Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!
The legendary plains of the Serengeti teem with one of the densest concentrations of wildlife on Earth. Thomson’s gazelle, buffalo, and elephant vie for survival here amidst grand backdrops, such as magnificent Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, a twelve-mile wide, 2,000-foot deep caldera.
Travel to Tanzania and explore it all, as our expert Trip Leaders and driver-guides help you seek out the most elusive African game. And we immerse ourselves in the local culture through rewarding visits to schools and villages. At night, we retire to unique and varied lodgings, including Tanzanian lodges and a four-night stay at our OAT private tented safari camp in the Serengeti, where delicious cuisine and first-rate service close out each day of discovery.
Depart today for your overseas flight.
You arrive in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in the morning. After a short stop, you depart on a non-stop flight for Kilimanjaro Airport near Arusha, Tanzania. You arrive late in the evening. Your OAT Trip Leader will meet you at the airport to assist your transfer to tonight’s lodgings near Arusha, where we'll join travelers who took our optional pre-trip extension to either the Foothills of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania or Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve.
Enjoy breakfast and a briefing by our OAT Trip Leader and some time at leisure this morning.
We then depart for the Shanga River House, a cooperative where physically challenged Tanzanians are trained to create traditional jewelry and crafts from local fabrics and recycled materials. Here, we'll join a cooking demonstration, followed by a lunch of traditional Tanzanian specialties. Then we'll learn about coffee cultivation as we walk the coffee plantation and also observe local artisans making beadwork.
We’ll return to our lodge with time to rest before dinner.
Today, we have breakfast and then depart for Tarangire, Tanzania's third-largest national park.
With nine distinct vegetation zones ranging from grassland to woodland, from deep gully vegetation to scattered rocky hilltops, Tarangire offers a diverse geological landscape, as well as diverse wildlife—including the largest recorded concentration of breeding bird species in the world. Baobab trees dot the landscape, and the valley of the Tarangire River dominates the entire scene.
As we continue the journey west toward our camp, the scenery is outstanding, and we may see some wildlife en route before we reach the main park gate. We will enjoy a picnic lunch in Tarangire National Park. Next up, we'll visit a group of women to observe the art of basket making.
After a discovery-filled afternoon, we’ll exit the southern side of the park and head to our lodge, which provides stunning views of Lake Burunge. We stay for two nights at a permanent tented camp in the midst of the wilderness. Our camp features a solar-heated shower, solar electricity, and comfortable walk-in safari tents under thatched roofs.
Today we experience Tarangire's diversity on a morning game-viewing drive, during which we'll pause to enjoy a picnic breakfast in the bush.
The variety of wildlife here is excellent, from lion, cheetah, and buffalo to a wealth of birdlife. Elephant are plentiful here, traveling in large herds that are not often seen elsewhere in Africa. Each of our driver-guides has extensive knowledge of behavior of these great animals.
We will return to our lodge in time for a relaxing lunch. In the afternoon, we’ll have time to take an optional nature walk in the Lake Burunge area. After, we enjoy dinner together at our camp.
This morning, experience A Day in the Life of a Maasai village, where you'll meet with the Maasai and witness some of their long-standing traditions such as building a mud hut and intricate beadwork. After lunch we continue to Karatu to visit a local market, and then we’ll arrive at our lodge for an afternoon at leisure. We’ll have a briefing on our upcoming activities in the Serengeti and Oldupai Gorge and an informative talk about the Ngorongoro Crater in the evening.
Today we have breakfast together and then set off for Oldupai Gorge. It was here, in 1959, that Louis and Mary Leakey discovered fossil fragments, which led them to a new understanding of human evolution. They developed the theory that the Oldupai Gorge was home to Homo habilis, a race of early humans that survived other species to become the ancestors of all present-day humankind. Then visit the small museum here, which explains the Leakeys' methods and findings. After a picnic lunch, we travel to our camp in the Serengeti. We’ll enjoy a game-viewing drive en route and arrive at camp in time for dinner.
Today, we explore the vast expanse of the Serengeti, where the wildlife sightings will increase steadily throughout the day. Serengeti, in fact, is the Maasai word that means “endless plain.”
The multitude and diversity of wildlife species in this huge protected area are unrivaled anywhere on the planet.
From our remote camp, we set out on morning and afternoon game-viewing drives. Our mobile tented camps are set up based on the animals seasonal migration patterns are are in place before you arrive. Each is outfitted with camp beds, complete with linens, blankets, pillows, and en suite facilities (shower and flush toilets) with hot water. You have your own verandah with wash basin and two director’s chairs. There is a dining tent with tables and chairs. Spend the night listening to the sounds of the animals in the distance.
An optional Serengeti Sunrise Balloon Safari may be offered today, at an additional cost. If you choose to take this excursion, plan on awakening before dawn for an early morning ascent. You will rejoin the group after breakfast for a morning game-viewing drive.
The Serengeti stretches over 5,700 square miles of plains, riverine bush, and acacia woodland, with a dominant environment of acacia grassland. Visitors who dash from lodge to lodge catch only a fleeting glimpse of the Serengeti’s rich diversity. But from the comfort of our bush camp, there is never a rush: We go where the animals are. We can return to a promising area, or range further afield.
On our afternoon game-viewing drive, our guides again help us identify the more elusive animal species, such as bat-eared fox and golden jackal, as well as rare birds like the beautiful purple grenadier and the red-cheeked cordon bleu. See if you can spot the odd-looking secretary bird or the elegant crested crane.
We dine at our camp this evening.
Today, we move at a relaxed pace, which will allow us to truly focus on observing animal behavior and interactions. We don’t just stop to photograph the next animal on a list, but spend time really getting to know how different species behave. Isolated rock groups, called kopjes, provide shelter to the solitary leopard, pairs of cheetah, and prides of lion. You’ll learn the clues that tell you if one has recently hunted or is about to hunt. Their quarry is the lone gazelle or vulnerable calf spotted amongst the hundreds of thousands of hoofed herbivores: antelope, zebra, and the ever-present wildebeest.
After another rewarding day of game-viewing, we return to our camp for the evening.
Early this morning, we drive to Ngorongoro Crater. We descend to the floor of Ngorongoro for some game-viewing. The caldera of Ngorongoro marks the ancient walls of a collapsed volcano, which was probably once the size of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The circular crater is some twelve miles across, with steep walls of more than 2,000 feet. The crater’s rim is 7,500 feet above sea level, the highest altitude we reach on our trip. Because of a permanent supply of water and a precise balance of predator and prey, most of the wildlife remains here year-round. The forest areas are home to herds of bull elephant, including some large, old “tuskers.” There are several prides of lion, and many packs of hyena and jackal. If lucky, you may spot a bat-eared fox or a pair of cheetah. These predators stalk the numerous wildebeest, gazelle, and zebra. Here thrives a stable population of rhino, as well as herds of buffalo and groups of hippo. The birdlife is equally diverse, ranging from the scavenging vulture and bustard to the magnificent eagle and crested crane. Our experienced driver-guides, who are experts at locating the animals, determine our route. We’ll have a picnic lunch before we leave the crater and travel to our accommodations in Karatu.
This morning we travel to the village of Karatu, where we’ll have the opportunity to visit a local school (when in session) supported in part by donations from Grand Circle Foundation—part of the World Classroom initiative. The children will lead us on a tour of their classroom and perform traditional songs for us.
Then, we meet Karatu’s elder generation: the parents of the students we’ve met. It's bound to be an enlightening glimpse of life in Tanzania. We return to our lodge, where you’ll have lunch and then the afternoon at leisure. We gather for a Farewell Dinner this evening.
We’ll return to Arusha this morning and enjoy the opportunity to shop for local crafts before having lunch at our lodge. After time at leisure, we’ll transfer to the airport for our overnight flight to the U.S. via Amsterdam. Travelers on the post-trip extension to Zanzibar will spend one more night here in Arusha.