Tented Luxury Safari Across East Africa: Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti & Masai Mara

A 10 day trip to Kenya & Tanzania 
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From the forested slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater, to the endless plains of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, this package provides guests with an ultimate and exclusive tour of the continent’s famed landscapes. With thriving wildlife round every turn, and few other trucks in site, you will experience exclusive and intimate interactions with lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and – if lucky – the few remaining rhinos. As the Wildebeest Migration (month dependent) boldly approaches the crocodile-filled Mara River, you will bear witness to a quintessential African moment before retiring to your luxury campsite under the starry night sky. 

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General Information

Photos
masai women in colorful garments prepare for a traditional dance
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Arusha, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Masai Mara, Nairobi 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Welcome to Tanzania! Arrive in Arusha and Transfer to Arusha Coffee Lodge

Descending into Tanzania, the peak of Mount Meru – Africa’s ninth highest mountain – will poke through the clouds. You will land in Kilimanjaro International Airport where a representative will meet you and transfer you by private car to the Arusha Coffee Lodge. This property is located just outside the city on a sprawling colonial homestead, and is surrounded by lush coffee trees and brightly colored flowers. This inviting lodge, and your cozy private cottage, makes for the perfect place to relax after a long day of travel. Whether you choose to spend the remainder of the day beside the swimming pool or reading in front of your suite’s wood-burning fire, the day will be spent entirely at your leisure. If feeling the desire to stretch your legs, the lodge also runs a two-hour guided walk around the coffee plantation, demonstrating the growing, harvesting and roasting processes.

Day 2: Drive From Arusha to the Plateau of the Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

This morning you will wake to the smell of fresh coffee, grown and roasted on the plantation grounds. After a breakfast of fresh fruit and pastries on the verandah, you will depart the lodge in a private vehicle on route to your next lodge, the Exploreans Ngorongoro Lodge. Located minutes away from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, this property will be the first of many spectacular accommodations on this trip.

Upon arrival, you will be greeted with a refreshing glass of hibiscus juice and a eucalyptus-scented towel. Refreshed, the lodge manager will show you to your luxury suite in a private cottage overlooking the stunning grounds. With a living room, bedroom, spacious en-suite bathroom and private terrace, this cottage will be a tiny home you will not want to leave. You will spend the afternoon on the grounds, lying by the pool and meandering around the expansive property. For those craving some pampering, a visit to the Mvua Spa may make for the perfect send off before you dive into the bush.

Enjoy a Mediterranean-inspired meal tonight either in the Acacia Restaurant or privately in your cottage. As the evening temperatures drop, retire to your cozy suite in front of the wood burning fireplace. Enjoy a final glass of wine before snuggling into your bed with the provided hot water bottle.

Day 3: Descend into the Ngorongoro Crater in Search of Lions, Leopards and Rhinoceros

This morning you will rise early for a breakfast buffet before driving a half hour to the gates of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in an enclosed vehicle with a pop-up top. Over the course of today’s full day safari, you will explore the prehistoric looking landscape of this collapsed volcano. You will first descend the rainforested slopes of the crater wall, dropping a total of 610 meters to the grassy floor with a central watering hole. The wildlife in this region is truly prolific. The crater acts as a natural enclosure for many species, leading to a dense and permanent lion population that hungrily stalks the resident ungulates. Be sure to keep your eyes open today for the handful of black rhinoceros that have been rehabilitated into the region in an effort to restore this endangered population. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the crater floor near Lake Magadi while the wildlife roams freely around you.

In the afternoon, you will climb back up to the plateau where you will catch an impressive view of Mount Meru, Tanzania’s ninth highest peak. You will circle the lakes in these highlands that burst with pink flamingos and pelicans, before returning to the crater ledge for a breath taking view of the floor at sunset, with a cocktail in hand. Returning to the lodge as temperatures drop and stars emerge, you will enjoy a locally inspired meal before retiring back to the warmth of your personal fireplace.

Day 4: Fly From Ngorongoro to the Northern Serengeti

This morning you will rise for a final breakfast filled with fresh local fruit before traveling to the nearby airstrip. Here, you will board a private flight that will carry you to the Northern Serengeti and the spectacular Sayari Camp. As you descend into this remote northern corner of the famed game reserve, you will be struck by the exclusivity of the region and the prolific wildlife. It is not uncommon for giraffes and gazelles to line the landing strip of this bush runway, watching curiously as the plane lands. Your guide or lodge manager will meet you with a private safari vehicle, and will then transfer you to the exclusive and luxurious Sayari Camp. The property is located steps away from the Kenyan border, on the edge of the famed Mara River. In spite of being in the extremely popular Serengeti, this camp’s remote location enables guests near exclusivity in this ultimate game viewing region.

Here you will be ushered into your private canvas tent, complete with hard wood floors, a full en-suite and a luxurious porch. Slip into a bubble bath overlooking the plains below as you unwind from the flight, before moving to your verandah with a good book. Keep a watchful eye on the surrounding savannah since elephants often pop by for a visit and a drink from the main lodge’s pool.  

Day 5: Explore the Serengeti on Two Game Drives in Search of the Great Wildebeest Migration

The coming days will revolve entirely around explorations into this majestic wilderness. You will develop a familiar rhythm of waking early to tea and coffee before embarking into the bush in search of intimate wildlife encounters. Evenings will be spent round a fire with a glass of South African wine in hand, swapping stories with guests and guides about the wonders of the day, and the bush more broadly.

Today you will likely set out on two game drives, with some of Tanzania’s most qualified rangers –though every day is entirely customizable. A first stop will be the banks of the Mara River where, if your timing is right, you will see dozens of wildebeest plunge themselves through these crocodile-infested waters in hopes of landing on greener pastures. Spend the morning driving the banks of these rivers, bumping into the prolific wildlife that descends to the shore for a drink. Leopards and lions often escort the migration, keeping hungry eyes on the migrators, while elephants and giraffe look onwards. As the sun climbs high in the sky, you will return to the shade of the camp where you can disappear into a favorite book beside the pool, or flip through one of the many coffee table books in the private library.

As the afternoon cools, set out with your ranger towards the Lamai Wedge, the strip of land between the Mara River and the Kenyan border. This game-rich area is one of the few places where off-road driving is permitted, adding a little extra adventure to this afternoon’s drive. Stop here as the sun sets behind the beautiful Wogakurai Kopjie – a granite outcropping in the plains – for a cocktail before returning to the camp for dinner, a fire, and a few more intriguing conversations.

 Day 6: Get Out of the Vehicle and Explore the Serengeti on Foot with a Knowledgeable Ranger

This morning, rise early to make it to the banks of the Mara in time for a sunrise picnic complete with a checkered blanket, fresh fruit and of course, a sea of migrating wildebeest. From here, you may wish to stretch your legs on a guided game walk with one of the rangers. On foot, you receive an unprecedented level of intimacy with your surroundings. Senses are heightened as you track the footprints of leopards and the smells of elephant, while learning more about the smaller insects, birds and reptiles that make this park thrive. Rangers live in the bush year round, and will be able to share with you knowledge about the local plants and their alternative uses. Armed guides will of course ensure maximum safety throughout this walk.

In the afternoon, you might enjoy spending time with the semi-nomadic and ancient Kuria tribe in Merunga Village, where you can learn of their culture, traditions and agricultural practices. No matter what your preferences, Sayari will perfectly customize your days to your individual desires – always leaving room to visit the spa or lounge by the pool, awaiting the arrival of an elephant or kudu.

In the evening, you will return to the camp with perhaps enough time to squeeze in a sunset massage, or simply a sundowner cocktail while observing a pod of hippos. Enjoy an impressive bush dinner under the stars with the lodge, before spending a few final moments fireside. Fall asleep tonight as the grunts and roars of the bush work themselves into your dreams.

Day 7: Transfer by Air to the Kenyan Border Before Driving to Rekero Camp in the Masai Mara

This morning you will rise for a final breakfast at Sayari Camp before transferring by air to the Kenyan border (this transfer only happens between July and October. Other times of the year they will need to fly back through Kilimanjaro and Nairobi). From the border, it will be a short drive to Rekero Tented Camp in the Masai Mara. Rekero is under the same ownership as Sayari Camp and promises to be another spectacular and luxurious experience in the bush. As you approach the property, be sure to keep an eye out for the Brigadier, an elderly male buffalo who has guarded the entrance to this camp for much of his life. After passing by, you will be ushered in by members of the Beaton family, who have lived on this property since the early 1900s. Captain Duncan Beacon (1864 – 1943) was an early Scottish explorer who followed in the footsteps of David Livingstone. Beacon’s children and grandchildren were raised on the property, and they have become pioneers in conservation and tourism, eventually developing the vision for Rekero in the late 1990s. Third generation Beacons now manage the property. They take considerable time and care to share their passions with every guest, welcoming them into the family for the duration of their stay.

Like  Sayari, you will again stay in a stunning canvas tent that defines barefoot luxury in the bush. Perched on top of a river, the camp property frequently draws baboons and elephants beside your tent while other ungulates watch from afar. Décor and meals are inspired by the Masai warriors that staff the camp, with plenty of opportunities to learn about the intricacies of these fascinating people. Life here follows the same laidback rhythm, with days designed at your leisure and plenty of chats and glasses of wine around a fire under the starry night sky.

Day 8: Drive Across the Famed Plains of the Masai Mara, Stopping by to Visit the Village of Your Guide

This morning you will rise early to catch the Mara while it is most active and most beautiful, in the early morning light. A hot coffee or tea will be brought to your tent, to help coax you awake before embarking on your first game drive with an expert guide. As you drive out across the infinite and mesmerizing plains of the Mara, you will begin another search for the impressive members of the ‘Big Five’: elephant, leopard, lion, buffalo and rhinoceros. As you happen upon these notorious creatures, you will have the opportunity to observe them interacting with the surrounding herbivores and environment. Again, these guides live nearly year round in this bush, enabling them to know the creatures intimately. Keep an eye out for the humungous male lions, ironically named Lipstick and Blondie, who are long standing residents within the region.

Returning to the camp for the hottest hours, take time to unwind in the shade. In the afternoon, it might be interesting to travel with your guide or a lodge staff member to visit a local Masai village. Through a visit into an authentic Masai boma (homestead), you will gain insight into this brightly colored culture that has thrived as semi-nomadic pastoralists for centuries. Whether you spend your time admiring their intricate beadwork, or learning some of their hunting and tracking techniques, time spent in the village will help you see this remarkable landscape from their perspective.

Tonight, gather in the dining tent for an outstanding dinner inspired by the local cuisine. In spite of this being your eighth night in the bush, we are sure you will still be amazed by what these kitchens are able to create with such minimal supplies. Spend some time round the fire with your charismatic hosts, before retiring to your tent.

Day 9: Search For the Elusive Big Five

This morning you will set out for your final day moving across these expansive plains. At this point, you will undoubtedly understand how this region has come to inspire authors, filmmakers and painters alike. The untouched exclusivity of the territory you explored will have given you a glimpse of the land that inspired Duncan Beacon as he first arrived, and has continue to drive the work of environmentalists and conservationists in the years following. As you tour the savannah that acted as the backdrop for Out of Africa, do your best to soak in the final moments in the “Jewel of Africa.” Take time to observe the landscape through the perspective of the Masai, imagining how they may set out in search of water for cattle, or for a ceremonial walkabout. Under the guidance of your guide, you will once more seek out favorite animals in addition to scouring the landscape for those that remain hidden.

As the sun sets over the savannah, listen to the birdcalls of the 500 resident species, and test your guide’s ability to identify each one. We promise you will be impressed. Return to a favorite lookout point, or explore one final new corner of the Mara, where you will have one final sundowner as the theatrical sky lights up with the sunset. Tonight you may wish to enjoy another delicious candlelit dinner, before joining around the fire. Taking a hot bucket shower under the uninterrupted starry night sky will be the perfect way to conclude your week in the bush.

Day 10: Return to Nairobi by Air in Time for Your International Flight Home

Today you will have a final breakfast, perhaps as a picnic on the banks of the Talek River, before packing your belongings and boarding a chartered flight to Nairobi. You will return in time for your scheduled international flight from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – or, perhaps for a custom designed trip extension (see the reviews for Africa luxury tours for ideas). Every Zicasso tour is completely individualized, and many of our guests opt to add a few days lazing on the shores of the aquamarine Indian Ocean before reluctantly returning home. 

Price

Starting Price 

$4,495
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.