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Day by Day Itinerary

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.

Arusha Ngorongoro Highlands & Crater Expand All

    Depart today for your overseas flight.

  • Encounter the diverse wildlife while on safari and relax at Olasiti Lodge

    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.

    • Meals included:

    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.

Extensions

Traveler Reviews

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Striving for Excellence

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Our #1 commitment is delivering the best travel experience at the best value, so we take feedback from our travelers seriously as we strive to improve what we do. And one of the best ways for us to measure how travelers have rated our trips—including their experiences and the value we offer—is from our post-trip surveys, sent in by travelers.

Ratings based on percentage of travelers who rated these features "Excellent".

Overall Trip Excellence
92%
Trip Leader Excellence
96%
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Weather & Regional

Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region of the world you'll discover on this trip. From weather and currency information to details on population, geography, and local history, you'll find a comprehensive introduction to your destinations below.  Visit our “What to Know” page to find information about the level of activity to expect, vaccination information resources, and visa requirements specific to this vacation.


What to Know

For more detailed information about this trip, download our Travel Handbook below. This document covers a wide range of information on specific areas of your trip, from passport, visa, and medical requirements; to the currencies of the countries you’ll visit and the types of electrical outlets you’ll encounter. This handbook is written expressly for this itinerary. For your convenience, we've highlighted our travelers' most common areas of interest on this page.

Download the Travel Handbook

What to Expect

Pacing

  • 5 locations in 12 days with 1-night stay
  • International flights to Arusha depart around midnight, and game viewing on safari days require early wake-up
  • Airport transfers in Arusha may take up to 2 hours

Physical requirements

  • Not appropriate for travelers using wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids
  • You must be able to walk 1-2 miles unassisted and participate in 2-4 hours of physical activities each day
  • Traveling in a safari vehicle over roads in poor condition can cause problems for travelers with back and leg pain
  • Not appropriate for travelers in need of CPAP machines

Climate  

  • Daytime temperatures range from  45-100°F
  • The hottest months are October-February, and May brings heavy rains, with the short rains in November

Terrain

  • Travel over very bumpy, dusty terrain during overland transfers and game-viewing drives, and camp in tents built on uneven terrain

Transportation

  • Travel by 18-passenger coach, and in closed-sided 5-passenger Land Cruisers with a roof hatch, hard seats, and no air-conditioning

Accommodations & Facilities

  • We spend 11 nights in comfortable but basic lodges and tented camps
  • Our lodges use generator electricity and lantern lighting at night, and do not have air-conditioning. There could be a 1- to 5-minute walk from our tents to the main lodge
  • All accommodations feature private baths

Travel Documents

Passport

Your passport should meet these requirements for this itinerary:

  • It should be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • It should have the recommended number of blank pages (refer to the handbook for details).
  • The blank pages must be labeled “Visas” at the top. Pages labeled “Amendments and Endorsements” are not acceptable.

Visas

U.S. citizens will need a visa (or visas) for this trip. In addition, there may be other entry requirements that also need to be met. For your convenience, we’ve included a quick reference list, organized by country:

  • Tanzania: Visa required. Tanzania may require proof of Yellow Fever vaccination before entering the country.
  • Kenya (optional extension): Visa required.

Travelers who are booked on this adventure will be sent a complete Visa Packet— with instructions, applications, and a list of visa fees—approximately 100 days prior to their departure. (Because many countries limit the validity of their visa from the date it is issued, or have a specific time window for when you can apply, we do not recommend applying too early.)

If you are not a U.S. citizen, do not travel with a U.S. passport, or will be traveling independently before/after this trip, then your entry requirements may be different. Please check with the appropriate embassy or a visa servicing company. To contact our recommended visa servicing company, PVS International, call toll-free at 1-800-556-9990.

Vaccinations Information

For a detailed and up-to-date list of vaccinations that are recommended for this trip, please visit the CDC’s “Traveler’s Health” website. You can also refer to the handbook for details.

Before Your Trip

Before you leave on your adventure, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:

Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)

What to Bring

In an effort to help you bring less, we have included checklists within the handbook, which have been compiled from suggestions by Trip Leaders and former travelers. The lists are only jumping-off points—they offer recommendations based on experience, but not requirements. You might also want to refer to the climate charts in the handbook or online weather forecasts before you pack. Refer to the handbook for details.

Insider Tips

Accommodations

Main Trip

  • Olasiti Lodge

    Arusha, Tanzania

    Located in Arusha, Tanzania, the Olasiti Lodge features 20 rooms. They all come equipped with coffee- and tea-making facilities, safe, and private bath. You may also choose to access the Internet and enjoy the pool.

  • Lake Burunge Camp

    Tarangire, Tanzania

    Situated near Tarangire National Park, our private campsite is set in a shaded grove on the shores of Lake Burunge. Each of the 30 walk-in tents features a private bath and veranda. The lounge and dining areas in the thatched-roof main building are located on a raised wooden deck that offers beautiful views.

  • Tloma Lodge

    Ngorongoro, Tanzania

    This private lodge is set on the raised shoulder of a valley in the Ngorongoro Highlands with panoramic views of a coffee plantation. The lodge features a pool, which is surrounded by lovely gardens that are spread throughout the 20-acre property. The colonial-style main building serves hearty meals, and each of the lodge's 40 rooms has a private bath.

  • OAT Private Tented Camps

    Serengeti, Tanzania

    In the Serengeti, we camp in walk-in canvas tents with comfortable beds, fresh cotton linens, and private baths with showers, flush toilets, dressing tables, and towels. There are no electrical outlets in individual tents, but opportunities for recharging items are provided. We dine on cuisine prepared by our camp staff. At night, we share our safari experiences under the starlit skies of the African plains.

Extensions

  • Olasiti Lodge

    Arusha, Tanzania

    Located in Arusha, Tanzania, the Olasiti Lodge features 20 rooms. They all come equipped with coffee- and tea-making facilities, safe, and private bath. You may also choose to access the Internet and enjoy the pool.

  • Kambi Ya Tembo Camp

    Sinya, Tanzania

    Situated on a private reserve near Tanzania’s shared border with Kenya, Kambi Ya Tembo offers magnificent views of Kilimanjaro, excellent game-viewing, and cultural interaction with resident Maasai. Each of the 14 tents features an en suite toilet and shower facilities.

  • InterContinental Nairobi

    Nairobi, Kenya

    Centrally located in the heart of downtown Nairobi, the InterContinental offers a variety of restaurants, an outdoor swimming pool, and cocktail lounge. Your air-conditioned room features cable TV, safe, telephone, minibar, and a private bath with shower and hair dryer.

  • Sentrim Masai Mara Lodge

    Masai Mara Game Reserve

    Located on the border of the Masai Mara Game Reserve, Sentrim Lodge features a reception area, restaurant, bar, and lounge. With 10 tents set among acacia trees, the lodge is the perfect size for our group. Each spacious tent features an en suite bath, hot and cold shower, and a private balcony for views of the surrounding hills and wildlife.

  • Maru Maru Hotel

    Zanzibar, Tanzania

    The modern Maru Maru Hotel is located just a short walk from the beach in the bustling city of Zanzibar. The hotel boasts 44 rooms with air-conditioning, Internet access, and private baths. Amenities include laundry service and a restaurant with scenic views.

Flight Information

Flight Options to Personalize Your Trip

You can choose to stay longer before or after your trip on your own, or combine two adventures to maximize your value. Here are more ways to create the OAT adventure that’s right for you:

  • Extend your adventure and lower your per day cost with our optional pre- and post-trip extensions
  • Choose our standard air routing, or work with us to select the airline and routing you prefer
  • Make your own international flight arrangements directly with the airline, applying frequent flyer miles if available
  • International airport transfers to and from your hotel, including meet and greet service, are available for purchase
  • Stay overnight in a connecting city before or after your trip
  • Request to arrive a few days early to get a fresh start on your adventure
  • Choose to “break away” before or after your trip, spending additional days or weeks on your own
  • Combine your choice of OAT adventures to maximize your value
  • Upgrade to business or premium economy class
  • Extend your Land Tour-only Travel Protection Plan coverage and protect the air arrangements you make on your own—including your frequent traveler miles

The air options listed above will involve an additional fee of $100 per person for confirmed requests (as well as incremental airfare costs based on your specific choice).

Or, when you make your reservation, you can choose our standard air routing, for which approximate travel times are shown below.

Standard Air Routing

w/out standard air $2995
w/ standard air $4995
Gateway Travel Time*
Boston 18hrs
Atlanta, Detroit, Newark, New York (JFK), Washington, DC (Dulles) 19hrs
Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, OR, Seattle 20hrs
Minneapolis 21hrs
Tampa 22hrs
Denver, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco 23hrs
San Diego 26hrs

*Estimated total time including connections and layovers. Actual travel time may vary. .

The following information is your approximate flight time to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Routing is based on availability and subject to change. You will receive your final air itinerary approximately 14 days prior to departure.

Solo Traveler Stories

Why Travel Solo on Safari Serengeti: Tanzania Lodge & Tented Safari

We're proud to offer the best value for solo travelers in the industry, guaranteed, with FREE Single Supplements on your base trip and all extensions. Travel with the leader in solo-friendly travel on Safari Serengeti: Tanzania Lodge & Tented Safariand save up to $1295 per person versus the competition.

Our small group size and expert, resident Trip Leaders help solo travelers make personal connections and ensure peace of mind. Here are some thoughts from solo travelers about why this adventure was right for them.

"What an amazing experience to be among the wildlife of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro conservation area as a guest on their own turf! Our Trip Leader and guides were all so knowledgeable and eager to share their love of Tanzania. Experiencing a ‘Day in the Life of’ the Maasai at their bomas, dipping into their culture, was unparalleled."

Lainey Brown, 14-time traveler
Loveland, Colorado

Africa: An Adventure at Every Turn

Beverly Morgan, 10-time traveler, Melbourne, Florida

“I once met a man while camping who said, ‘When I’m old and all I can do is sit on the end of a pier, then I’ll fish.’ That’s how I feel about things like cruises,” Morgan says. “When my knees are bad, that’s when I’ll sit down and eat and play the slot machines. But right now … I’m only 65 and in good health.”

The places Morgan’s gone include Thailand, Turkey, Costa Rica, Peru, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and most recently, Tanzania, on OAT’s Safari Serengeti, which takes travelers to the legendary Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.

Although Morgan has now seen several countries with OAT, she says that as an avid birdwatcher and environmentalist, she always enjoys returning to Africa. “I like the fact that we’re in the animals’ environment,” she says.

Morgan found her ideal traveling companion for these adventures in 15-time traveler Marguerite Bevacqua from West Palm Beach, Florida, whom she met on Grand Circle’s Best of Eastern Europe vacation.

“I was married, she was married—but neither of our husbands liked to travel. So I traveled with my sister and she was traveling with a friend. We both wanted to see the world. Now we take one trip a year,” Morgan says. “We like to get out and go shopping, to hunt for bargains …and women that were with their husbands, they wouldn’t have time to get away for that kind of shopping.”

One of Morgan’s favorite shopping adventures occurred on Safari Serengeti. A fellow traveler needed to buy a duffel bag, so their Trip Leader offered to lead a trip to the local market via bus for anyone who wished to join. Only Morgan and Bevacqua chose to tag along—and luckily so, because the “bus” was a Ford passenger van, and picked up more than 30 other people along the route. “We were laughing the whole way,” says Morgan.

The return trip, again by van, was even more crowded. “School had let out, so children were waiting to get on the ‘bus’ too,” Morgan recalls. “It ended up that we had 34 people in this van, and I had a little boy on my lap. And I reached in my pack and got out a really fancy pen, and I showed him how it worked. And all the way, we were joking, ‘How many more?’”

And although this kind of ride would not be street-legal in the States, Morgan says, “I never felt unsafe on any trip.”

Of course, it helps that Morgan always travels with extra clothes, books, and other goods to give away as gifts, or barter for local crafts. She notes that in some remote villages, people go without things Americans take for granted, such as potable water or t-shirts, and will gladly trade them for unique handcrafted sculptures or beads.

However, the etiquette for presenting gifts is different in each country, so when Morgan realized that she did not have enough children’s clothes to give to every child when visiting a small Maasai village, she relied on her Trip Leader’s diplomacy skills to settle the matter.

“He gave them to the chief of the village, and the chief put a shirt and cargo pants on his own little boy, which fit him perfectly,” Morgan says. “All the little boys came out, and they were all touching the pockets. I asked for a picture and crouched down on the ground, and the chief took off his own sash and draped it around my shoulders.”

Photos From Our Travelers

On location in Africa

Here’s how OAT travelers have captured moments of discovery, beauty, friendship, and fun on previous departures of our Safari Serengeti: Tanzania Lodge & Tented Safari adventure. We hope these will evoke special travel memories and inspire you to submit your own favorite OAT trip photos.

  Making and seeing the bubbles  

Gordon Anderson, 15-time traveler from Carlsbad, California, captured the delight of these village children at their first experience with bubbles. “At first the children were frightened. But after we explained that they were just made of soap, they were fascinated by both making and watching the bubbles.”

Thumbnail 1 Thumbnail 2 Thumbnail 3 Thumbnail 4 Thumbnail 5

How to submit your photos:

Please submit individual photos in jpeg format to: OATtravelerphotos@oattravel.com.

Please be sure to include the name of your OAT adventure, along with the travel dates. Tell us where you took the photo and, if you’d like, tell us why. And don’t forget to include your name and contact information.

Please note: By submitting a photo, you (i) represent and warrant that the photo is your original work created solely by yourself and does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any party; (ii) grant to Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable right and license to use, in any and all related media whether now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, anywhere in the world, with the right to make any and all commercial or other uses thereof, including without limitation, reproducing, editing, modifying, adapting, publishing, displaying publicly, creating derivative works from, incorporating into other works or modifying the photo and (iii) hereby release and discharge Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates, officers and employees from and against any and all claims, liabilities, costs, damages and expenses of any kind arising out of or relating to the use by Grand Circle LLC of any photo submitted.

Partner since: 2001
Total donated: $760,311

Making a difference in Tanzania

Simply by traveling with OAT, you support the work of the nonprofit Grand Circle Foundation. Alan and Harriet Lewis created the Foundation with the mission of changing people's lives through travel—which includes both the travelers who journey with OAT, and the local people who welcome us so warmly into their homelands.

Learn more about our work in Tanzania, and what you'll experience during your itinerary:

A Day in the Life of a Maasai Boma

Maasai women, stringing beads

Your visit to a local Tanzanian school is just one aspect of your Day in the Life experience, which is featured on most OAT itineraries. Each Day in the Life is specifically tailored to showcase daily life in your destinationin this case, a Maasai boma, or village. You'll get to know the local people through conversation and hands-on activities, gaining an authentic glimpse of what life is really like here—and not just the typical tourist's version.

Read More

A Day in the Life of a Maasai Boma

Your visit to a local Tanzanian school is just one aspect of your Day in the Life experience, which is featured on most OAT itineraries. Each Day in the Life is specifically tailored to showcase daily life in your destinationin this case, a Maasai boma, or village. You'll get to know the local people through conversation and hands-on activities, gaining an authentic glimpse of what life is really like here—and not just the typical tourist's version.

"The visit to a Maasai village was a lesson in diverse cultures. The interaction of singing and dancing was great fun—we got our exercise and more. Loved the bright colors of their clothing, their jewelry, their stories of land, cows, wives—very interesting!"

Donna Junier, 4-time traveler
Rancho Cordova, California

Maasai Boma Visit

Maasai women, stringing beads

The villages of Tanzania are home to multiple schools supported by the Foundation's World Classroom initiative, so we've developed close partnerships with village leaders—who are eager to welcome you into their everyday lives. In our Day in the Life of a Maasai boma, we’ll learn firsthand what it’s like for tribe members to live peacefully in modern society while retaining their social and ceremonial traditions.

First, we’ll arrive at the Maasai boma, where you’ll explore and spend time with the hospitable people who live here. After meeting the boma chief, you’ll enjoy dancing and singing by the women of the village, followed by tea and a chat with the first wife. You'll also take part in Maasai traditions, including plastering and thatching a hut and making fire during this exclusive opportunity for real cultural exchange.

By the time we return to our lodge in the evening, we hope you’ll come away with a richer sense of what life is like in a Maasai boma and an appreciation for the warmth of the people who call this area home.

In addition to your boma experience, you’ll also enjoy a chance to meet local children in a school (when in session) that is supported by Grand Circle Foundation—either near the Maasai boma, or in the village of Karatu later in your adventure. You’ll interact with both students and faculty here, and see firsthand the improvements made possible by Foundation support—and the support of travelers like you.

Grand Circle Foundation

Supporting a World Classroom: Tanzania

Student doing work

By funding improvements at local schools, the Foundation's World Classroom initiative is focused on supporting society's most precious resources: its children. In Tanzania, you'll visit one of the five schools funded by Grand Circle Foundation: Tloma Primary School, Rhotia Primary School, Nija Panda Primary School, Tarangire Primary School, or Ayalabe Primary School. Our projects here have included building a kitchen, new classrooms, and water storage units; supplying computers, desks, and chairs; providing scholarships for students; and much more.

Read More

Supporting a World Classroom: Tanzania

By funding improvements at local schools, the Foundation's World Classroom initiative is focused on supporting society's most precious resources: its children. In Tanzania, you'll visit one of the five schools funded by Grand Circle Foundation: Tloma Primary School, Rhotia Primary School, Nija Panda Primary School, Tarangire Primary School, or Ayalabe Primary School. Our projects here have included building a kitchen, new classrooms, and water storage units; supplying computers, desks, and chairs; providing scholarships for students; and much more.

"The principals, teachers, and students were outstanding. What they have done with that school with the assistance of Grand Circle Foundation is outstanding … The impact on their families and the community are endless. I was proud to be able to assist with this program."

Naomi & Mark Hughes, 4-time travelers
Rancho Cordova, California

Nija Panda Primary School

Partner since: 2004 • Total donated: $62,751

Schoolgirls in the Nija Panda School

We’ve supported the village of Karatu, Tanzania for over six years, and we’re looking forward to having a lasting impact in the lives of students who attend Nija Panda Primary School. Along with building two new classrooms and renovating rooms including the kindergarten, we have built toilets and provided computers, 750 textbooks, desks, and supplies for students and faculty.

Tarangire Primary School

Partner since: 2011 • Total donated: $41,144

Grand Circle Foundation first partnered with Tarangire Primary School in 2011. Situated on the outskirts of the Tarangire National Park, the school serves 600 children from neighboring bomas, up from just 100 when it first opened in 1973. It came to the attention of the Foundation that Tarangire Primary School is woefully under-funded—the government provides just $3 per student annually, which doesn't come close to covering the basic costs of uniforms and workbooks.

We worked closely with the headmaster, Stanley, to determine how a grant from the Foundation could have the greatest impact. Since then, our funds have supported a water catchment system, solar lighting, toilets, and water filters and supplied much needed much needed desks, textbooks, school supplies, cooking pots and dishes.

Tloma Primary School

Partner since: 2012 • Total donated: $25,443

In 2012, Tloma Primary School became one of Grand Circle Foundation’s newest partners in Tanzania. Located in the village of Karatu, the 16-classroom school serves more than 650 students. Because classrooms are overcrowded, multiple students are forced to share a single desk and supplies are scarce. The Foundation is striving to improve conditions at the school in order to make a greater impact on the students’ lives.

At Tloma Primary School, a little bit can go a long way. A complete set of textbooks for a single class—that’s 30 copies for each subject—costs $1,200. Since 2012, we have funded complete textbook sets for kindergarten, Grade 5, and Grade 6. We've even stocked their library with stacks of English storybooks.

Rhotia Primary School

Partner since: 2012 • Total donated: $22,310

Rhotia Primary School, located in the village of Karatu, Tanzania, first partnered with Grand Circle Foundation in 2012, alongside Tloma Primary School. Since the partnership, the Foundation has made strides in improving the quality of life inside—and outside—the classroom. We’ve donated shoes, books, posters, stationary, desks, chairs, kitchen supplies, and other miscellaneous school supplies including pens, pencils, rulers, and erasers. We’ve also installed bookshelves, a toilet, rainwater reservoir tanks, and planted 100 fruit trees around the building. Currently, we’re working with the school to install water filters, a kitchen, and additional toilets.

Alongside these fundraising efforts, Grand Circle Foundation provided scholarships to four students and a special care package—filled with school supplies and healthy snacks—to all Grade 7 students preparing for exams. The Grade 7 exams are critical because they determine whether or not a student will make it into secondary school.

Ayalabe Primary School

Partner since: 2014

First coming together in 2014, Ayalabe Primary School is one of Grand Circle Foundation's newest partnerships in Tanzania. Located in the village of Karatu, Ayalabe has 15 classrooms and 17 teachers that serve 379 students, ages 5-16. Due to overcrowding and a lack of funding, every 2-3 students share a single desk and the student-to-book ratio is as high as 1 to 7.

The school is most in need of text books, writing implements, and exercise books. Through our partnership, The Foundation hopes to provide for these needs and much more.

School in session:

Year-round, with breaks from June 1 through July 15, September 15 through September 30, and December 1 through December 30

Gifts to bring if you're visiting:

  • Sports equipment, such as deflated soccer balls and basketballs
  • Educational books with pictures for the school library
  • Composition books
  • Pencils and erasers
  • Chalk for the chalkboard
  • English-language textbooks
  • Photos and postcards from your hometown
  • Books on environmentally friendly areas
  • World maps
Grand Circle Foundation

Inspirational Stories: Dream Come True in Tanzania

Like so many travelers who visit Tanzania for the first time, Anne Guiltinan came for the wildlife … but fell in love with the people. Little did she know that she was about to help make many dreams come true—not only for herself, but for an entire Tanzanian community.

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Inspirational Stories: Dream Come True in Tanzania

How a passionate group of OAT travelers used a Seattle restaurant to help build a kitchen in Africa

Like so many travelers who visit Tanzania for the first time, Anne Guiltinan came for the wildlife … but fell in love with the people. "I'd dreamed of traveling to the Serengeti ever since I was a young girl watching 'Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom,'" Anne says. Little did she know as she prepared for her "dreamiest of dream vacations" that she was about to help make many dreams come true—not only for herself, but for an entire Tanzanian community.

Anne visited Tanzania with OAT in July of 2010—and brought a group of 15 friends and family members along for the ride. "We were a fun, compatible, and cohesive group who shared an amazing and consciousness-changing experience together," Anne says. One element of their trip that would prove to have a lasting effect on their consciousness was their visit to the Bashay School in the village of Karatu. Supported by Grand Circle Foundation since 2001, the school has undergone several crucial renovations, including classroom construction, roofing, and water tanks. But as Anne's group would discover, there's always more to be done in the Tanzanian wilderness.

The students of Bashay gave the group a hearty welcome. "They were warm and joyful and sang for us," Anne remembers. "We sang for them, too, and the more athletic members of our group joined our guides in playing soccer with them." It was later, as the group talked with the principal, Justine Basso, about his priorities for his 760 pupils, that the school's needs became apparent. "We all expected to hear that the school needed more computers, books, or things of that nature," says Anne. "To our surprise, he told us that the one thing that would help the children most would be to simply complete the school kitchen."

As Mr. Basso explained, the school currently had no refrigeration or sanitation facilities with which to properly store food—either meals to be prepared on site or bagged lunches brought by the students. As a result, the children were required to walk home for lunch and then walk back—a journey of up to 10 miles roundtrip for some. Those students who did walk long distances midday were unlikely to return to school for their afternoon studies. The alternative was to skip lunch and endure an afternoon of hunger. Grand Circle Foundation had begun constructing the kitchen earlier in the year—but at the time of Anne's visit (see photo below), the project was on hold due to unexpectedly high construction and labor costs.

After the visit was over, the group had plenty of food for thought. "We returned to our beautiful and comparatively very luxurious lodge and sat eating our delicious hot lunch with organic vegetables," Anne remembers, "and the stark differences between our lives and those of the Bashay students were on all of our minds." It was group member Christine Keff, owner of the renowned Flying Fish restaurant in Seattle, who came up with the idea for a fundraiser: "How about when we get back, we do a benefit dinner at the restaurant to raise money for the kitchen at Bashay?"

The group greeted the suggestion with enthusiasm, and their plans began to take flight. In February, the group members living in Seattle held the benefit as promised, cooking up an African dinner for 40 (under Christine's expert guidance) and entertaining the diners with a slideshow and video featuring their adventures in the Serengeti. Several travelers spoke about the needs of the Bashay School, and the difference the kitchen and dining hall would make in the lives of the children. "When the dust settled, we had raised $10,000 from 54 donors," says Anne. This was more than enough to complete the kitchen, which had since been funded with additional donations from the Foundation—so the gift will go a long way toward completing the neighboring dining hall.

Anne is quick to credit their Trip Leader, Godliving, and driver-guides, Nixon and Herbie, with much of the inspiration for the Bashay benefit. "Their warmth and wonderful humor, their generosity with their time and energy, and their ability to push us gently outside of our comfort level to interact with the local communities helped provide us with the dreamiest dream trip imaginable," says Anne.

A dream vacation that fulfills the dreams of those in need? It's a dream come true for us.

Grand Circle Foundation

Inspirational Stories: Brighter Future for Maasai Children

Centuries ago, education was scarce for Tanzania’s Maasai tribe members due to their nomadic lifestyle. Today’s young Maasai are being given more educational opportunities, and Grand Circle Foundation is thrilled to support this endeavor.

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Inspirational Stories: Brighter Future for Maasai Children

Grand Circle Foundation announces a new partnership outside Tarangire National Park

Centuries ago, the legendary Maasai tribe of Tanzania practiced a completely nomadic lifestyle, moving their cattle constantly through the plains in search of greener pastures. But in recent history, the modern concepts of land ownership and government regulations have relegated the Maasai to a small corner of their once-endless territory. As a result, more and more of Tanzania's Maasai are settling in permanent villages, called bomas, where they retain the social and ceremonial traditions of their culture while making necessary adaptations to live peacefully in modern society.

One such adaptation is the education of their children. Today's young Maasai are increasingly given the opportunity to go to school, providing them with the skills they need to someday seek employment outside of the boma (if they so choose). On the outskirts of Tarangire National Park, the Tarangire Primary School serves 600 children from neighboring bomas, up from just 100 when it first opened in 1973. One of these bomas is supported by Grand Circle Foundation's Day in the Life program, which brings travelers to the boma to experience Maasai culture. In looking for a way to support the village, it came to our attention that Tarangire Primary School is woefully under-funded—the government provides just $3 per student each year, which doesn't come close to covering even the basic costs of uniforms and workbooks. We are pleased to announce that Tarangire Primary School is the Foundation's newest partner in Tanzania.

We are working with the headmaster, Stanley, to determine how a grant from the Foundation could have the greatest impact. According to Stanley, improving the teachers' housing is of dire importance, as insufficient housing prevents the government from assigning new teachers. Currently, there are just nine teachers for 600 students. Other needs include desks, which are currently shared by three or four students; textbooks; and office space. Stanley's dream is to see 100% of his students pass the exam to continue on to secondary school. In 2011, while every student who took the exam passed it, only 36 children out of 600 elected to do so.

We are confident that under Stanley's leadership, support from Grand Circle Foundation will make a huge difference in the lives of these students. To receive updates on our progress, please sign up for our e-newsletter.

Grand Circle Foundation

Alan and Harriet Lewis founded Grand Circle Foundation in 1992 as a means of giving back to the world we travel. Because they donate an annually determined amount of revenue from our trips, we consider each one of our travelers as a partner in the Foundation’s work around the world. To date, the Foundation has pledged or donated more than $97 million in support of 300 different organizations—including 60 villages and nearly 100 schools that lie in the paths of our journeys.

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Private Departures—New for 2015

Now you can reserve a Private Departure of Safari Serengeti: Tanzania Lodge & Tented Safari for your exclusive group of as few as 4 travelers. Enjoy a truly special adventure—starting from only $900 per person.

On your private departure, you can …

  • Travel in an exclusive group of friends or family members
  • Bring along several generations of your own family
  • Tailor the pacing of activities
  • Work with your Trip Leader to create unique experiences and special memories

"We wanted to take a family trip and called OAT to see if we could arrange a private departure. We has a great adventure—one that was extra special as it was just with family. We had all the lodges to ourselves and great guides. Everything ran like clockwork. I couldn't think of one thing to make the trip better."

P. Smilsky
11-time traveler
Eastham, MA

Group Size Additional Cost
4-6 $1900 per person
7-9 $900 per person

For more details, call our Group Sales Team
1-800-353-6262 and select Option #3.
Your representative can also tell you about the benefits of reserving a group of 10 or more.

This program is available on new reservations in 2015 only, and cannot be combined with any offers, including our Vacation Ambassador Referral program. The additional cost of a Private Departure is per person, on top of the departure price and varies by trip. Private Departures do not include any changes or additions to our standard itineraries. Age restrictions may apply to some itineraries and must be at least 13 years old to travel with Overseas Adventure Travel. Ask your Group Sales Team for details. Additional taxes and fees will apply. Standard Terms & Conditions apply. Every effort has been made to present this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors.

Running with the Rains

The great wildebeest migration

by Meredith Rommelfanger

Migration participants consist of more than 1.8 million blue wildebeest, 300,000 Burchell's zebras, and a rotating cast of other herbivores.

The opportunity to observe one of the world’s most remarkable natural spectacles, the great annual migration of wildebeest across the Serengeti, is an event that many travelers have placed high on their bucket list—nowhere else can one see such massive herds thundering through a timeless, primeval setting.

The migration, the longest and largest in the world, spans the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem—a geographical area that encompasses 18,640 square miles and includes three of Africa’s most famous wildlife sanctuaries: Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites), and Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. The climate, flora, and fauna here have barely changed over the past millennia.

Migration participants consist of more than 1.8 million blue wildebeest, 300,000 Burchell's zebras, and a rotating cast of other herbivores. These animals travel an impressive distance of nearly 1,800 miles in search of grass to graze and water to drink. Because the exact dates of the passage are dependent upon the rainfall each year, Mother Nature determines the precise timing of this annual event. The resulting migratory pattern however, is always the same: clockwise and circular.

A symbiotic relationship

The Serengeti ecosystem encompasses rich terrain with diverse habitats that range dramatically from riverine forests and swamps, to grasslands and acacia woodlands. The local Maasai people named the plains here “serengit,” which translates to “endless plains.”

During the height of the migration, wildebeest and zebra cover the savanna and grasslands. Despite their name, Blue wildebeest exhibit a variety of hues ranging from shades of gray, brown, and silvery, slate blue. They also boast horns, wild jet-black manes, beards, and stiff tails. One of the largest species of antelope, wildebeests’ muscular hump above their forelimbs gives them a front-heavy appearance, contorting their profile into a slope. These odd, shaggy creatures look part cow, part buffalo, part goat, and wholly bizarre.

As for the zebra, no two look exactly the same. Their bold, geographic stripes differ ever so slightly—comparable to human fingerprints. This camouflage (called disruptive coloration) distorts the apparent shape of their bodies, confusing predators by altering the perception of distance and direction.

A symbiotic relationship between the wildebeest and zebra works for a few important reasons. Unlike many of the species on the plains, these animals do not compete for food. They are able to co-exist peacefully, grazing in harmony, because each animal prefers a different part of the same grass. Zebra’s sharp teeth clip the tough blades of grass, leaving the wildebeest’s broad muzzle to graze on the newly exposed and nutritious short grass. Another reason these animals migrate together is that the zebra’s eyesight is far superior to the wildebeest’s—they’re quick to raise the alarm with their distinctive high-pitched “aha, aha,” which alerts the herd of nearby predators. From a young age, wildebeest look to the zebras for signs of alarm.

Survival of the fittest

In addition to ensuring that the population of wildebeest and zebra is sustained, the migration also plays an integral part in the Serengeti food chain. Africa teems with carnivorous game including lions, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs—the survival of which can depend upon the migration path. A number of species, such as the big cats, do not migrate and occupy the same territory in the Serengeti year-round. These predators rely on migrating herds to feed themselves and their young. For the herds, however, predation is just one obstacle faced on a journey of this magnitude. A combination of dangers including hunger, thirst, and exhaustion contribute to the roughly 250,000 wildebeest that don’t complete the full sequence of the migration each year. Prime victims include the sick, lame, old, and young.

Technically, there is no beginning and no end to the cycle; however, November marks a milestone that celebrates the return of the short rains to the vast grass plains of the Serengeti. Female wildebeest and zebra are carrying young, which means they need the nutrients found within the new grass. They also need to replenish a reserve of fuel necessary to complete the coming months of migration. The animals travel south to the Ngorongoro Highlands and move through the Serengeti National Park. February and early March mark the animals’ short two- to three-week birthing window, within which approximately 500,000 calves are born.

This remarkably synchronized calving event is one of the world’s greatest mysteries—it has been said that wildebeest and zebra mothers can delay birth up to a month’s time until weather conditions become more favorable. This adaptability is not only the reason these species survive the migration, but also why they’re considered the most resilient animals within the boundaries of the Serengeti. It is imperative that this event is coordinated between both wildebeest and zebra—and the chance of survival for the few calves born ahead of time is slim.

Throughout the migration, animals tend to branch out and cover a wide territory. Pregnant cows, however, instinctually group together for safety. Unlike many animals who seek shelter and solitude while calving, wildebeest and zebra choose a communal environment, giving birth in the middle of the herd right on the exposed open plains. During this vulnerable period, they rely on safety in numbers, and a large number of eyes watching for predators to deter attacks.

The never-ending cycle

The animals will stay in the Masai Mara until late October. These lush plains provide a restful break and the much-needed chance to refuel with food, water, and energy for the balance of their trek. When the dry period hits, the savanna loses its nutrient-rich allure, once again driving the animals hundreds of miles south towards the Serengeti.

And so, the cycle begins anew. This epic migration, this never-ending pilgrimage, is a triumph not only of miles, but also of evolution. Through their unique symbiotic relationship, the wildebeest and zebra are constantly spinning a story of life and survival—as we follow them through challenges, perils, and victories along the way.