Serengeti and Off the Beaten Track Tanzania Safari

A 12 day trip to Tanzania 
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Western Tanzania is where inaccessible parks provide a complete sense of wilderness. A safari experience that is far from the tourist norm, you will track chimpanzees and ride horses on wildebeest-dappled plains and then settle in opulent lodges that overlook Africa's biggest buffalo herds. Combined with the iconic Serengeti, this safari provides a luxurious journey through the rarest of wildlife highlights to reveal Tanzania's untouched natural bounty. 

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Serengeti National Park, Grumeti Game Reserve, Gombe National Park, Katavi National Park

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Serengeti – Admiring the Endless Grass Plains

Your light aircraft will swoop into the Serengeti as wildebeest roam beneath the wingtips as you descend onto a remote airstrip. The panoramas are mystical as the grassland extends beyond the horizon in every direction. In one sense, every angle is the same, yet nothing is ever the same in the Serengeti as the plains change every moment of the day. Gaze out as the elephant and giraffe grace the horizon; another angle, and there are wildebeest on the move that canter along with a spray of dust. Twist around, and a sporadic clump of rocks appear to be a perfect lion base.

After landing at Kilimanjaro International Airport, transfer to a light aircraft for the flight into the Serengeti. Touch down and a spectacular game drive transfer will take you across the plains to reveal the iconic appeal of the landscape. It often takes the better part of a day to get your head around the scale of it all as the panoramas always flicker with subtle changes. Today is a flexible safari day, with a chance to relax at your luxury camp and explore at your leisure. While game drives take you closer, just being at the camp to gaze across the plains can be a wonderful safari introduction. Like every day on the itinerary, all meals and selected drinks are included.

What's Included: accommodation, micro flight, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 2: Serengeti – Surrounded by Wildebeest and Predators

Journey deep into the panorama to watch the wildlife come alive as you seek out the redolent scenes. From a distance, the plains are covered in a patchwork of black, but as you get closer, the individual wildebeest and zebra reveal themselves as thousands upon thousands of them graze on the plains. Even when you are not witnessing the great wildebeest migration, there is always an astonishing abundance of these ungulates in the Serengeti. With the prey comes the predators, a dizzying array of big cats that protect their realm within the landscape. Today's game drives are focused on these fabled hunters.

Lions don't have the stamina to follow the migration so as you journey through; you will see a variety of pride as lionesses stalk Thompson's gazelle and the young bachelor males are covered in scars, their flowing orange manes juxtaposed with playful cubs. Nearby, you will spot leopards draped across the tree branches with a tail swishing languidly through the day. A cheetah occupies the grass before it wanders to perch elegantly above the plains. Hyenas are always around to track the herds and provide fearsome scenes. Then there are jackals imbued with braveness, plus the vultures and eagles that constantly swoop around. A day in the Serengeti is about all of these predators and a chance to get close to the most revered sights of an African safari.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Serengeti – Hot Air Balloon Above the Iconic Herds

This morning you will soar as your hot air balloon floats across the Serengeti at sunrise. The sun tints the plains a soft orange which helps the wildebeest and zebra stand out as you view them from the air. From a hot air balloon, capture the migratory patterns as the herds are never just on the move, but constantly grazing as they pick the long route north. Sporadic clumps of rock grace the landscape while your view of the elephant and giraffe remains easy from up here. It's an iconic Tanzanian experience as the hot air balloon takes you softly across the plains of the Serengeti. After landing, enjoy a second breakfast before further Serengeti game drives continue throughout the rest of the day with another opportunity to get close to the predators.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 4 – 5: Grumeti Game Reserve – Horse Riding and Walking Safari in the Serengeti

A game drive takes you west and along the banks of the Grumeti River as the antelope drink with an expression of fear. Water isn't particularly abundant in the Serengeti, so permanent rivers are a hive of activity. The Grumeti Reserve is a private concession that's an integral piece of the Serengeti ecosystem. No fences exist here, so all the predators and herds can freely roam into the landscape. Grumeti is one of Africa's most unashamedly exclusive safari destinations, a piece of the Serengeti that's reserved for just a handful of guests. A safari here opens up the angles as you swap four wheels for two legs or four hooves.

The itinerary here is flexible, but the recommendation is to experience the thrills of a horse riding and walking safari. On horseback, you can approach the herds as you canter towards the zebra and roam amongst the plethora of wildebeest. You will hear their thuds as a thousand hooves rumble along. You will join their drumbeat and become a part of the herd on one of Africa's most exclusive safari experiences. To maintain safety, how close you get is dependent on your riding ability. Beginners can still approach and see the animals from horseback, but confident riders have a good chance of galloping with them.

On a walking safari you are small; a silent spec on a large landscape, something that very few animals are fearful of which opens your options. This lack of their fear is your great advantage as you explore on foot as nothing runs away, and no animals change their behavior. Instead, most animals become inquisitive and wonder who these unusual two-legged mammals are? Local trackers keep you safe as they inspect for wildlife clues and steer clear of any predators. Giraffe and buffalo can be seen from close quarters, along with elephants on some walks and usually more of the four-legged ungulates, the beautiful characters that grace the Serengeti and provide continued moments of enchantment. Grumeti is one of the very few places in the Serengeti where this experience is possible.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Gombe National Park – Discovering the Thick Woodland of Western Tanzania

Lake Tanganyika provides the visual treat as you descend into Gombe National Park, its waters spill towards the distant forests of the Congo. As you arrive, you can sense the primitive grandeur as such a vast landscape is unscarred by modern development. Land in the middle of the afternoon and the rest of the day is at your leisure to give you a chance to relax beneath the forest canopy and watch the monkeys swing past. Bashful colobus monkeys stick to the high branches as their beautiful tails hang down from afar. Vervets get closer to look mischievously for an open window, self-assured as they move in large troops. Then the Sykes monkeys come past with their elongated tails curling above vibrant red fur. These are just the start as the Gombe is one of the best places in East Africa to see such an array of wild primates in their natural habitat.

What's Included: accommodation, micro flight, transfer, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 7 – 8: Gombe National Park – Intimate Chimpanzee Tracking Safari

Wild chimpanzee troops roam through the Gombe woodland as you head out beneath the canopy as your trackers slice through the undergrowth with a machete. It's lush and thick, and your route is guided by sound and smell as much as by your sight. It may take 20 minutes to find the chimps, or it could take two hours. But the walk is always worth it with a chance to explore the dense forest that's been unchanged for millions of years. Your trackers will lead the way, and your camera is ready as a small chimpanzee moves effortlessly across a nearby tree. Keep walking for just a few more steps and a whole troop will emerge as they are feasting, picking from the trees and eating without care of your presence.

The comparisons are remarkable as chimpanzees are the closest mammals to humans, and you do not need to be a scientist to notice the parallels. Their hands are spine-tinglingly real, as are their feet, even if the primates have retained an ability to curl them for climbing. Eyes are loaded with expression and emotion is etched into every movement. Interaction is inevitable as you look a chimpanzee in the eye, and you'll get a response. Approach a troop, and you will see how they inspect you as much as you inspect them.

Gombe is dotted with these wild chimpanzee troop to provide breathtaking experiences in the depths of the woodland. Recently, researchers have managed to habituate some of these troops, meaning they're very accepting of human presence, and you can spend up to an hour with a single troop. Sometimes the chimpanzee swings around, and you're surrounded by them. On both these days, enjoy focused chimpanzee tracking safaris, where you will also be likely to encounter a variety of other primates that inhabit these atmospheric woodlands.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9: Katavi National Park – Untouched Wilderness of Western Tanzania

Your visibility will return as the woodland cascades into open plains as you explore another iconic grassland savannah landscape. Katavi is at the end of a very long and bumpy road through Tanzania, so it's only really visited by those on a fly-in safari. Inaccessibility creates exclusivity, and the wilderness remains mostly unexplored by tourism. Touch down and an afternoon game drive will introduce you to the world of big mammals again as elephants and giraffe grace the sporadically-spread trees. Big cats are also abundant as they prey on a myriad of antelopes that must eventually come to the water. Like each day on the itinerary, the luxurious accommodation provides a base to watch all the wildlife roam past. Sometimes you will not even need to move from your bed to enjoy revered safari sights.

What's Included: accommodation, micro flight, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 10 – 11: Katavi National Park – An Exclusive and Escapist Safari in Katavi

Katavi's buffalo are legendary. Just try and imagine one buffalo, a one-ton beast with rugged black fur and Herculean horns. Now try and picture 15 or 20, all clumped together as they huff and chew as they return your stare. Now imagine a thousand of them, and it’s a baffling sight, unbelievable to the eye regardless of how many times you see it. Katavi is home to Africa's largest buffalo herds, some of them known to contain over a thousand individuals. Hear them march with a bass drum of sound that echoes across the savannah. Some mornings you will hear them graze and chomp noisily outside your room. Other times you watch them clash as big males bump horns as huge flumes of dust swirl into the air. And then there is the stampede, the power, and beauty of such huge herds galloping as one.

They are not the only giants as a bounty of hippos fill the Katavi ecosystem to provide outstanding opportunities to see them out of the water. As dusk descends, their silhouettes are a constant accompaniment to the evening. Like the buffalo, their grunting keeps your senses open. Elephants, giraffe, lions are present, as Katavi has the great array of life. It's not on the same scale as the Serengeti, but for your final safari days, you will enjoy the escapism and exclusivity that provides a peaceful conclusion to the itinerary. Rather than going in search of all the wildlife, it's easy to sit back and watch it all come rumbling past.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 12: Katavi National Park to Dar es Salaam – Departure

From the remote west, fly across the country on a micro flight that is likely to touch down in a couple of other safari destinations. These planes hop between parks, and rather than it being an inconvenience, there's the bonus of glimpsing the wild landscape of Tanzania's other safari destinations. You will disembark in Dar es Salaam where a representative helps you transfer to the international terminal and your departure flight.

What's Included: micro flight, transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$5,395
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.