Serengeti Luxury Safari with Expert Guides & Deluxe Camps

A 10 day trip to Tanzania 
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Go beyond the traditional Tanzanian experience with this unique private safari. Experience some of the greatest wildlife and landscapes on the planet, like those at the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. Then discover the breathtaking Loliondo Game Reserve, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire National Park. With deluxe camps and expert guides, this is the private safari adventure of a lifetime. 

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Arusha, Serengeti, Loliondo Reserve, Olduvai Gorge, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Karatu, Tarangire National Park, Great Rift Valley

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Arrival in Arusha

You'll be met at Kilimanjaro International Airport and transferred to a quiet lodge on the outskirts of Arusha. Set on the grounds of a former coffee plantation, the Mountain Village's tranquility is perfect for recovering from a long flight. While the lodge has all the comforts of home, a bushbaby calling from the tree indicates that you've arrived somewhere exotic. Large verdant gardens further increase the serenity, while sumptuous meals offer the perfect start to your vacation.

Day 2: Flight Into the Serengeti and Half-Day Game Drive

Covering 5,700 square miles of open grassland, the Serengeti fully reflects its indigenous name. To the Maasai it is “Siringet,” or “where the land runs on forever.” The vast scale is difficult to appreciate from the ground. Even from the air the sheer size defies your eyes. After passing over the Great Rift Valley, your flight from Arusha will head over these expansive plains, before landing deep within the park's unique ecosystem. From above, it's sometimes possible to make out the huge herds, the grass dotted black by the almost two million wildebeest and zebra that form the Great Migration.

Upon landing you'll head straight for the safari vehicle and take the first of many unforgettable game drives. On the flight you'll have seen the Serengeti's size and beauty. On a game drive you'll start to experience the detail. A small herd of elephants roam along the track, a baby struggling to keep pace with the rest. Impala and waterbuck tentatively feed on the grass, their eyes and ears on full alert. They look startled, and closer inspection reveals a leopard that's dipped its neck beneath the landscape. And this could all be in the first ten minutes of the game drive. This itinerary is based on typical conditions for May to October and experiencing the true wonders of the Great Migration. Pictures and text can't do justice to its sheer scale. Two million mammals packed together is a sight that will never be forgotten. It almost looks like a photo. But look closer and you can pick out individual animals and interactions. Look closer still and a lion attacks from nowhere.

Every day in the Serengeti is filled with wildlife and the long list of viewable mammals easily stretches onto a few pages. It's a landscape defined by abundance. Lush grass brings a colorful collection of herbivores, from the proud horns of a hartebeest to the graceful skipping of Thompson's gazelle. They might look to be grazing alone. But throngs of predators are nearby. Lion prides are easiest to spot as they will happily lounge in the open. Yet there is always a meal left for the crocodiles, hyenas, cheetahs, and leopards. And let's not disregard the Serengeti's other residents, the often forgotten giraffes, warthogs, and hippos. This first game drive will ignite the imagination, bringing you close to most of the park's resident cast. Then as the sun sets, enjoy a cocktail by the campfire and a delicious meal at the Buffalo Luxury Camp.

What’s Included: Accommodation at Buffalo Luxury Camp, half-day game drive

Day 3: Serengeti Game Drive and Maasai Village Experience

In the hushed light of dawn the Serengeti is at its most active. The big cats are out hunting, herbivores are on full alert, and there's an eerie silence that accompanies the morning mist. Waking early, you'll head off on a morning safari, your guide using up to date information about where the best wildlife viewing will be. That could be enjoying a picnic breakfast beside hippo pools, or discovering a pride of lions congregated around a recent kill. Like all game drives in the Serengeti, every moment will offer a new sight. Which will it be on this drive? Perhaps you’ll witness an unforgettable herd of wildebeest kicking up dust, their rumbling hooves echoing through the landscape, or a cheetah vigilantly sitting on a raised rock, surveying the kingdom before deciding where to hunt.

The Buffalo Luxury Camp is located in the Loliondo Reserve, a private concession that borders the Serengeti National Park. There are no fences or barriers here, so the wildlife roams free across the landscape. However, staying in Loliondo Reserve opens up the possibility for new safari experiences. You'll be warmly greeted at a local Maasai village and given insight into the ancient traditions of these indigenous people. How do you define a man's wealth? To the Maasai, it's a combination of how many cattle and how many children he has. Living in this environment requires an intimate knowledge of animal behavior. A young Maasai warrior will reveal his tricks as he takes you on a walking safari across the open savannah. This easy two hour hike is a thrilling experience, with most turns dictated by the often unseen clues. An upturned stone, a trodden area of grass, dry animal droppings; the clues are everywhere and the Maasai's rare tracking ability helps provide an exhilarating yet safe experience. If you're lucky, your guides will be able to take you to a pack of rare wild dogs that live in the vicinity.

Like all the tented accommodation on this itinerary, the Buffalo Luxury Camp offers a level of comfort that exceeds what most people would expect in the bush. Full size beds and hotel quality linen offer a perfect night's sleep. That's if you're not interrupted by nearby roaring lions. A surreal sky full of stars and nightly campfires add some additional charm, while the sporadic sounds of the Serengeti often provide a memorable morning alarm call.

What’s Included: Accommodation at Buffalo Luxury Camp, half-day game drive, two hour walking safari

Day 4: Full-Day Game Drive in the Serengeti

Only on a full-day game drive is it possible to take in the immense beauty of the Serengeti. Today you'll be heading south, traversing the endless plains and an epic wilderness that never seems to end. While the largest herds of the migration may be left behind, the Serengeti's resident cast never fails to amaze. Rocky outcroppings called “kopjes” are where lions rest during the day. Hippos throw their weight around the swamps, testing their strength and looking to challenge the alpha male. Is that a waterbuck? Maybe it’s a topi or a kudu? As you spend more time on safari you'll learn to distinguish the different antelope varieties. They're all easily spotted, especially when their frames juxtapose against this epic landscape. You'll end the day at Serengeti Sopa Lodge, located in southwestern Serengeti on the Niariboro Hills.

What’s Included: Accommodation at Serengeti Sopa Lodage, full day game drive

Day 5: Walking in Olduvai Gorge and Game Drive in Ngorongoro Crater

Enjoy your final experience in the Serengeti as you drive out of the park, taking in the plains one last time. Now it's time to walk in the footsteps of history as you take a dirt trail through Olduvai Gorge. Humanoid fossils and early stone tools indicate that this gorge had an integral role in human evolution. Artifacts date back almost two million years and they're still being discovered. Exploring this cradle of humanity is a mystical, almost surreal, experience. It's an easy one to two hour hike.

Continuing the safari experience you'll head into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Make sure you keep the safari truck’s windows closed at the entrance gate; cheeky baboons regularly jump through windows and ransack packed lunches. While the conservation area covers a similar size to the Serengeti, the action in Ngorongoro is centered on an inactive volcano floor. Gaze down on the crater from the Sopa Lodge, enjoying afternoon tea before you descend into this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ngorongoro Crater offers a phenomenal concentration of wildlife. Six distinct habitats attract their own variety of animals, while the steep crater walls keep all the action within a single 360º sweep of the eyes.

The Ngorongoro Crater offers the Big Five, often all on a single game drive. Leopard, lion, elephant, and buffalo, should all be familiar after your time in the Serengeti. Ngorongoro's resident Black rhinos complete the set. And while there aren't huge elephant herds, this is the best place to spot the largest bull elephants. Despite their size, these older males have been cast out from the herd, and Ngorongoro Crater has turned into a bit of an elephant retirement sanctuary. Enjoy an afternoon game drive before relaxing in the privacy of Serengeti Sopa Lodge, on the eastern rim of the crater.

What’s Included: Accommodation at Serengeti Sopa Lodge, hike in Olduvai Gorge, game drive

Day 6: Full-Day Game Drive in Ngorongoro Crater

In Ngorongoro Crater the wildlife is so plentiful it's difficult to know which way to look. Sometimes the whole safari truck is gazing in a different direction, each person taking in a new sight. Sometimes the sheer abundance and diversity can be overwhelming. A full-day game drive helps you take things a little slower and appreciate everything that's on offer. In the early morning a blanket of mist often rises from the crater floor. Beneath it there are authentic hunting scenes, like a lion pride returning from a dawn attack on an unsuspecting zebra. As the sun burns through the cloud Ngorongoro reveals itself, the different ecosystems all ready for exploration.

So where to start? Head into the acacia forest, following great trails of uprooted branches, to seek out the lone elephant bulls. Take a break and enjoy a silence that's only interrupted by a beautiful giant feeding on the trees. Now the swamps entertain you. Hippos might look cuddly but their bulky frames aren't to be messed with. Some wade around the embankments, others refuse to lift anything but their snouts from the water. Short and long grasslands bring an assorted cast; first a pair of comical warthogs, one chasing the other with his long tusks, now a gazelle herd which seem startled but can't decide which way to run. But your attention has already been taken by the rhinos that approach the truck. Only impala and giraffe don't feature in this primitive landscape, and as the day draws on, you're filled with an encompassing sense of being in a world that hasn't changed for millions of years. Relive it all that evening around a crackling fire at Serengeti Sopa Lodge.

What’s Included: Accommodation at Serengeti Sopa Lodge, game drive

Day 7: Game Drive Through Lake Manyara

After the previous five days you could be forgiven for thinking you've seen it all. But this itinerary keeps delivering new experiences. Entering the Great Rift Valley you'll head towards the brilliantly pink Lake Manyara. A cacophony of birdsong welcomes you to Lake Manyara, hornbills leading a deafening chorus that help give the surrounding forest a mysterious feel. Dense trees make wildlife harder to spot. However, turn a corner and an elephant is within touching distance; turn another and gaze upwards to three giraffes. In the forest it's possible to get extremely close to everything, including baboons and tree-climbing lions.

Do lions really climb trees? Well, not in most of Africa. In Lake Manyara they've adapted to the ecosystem, stealthily lounging on high branches before pouncing on anything below. It takes a good set of eyes to spot them. Often it's their tail that gives them away, swinging like a metronome beneath the branch. Half camouflaged, they sleep with one eye open, always spotting you before you find them in the tree. When the forest rescinds, the lake expands and countless pink flamingos reveal the truth behind the lake's color. Hippos wade, gazelles sip tentatively by the shore, and you enjoy lunch at a viewpoint overlooking the lake. At first the lake might appear quiet. But by the time you finish lunch a whole procession of thirsty mammals will have slowly approached the water. And countless bird species will have stopped in the treetops to admire you. In the late afternoon, continue on to Karatu, and to your comfortable accommodation at Bougainvillea Lodge.

What’s Included: Accommodation at Bougainvillea Lodge, half day game drive in Lake Manyara

Day 8: Full-Day Game Drive in Tarangire National Park

Heading further south, the great Tarangire River begins to dominate the landscape. During the wet season it runs wild. In the dry season, animals know where to dig for underground streams in the parched riverbed. Like so many places, life here revolves around water, and you'll have the box seat at Swala Camp, overlooking the Gursi Swamp. Wildlife migrates for hundreds of miles, homing in on this swamp and providing spectacular game-viewing from the camp's verandahs. After the sun has slowly descended into the horizon, and the sky has turned unimaginable colors, the telltale shapes of wildlife drinking from the swamp continue into the night. Sometimes the animals get closer. In the depth of the night a nearby rustle suggests something is inspecting the camp. A delicious dinner is briefly interrupted as you watch an elephant roam past camp. Staff rangers escort you and keep an eye on anything that gets too close.

But before an evening admiring the Gursi Swamp, there is a full day in Tarangire to enjoy. Distinctive baobab trees dot the landscape, their prehistoric looking shape sneaking their way into most photos. Some rise, tall and true, their immense trunks keeping their leaves out of most animals’ reach. Others expand and flourish, standing proud amidst the grass and refusing to be uprooted by elephants. Giant herds of elephants, often 300 strong, roam through Tarangire. It's elephants that are the kings of this environment. Watch one-week old babies making their first trek. Laugh at youngsters playing in the water. Then laugh some more as they chase warthogs and impala away from the river. When different herds approach a waterhole there is a brief standoff, each considering their options. Will one herd maintain their position and ensure everyone has a drink? Or will they succumb to the other herd's size? It's these unique interactions that make Tarangire an unforgettable stop.

What’s Included: Accommodation at Swala Camp, full day game drive in Tarangire National Park

Day 9: Another Full Day in Tarangire National Park

Your final day of safari explores the vast wilderness of Tarangire. By now, everyone will have seen their favorite animals. It could be the majestic giraffe, the silent giants offering grace and beauty. Perhaps it's the zebras, or the playful power of elephant herds. For many it's the lions or other big cats. They gaze down from the sun-baked kopjes, quietly planning what's going to be for dinner. Keep the pen handy as Tarangire features some rare mammals that won't have been ticked off the list yet. Diminutive dik dik are easily missed in the grass, particularly because they're only 30 centimeters high. Yet their cuteness always draws admiring smiles. Rock hyraxes sniff and scurry around, while gerenuks suddenly rise above the grass, standing on their hind legs, reaching for leaves with their bizarrely long necks. Savor your last day on safari and spend the evening around a roaring fire, toasting to the wonders of Tanzania, and enjoying the animal world for one last evening.

What’s Included: Accommodation, full day game drive in Tarangire National Park

Day 10: Departure from Arusha and Some New Tanzanian Sights

Today you'll slowly leave the wilderness behind and return to civilization. En route to Arusha you'll have the chance to stop at an artisan's market. This is a perfect opportunity to purchase locally produced handicrafts and curios including batik fabric, Maasai blankets, wood carvings, and tanzanite. You'll have day-use of a room at the tranquil KIA Lodge, before being transferred to Arusha International Airport for your flight home.

What’s Included: Transfer, day-use of KIA Lodge

You may want to consider adding on to your trip.  Be sure to see the reviews for Tanzania luxury vacations.

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.