Our trip begins upon arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO). We provide one group transfer from the airport to Arusha where our lovely lodge, set in spacious gardens, awaits. Check into your room and enjoy a well-earned rest. No meals included today.
This morning we meet our guides and fellow travelers for a brief orientation of the upcoming safari. Following breakfast at the lodge, we head south to Tarangire Park. This less-visited park is a great introduction to Africa and is famous for its legendary elephant herds and unusual palm and baobab groves. Our Classic tented safari lodge sits on a bluff overlooking a bend of the Tarangire River and can yield some exceptional game viewing right from the main lodge. Following an afternoon game run, we sip a glass of wine and sit back on the veranda to enjoy our first African sunset while on safari. All meals included.
A full afternoon of wildlife viewing is on today's agenda. We head west to the Lake Manyara area, stopping at the vibrant agricultural town of Mtu wa Mbu for lunch along the way. This afternoon we?ll safari deep into Lake Manyara National Park, a verdant wildlife reserve located at the base of the Great Rift. The park supports a huge birdlife population as well as larger animals such as giraffe, zebra, hippo, buffalo and lion. We are also on the lookout for flighty dik-dik, the smallest of the African ungulates. Our visit is timed to take advantage of when most other visitors have departed. The wildlife is active and the afternoon sun is particularly picturesque as it drops behind the rift valley escarpment.
Our lodge this evening is set in the verdant hills of the Ngorongoro Crater highlands. All meals included.
Drive to Lake Manyara: 3.5 hours.
This morning we?ll twende tembea-tembea, which is Swahili for, "head out on a walk". We hike into the forested Ngorongoro highlands on a moderate 2-3hr walk. On our way we?ll pass the Endoro waterfalls and may catch sight of dik-dik, baboons, forest elephant as well as a myriad of bird species. The trail leads us to the elephant caves. These have literally been hewn into arched caves by the tusks of the elephants, hungry for the mineral deposits within the soil. After our walk, we?ll have lunch at a nearby FAME clinic. Here we learn about U.S. doctors Frank Artess and Susan Gustafson and their heroic mission to advance patient-centered care in rural parts of Africa. Enjoy some leisure this afternoon at our small lodge with lush gardens of bougainvillea and relax by the cool water of the pool. All meals included.
Hiking: 3 miles, 1.5-2 hours; elevation gain: ?489'?.
The Maasai refer to Ngorongoro Crater as the "footprint of God". Your first glimpse into the crater from its rim is breathtaking ? a wildlife sanctuary over 300 square miles in size spread out over 2,000' below. We spend the day exploring the diversity and richness of this gorgeous park. Over 20,000 mammals call this crater their permanent home. This includes prides of lions, cheetah, giraffe, elephant, hippos and the rare black rhino. At the heart of the crater's 10-mile wide grassland plain lies a soda lake that attracts vast numbers of flamingo and other water birds. The Maasai have watered their cattle in the crater seemingly forever. This is magical setting teeming with wildlife and human history is as rich as the crater is beautiful. Our lodging for the evening is a deluxe tented camp with breathtaking views down into the crater. This allows us to maximize our time in this world renowned conservation area. All meals included.
Perhaps the most famous of the Tanzanian parks is the Serengeti, our destination for the next three evenings. The Maasai called this region the "Siringitu", meaning, "the place where the land moves on forever". This is most certainly a reference to the constant movement of the huge numbers of animals that live in vast savannahs. This is one of the largest and last remaining wildlife sanctuaries in the world. The extensive grasslands are dotted with "kopjes", or rocky outcroppings that, like islands in the plains, form their own wildlife communities. Have your cameras and binoculars ready, but take time to soak up the smells, sounds and sights with all your senses unencumbered. We overnight at a traditional tented safari camp. Each large canvas sided chalet features either one king bed or two twin beds, en suite facilities and a veranda. This allows for great views of the surrounding Serengeti plains. All meals included.
We have a two full days to enjoy the splendor of the Serengeti. Depending upon the season and a little luck, we may have the opportunity to witness the largest migration of mammals on earth. Regardless, we will most certainly see hundreds of animals including zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest, topi, hyena, eland, warthogs, giraffe and various predators. Return to our camp each evening to enjoy sun downer drinks around the campfire. We'll retell the sightings of the day and watch as the star-studded Africa sky slowly takes center stage. Tonight is the final group dinner with our guide. All meals included.
Following breakfast, we enjoy our final game drive before flying to Arusha. We have lunch together at our lodge in Arusha. There is a day room available for your use; the afternoon is free to pack luggage or relax. We provide two group transfers to the Kilimanjaro International Airport; one for guests with flights departing between 5-8pm, and one for guests with flights departing after 8pm. Breakfast and lunch included; dinner on own.