A Tanzanian Safari Special

Uniquely wonderful that’s Tanzania. So come, experience for yourself the incredible wildlife and landscapes.

Welcome to what might be termed an “Any-time, Any-size Nature Safari”

Fourteen nights during which you can become part of what is arguably the greatest wildlife experience on Earth.

Your safari experiences will be guided and interpreted by both James Wolstencroft, a qualitative ecologist who was permanently resident in Tanzania from 2005 until 2017, and by your highly experienced Tanzanian driver-guide.

Sixty years ago Tanzania’s first president, “the father of the nation”, Julius Nyerere, understood the central value of a nation’s natural environment and so he worked tirelessly to ensure its preservation. 

Today over a third of Tanzania’s land area is protected from destructive exploitation within a patchwork of extensive national parks and various other kinds of nature reserve. The most famous of these areas, in the north of the country, provide the framework for this classic safari. 

We will begin around Arusha National Park which protects the densely forested slopes of the serene looking Mount Meru, a dormant volcano and close neighbour of Mount Kilimanjaro. Then we’ll travel in our comfortable safari vehicle through the giant “granny baobab” savannas of Tarangire National Park before visiting two of the world’s most renowned wildlife locations: the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area and the seemingly limitless plains of the Serengeti National Park. We will draw the safari to a close along the shoreline of mighty Lake Victoria-Nyanza. For those that wish we can provide an extension to Zanzibar and Pemba, Tanzania’s spice islands, in the tropical Indian Ocean.

For the lover of nature Tanzania is a welcome reminder that our earth is still a place of wonder, a place where animals big and small can follow unmolested lives and where birds of every hue seem to queue right along the wayside.

Day 1: Upon the arrival of your flight at Kilimanjaro International Airport, you will be transferred to a  rendezvous with your guides at a peaceful rustic lodge, in spacious private grounds with lots of nature, only five minutes from the airport gate. Night at KIA Lodge.

Days 2–3: The bird sounds of tropical Africa may wake us early, and likely we’ll spend an hour birding around this lodge, getting to know some of the commoner birds of the region, before breakfast.

After a refreshing buffet we will transfer the short distance to an exquisite lodge, built in 1901, secreted within an extensive and well-timbered garden. The lodge sits beside a sparkling mountain stream that issues out of the evergreen hill forest of nearby Mount Meru.

Our two days below Mount Meru, amidst peaceful surroundings, should be a relaxing way to commence our safari. We’ll walk around the lodge grounds, studded with ancient trees and various flowering shrubs, in search of birds that are particular to this area.  

We will explore nearby Arusha National Park on both days, find ourselves among a wealth of birds:  evocatively named species such as Hadada Ibis, the Hamerkop, Olive Pigeon, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, White-fronted Bee-eater, Yellow-breasted Apalis, the scarce and elusive Red-throated Tit, Red-winged Starling, Tropical Boubou, Chin-spot Batis, and Variable, Scarlet-chested, Bronze, and Amethyst Sunbirds. Big ungulates are to be found as soon as you enter Arusha park. Masai Giraffe, Common Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Warthog and further inside some special primates Guereza Colobus and Blue Monkey, plus the more widespread Olive Baboon. Hiding in the dappled shade of this magnificent evergreen hill forest we may also find a tiny woodland antelope, the secretive Suni, along with the bay-coloured Harvey’s Red Duiker. If we are very lucky today we may also catch sight of a Leopard or Serval.

There will be much to see and hear during our time here. Stopping in the lush forest that grows along the flanks of Ngongongare, a modest volcanic crater within the park, we’ll scan across the forest canopy for the massive African Crowned Eagle, as well as for Mountain Buzzard, African Green Pigeon, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Bar-tailed Trogon, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Moustached Green Tinkerbird, African Palm, Horus, Alpine, Mottled, Little, and Nyanza Swifts, Black Saw-wing, Olive Mountain (Placid), Stripe-faced, and Little Greenbuls, Waller’s, Kenrick’s, and with much luck the rare Abbott’s Starling.

We will encounter a different set of birds in the more open areas of scrub and grassland, where Rufous-naped Lark, Pangani Longclaw, White-browed Scrub Robin, African Moustached and Cinnamon Bracken Warblers, Trilling and Siffling Cisticolas, and the very local Taveta Golden Weaver will vie for our attention. Long ago lava flows dammed streams creating numerous wetlands that should be alive with both Greater and Lesser Flamingos, and this is typically a reliable site for the normally elusive Greater Painted-snipe. Nights at Ngare Sero lodge in the foothill of Mount Meru.

Day 4: Leaving early, we’ll skirt the edge of the little city of Arusha and head west into much drier country. Our first stop will be at “Lark Plains,” a steppe-desert area situated between Arusha and the Kenya border. This is home to one of the world’s rarest birds, the Beesley’s Lark. Closely related to Spike-heeled Lark, it is critically endangered, with a world population of probably no more than 60 individuals. Arguably that makes this little elf of a bird the rarest passerine in mainland Africa.

These dry plains, in the rain shadow of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro, provide perfect habitats for larks, so in addition to Beesley’s we will be searching for Pink-breasted, Athi Short-toed, Short-tailed, and Foxy Larks. The open landscape can be very good for raptors too, and (in season) we can hope to see migrant Montagu’s Harriers, Lesser Kestrels, and Amur Falcons joining the resident Greater and Common (Rock) Kestrels. In this distinctly dry habitat we’ll also find for the first time short grass savanna species typical of the larger protected areas farther to the west, such as Eastern Chanting Goshawk, African Pygmy Falcon, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Double-banded Courser, Crowned Lapwing, Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Red-fronted, Red-and-Yellow, and Spot-flanked Barbets, Ashy and Tiny Cisticolas, Purple Grenadier, Eastern Paradise and Straw-tailed Whydahs, and Somali Golden-breasted Bunting, while mammals could include African Golden Wolf, the elegant Gerenuk, and, with great luck, Lesser Kudu.

In the afternoon we’ll continue westward to Tarangire National Park where we will stay for two nights.

As we enter the park, we’ll be greeted by a landscape dominated by huge baobabs rising out of an acacia parkland, forming a perfect backdrop for the large herds of African Elephants that wander among them. Other mammals that constitute this habitat range from African Lion and Black-backed Jackal to Kirk’s Dik-Dik, Dwarf and Banded Mongoose, Impala, Beisa Oryx, Steinbok, and African Hare. The less heavily grazed and browsed environs of the lodge attract a great variety of birds, these include African Scops Owls (often to be found roosting under the thatched roofs of the guest bandas) and the brown hued Ashy Starling which is endemic to the dry central plateau of Tanzania. Night inside Tarangire National Park.

Day 5: We will spend all day exploring what is undeniably an extremely bird-rich mosaic of habitats. Birds that we may see include Maasai Ostrich, White-headed, Rüppell’s, and African White-backed Vultures, Red-necked Spurfowl, Bare-faced Go-away Bird, Black-faced Sandgrouse, Lilac-breasted Roller, Nubian Woodpecker, White-browed Coucal, African Hoopoe, Magpie Shrike, Northern White-crowned Shrike, and the endemic Yellow-collared Lovebird. This savanna is perfect for the uniquely beautiful Bateleur Eagle, who shares the skies with numerous Tawny Eagles. Large Mosque Swallows will swoop around the baobabs, in which they nest, while in the dense scrub below we may find White-browed Scrub-Robin, Green-winged Pytilia, and, with luck, Bronze-winged Courser. The endemic Rufous-tailed Weaver is common here, and migrants from the Palearctic could range from Sooty Falcon to Eurasian Rock Thrush. Night inside Tarangire National Park.

Day 6:  Continuing our journey westward, we will spend the next two nights at a sumptuous lodge located above the small highland town of Karatu. 

Leaving Tarangire we descend into the Great Rift Valley and enter Manyara National Park. This relatively small park safeguards the western shore of Lake Manyara and at the appropriate season the mix of brackish and fresh habitats teem with waterbirds. We will have our picnic lunch here beside the lake.

Tloma lodge is situated close to the edge of the extensively forested Crater Highlands of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and we’ll be able to explore these wooded environments on foot searching in particular for Ayres’s Hawk-Eagle, Narina Trogon, Grey and Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrikes, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Black-fronted Bush-shrike, African Hill Babbler, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Grey-capped Warbler, Red-capped Robin-chat and Holub’s Golden Weaver, among others.

Day 7: Today we will make a gentle morning walk in Endoro forest up to the “elephant salt lick” and may pass the late afternoon relaxing around the lodge or birding along the edge of the nearby forest.

Day 8: We shall get up a little earlier today (in time for a six o’clock breakfast) in order to take advantage of a full day in, what is arguably the world’s definitive wildlife-watching location, the truly astounding, breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater.

Partially forested moorlands surround this vast caldera. They are cloaked by a mosaic of pastoral land, where Maasai graze their cattle, and scattered moss-festooned evergreen woodland. We shall often pause to search for those birds which are restricted to this environment. These might include the showy Red-collared Widowbirds, the males resplendent in full breeding plumage, and hopefully the bizarre looking and highly localised Jackson’s Widowbird as well. Striking male Yellow Bishops will be displaying over the grassland, and pied African Stonechats will share the flowering montane bushes with the scintillating Malachite Sunbird.

Our lodge is near to the crater rim and has an open westerly aspect, so that after our epic day in the crater, we should be back at the lodge just in time for sunset. Around our accommodation we may find Schalow’s Turaco, Golden-winged and Tacazze Sunbirds, and certainly we shall hear family parties of the exuberant Hunter’s Cisticola. The Ngorongoro highlands are rightly famous for large raptors. The most frequently encountered is the Augur Buzzard and they usually provide outstanding photographic opportunities. Night at Rhino Lodge.

The Ngorongoro Crater is one of those fabled timeless places that really ought to be an experience available to any avid naturalist. And as we travel down and criss-cross the open grassland of the crater floor our complicated world built of words, of numbers and complex machines often feels more than a bit redundant.

Ngorongoro is the largest volcanic caldera on our planet. Today this huge natural arena has a beguilingly tranquil atmosphere. Herds of Wildebeest, Coke’s Hartebeest, Grant’s and Thomson’s Gazelles, and Common Zebra graze in peace, or at least as peacefully as the resident Lions and Hyenas will allow, although the small number of Black Rhinoceros here are far less concerned by such predators. The bird life in the crater understandably varies according to the season, but during our visit we should see Grey Crowned Crane, Shelley’s Francolin, Abdim’s and Black Storks, Lappet-faced Vulture, Black-bellied and Kori Bustards, Fischer’s Lovebird, Pectoral-patch Cisticola, and Northern Anteater Chat, among many others. Night at Rhino Lodge.

Day 9: Leaving the highland flank of Ngorongoro Crater, we will continue driving west, through the conservation area, highly picturesque with traditional-looking Maasai villages, all the while descending to the boundary of the apparently limitless Serengeti National Park. The area around Lakes Ndutu and Masek will be our base for the next two nights.

In this part of Africa mammals are constantly on the move, and with luck we’ll intercept the large herds of Wildebeest and Common Zebra. There will be all kinds of other wildlife to look for as well, ranging from Bat-eared Foxes in the shorter grassland to Common Genets around the lodge at night. At Lake Ndutu we’ll watch both Greater and Lesser Flamingos feeding in the shallows while Cape Teal appear to drift between their legs. Along the lake edge we should find Chestnut-fronted Sandplover and in the cropped grassland Black-winged Lapwing, even away from the water Gull-billed Terns scour the plains from the air for grasshoppers and dung beetles, and Hooded and Egyptian Vultures patrol the skies. Night at Ndutu Safari Lodge.

Day 10: We’ll spend all day in the short-grass plains and acacia woodland where the eastern Serengeti blends imperceptibly into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Taking a picnic lunch, we’ll wander this remote area, stopping to look at whatever most merits our attention. As well as further opportunities to study mammals and hopefully find some hunting Cheetahs, there is a god chance of close encounters with Lions and Leopards. We should also find lots of new birds for our list: Spotted Eagle Owl, Usambiro Barbet, African, Didric, Klaas’s, Great Spotted, and Jacobin Cuckoos, Red-fronted and Black-throated Barbets, Silverbird, Schalow’s Wheatear, and Cliff Chat, among a host of others. Our stay here in such a classic African setting will be one of the tour’s highlights, an experience made even better by sitting around the campfire at night listening to the nearby hollering of Spotted Hyena and Common Zebra as well as the occasional rousing roar of a lion. Nights at Ndutu Safari Lodge.

Days 11–12: There will be time for early morning birding close to the lodge before breakfast, and then we’ll travel westward across the southern part of the Serengeti toward the western arm of this huge national park. Here we’ll enter the Africa of many a foreigner’s imagination—a wide-open landscape of long grass punctuated by koppies, ancient boulder mounds formed of crystalline granite boulders that have proven highly resistant to erosion. There are some scattered groves of acacia trees, and there should be mammals and birds everywhere. We will explore outwards from the diverse surroundings of our base in what is termed a “mobile camp”. We will make game drives across the park to investigate the larger thickets that dot the wide river valleys of the western corridor. Here crakes and rails haunt secluded wetlands while kingfishers, orioles, and gonoleks call loudly from unspoilt riparian woodland alongside the principal watercourses. We shall look for a variety of eblematic African birds, including Kori Bustard, Coqui Francolin, the endemic Grey-breasted Spurfowl, Brown Parrot, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Freckled Nightjar, Plain-backed Pipit, the endemic Tanzanian Hornbill, Grey-crested Helmet-shrike, Rosy-patched Shrike, Karamoja Apalis, Buff-bellied Penduline-Tit, and Steel-blue Whydah. Among the many mammal species we hope to see are Cheetah, Leopard, and Topi, while Rock Hyrax and Klipspringer are to be found in the koppies, near to some of which herds of Hippopotamus wallow in muddy pools. At night the sound of many crickets and katydids will mingle with the strange cries of Galagos with perhaps an owl or two creating what is for many the quintessential safari nighttime soundscape. Our days here will demonstrate why the Serengeti ecosystem remains one of the greatest wildlife destinations left on Earth. Nights at a Kati-Kati mobile camp.

Day 13: Today we journey along the Western Corridor heading for the seclusion of Speke Bay Lodge for a two night stay. Traveling along the Grumeti River, where we’ll stop to look for giant Nile Crocodiles, seemingly relicts from a distant  era, and of course there will be plenty of birds to see along the way as well.

The quiet backwater of Speke’s Bay on the southeastern shore of Lake Victoria will enable us to encounter several Central African bird species, and once there we shall spend the rest of the day on foot, birding in the lush grassland along the lake shore and in the woodland fringing the extensive papyrus beds. Within the grounds we should find Heuglin’s Courser, Spotted Thick-knee and Square-tailed Nightjar roosting, silent in the shade, while brightly coloured Slender-billed and Yellow-backed Weavers feed among the flowering bushes as Angola Swallows and Swamp Flycatchers hunt insects around the restaurant. The lake shore here is protected from disturbance and attracts large numbers of African Open-bill Storks and often huge flocks of Whiskered and White-winged Black Terns, while wintering Greenshank, Ruff and Little Stint forage along a white sandy beach.

Day 14: We’ll spend the morning and evening exploring the spacious grounds and the adjacent lake shore of the lodge. New species for our tour may include Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Eurasian Nightjar, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Blue-headed Coucal, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Black-headed Gonolek, Red-chested Sunbird and Northern Brown-throated Weaver. 

Day 15: After breakfast today we will drive a two hour road journey to Mwanza airport for a scheduled flight back to Kilimanjaro International Airport. 

For those not leaving Tanzania a second night will be spent at the tranquil KIA Lodge. So close to Kilimanjaro International Airport, that we will be fresh for our flight to the coast the next morning for a stay of three nights. A relaxing extension to the renowned Indian Ocean ‘spice islands’, distant hilly Pemba (with “at least four” endemic birds) and closer, sandy Zanzibar and its fascinating Stonetown.

Price Includes:

Arrival and departure airport transfers (JRO)

All Ground Accommodation as per itinerary

Arrival Night at KIA Lodge on B&B only

All Meals on safari

Visit to the “Lark Plains”

Endoro Forest walking fee

Entrance fee to the Olduvai Gorge Museum

Ngorongoro Crater fees and crater tour (NCCA)

All entrance fees to TANAPA National Parks

Transport and English speaking Driver/Guide in customised Toyota Land Cruiser with six window seats and pop-up roof

Bottled water of up to one litre per person per day

All Government Taxes (Tourist Bed Levies, VAT, Village Concession Fees)

Domestic flight Mwanza to JRO

US $ 7450 per person ( based upon a minimum group size of two and a maximum of six persons )

Price Excludes:

Tipping and all International Travel Costs

Pre and Post Tour accommodations and meals, these can be booked on request.