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With the perfect balance of attractions and time, this Tanzania express safari has the right itinerary for seeing as much as humanly possible when you're on a tight time budget. You'll hit all four of the northern circuit's major parks including Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Serengeti, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area with incomparable game driving that will show you the best that Africa has to offer. Embark this wonderful safari while chasing the Big Five in the stunning landscapes of Tanzania!
Located on the outskirts of Karatu the quaint country town on the Great Escarpment midway between Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Country Lodge Karatu is situated in the center of northern Tanzania’s green belt district and farming community. Country Lodge Karatu symbolizes simple country comforts, providing pleasant and affordable lodging in the heart of Tanzania’s rich and scenic highlands.
Country Lodge Karatu is the ideal "stepping stone" for safaris into Ngorongoro Crater and beyond including other travelers visiting the area. The lodge sits within five acres nestled on the edge of Karatu Town, surrounded by rolling plains reaching up to the coffee hills of Oldeani and the forests of Ngorongoro. The garden paths led to 11 double cottages surrounded by green lawns, hedged by brightly flowering bougainvillea, tropical plants, and trees. Birds and butterflies feel right at home in the garden as you will in the lodgings. You will enjoy the tranquillity, home comforts, and warm Tanzanian hospitality that Country Lodge Karatu offers.
The camp is permanently based in Central Serengeti in the Seronera Valley, home to year-round wildlife due to the constant presence of water. This area is famous for spotting lion, leopard and large herds of elephant. The views from the campsite look across onto Banagi Hill and classic vistas of the Serengeti Plains. The entire camp is powered by solar including hot water and electricity.
Ideally located on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater rim, the Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge offers an ideal base from which to explore the Ngorongoro Crater and its surroundings. The lodge features 24 comfortably equipped en-suite guest rooms, a cozy living space, and generous African-inspired meals. Each room is equipped with a wood burning stove and hot water bottles.
On this day, you can choose to go to Tarangire National Park or Lake Manyara National Park. Depending on the time of year, each of these parks offers a different safari experience. Your guide can advise you as to which is best to visit during your safari.
You'll depart from Arusha at 08:00 for an approximately two-hour drive to Tarangire National Park. Along the way, you'll pass bustling Maasai villages and the vast open plains that have become synonymous with images of Africa. Once you've entered Tarangire, you'll begin your game drive across a rich vista of endless golden savannah that surrounds the Tarangire River.
Lined with acacia and baobab trees, the river is regularly visited by the park's large elephant population as well as other herbivores such as zebras and antelopes. A picnic lunch with a view of the river will be a great way to take it all in, but you'll have to keep on your toes as the local monkey population does its best to separate you from your lunch.
Driving through the park, you'll also have the opportunity to see lions, leopards, cape buffalo, and a huge variety of antelopes. If you're particularly lucky, you might even see endangered animals such as the greater kudu or the fringe-eared oryx. After your day's drive is done, you'll retire to your accommodation for the evening.
After breakfast, you'll depart from your hotel for Lake Manyara National Park. The park is truly a photographer's playground and offers some of the best game viewings in the world. You can expect to see all of Africa's most well-known animals with the tree-climbing lions a particular treat. These proud predators lounge in acacia trees are practically begging to be photographed.
Birdwatchers will find Lake Manyara as an absolute delight with a huge variety of birds on display in the park. Even the novice can expect to be amazed by large flamingo flocks, circling birds of prey, and the brightly colored lilac breasted roller. You'll then retire to your chosen accommodation for dinner and a good night's rest.
You'll take an early breakfast as you'll get a big day of exploration and adventure ahead. You'll begin the day with a scenic drive towards the Serengeti. Along the way, you'll pass through the mist-shrouded rainforests of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area where you might be lucky enough to glimpse cape buffalo, baboons, or even elephants and leopards in the dense undergrowth.
It's a nearly four-hour drive to the Serengeti park gates but you can choose to break up the drive with one or both of the optional activities including a visit to Oldupai Gorge Museum and / or Maasai boma. Please note that both of these activities attract an additional cost. You can speak with your safari expert about adding them to your itinerary.
Later, after a delicious lunch at the Serengeti National Park picnic area, it’s time to explore the Serengeti itself. You will witness Africa’s iconic savannah landscape and be amazed by the sheer number of animals that roam these grassy plains. Dinner and overnight will be in the heart of the Serengeti National Park according to the standard and the type of accommodation requested from Shadows of Africa's options.
After breakfast, you will get right on the road back towards the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Your driver will take you back through the Serengeti via a different route, offering plenty of opportunities to spot the animals that eluded you on day three.
As far as your eyes can see, you’ll spot thousands upon thousands of animals in herds including wildebeests and zebras migrating together, tall and graceful giraffes, jumping antelopes and gazelles, the powerful African elephant, and the most respected group of animals, the predators.
You will have the chance to spot lean cheetahs and shy leopards, foraging hyenas, and last but not least, the king himself, the lion. Dinner and overnight will be on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater according to the standard and the type of accommodation requested from Shadows of Africa's options.
After breakfast, you'll depart for Ngorongoro Crater. It's a particularly good place to see the endangered black rhinoceros enjoying a lonely meal out on the grass plains as well as a place to see large numbers of hippopotamus enjoying the cool water. From the comfort of your open-top vehicle, you'll be able to observe and photograph some of Africa's most recognizable faces. After the thrills and excitement of the day, you will have a picnic lunch at the park's famous hippo pool. Thereafter, you will drive back to Arusha.
It’s a cliché to say it, but Tanzania can really boast having it all. When it comes to tracking down the Big Five or viewing the legendary great migration, you can’t do any better than this stunning East Africa country. The 16 national parks of Tanzania offer an incomparable opportunity for travelers to get up close and personal with stunning animals such as the elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, rhinoceros, and so many more.
Tanzania truly offers the world’s most unique safari experience. From the vast open plains of the legendary Serengeti to the lost world Ngorongoro, the sheer variety of landscapes means that each day of your safari is an entirely different experience. Africa’s highest mountain Mount Kilimanjaro offers up a stunning backdrop, but it’s not just pretty to look at. The opportunity to scale this tremendous mountain draws thousands of people to come to Tanzania each year.
Cultural tourism is a fast-growing aspect of Tanzanian tourism. Therefore, a trip to Tanzania would be incomplete without taking the opportunity to interact with some of the over 120 different ethnic groups that call the country home. The Maasai may be the most famous but you’ll find that wherever you go, you’ll be offered a window into the country’s rich cultural heritage.
Tanzania is home to over 120 unique ethnic groups. The Maasai, Hadzabe, and Chagga tribes are just a few of the more well-known nations that call Tanzania home. Many will be most familiar with the distinct dress style and culture of the Maasai whose traditional territory among the northern game parks make them every bit as much a part of the safari experience as the animals that also call the land home.
A fascinating part of any Tanzanian vacation is the opportunity to engage in a cultural experience with these people. The Maasai tribe’s unique culture, distinct dress style, and strategic territory among some of Tanzania’s most prominent national parks have made them one of East Africa’s most prominent tribal groups. Tanzania’s religious beliefs are every bit as diverse as its people and religion play a prominent part in the lives of Tanzania’s people even today.
Tanzania can boast 20% of Africa’s large mammal population which is a stunning number that you will soon realize is no exaggeration. The plains of the Serengeti literally teem with wildlife and you can expect to see hundreds of zebra, wildebeest, giraffes, impala, and more as you travel. The national parks of Tanzania offer an unparalleled wildlife viewing experience in which the great migration is the crown jewel.
The massive herd movement of wildebeest, zebra, and other animals is one of the greatest spectacles not only in Africa but also in the world. Just savor that fact for a moment. In a continent as huge as Africa, you can find a stunning 20% of its large mammals in the relatively small corner that is Tanzania. The safari experience in the country offers visitors the opportunity to not only track the elusive Big Five (the lion, leopard, cape buffalo, rhinoceros, and elephant) but to also see countless other animals both big and small.
Birdwatchers and insect investigators will find that Tanzania doesn’t slack in these departments either. From the ominous hooded vulture all the way down to the beautiful blue-breasted kingfisher, you’ll be able to do a second safari of the Tanzanian skies as well. Each of Tanzania’s 16 national parks offers up a unique experience, meaning that no two days on safari are ever the same.
This variety of landscapes really does let you design a safari experience that is perfect for you. While many prefer the comfort and ease of a classic safari across the Serengeti or through dusty Tarangire, others might prefer to stretch their legs with a guided walking safari or get really adventurous with some climbing and canoeing. Closer to Arusha is Tarangire and Lake Manyara, offering up very different experiences.
Nearby Lake Manyara is Tarangire where it is dry and dusty for much of the year. It is the ideal place to see elephants in the wild year round. The rainy season also brings out herds of zebras, impala, and cape buffalo, and the park's mischievous monkeys and baboons are sure to delight. The Tarangire River runs throughout the year and is a vital source of water for the animals of the region during the dry season.
Lake Manyara is perhaps most famous for its flocks of flamingos and the tree-climbing lions who look lazily over their dominion.
Situated in the shadow of the Ngorongoro Crater, the area around Karatu is perfect for exploring two of Tanzania’s gems which is the crater and Lake Manyara National Park.
Tanzania's most famous national park is vast Serengeti where the great migration can be seen during the year. Regardless of when you visit, the Serengeti is the best place to see lions, cheetahs, leopards, and thousands of herbivores in their natural habitat.
Known affectionately as the "big cat country", the Seronera region of the Serengeti is the park's most visited region. One of the best places to witness the wildebeest migration during the early months of the year, the Central Serengeti boasts the most accommodation options and the best opportunity to see big cats such as lions, cheetahs, and the always elusive leopard in the wild.
The presence of these predators in no way dissuades herbivores from calling the region home. Visitors can expect to see everything from diminutive impala to towering elephants and giraffes as they drive amidst the kopjes and acacia trees.
Nearby the Serengeti is Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Ngorongoro is a verdant lost world in which the enigmatic black rhinoceros and the cape buffalo can be seen grazing, hippopotamus laze in shady pools, and the vast herds of zebra and wildebeest move across the crater's cloud-dappled plains. Home to over 120 species of mammal including the fabled Big Five, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the most sought-after safari destinations in the world.
Ngorongoro Crater is sometimes considered as the eighth Wonder of the World. When you get your first glimpse of this vast verdant caldera from the panoramic viewpoint, you'll soon understand why it has earned such a lofty reputation. The crater is home to a large number of predators including lions, leopards, cheetahs, jackals, and hyenas as well as a large population of wildebeest, zebras, antelope, cape buffalo, and more. It is truly one of Africa's premier safari destinations.
The Ngorongoro Crater is a "game viewing gone crazy" area and it is not surprising that it is one of Tanzania’s major tourist drawcards. Within the crater rim, a daily wildlife drama is played out as large herds of zebra and wildebeest graze nearby lions, leopards, elephants and black rhinos. Outside of the crater, a similar drama continues in a more spread out manner with Maasai herdsmen thrown into the mix.
Most camps, lodges, or hotels cater specifically to tourists and serve Western-style food that is ranging in standard but is generally excellent. Game lodges tend to offer a daily set menu with a limited selection, so it is advisable to have your tour operator specify in advance if you are a vegetarian or have other specific dietary requirements.
First-time visitors to Africa might want to take note that most game lodges in and around the national parks have isolated locations and driving within the parks is neither permitted nor advisable after dark, so there is no realistic alternative to eating at your lodge. Tap water in Tanzania is generally not safe to drink and most travelers try to stick to mineral water. Filtered and bottled water can be difficult to find if you are traveling outside the main town, so it is advisable to stock up. Most camps, lodges, and hotels have bottled water readily available.
You may pay a visit to one of the famous Maasai bomas where you'll have the opportunity to witness (and participate in) traditional Maasai dance, tour to an authentic Maasai village, and even do a little souvenir shopping at the local market.
Sometimes known as the Cradle of Mankind, the Oldupai Gorge Museum commemorates some of the oldest evidence of human habitation ever found. Here, you can see some of the oldest fossil evidence in the world of human habitation, learn more about the human journey, and take in the stunning views of this stark gorge country.
Transfer not provided
Please book your flight to arrive at Arusha Airport (ARK).
Precision Air runs regular services mostly via Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, or Zanzibar to all main towns and other destinations in East Africa and beyond. All national parks and some of the top-end luxury lodges have airstrips and Coastal Air operates between these and the main airports on the mainland and the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba, and Mafia. ZanAir has frequent connections between Zanzibar, Pemba, and the mainland.
If you are visiting a number of parks and reserves in Tanzania, you can either drive or fly between them. Roads in most of the wilderness areas are in poor condition and unmarked, so self-driving is not recommended. Operators will supply you with a driver who doubles as an informal guide. Alternatively, you can arrange to fly to your destination and utilize a car and driver supplied by the lodgings. Elsewhere in Tanzania, the towns and cities are linked by a steady stream of buses and dala-dalas (minibusses) while in the cities, there are public transportations in the way including buses, dala-dalas, taxis, and in some places, bicycles or tuk-tuks.
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