and gerenuk (also called the "giraffe gazelle")—but sightings are quite rare. The best part is that, because Tarangire is a quiet, often overlooked park, there are fewer crowds to witness the spectacle of its migrating residents.
Days 8-9: Transfer to Zanzibar, Optional Activities
After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport to catch your flight to Zanzibar, one of East Africa's most beautiful island destinations. Upon arrival, a driver will transfer you to your beach hotel. En route, you'll tour a countryside spice farm. 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. 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. Then, you'll sit down for a farm-fresh lunch.
After arriving at your hotel and settling in, you can choose to spend your time however you like. There is a diverse array of optional activities to keep you busy; otherwise, some of Zanzibar's main attractions are its inviting beaches. You can easily spend the next couple of days relaxing on one of these prized stretches of sand. Or, if you're feeling social, there's no shortage of beach clubs and party vibes in the coastal village of Nungwi. If calm and relaxation are your goals, head to Michamvi Kae for some isolation.
Maybe you'd prefer a snorkeling or diving tour. Matemwe, on the northeast coast, is the best place for either activity, as it provides access to the coral reefs around the Mnemba Atoll. Or spend a day at Jozani Forest, home to exotic animals like the red colobus monkey. For more nature, explore the Kuumbi Caves in Jambiani on the southeastern coast. There are options besides swimming and hiking, like kayaking in mangrove forests, surfing on the southeast coast, biking around the island, or kite surfing. You could also head out to sea for a sport-fishing adventure and reel in some marlin and sailfish.
Besides beaches and nature, Zanzibar boasts a rich history. The medieval center of the capital, Stone Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This warren of alleyways, shops, bazaars, and mosques is home to some of Zanzibar's oldest and most historic buildings. One standout is the Arab Fort, a defensive fortification built in the 17th century. A great activity is to stroll Stone Town and admire its unique mix of Arabic architecture and Indian influences. You can also visit the solemn site of a former slave market and learn about this tragic part of the island's history.
Day 10: Depart
unfortunately, your grand African adventure has come to an end. A driver will pick you up from your hotel in the morning and transfer you to the airport for the flight home. Until next time!
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