As With All Grand Explorations, It May Be Necessary To Slightly Modify This Itinerary On The Fly… But For Now, This Is What We Have Planned For Your Safari!
FEB 24 – ARRIVALS – WELCOME TO TANZANIA
The safari begins as you exit the Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) and are greeted by your local safari guides. They will help you with your luggage, and will take you to your first night’s accommodation at a safari lodge in Arusha town.
BUSH FLIGHT INTO SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
Your local guides will collect everyone from the safari lodge on the morning of February 25, and take you to the Arusha Airport. The group will take a bush plane into the Central Serengeti, landing at the Seronera Airstrip. Upon landing and deplaning, you will meet your safari guides for the first time. We will have a briefing once the luggage has been loaded into the vehicles, and then immediately set out on our first game drive of the safari!
What type of animal do you think we will encounter first?
FEB 25-27 – CENTRAL SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
We will load up and head over to the Arusha airport on the morning of the 25th, board a bush plane, and fly into the heart of the Serengeti National Park. Our team of safari guides will be there to greet us for the first time. Following a safari briefing, they will load up our luggage and get us situated in the safari-modified Land Cruisers and we’ll be off on our first game drive of the safari!
We will spend three nights in a beautifully appointed tented camp (nyumba (“home”) in Swahili) in the heart of the central Serengeti National Park.
Each day we will explore different areas of the park, always on the lookout for the Big 5 (Rhino, Lion, Leopard, Bull Elephant, and Cape Buffalo), in addition to the vast numbers of herding animals, birds, flora and fauna that make this place so special!
FEB 28-MAR 2 – SOUTHERN SERENGETI (NDUTU)
Next, we will head to the Southern Serengeti for 3 nights in an area known as the Ndutu Plains. This area was made famous by documentary and cinematic filmmakers and by researchers, such as Jane Goodall.
Ndutu consistently offers the best wildlife viewing during the green season. It is strategically situated at the center of the southern plains, although the immediate area is blanketed with a forest of acacia trees.
Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek form shallow basins where water accumulates from the nearby areas of slightly higher altitude. The water in both lakes are extremely saline, too saline for human consumption. Lake Ndutu becomes alive with animals during the migration because it is surrounded by the Ndutu woodlands and short-grass plains, which provide ample cover and food.
The Ndutu region forms part of the northern section of Ngorongoro Conservation Area and stretches to the unfenced southern reaches of the Serengeti National Park, a meeting point between these two incredible wilderness areas. This section of the park is made up of rolling grasslands peppered with alkaline lakes that attract flocks of flamingos, as well as acacia woodlands.
The best months to visit the Ndutu Region are from December, when the Great Migration herds start to arrive from the north, until April when the millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle have trekked northwards again.
In the early months of the year – with a peak in February – the wildebeest herds are calving on the verdant grassy plains (upwards of 8,000 baby animals are born in this region each day during calving season), which also attracts the attention of cheetah, lion and hyena. All six of the BIG CATS species can be found in the area all year – lion, leopard, cheetah, caracal, serval and African wildcat.
MAR 3-4 – NGORONGORO HIGHLANDS & CRATER
As we leave the Serengeti, we will stop at the OLDUVAI GORGE – Cradle of Mankind for a “lunch-and-learn” session and a visit to their museum. This gorge is known around the world as “The Cradle of Mankind,” as the oldest carbon-dated human bones were famously discovered there.
The site remains an active archeological excavation site, with universities, museums, and other research institutions sending teams of scientists there each year to continue the exploration. It is a fascinating place to spend a few hours and realize that every single person on the planet can trace their lineage to this very spot on Earth.
Next, we will transition to lush region of the Ngorongoro highlands… and will make our way to our next accommodation — the beautiful Ngorongoro Farm House near the town or Karatu. This stunning and storied plantation will be home base for our adventures in and around the Ngorongoro Crater. The Farm House is still an active coffee plantation, and guests are free to roam the manicured and gorgeous gardens and groves.
The morning of the 4th will be a very early start, as we want to be among the first groups to reach the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater. We will spend the entire day exploring this 8th wonder of the world. The primary goal of this day is to make sure we spot the endangered Black Rhino (shown below). This will be our best shot at completing the “Big 5”!
Tanzania has many wilderness and wildlife show pieces, but this one is particularly difficult to put into words. With remarkable views from the ridge above, to the real action on the crater floor below, Ngorongoro Crater embodies a constant stir of wildlife and unspoiled scenes to keep you engrossed. The Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area was added as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. This crater is rich with beautiful vegetation and an abundance of all of the African animals that we are hoping to see.
MAR 5 – GREAT RIFT VALLEY & TRIBAL INTERACTIONS
We will drive into the Great Rift Valley with the intention of visiting three different tribal families that live in this region of Tanzania. As we make our way towards our next accommodation (Lake Eyasi Safari Lodgeg), we will stop to meet the Blacksmiths and the Farming families of the Datoga tribe. The greeting for these folks is “Say-You” (which means “hello” in their language). If anyone bursts into Lionel Ritchie’s “Say you, Say me,” I’ll vomit! Hahaha!
The Blacksmith family is delightful, and they will astonish you with their metal-working skills. You can participate in a good bit of the demonstration, or just sit back and watch the magic!
Be sure to check out the tribal images in the TRIBES gallery.
Next we will see the Farming family. This is a family where the patriarch is a 93+ year old man with 10 wives, 50+ kids, and 100+ grandkids. The visit to this group always warms my heart. The women do almost everything in the tribe… farming, ranching, harvesting, grinding, cooking, bearing and raising the kids, beadwork, and dealing with the very few tourists who are lucky enough to get to meet them in person. The men??? They make babies… play games… and drink (not necessarilly in that order… wink wink).
The morning of March 7 will be VERY VERY EARLY! We will likely takea cup of coffee to go and be on the road by 4:30 or 5 a.m. (which you may actually welcome, after the terrible night’s sleep you’ve had/not had).
We do this because we will have to drive out into the bush to “find” the Hadzabe tribe. If we are fortunate enough to find them early, and the hunters are going on their morning hunt, they will welcome us to join them. This is an optional activity… please make your own decision on whether to join them on the hunt or not. If you do not want to see an animal killed, or feel that you cannot physically keep up with the tribe, please make the choice to stay back with our guide(s) or join the ladies if they go “gathering” that morning.
The hunters will be trying to provide food for their family. They will hunt almost anything from mice and birds to huge antelope… and everything in between. It is a wild, unpredictable, and fascinating thing to be part of. Do this if you can!
MAR 6-7 – TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
After we leave the Hadzabe, we will set a course for the amazing Tarangire National Park, where we will spend the next 2 nights. During this transition drive, we will stop at the African Galleria for amazing food and a chance to shop for some authentic african art, souvenirs, and stunning Tanzanite jewelry) before continuing on. If you’re not a shopper, no worries, there is also an art gallery, and exhibits about both Tanzanite mining and the beautiful wood known as Ebony… these are informative and entertaining exhibits that everyone can enjoy.
After lunch, we will continue on our journey to the Tarangire National Park. We will actually be game driving as we make our way to our accommodations for the next 2 nights.
The TNP is most famous for the massive elephant herds that can be found there year round… and for large numbers of the iconic and beautiful Baobob trees.
By staying inside the park itself, we will have access to parts of the park that are just too far to reach on a day visit. My hope is that we will be able to spend time in the river valley and wetland marsh areas, and have very little company there, other than the animals.
This is a beautiful park to do our last game drive in, and we will have our final dinner at the camp on the night of the 7th.
MAR 8 – BACK TO ARUSHA / DEPARTURES
We will all be on the lookout for the final animal sightings as we game drive our way out of the park on the morning of March 8.
Once on the tarmac, we will make our way to one of my favorite places… the Arusha Coffee Lodge and the adjacent Shanga Shops. The lunch here is spectacular, the iced coffee is delicious, and the setting is just serene.
Once you’ve had your fill of lunch, please do yourself a favor and head for the Shanga shops. In case you didn’t get your fill of shopping at the Galleria, here is your chance to get some absolutely beautiful, unique, and treasured souvenirs. Even more exciting to me is the chance to meet the artists and craftsmen who make everything sold at these shops! They have their workshops in a courtyard behind the stores, and will welcome you and demonstrate their skills… or maybe have you participate too. Each craftsman and artist employed here is handicapped in some way (deaf, mute, missing a limb, burn victim, etc.), but they’ve been hired and trained to do amazing art and other skills that will blow your mind. My most treasured keepsakes and gifts always come from these beautiful people… it is an experience I take very seriously, as it is part of my mission to travel with intention. I hope you will come play with me at the Shanga Shops and art village.
Once we leave this stop, we will head to the Planet Lodge near the airport. Guests will have day-use rooms available in order to rest, shower, and repack so that you are ready to fly out this evening on your long flights home.
COVID TESTING – (if needed)
Should we still be dealing with the Covid situation at the time of this safari, we will be sure to save time for everyone to be tested on the way to the airport.
The tests cost around 10-20 dollars per person (self-pay required).
You will know the results of your test before we leave the testing center, and the results of your test will be emailed directly to the airline ticket counter so that everything is ready to go when you check in for your flights back to the USA. Our guides will make sure to get you to the JRO airport with ample time to navigate the exit procedures and relax onto your flights home.
Trust me when I say that “roughing it” is not part of the plan when you safari with Wanderful Tanzania. As a boutique and independent safari outfitter, we have LOADS of flexibility when it comes to selecting accommodations. My partners at Wanderful Tanzania work extremely hard to secure the best accommodations for each phase of the safari, based on a number of variables, including budget, group size, specific itinerary, time of year, space availability, and the ALL-IMPORTANT movement of the migrating herds.
As such, it is impossible for me to know/show you the exact accommodations you will have on your safari, but what I am able to do is show you a sampling from our past safaris, and assure you that the images and descriptions on the cards below accurately approximate the types of accommodations you can expect to see during your safari too.
MIGRATION CAMPS – SAMPLE GALLERY
IN AND AROUND CAMP –
Migration camps are exactly that… camps that follow the movement of the migration throughout the year. Rather than being permanent or semi-permanent structures on raised platforms, the migration camps are designed to be easily moved from place to place as the Great Migration makes it’s endless 1000-mile annual circuit. As you can see from the images, below, even though they are “temporary”… the camp companies do all they can to make sure they are well located, well-maintained, and have all of the creature comforts to keep their guests safe and comfortable in the middle of the wilds of Africa! These tents are spacious, and have canvas interior walls that separate the bedroom and bathroom areas of the tent. (See section on toilets and showers, below)
Guests can enjoy a drink as they sit around the fire pit around dusk each evening. The camp will always have a lounge tent and dining tent available for guests to relax, have a drink, and eat their chef-prepared meals throughout their stay.
If you step on a rock or a root under the canvas floor of your wilderness abode, please just stop… be present… and embrace that reality for a minute. You’re in the middle of the wilds of Africa, in a huge tent that someone has set up for you so that you can witness the spectacle of the Great Migration up close.
Having finished your bedtime routine in your private bathroom, you put on your PJs and slip under the covers of your super comfy bed. Will you be blessed to hear the African rain falling on your tent as you drift off to sleep? Or are you being serenaded by nearby lions, zebras, hyenas, or any other member of nature’s great symphony?
A smile curves your lips as you think about all you saw and experienced today. Then, just before sleep overtakes you, you wonder to yourself, “What will tomorrow hold… and how could it ever hold a candle to this perfect day on safari?”
Remember to just soak it in… rocks and all!
BATHROOMS AND SHOWERS
Migration camps may have flush toilets like permanent camps…. or they might have camp-style pump toilets, like the one shown BELOW.
And, Migration camps may have regular showers, but more than likely will have a safari bucket shower.
ABOUT BUCKET SHOWERS:
Safari / bucket showers are common in mobile or tented camps where there is no permanent plumbing. They are an effective yet environmentally friendly way to shower where water is at a premium and provide plenty of hot water to wash comfortably.
Generally there is an en suite private shower stall within your tent with a “rainfall” style shower head and a pully system that lets you control the flow.
Outside the tent there is a large waterproof bag or bucket which is filled with about 5 gallons of hot water before being raised with a pully / rope system to either connect to the shower pipe or fill a cistern. The water is delivered at the ideal temperature so it is best to use it as soon as it arrives.
Staff typically poll each guest to see when they would like their shower to be ready, and are incredibly accommodating.
I actually love bucket showers. The water is just the perfect temperature and even though each person gets only one 5-gallon bucket each day, I’ve never ran out of hot water before I finished showering.
PERMANENT CAMPS – SAMPLE GALLERY
Permanent camps are a cut above the typical migration camp, as they are generally built on raised platforms and usually have regular showers with solar-heated hot water, as well as standard flushing toilets. Permanent camps are generally in areas of the National Parks that are reliably rich with abundant animal activity throughout the year, rather than seasonally.
NGORONGORO FARM HOUSE
This spectacular property is located in the Karatu area of Tanzania. It provides ideal access to the Ngorongoro crater, and is a splendid lodge at which to spend 2 nights right in the middle of the safari.
It is still a working coffee plantation, and is as refined and relaxing as anyplace in Africa. It has all of the amenities you could ask for… and then some! We will be staying here for sure!
LAKE EYASI SAFARI LODGE – GREAT RIFT VALLEY
This is a super cute lodge with amazing views to the east, over Lake Eyasi and the Great Rift Valley… and has one of the most best sunset views in all of Africa! It just happens to also be pretty much our ONLY OPTION for a place to stay in order to interact with both the Datoga and Hadzabe tribes.
While this lodge has loads going for it… it has one hard-to-hide bugaboo that I should tell you about ahead of time. There seems to be a perpetual wind that blows through this region every night. You won’t notice it too much when out and about, but when you go to your room, there is a chance you will be bothered by wind whisteling through the poorly fitted windows. A great night’s sleep is hard to get here… but as I said, it is the price we will gladly pay to have the experiences we are after during this quick 1-night/2-day section of our safari. Wind and all… don’t miss this part of the trip!
TARANGIRE SAFARI LODGE – SAMPLE GALLERY
This is one of the oldest and most enduring camps in the Tarangire National Park. There are not a lot of camps to choose from inside TNP, so most people stay outside the park and make a 1-2 hour drive in from other villages just to do their safari. This really limits how much they are able to see inside the park, as they also need to make sure they leave the park before it closes for the night… which means many never get to see a few of the really amazing ecosystems inside the park, such as the riverbed, forest, or beautiful marshlands. So, whenever my groups go to Tarangire, I always have my guides check to see if we can get our accommodations here.
Fingers crossed, this will be where we go for this portion of our trip. I’ve not seen it for about 2 years (covid), so I hope it is still in good condition and open for business! It may not be the MOST glamorous accommodation, but the ideal location and breathtaking views in every direction are worth it!