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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.
3 Hours Before Flight Time
East Africa’s largest country remains one of the continent’s most definitive and stirringly original safari destinations. Blessed with a string of superlatives unmatched on the continent: Africa’s highest mountain, its largest game reserve, its biggest volcanic caldera, its oldest human settlement; and – towering above all other safari experiences – the awe-inspiring spectacle of 1.5 million wildebeest, zebras and antelopes crossing the Serengeti plains, in what naturalists the world over consistently rate as “the greatest wildlife show on Earth.
On arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport, you’re met by your driver-guide, who assists you with your bags before driving you the 45 minutes to Arusha. Along the way, if the weather is clear, you may have views of Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance. Settle into your accommodation, ready to start your safari proper in the morning.
You set off early this morning with your private guide and 4×4 vehicle for the three hour drive to Lake Manyara National Park. The route takes you through small farming villages where you may see traditionally dressed Maasai herding their cattle. You could stop at one of the markets for a glimpse of everyday life in this area. Spend the rest of the day game viewing around the lake shores. The flamingos on the lake are a classic East African sight, and you may spot hippo wallowing in the mud. After a picnic lunch, you head up the Rift Valley escarpment and into the Ngorongoro Highlands to Karatu, around an hour away.
After breakfast, you’re driven for around an hour up to the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, gaining your first views of this incredible natural wonder. You then descend into the crater for some game viewing from your private vehicle, taking a picnic lunch to enjoy on the crater floor. There are a handful of rare resident black rhinos in the crater that you may be lucky enough to see, along with large prides of lion, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo and hyena. Your guide will help point them out and tell you more about each species. After returning to Karatu in the afternoon, you’re free to relax at your lodge or explore the town.
This morning you’re driven from Karatu to Serengeti National Park by your private driver-guide. The journey takes around three hours, passing around the crater rim en route. Once you pass through the park gates you can enjoy a game drive on the way to your camp, looking out for the Big Five. After settling into your camp, you head back out on an afternoon game drive. The vast open plains of the Serengeti are world-renowned, broken up only by rocky kopjes and the Gol Mountains in the distance.
Spend all of today on safari in the Serengeti – you can explore the very different regions of this vast park with your driver-guide according to what wildlife you’ve already seen on your safari so far. Taking a full day rather than just a morning or afternoon game drive means you have the time to venture further afield to less-visited areas. The Serengeti is big cat country, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for lion, cheetah and the elusive leopard.
Spend your final day on safari making the most of the sweeping open plains of the Serengeti and trying to see as much wildlife as possible. Other than the Big Five, species to look out for include wild dog, giraffe, wildebeest and spotted hyena. The birdlife in the Serengeti is also spectacular, with over 500 species recorded here, including a variety of different bustards, lilac-breasted rollers and starlings with distinctive shimmering wings.
You have time for one last game drive this morning on your way to the Seronera Airstrip in central Serengeti. Here you board your light aircraft flight to Kilimanjaro, flying for around an hour and a half as you enjoy wonderful views over the Serengeti. You land back at Kilimanjaro Airport in time for your onward flight.