If you’re a first time visitor to Tanzania, following this itinerary allows you to enjoy the big game viewing areas in the north of the country, combining Lake Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. Your days are spent taking in the dramatic scenery of the Great Rift Valley and Ngorongoro Highlands, searching for the Big Five (lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard) on private game drives with knowledgeable guides and relaxing in authentic camps and lodges, giving you a real taste of what safari is all about.
Search for the Big Five on private game drives in northern Tanzania's best-known reserves.
Experience the dramatic scenery of the Great Rift Valley and Ngorongoro Highlands, and explore the Serengeti’s sweeping plains.
Track endangered black rhino and see lion, hyena and buffalo in Ngorongoro Crater.
Watch flamingos and hippo around the shores of Lake Manyara.
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Treat this trip purely as a starting point for your own tour to Tanzania. Your specialist will ask you what you want and then shape your itinerary to match.
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- Advice from first-hand expertise
- Kilimanjaro Airport
- Manyara National Park
- Serengeti National Park
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Day 1 Arusha
Kilimanjaro Airport , Arusha
Your international flight will arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport, home to the ‘The Roof of Africa’, Mount Kilimanjaro. After clearing immigration and collecting your luggage, you’ll be met by your driver who will be waiting for you at arrivals. You will drive to your accommodation in Arusha, and on a clear day you may have views of Kilimanjaro en-route. After a long day travelling you may want to rest, but if you want to keep yourself busy until the evening we can arrange a city tour or other experiences dependent on your interests.
Day 2 Karatu
Your private guide and vehicle will pick you up after an early breakfast, and you’ll head off to Lake Manyara National Park, stopping en-route to explore a local village on foot or in a tuk-tuk (a small, open air taxi). Lake Manyara is a small park but one of Tanzania’s most dramatically located wildlife areas, home to a clear blue shallow soda lake dotted with flamingos and hippo and lying below the dramatic hills of the Great Rift Valley escarpment. It’s an excellent birding destination and the only place in Tanzania that you may see tree-climbing lion. After a game drive and a picnic lunch, you’ll drive up the Rift Valley escarpment to the town of Karatu, the gateway to the Ngorongoro Highlands.
Day 3 Karatu
A game drive in the Ngorongoro Crater starts early. You’ll be at the park gates when they open at 6:00 am, and your day starts with views over the largest intact volcanic caldera in the world. At 259 square kilometres (160 square miles), the sheer size of the crater makes it difficult to comprehend the height of the towering walls, but the wind and clouds up here give you a hint. The rim of the crater sits around 610 metres (2,001 feet) above the crater floor, and you’ll begin your descent to a naturally contained ecosystem home to zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, lion, hyena, jackal and even critically endangered black rhino. You can spend up to six hours in the crater before heading back to Karatu.
Day 4 Serengeti National Park
Your drive from Karatu to the Serengeti will wind you through wide green hills and across flat lowlands. The land stretches to the horizon in all directions, interrupted only by small dusty towns and earthy round Maasai huts. Once you’ve crossed into the Serengeti you’ll be on a game drive as you make your way towards camp. The southern section of the park is covered with flat or gently rolling grasslands and occasionally dotted with rock kopjes, home to good populations of resident game. Big cats love to have a good vantage point and the kopjes provide that. Massive herds of wildebeest call this southern section home when they’re birthing before moving farther north. The Serengeti is home to a variety of landscapes, and what’s around you will depend on where you’re staying in the park.
Day 5 Serengeti National Park
Every year, two million wildebeest and zebra migrate from the plains of the Serengeti to the grasslands of the Masai Mara in Kenya in search of ground to feed. The most sought-after time to see this natural spectacle is from July to October, when the herds congregate on the banks of the Mara River, their final obstacle before reaching fertile ground. Driven by instinct and the smell of rain, the wildebeest and zebra take the dangerous plunge into the river. Those that escape the surging waters and gigantic crocodile must stay alert enough to avoid the big cats waiting on the far side. The herds will graze in the Masai Mara for a time, splitting into groups that cross and re-cross the Mara River. Eventually they will wander back south through the Serengeti. The migration can be seen every month of the year, starting with the calving season in the southern Serengeti from January to March, and planning your safari will depend on your interests and your budget.
Day 6 Serengeti National Park
Not all animals migrate, and away from the millions of wildebeest on their journey, resident game thrives. Big cats are territorial and will often live in one area throughout their lives. Elephant like to stay as far away from the chaos of the migration as they can get. While the migration is a natural phenomenon that wildlife lovers dream of seeing, there are isolated, quiet areas of the Serengeti waiting for you as well. Wherever you are in the park, having a private guide and vehicle allows you to make your own schedule. You can game drive as far as possible in a day, taking a picnic lunch with you, or choose to explore more leisurely, coming back to camp for lunch and a rest.
Day 7 Return home
You have time for a final game drive this morning on your way to the airstrip, where you’ll board a light aircraft bound for Kilimanjaro. As you climb into the sky, the giraffe roaming the plains will become smaller and smaller, before disappearing as you rise above the clouds. You’ll land in Kilimanjaro International Airport, where you’ll catch your international flight home.
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When to go
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