This tour is perfect for people who want to see all the national parks in the Northern safari Circuit. Besides the famous Serengeti and Ngorogoro crater you will also visit Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Arusha national park. Hike and enjoy the stunning scenery of Lake Natron. You will sleep in nice mid-range lodges with excellent service and located inside or near the national parks.
Day 1: Welcome to Tanzania!
Your driverguide will pick you up from Kilimanjaro airport and transfers you to Ilboru Safari Lodge. This is a pleasant lodge with a beautiful garden and swimming pool, nestled on the lower slopes of majestic Mount Meru. The Ilboru Safari Lodge has been welcoming mountain climbers and safari travelers to northern Tanzania for decades.
This beautiful Swahili sanctuary is ideally located and tucked away beneath ancient trees on the outskirts of Arusha town. Harmoniously woven into the surrounding African landscape, you will comfortably stay in your private bungalow reminiscent of a traditional Swahili ‘boma’. This version of the boma features a round layout with thatched rooftops while still providing you with the western conveniences for ultimate comfort.
Journey Time 45 minutes
Accommodation Ilboru Safari Lodge
Meal Plan No meals inclusive today
Day 2: Walking Safari & Game Drive in Arusha NATIONAL PARK
After a tasty breakfast you will be picked up from the lodge. In about 1 hour you drive to Arusha National Park. Arusha National Park is a small park of 137 km² but has remarkable sights including the fourth highest mountain in Africa; Mount Meru (4566m). The transition between the urban chaos and pristine mountain hiking trails is very obvious and abrupt when entering Arusha National Park.
Visitors are thrilled by the breathtaking landscapes ranging from the Meru Crater in the west, the Ngurdoto Crater in the south-east, to the grasslands and the Momella lakes in the north-east. It also shelters Ngurdoto Crater, often called Little Ngorongoro, with its swamp-filled floor.
Animals which can be found in the park, amongst others, are the black & white Colobus monkeys, small predators, giraffes, elephants and buffaloes. The park is excellent as a starting point of your trip to acclimatize after a long international flight. On a clear day and with a bit of luck you can see the majestic Kilimanjaro in the distance.
Arusha National Park is special because it is one of the few parks in Tanzania where you have the opportunity to do a safari by foot. An armed ranger will be waiting for you to accompany you on your exciting walking safari. During this activity you get the chance to experience the wildlife up-close, a totally different experience than game-viewing by car. Buffalo, waterbuck, giraffe, warthog, zebra, bush-buck and of course the naughty baboons can be seen all year round as well as many different bird species.
The walking safari takes 2 to 3 hours during which you cross the Jekukumia River and visit a beautiful waterfall where you can take a refreshing ‘shower’.
The shadowy Montane forest is inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys, many colorful birds and is the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white Colobus monkey is often seen. The guide stops regularly, not merely searching for game, but telling you about birds, insects, trees, animal droppings, the medicinal use of plants and which animals eat which plants.
Lunch will be at a quaint picnic spot. In the afternoon you continue your safari by vehicle. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills between grazing herds of Zebra while wide-eyed cute Dik-Dik dart into scrubby bush. During the game drive you also pass the tranquil beauty of the Momella Lakes.
These lakes are a few shades of pink between May and October with thousands of lesser and greater flamingos and many other migrant birds making it a party. At sunset, you will return to the lodge after this full day out in the African bush.
Journey Time 1 hour, each way
Accommodation Ilboru Safari Lodge
Meal Plan Breakfast, packed lunch
Day 3: To Lake Natron NATIONAL PARK
Today you travel to Lake Natron National Park, a drive of about 4 to 5 hours on a dusty, bumpy road providing you with the real ‘African massage’ as we call it. During the drive you pass many Masai villages and termite mounds. Also keep your eyes open for gazelle, giraffe, zebra, baboons, bee boxes, ostrich as well as birds such as vultures, starlings, kites and bustards.
In the northeast of Tanzania between the Ngorongoro Highlands and the Serengeti plains, lies wild and remote Lake Natron at the lowest point of the Rift valley. It is situated at the base of Tanzania’s only active volcano, Oldonyo L’Engai. This means; ‘The Mountain of God’). This 58km long but only 50 cm deep lake should be on every adventurer’s itinerary.
The roads pass through completely authentic and isolated Maasai land with small bomas (fortified traditional compounds) and with big mountains in view, creating an almost desolate, other-worldly landscape. The climate is dry, desolate and dramatically beautiful. Around Lake Natron merely the landscape forms the attraction rather than the wildlife but from June to November about three million flamingos gather at the lake. This is another one of East Africa’s most stirring wildlife spectacles.
This place is the birds’ favoured breeding ground because of the strong alkaline in the lake which forms an excellent deterrent to predators, leaving the flamingos safe to find a mate. Guests can get close to the spectacle with walks along the lake flats. Close to the southern end of the lake, the views of Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano are splendid as well. The volcano is unique as it is the only one on earth to spew black lava. A real Tanzanian gem highlight!
You sleep in Lake Natron Halisi Camp from where you have incredible. The camp offers a true wilderness experience featuring 6 tents simply furnished with a seating area in to enjoy the remoteness and tranquillity. The main guest area is comprised of a dining, a bar where you enjoy a sundowner far removed from civilization and a lounge tent with a cosy camp fire.
You can visit Engaresero waterfalls after a stunning gorge walk and bathe in the cool water. Every guest automatically contributes to the development and wellbeing of Engaresero village as these 9 acres belong to them.
Journey Time 5-6 hours
Accommodation Lake Natron Halisi Camp
Meal Plan Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 4: Lake walk / Masai village / Waterfall hike
In the very early morning, before it gets too hot, you depart – accompanied by a Masai guide – for a 3 to 4 hour walk to Lake Natron. The walk goes through Ngare Sero village where you can see how the local Masai community lives.
The Lake Natron area belongs to the Masai and it is very impressive to see them living and working with their cattle in such extreme temperatures and a barren landscape. During the walk you have magnificent views of the active Oldonyo L’Engai volcano and Lake Natron.
As to game viewing you may expect to see species such as Gerenuk, Lesser Kudu and Oryx. Lake Natron is the most important breeding ground for up to two million of lesser Flamingos. The breeding season stretches from September to March with a peak from October to December during which time they cover the lake. After viewing the lake and birdlife, you walk back to the camp.
After lunch and a few hours of rest, you will have a walk to the pretty Ngare Sero Waterfalls accompanies by a Masai guide. This adventurous walk can only be recommended to reasonably fit and agile travelers. The walk to the first waterfall is quite difficult as there is no clear footpath through the gorge and you need to wade across the river several times. Also expect to do some walking along ledges and clambering over rocks.
After viewing the first waterfall the walk continues for another 20 minutes until you reach the second waterfall. Here you will have the opportunity to jump into the natural chilly swimming pool and freshen up! Back at the lodge you can enjoy a beautiful starry sky and a delicious dinner.
Accommodation Lake Natron Halisi Camp
Meal Plan Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 5: Game Drives in Tarangire National Park
Today, after an early breakfast, you will be traveling to Tarangire National Park. The game drive can begin! Tarangire is best known for its many gigantic baobab trees and its large herds of elephants; it is a home to approximately 2,500 individuals and large herds are regularly viewed.
Elephants gathering at the Tarangire River to drink make for a perfect panoramic picture! You can also spot many different animals like leopard, zebra, impala, warthog, eland, buffalo, waterbuck and lion. Also the birders will have so much to see; more than 500 different bird-species are present.
This park hosts the biggest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti. Also it is the only place in Tanzania where the oryx and gerenuk are regularly spotted. Your driver/guide will have a lunch-box for you so you can picnic at a beautiful spot in the park. After your lunch your safari continues.
At the end of the safari you head for Sangaiwe Tented Lodge. The safari tents all have views over Tarangire National park and are a comfortable base for the safaris in the park.
The safari-tents have a thatched roof, verandah, and en-suite bathrooms with solar heated showers. Take a refreshing dip in the inviting outdoor pool and enjoy the fantastic sunset with a cold drink on the veranda!
Journey Time 4-5 hours to the park entrance
Accommodation Sangaiwe Tented Lodge
Meal Plan Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner
Day 6: Village Walk in Mto wa Mbu
After an early breakfast you game drive out of the park and travel to ‘Mto wa Mbu’. The bustling farming community of Mto Wa Mbu is home to around 18,000 people. On this walk you’ll discover a side of Tanzania many visitors miss out on. A melting pot of cultures; Mto Wa Mbu is thought to be one of the only places in Tanzania where there are representatives from all 120 tribes living happily side by side.
During your visit you’ll get a good feel for the social side of the village – the farms and the milling machines, the schools, markets and churches. You’ll likely visit the village banana plantation as well as a youth art project, and a wood workshop where you can watch skilled Makonde tribe members carve intricate figurines, masks and household objects.
Maybe you also like to visit to a local ‘bar’ so you can try mbege. This is the traditional banana and millet beer that is brewed and drunk mainly by the Chagga tribe. Of course you also need to visit the bustling local market. Here you can wander around stalls selling fruit and vegetables stalls, spices and meat.
A real treat for the senses! Your guide is from the village so you will have a unique opportunity to see the community through his eyes and ask many questions. The length of the tour is very flexible but generally last around 2–3 hours. After the village walk, you have a delicious local Swahili meal which you (can) prepare together with the highly respected Miss Bibi.
Lake Manyara National Park is one of Tanzania’s smaller and most underrated parks. While it may lack the size and variety of other northern-circuit destinations, its vegetation is diverse and very beautiful. There are 11 ecosystems in all, ranging from savannah to marshland to the only evergreen rainforest in Tanzania. In the forest you can find baboons and other interesting animals where by the lake you can find flamingos (outside the rain season), pelicans and other water birds.
Birders absolutely love Lake Manyara National Park because the big lake provides opportunities for observing over 300 migratory birds in fact. Among these are the long-crested eagle, the grey-headed kingfisher and other birds which are not found elsewhere in Tanzania. The park supports one of the highest biomass densities of large mammals in the world. The high chance to see elephant families moving through the forest as well as Lake Manyara’s famous population of tree-climbing lions are reason enough to include a visit to this park in the itinerary.
Your accommodation for tonight is the Wildlife Safari Camp. This very nice camp is situated in the rolling grasslands overlooking Lake Manyara National Park and offers guests comfort and privacy. All rooms include large beds, en-suite bathroom and a private balcony.
Journey Time 1 hour from Tarangire Gate to Mto wa Mbu
Accommodation Manyara Wildlife Safari Camp
Meal Plan Breakfast, local lunch, dinner
Day 7: To Serengeti National Park
A Tanzania tour is not complete without safari in the most famous safari park in the world: Serengeti National Park. This park hosts the most extensive population of wild animals on earth and has a complex and untouched ecosystem. Serengeti means “endless plains” in the language of the Maasai, a description that the Serengeti completely lives up to. Even the (long) drive towards your accommodation is one continuous safari! The park is usually described as divided into three regions: Serengeti plains, Western corridor and Northern Serengeti. The latter is where we can witness wildebeest and zebra migrating in their millions during the Great Migration, following the ancient rhythm of Africa’s seasons. This is one of the most impressive natural events in the world. No matter which part of the park and in which season you visit, very few people forget their first encounter with the Serengeti!
After the incredible impressions of the Serengeti, you drive to your accommodation for a delicious diner and a good night’s sleep.
Named after the distinctive Tortilis tree of the Serengeti, this tented camp combines comfort with the real Africa safari experience. With the great comfort of kingsize beds, luxurious decoration and bathroom facilities in the safari tents, you will feel right at home in the middle of the Serengeti. In the dining tent the chefs will prepare your bush meal with a bit of magic for extra delight. Before you crawl into bed, take a moment in their lounge or wind down with a sunset at the fireplace. Dine, sleep and relax knowing the best of Africa’s natural wonders is gently knocking on your door.
Day 8: Game driving in Serengeti National Park
Early in the morning you leave your accommodation for a full day safari! This is when Africa can reveals its cool side, so you should wrap up warm for the start of your day. Your guide will bring you as close as possible to the wildlife. Few predators hunt during the heat of the day, so the early morning is the best time to observe the thrill of the chase. It is also a magical time, with the subtle light dappling the landscape, the birds awakening and the sense of a great adventure beginning to unfurl. You visit the heart of the Serengeti, Seronera Valley. This valley is often termed as the ‘classic’ Serengeti; short grass plains with all different kind of wild animals ranging from the impressive lion to the naughty mongoose. These full day safaris are the best way to see the full range of what this magnificent park has to offer. The Serengeti rarely disappoints!
We will find you a nice picnic spot to enjoy your packed lunch and then you continue your safari back to Tortilis Camp where it is time to relax a bit and process the day’s adventures again with a refreshing drink before you sit down for an excellent dinner.
Tired but satisfied, you go to bed with dreams of Serengeti plains!
Float in a hot air balloon over the famous Serengeti National Park with its enchanting scenery. This may be the most beautiful area in the world for a balloon flight. There are no power lines, fences and few roads. Your Balloon Safari adventure starts early morning when you depart your lodge or camp. It is still dark and you may be fortunate to see nocturnal animals on the way to the launch site. When you arrive, you meet your pilot and witness your balloon being inflated and prepared. The capacity is limited making this experience a special and exclusive one. The balloon safari takes approximately 1 hour depending on the weather conditions. You will end this excursion in style with a champagne bush breakfast in the middle of the park!
Day 9: Game drives in Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater
Today you enjoy a game drive on your way en-route out of the beautiful Serengeti and continue to the Ngorongoro Crater. In the afternoon, you will have a game drive in the Ngorongoro Crater! This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a unique biosphere which has remained virtually unchanged since the dawn of time. There are very few places in the world where you can find such a large population of wildlife throughout the year. Deep within the crater, enclosed by towering walls, you have a good chance of spotting ‘The Big 5’: lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard. Other wildlife includes serval cat, cheetah, jackal, Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelle,flamingo and bat-eared foxes, as well as approximately 400 species of colorful birds
After this great experience, you will go to your accommodation for tonight, Country Lodge Karatu. This lodge is located on the outskirts of Karatu, a quaint country townon the Great Escarpment, in the centre of Northern Tanzania’s green belt district andfarming community. The lodge symbolizes simple country comforts, providingbeautiful lodging in the heart of Tanzania’s rich and scenic highlands. The rooms are tastefully furnished with soft lighting, inviting and comfortable beds and mosquito netting. After your safari you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the swimming pool or relax on your verandah. On chilly nights, request your fireplace be lit and return from dinner to glowing warmth, you have never slept so well!
Day 10: Departure
Today is unfortunately the last day of your trip with shoebill Safaris You will drive back to Arusha. Depending on the time your flight departs, there might be some time in the morning to enjoy the pool once more, or have a massage or take a yoga class. All optional activities this morning are at your own expense.
Your driver/guide will take care of your transfer to Kilimanjaro Airport.
END OF SAFARI