This safari’s itinerary includes visits to Tanzania’s three main northern parks as well as a visit to Mahale Mountain National park.You will travel from the baobab-studded landscape of Tarangire National Park to the unique ecosystems of Ngorongoro Crater to the vast open plains of the Serengeti and finally to the shores of Tanzania’s deepest lake.
Arrive in Kilimanjaro. Overnight at Ngare Sero Lodge.
You will be met at the airport and driven to Ngare Sero Lodge, 30 minutes away. The lodge overlooks a lake and an indigenous forest on the slopes of Mount Meru. From the veranda of the turn-of-the-century main house, you can see Mount Kilimanjaro. Troupes of Sykes and Colobus monkeys inhabit the forest and surrounding grounds, where two hundred species of birds have been sighted. Accommodations are en suite garden cottages, and there is a swimming pool on the property.
Days 2 - 4
Fly to Tarangire National Park. Private Mobile Tented Camp.
After breakfast you will be flown to Tarangire National Park where you will be met at the airstrip and taken to your private camp.
Tarangire National Park's 1,600 square miles include panoramic vistas of savannah grasslands that are dotted with open acacia woodland and large baobab trees. Considered one of East Africa's most spectacularly scenic parks, Tarangire is one of the best places in Tanzania to elephant watch. Plenty of other big game inhabit the park, as well, most notably lion, leopard, eland, giraffe and ostrich.
The park is one of the few places in Tanzania where oryx roam and, more rarely, gerenuk and lesser kudu. In addition, one can find masses of impala, waterbuck, reedbuck, warthog and Grant's gazelle. The Tarangire River flows through this birder's paradise, which has more resident breeding species than anywhere else in the country.
Fly to Ngorongoro Crater. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.
A private charter will fly you to Ngorongoro Crater. Weather permitting, your plane will land on the rim of the crater, and you will arrive at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge in time for lunch.
The lodge's decor – with Malian architecture and collectibles from all over Africa – reflects the taste of a colonial explorer from a bygone era. Each stilted, handcrafted suite is adorned with graceful antiques, grand chandeliers and African treasures. The bedroom, sitting room and en suite bathroom boast floor-to-ceiling glass windows that overlook the magnificent crater below. The management and staff of Crater Lodge will spoil you with luxury, and your personal butler will discreetly tend to your every need. Considered one of the most stunning lodges in Africa, Crater Lodge has been featured in many international architectural and travel publications.
In the afternoon, you will descend into the crater for some spectacular game viewing. The crater is an imploded volcano with the largest complete caldera in the world that is not flooded. Its geology may be spectacular, but it is the wildlife paradise that exists in its 100 square miles that makes it one of the world's natural wonders.
Besides having one of the richest wildlife environments on earth, it has the highest density of lions ever recorded; it is the last refuge of black rhino in Tanzania; it has elephants with the largest tusks in East Africa. Above all, it is a photographer's dream where elephant, buffalo, lion and rhino act out their daily lives on the crater's stage.
Day 6 - 7
Ngorongoro Crater. Private Mobile Tented Camp.
Today you will spend a full day on the crater floor viewing wildlife and enjoying a picnic lunch. At the end of the day, you will rejoin your private tented camp, which will have been relocated here from Tarangire.
The next day you will be traveling north of Ngorongoro to an area of Empakai Crater that few people visit. From the crater's rim you can see three mountains from one spot: Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru and Oldongy Lengai, a still active volcano whose name means the "House of God" in Maasai. Some of you may choose to rest beneath the shade of a tree with a picnic lunch. Others – together with an armed guard – will take a 40-minute hike down through the cool forests to a lake 800 feet below where a cloud of pink flamingoes will greet you on the shore.
Southern Serengeti. Ndutu Lodge.
Today you will descend the northwestern slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater onto the short grassy plains of the Serengeti. This drive will take you past Oldupai Gorge, a world famous site where the anthropologist Louis Leakey and his wife Mary uncovered some of the earliest hominid fossils known to man. After visiting the museum and hearing a short talk by the curator, you will enter the gorge to see where the fossils were discovered and where many still lie today. You will continue to the Ndutu area where you will spend the night at Ndutu Lodge.
The lodge consists of 32 simply furnished stone cottages with en suite bathrooms and verandas that look through the woodlands to Lake Ndutu. The open-air dining and lounge area also look over the lake; the lodge has gained a reputation for excellent cuisine.
Southern Serengeti. Private Mobile Tented Camp.
You will look for game in the morning, lunch back at Ndutu Lodge and then drive to your private mobile tented camp in the afternoon. There are a number of idyllic places to put a private camp that still have access to the main wildlife activity on the Serengeti's southern plains. Among them are the woods on the northern edge of the plains, the magnificent forested rock islands of Moru Kopjes, the acacia stands around the central area of Seronera or the lakes and woodlands of Ndutu.
The wildlife and the character of the Serengeti's various areas vary dramatically from one season to the next. You will be visiting during what is known as the Green season, which runs from December through March. It is a peaceful time when the animals are fully fed and relaxed and wildflowers and green grass abound. It is the time when the migration spills out onto the great southern plains and the females of the species are calving.
Wildebeest are the Serengeti's driving force; there are some 1.3 million of them. Together with some 300,000 zebra and attendant predators and scavengers, they are a vast ecological powerhouse, roaming beautiful landscapes, setting the boundaries, changing the scenery, altering the vegetation and laying down the limits and the lifestyles of just about everything else that lives here. Along with the Maasai Mar of Kenya, this is the finest wildlife spectacle on earth.
Walking in the Gol Mountains. Expeditionary Camp.
Today you will rendezvous with your Maasai guides for a relaxed and easy expeditionary walk in the Gol Mountains. The scenery is spectacular, the climate cool, the grass short and crisp, and there is no risk from dangerous animals. But above all, there is a chance to spend time with the Maasai in places that are seldom visited by outsiders. Donkeys will also accompany you to pack in supplies, and you will always be in radio contact with a vehicle that will be within easy reach. You will normally stop at around midday so camp can be set up, and you will have the rest of the day for further exploring on foot, visiting the Maasai, relaxing, reading, etc. The youngsters in the group have the option of riding a donkey in the care of one of the Maasai handlers.
The Expeditionary Camp is quite comfortable, with full headroom ridge tents, camp furniture and simple two- or three-course meals.
Southern Serengeti. Private Mobile Tented Camp.
We return to the main camp today and spend our time viewing game.
Days 12 - 14
Fly to Mahale Mountains. Greystoke.
A private charter flight will take you southwest to the forested slopes of the Mahale Mountains that tower above the white sands of Lake Tanganyika. The clear water of Lake Tanganyika is over one mile in depth, the deepest in Africa, and the fresh water fish are brilliantly colored and varied.
Throughout the Mahale Mountain forest lies a network of simple paths established by a team of Japanese scientists, who have been studying chimpanzees here for more than 30 years. The scientists have been careful to avoid manipulating the chimps' behavior in any way, so the primates carry on with their lives scarcely noticing that they are being watched.
On the shores of the lake, an adventure/entrepreneur named Roland Purcell has erected a camp centered on an Ottoman-style tent in the dining/sitting area. It is about a one-hour boat ride to the airstrip where your charter plane landed. Tents are roomy, the beds are comfortable, linen is always fresh and the food is excellent. In addition to guided walks looking for chimpanzee, activities include snorkeling, fishing, canoeing or relaxing at the beautiful water's edge.
Fly back to Arusha. Day rooms Dik-Dik Hotel.
A private charter flight will take you back to Arusha. Day rooms will be reserved for you at the Dik-Dik Hotel. After dinner you will be taken to the Kilimanjaro Airport for your international flight home.