Ultimate Serengeti Safari and Kilimanjaro Culture Tour July 14 - 26, 2014
This is the trip of a lifetime to some of the most breathtaking natural environments on Earth. The heart of our trip is the legendary Serengeti National Park, a vast preserve of grass plains and thorn-tree savanna in the heart of Africa, home to hundreds of thousands of large grazers including wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle. Not quite as numerous but still plentiful are herds of elephant and giraffe. Of course much attention is focused on the predators that prey upon all of these herds which Serengeti is famous for: cheetah, lions, and leopards. However, there is stiff competition for our attention in the form of the vast diversity of Tanzania’s endemic and migratory birds. Sometimes it can be hard to decide what to look at!
This tour isn't just about viewing the amazing wildlife; we also engage in cultural exchanges.
But this tour isn’t just about viewing amazing wildlife; we also engage in cultural exchanges with several of the Tanzanian tribes, including the Maasai pastoralists of the Crater Highlands and Rift Valley system and the Chagga people of Kilimanjaro.
This travel experience is organized around maximizing our opportunities to see some of Earth’s most famous ecosystems in comfort while supporting environmental and social sustainability.
To do so, whenever possible we:
- Stay in ecologically-minded lodges. These lodges are more often locally owned and operated, smaller, and therefore more intimate. Many of these lodges have practices in place to minimize impact through water and energy conservation measures.
- Partner with local organizations.
- Engage in cultural tourism to support local cultural heritage and sustainable development in the communities we visit.
To travel successfully in Tanzania, you should be:
Ultimate Serengeti Wildlife and Kilimanjaro Culture Tour
July 14-26, 2014
Day 1: (Monday, July 14) Arrive Kilimanjaro Airport in the evening, overnight in Moshi hotel.
We arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) where you will be met and transferred to our Moshi hotel. Please note that your itinerary will likely begin on Sunday, July 13 to arrive at Kilimanjaro Airport Monday evening because of the length of flights.
Day 2: Early departure for Tarangire National Park.
After breakfast at our hotel we’re on the road. We’ll stop for lunch en route and then do an afternoon game drive in Tarangire, which is famous for its baobab trees (“upside down” trees) and large herds of elephants and a plenitude of other grazers that trek hundreds of kilometers from their wet season habitats to spend the dry season at the Tarangire River. We depart late afternoon to drive closer to Ngorongoro Crater, with dinner and an overnight stay at an intimate lodge below the crater.
Day 3: 6-hour tour of Ngorongoro Crater
We arise early to enter the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of massive proportions. The 100-square-mile caldera floor is ringed by steep walls and the crater floor is home to an impressive variety of large wildlife, including our best chance of spotting a rhino. Ngoronogoro is beautiful for its scenery as well as wildlife so we enjoy lunch at a spring inside the crater walls before ascending back to dinner and overnight at a small tented camp on the crater rim.
Day 4: Serengeti Plains-Halisi Camp
We drive onwards to the vast Serengeti (literally, “endless plain”). The southern Serengeti is flat grassland with lots of grazers and the predators that stalk them. The wildlife we see will depend on the timing of the rainy season and the migration of animals following the rains, but there are always animals to see in the Serengeti at any time of year. After lunch we drive our way northward to the central Serengeti to our ecologically-focused, deluxe tented camp for dinner and overnight. This will be our base for the three nights as we explore the reaches of the Serengeti.
Day 5: Serengeti Plains
We spend a full day exploring the habitats of the Central Serengeti. The Serengeti Plains have abundant wildlife and the predators that feed upon them. While most famous for grassloands, a variety of different habitats occur in the central Serengeti, including watering holes along the rivers and forested regions near rocky outcrops called “kopjes.” We return to Halisi Camp for lunch with a morning and afternoon game drive. Dinner and overnight at Halisi Camp.
Day 6: More Serengeti
We say goodbye to some of our party who are traveling with us on a shorter safari itinerary, then continue game drives through the day in the Serengeti. After a lunch in camp, we spend the afternoon exploring some more diverse habitats of the Central Serengeti. We return to our camp for dinner and overnight.
Day 7: Northern Serengeti to Lake Natron
We arise for a final Serengeti dawn morning and drive through the northern Serengeti. The landscape and ecosystems change to more rolling terrain and more trees. We may see more large herds depending on the timing of the rains, though the trees and taller grass can also make animals more difficult to spot. We drive out of the Serengeti at Klein’s Gate and traverse a little-traveled corridor of far northern Tanzania, through lands home to the Maasai and Sonjo people. We finish the day by descending the fault scarp of the Great Rift Valley overlooking the impressive salt Lake Natron. Dinner and overnight at another sustainability-focused tented camp at Lake Natron.
Day 8: Lake Natron Walking Tours
We have two walking tour options today; in the morning our Maasai guides take us on a walk to the shores of Lake Natron, where we may see zebra grazing and lesser flamingos in the lake. The walk takes us past small streams with impressive views of Ol Doinyo Lengai (Maasai for “The Mountain of God”) in the distance. The afternoon walk up a narrow stream gorge to some waterfalls is physically challenging so travelers may choose to instead spend the afternoon relaxing in camp. Dinner and overnight at our camp.
Day 9: Maasai Cultural Tourism
We continue south from Lake Natron to complete our safari loop. Along the way we stop at the Maasai village where we engage in cultural tourism with the local Maasai people. We are welcomed with a traditional dance and song and take a tour of their boma (village). We continue south on rough roads to arrive for dinner and overnight at a small tented camp near Lake Manyara.
Day 10: Lake Manyara National Park
On our last day away from Kilimanjaro we’ll explore the town of Mto wa Mbu, a bustling market town where we’ll learn about agriculture and housing, visit a local market, and have a chance to taste home-brewed banana beer. We’ll eat a box lunch before returning to Moshi in the afternoon. Dinner in Moshi town, overnight at our Moshi hotel.
Day 11: Kahawa Shamba Coffee Tour
Today we visit the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro directly above Moshi near the village of Uru. We visit Kahawa Shamba (“coffee farm”), a tour organized by the Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union, a coffee co-op first established in 1933. We visit a coffee farm homestead typical of the Chagga people who live on Kilimanjaro and learn about the agricultural traditions of coffee and bananas. Delicious coffee is served! The afternoon features a moderate walk touring some of the traditional cultural features of the Chagga homegardens.
Day 12: Kilimanjaro Nature Walk to Marangu Waterfall
Our last day is spent on a short drive to the village of Marangu above Moshi, from where we walk ½ hour to an impressive cascade down a lava cliff. We have lunch and walk back to the village to visit the entrance to Kilimanjaro National Park.
Day 13: Moshi town tour
We start the morning by visiting a nearby orphanage where we can talk to the directors and (schedule permitting) interact with the children. The children are accustomed to visitors and welcome us to the orphanage. After lunch in Moshi we’ll have a chance to visit local markets to shop for any gifts or collectibles to remember our trip.
Day 14 (Sunday, July 27) Arrive USA.