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3 Days Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire National Park Safari in Tanzania

Panorama Campsite, Mto Wa Mbu, Arusha, Tanzania

Amazing Big Five Safaris in Africa!

Tanzanian safaris can take many forms, depending on your interests and inclinations. Tanzania’s famous wildlife is usually the focus of a trip to the country's most popular parks, such as Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire National Park. In Manyara, you can see the legendary tree-climbing lions, Ngorongoro is the home of the Big five, while large groups of elephants can be spotted gathering around the Tarangire River.

Key information

  • Maximum group size: 6 persons
  • Starting and ending point: Arusha
  • Park fees are included.

Highlights

  • 3 thrilling game drives
  • Transportation in a 4×4 safari vehicle
  • Encounter the Big Five, hippos, and various birds
  • Explore Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire
  • Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Camping equipment included
  • 2 nights accommodation

Styles


3 activity days
The maximum participants in the group is 6
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Accommodation

You will spend both nights in Mto wa Mbu, also known as Mosquito River Town, near Lake Manyara National Park. You will stay in either of the following accommodations: Panorama campsite, Fanaka lodge or campsite, Fig resort camp or lodge, or Jambo campsite.

For many people, the very idea of safari includes nights under canvas. This can be incorporated in a myriad of different ways, from permanent tented camps (where voluminous canvas tents stand on concrete platforms and include built-in bathrooms with flush toilets and running hot and cold water) to mobile tented camps which move regularly to follow the migration.

Program

Day 1: Arusha - Lake Manyara National Park

Leave Arusha at 8 a.m. and drive for about one and a half hours to Manyara National Park, famous for its green scenery, varied bird life, tree-climbing lions, hippos, and baboons. Dinner and overnight will take place at Mto wa Mbu, also known as Mosquito River Town, near Lake Manyara National Park.

Day 2: Lake Manyara National Park - Ngorongoro Crater

After an early morning breakfast, you will depart for a full-day game drive in the Ngorongoro Crater. There is a very high possibility of spotting all the Big Five in one day: lion, rhino, elephant, buffalo, and leopard. Lunch will take place at the picnic site at the crater floor. Next, you will proceed with the game watch, then drive back late in the afternoon to Mto wa Mbu for dinner and overnight at the same place.

Day 3: Ngorongoro Crater - Tarangire National Park - Arusha

An early breakfast will be followed by a one-hour transfer to Tarangire National Park. This park is often referred to as the "home of elephants", so you have a great chance to spot elephants in large groups gathering around the Tarangire river. Other animals to be spotted include leopards, lions, giraffes, and even tree-climbing pythons. The game drive lasts until late afternoon, then it is time for a one-hour drive back to Arusha.

Guiding

A huge element of any safari is the guiding. The safari is expertly guided and comes with the guarantee that even the most knowledgeable and experienced guest will learn a thing or two along the way. Days are spent observing the magnificent African wilderness and wildlife at first hand, an experience which most safari-goers find profoundly moving and life-enhancing.

Vehicles

Ilmaasai Expedition has a fleet of safari vehicles including Land rover and Toyota Land cruisers. On safaris, you will use only four-wheel drive vehicles that are specially adapted for use in the African bush. The vehicles are regularly maintained by specialist mechanics.

All safari vehicles are equipped with either pop-up or flip-flop roof tops, flora and fauna books, a pair of binoculars, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, cooling box, two spare tires, and radio calls or cell phones.

Location

This retreat will take place in Tanzania, with daily game drives to Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire National Park.

Tanzania is one of Africa’s largest countries with a vast network of national parks and game reserves. Approximately 20% of the country has been protected; these wildlife areas have huge concentrations of Africa’s big game, and Tanzania is one of the few places that can guarantee easy viewing of the famous Big Five, and is the home of the Great Wildebeest Migration.

Tanzania is a great safari destination because it is a politically stable and generally safe country that provides superb wildlife viewing in top-class parks, including in two Unesco World Heritage Sites. Here also takes place the annual great migration where over two and a half million wildebeest and zebra migrate from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

In Tanzania, you get to experience the authentic African wilderness, with unfenced parks, dirt roads, and endless plains.

Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”. The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience.

From the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle-like groundwater forest where hundred-strong baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside, blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees, dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows, and outsized forest hornbills honk cacophonously in the high canopy.

Contrasting with the intimacy of the forest is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views eastward, across the alkaline lake, to the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the endless Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest, and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, as do giraffes - some so dark in coloration that they appear to be black from a distance.

Inland of the floodplain, a narrow belt of acacia woodland is the favored haunt of Manyara’s legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants. Squadrons of banded mongoose dart between the acacias, while the diminutive Kirk’s dik-dik forages in their shade. Pairs of klipspringer are often seen silhouetted on the rocks above a field of searing hot springs that steams and bubbles.

Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded, and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe one hundred of these in one day. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large waterbirds such as pelicans, cormorants, and storks.

The Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater is the world's largest inactive, intact, and unfilled volcanic caldera. The crater, which formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself two to three million years ago, is 610 meters (2,000 feet) deep and its floor covers 260 square kilometers (100 square miles).

Estimates of the height of the original volcano range from 4,500 to 5,800 metres (14,800 to 19,000 feet) high. The elevation of the crater floor is 1,800 metres (5,900 feet) above sea level. The Crater was voted by Seven Natural Wonders as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa in Arusha, Tanzania in February 2013.

The crater highlands on the side facing the easterly trade winds receives 800 to 1,200 millimetres (31 to 47 inches) of rain a year and are covered largely in montane forest. The less-steep west wall receives only 400 to 600 millimetres (16 to 24 inches) and is grassland and bushland dotted with Euphorbia bussei trees. The crater floor is mostly open grassland with two small wooded areas dominated by Acacia xanthophloea.

Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania. It is located in Manyara Region, and its name originates from the Tarangire River that crosses the park.

The Tarangire River is the primary source of fresh water for wild animals in the Tarangire ecosystem during the annual dry season. The Tarangire ecosystem is defined by the long-distance migration of wildebeest and zebras. During the dry season, thousands of animals concentrate in Tarangire National Park from the surrounding wet-season dispersal and calving areas.

The park is characterized by day after day of cloudless skies. The fierce sun sucks the moisture from the landscape, baking the earth a dusty red, the withered grass as brittle as straw. Even shrivelled to a shadow of its wet season self, the Tarangire River is choked with wildlife. Thirsty nomads have wandered hundreds of parched kilometres knowing that here, always, there is water.

Herds of up to 300 elephants scratch the dry river bed for underground streams, while migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest, and eland crowd the shrinking lagoons. It’s the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem - a smorgasbord for predators - and the one place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope such as the stately fringe-eared oryx and peculiar long-necked gerenuk are regularly observed.

During the rainy season, the seasonal visitors scatter over a 20,000 square kilometers (12,500 square miles) range until they exhaust the green plains, and the river calls once more. But Tarangire’s mobs of elephants are easily encountered, wet or dry.

The swamps, tinged green year round, are the focus for 550 bird varieties, the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world. On drier ground, you find the Kori bustard, the heaviest flying bird; the stocking-thighed ostrich, the world’s largest bird; and small parties of ground horn bills blustering like turkeys.

More ardent bird-lovers might keep an eye open for screeching flocks of the dazzlingly colorful yellow-collared lovebird, and the somewhat drabber Rufus-tailed weaver and ashy starling - all endemic to the dry savannah of north-central Tanzania. Disused termite mounds are often frequented by colonies of the endearing dwarf mongoose, and pairs of red-and-yellow barbet, which draw attention to themselves by their loud, clockwork-like duet ting.

Tarangire’s pythons climb trees, as do its lions and leopards, lounging in the branches where the fruit of the sausage tree disguises the twitch of a tail.

Food

During this safari, you will be served with daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Other dietary requirements on request
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

  • Capture photos of the sceneries and wildlide
  • Enjoy the game drives and activities
  • Explore the surroundings
  • Rest in your accommodation
  • See the stunning views

What's included

  • 3 game drives
  • Transportation in a 4×4 safari vehicle
  • Services of a professional English-speaking guide
  • Services of a professional English-speaking safari cook
  • 2 nights camping accommodation
  • Camping equipment (tents, sleeping mats, chairs, tables etc.)
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Meals according to the itinerary
  • Mineral water
  • All national park fees
  • Flying Doctors insurance (AMREF) during the safari

What's not included

  • Sleeping bag
  • Flights
  • Optional activities
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks
  • Visa fees
  • Tips
  • Personal spending money for souvenirs etc.
  • Travel insurance

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). Note that Ilmaasai Expedition will not pick you up from the airport, but from your hotel or resident house in Arusha at 8 a.m. on your first day.

Arrival by bus

From Kenya, there are several bus services available to get to Tanzania. Buses regularly go from Mombasa to Dar es Salaam (12 hours), Nairobi to Dar es Salaam (about 13 hours), Nairobi to Arusha (five hours), and Voi to Moshi. Some bus companies originating in Arusha will drop you off at your hotel in Nairobi and also offer pick-ups at Nairobi’s International Airport.

If you come trough Malawi, you should know that the border crossing between Tanzania and Malawi is at the Songwe River Bridge. Direct buses between Dar es Salaam and Lilongwe depart several times a week and take around 27 hours. Your other alternative is to get to the border crossing and take minibuses in either direction to the closest towns: Karonga in Malawi and Mbeya in Tanzania. Spend the night and then continue on the next day. Both towns have regular long-distance bus services.

If flying to Mozambique, the main border post is at Kilambo (Tanzania) which you can get to via minibus from Mtwara. To cross the border requires a trip across the Ruvuma River and depending on the tides and the season, this could be a simple quick canoe trip or an hour long ferry ride. The border post in Mozambique is at Namiranga.

If you are coming from Uganda, daily buses travel from Kampala to Dar es Salaam (via Nairobi - so make sure you get a visa for Kenya to transit). The bus trip takes at least 25 hours. A more manageable crossing is from Kampala to Bukoba (on the shores of Lake Victoria) which gets you to Tanzania in about seven hours. You can also take a short three-hour trip by bus from Bukoba (Tanzania) to the Ugandan border town of Masaka. Scandinavian also runs buses from Moshi to Kampala (via Nairobi).

From Rwanda, there are regional coach services which travel from Kigali to Dar es Salaam at least once a week, the trip takes about 36 hours and crosses into Uganda first. Shorter trips between the Tanzania and Rwanda border at Rusumo Falls are possible but the security situation fluctuates, so inquire locally in Benako (Rwanda) or Mwanza (Tanzania).

Buses also run at least once a day from Mwanza (it will take all day) to the border of Rwanda, and from there you can catch a minibus to Kigali. Catching the bus from Mwanza means a ferry trip to start with so the schedule is fairly fixed.

If you are coming in Tanzania from Zambia, buses run a couple times a week between Dar es Salaam and Lusaka (about 30 hours) and between Mbeya and Lusaka (about 16 hours).The border that is used most often is at Tunduma and you can get minibuses from Mbeya to Tunduma and then cross into Zambia and take public transport from there.

Arrival by ferry / boat

There are currently no official passenger-ferry services on Lake Victoria to connect Tanzania with Uganda and Kenya.

If you are coming from or going to Malawi, the only route across the lake from Tanzania is on the Songea ferry from Mbamba Bay (Tanzania) to Nkhata Bay (Malawi) near Mzuzu. The ferry is meant to run twice a month. The Ilala sometimes travels from Lake Malawi to Tanzania, but schedules vary.

To and from Burundi, a weekly ferry runs between Kigoma and Bujumbura, and takes about 14 hours.

If you come through Mozambique, you can try and hire a Dhow to get to Tanzania (and from Tanzania to Mozambique). Find out information locally in Mozambique's ports at Mocimboa da Praia and Palma. In Tanzania, check the dhow ports of Mikindani, Mtwara, and Msimbati.

If you are coming from or going to Kenya (Mombasa), a ferry runs about once a week from Mombasa (Kenya) and Tanga (Tanzania) to Unguja and Pemba. Fares are around 40 USD.

To and from Zambia, there is a regular ferry that connects Kigoma (Tanzania) with Mpulungu (Zambia) along the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

Arrival by train

To and from Zambia, there is a train that runs from Kapiri Mposhi (Zambia) to Dar es Salaam, and takes two nights.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 50% of the total price.
  • The deposit is fully refundable if the booking is cancelled up to 30 days before the arrival date.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid on arrival.
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