Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Namiri Plains
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Mystical calls echo across the camps, herds maraud past the tents, and you’re captivated by all the magical details. Intimate and exclusive, this 11-day VIP safari unravels all the beauty and drama of Africa’s most famous destination. On a safari under a canvas, you become part of the Serengeti, immersed in its wild rhythm and enchanting nuance. Expect the ultimate luxury camping experience, enhanced further by privately guided game drives and decadent extras.
Ngorongoro Crater – On the Crater Rim
Tented camps blend into nature, becoming part of the environment. Their greatest advantage is their flexibility. Location isn’t restricted by practical matters and their relatively small size makes it possible to pitch almost anywhere – like in the middle of the great wildebeest migration. Your first camp has the most enviable of locations, perched on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater rim. You look out on one of Africa’s most famous vistas; then get interrupted by a marauding elephant bull or zebra herd. Wildlife doesn’t just occupy the crater floor, it moves seamlessly between the grasslands around the rim and the water on the crater floor. At the Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp, you’ll wake to the sound of grazing antelopes, and you’ll drift off to Nature’s orchestra.
Your international flight lands at Kilimanjaro International, where you’re greeted by a representative and assisted with the transfer to light aircraft. Soar across Tanzania and touch down just a few miles from the crater rim, at an airstrip inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This isn’t typical camping. En-suite bathrooms have hot showers, spacious tents have hairdryers and plug points, while comfortable sofas are ideally situated for enjoying the view. Think of it as a luxury hotel, just with canvas walls that bring all the sounds of the wild. The afternoon and evening is at your leisure and you can expect to encounter plenty of wildlife around the camp.
Ngorongoro Crater – Morning Game Drive
Ngorongoro Crater is best at sunrise. Lions are on the move, prowling in the shadows around a flamingo-filled lake. Male wildebeest are rutting, comically galloping in shows of virility. Black rhinos are out in the open, grazing happily before they retire to hideouts later in the morning. Some of Africa’s largest elephant bulls provide a contrast to the hundreds of buffalo and zebra, their tusks curling above the vehicle. Successful hunts play out virtually every morning and you’re the first to see them; sometimes it’s a pride tucking in to a meal, other times it’s the lionesses taking down their prey.
By 9 AM, it’s much quieter. The wildlife has settled down, the hunt has been and gone, and the heat is making everything lethargic. But those first three hours provide a magical safari experience. After 9 AM, Ngorongoro Crater is also filled with safari vehicles, as day-tripping visitors arrive from camps outside the conservation area. Your camp is just a couple of miles from the only road down into the crater, so you can be the very first visitor when the gates open at sunrise. You’re allowed six hours on the crater floor and the drive is usually punctuated by a stop for coffee by the hippo pools. Ascend back to the camp for lunch and a relaxing afternoon.
Serengeti – The Ultimate Luxury Camping
On a morning flight, you soar into the Serengeti, enjoying a first impression of the grasslands. It seems unending, the plains rippling out far beyond the horizon. Even from the plane, you can see the herds, the clumps of wildebeest and zebra that are going to inhabit almost all your vistas. Touch down and check out the opulence of your next property, arguably the most luxurious tented camp anywhere in Tanzania. Chandeliers, silverware, fluffy duvets, a huge tent that is as big as some city condos; there’s a soothing comfort and familiarity to the camp. You also get the supreme solitude and authenticity of nights on the plains at a camp that has only nine tented suites.
This mobile camp moves twice a year, so it’s always within range of the massive herds. It’s not completely mobile, but gets you in the most prolific wildlife areas. For the next five days, you enjoy privately guided game drives, with each excursion tailored to your interests. More pertinently, these private game drives respond to the developments on the plains. Find lionesses on the prowl and you stop the vehicle, sip on a flask of coffee, and watch the hunt for an hour. Track a zebra herd over three days and come to understand their behavior. Hear hyenas through the night and spend the morning discovering why they were so noisy. From here on in, it’s you and the Serengeti plains, an experience that always defies the imagination.
Serengeti – VIP Safari on the Serengeti Plains
Haunting calls float across the camp at sunrise. Follow the sounds and you find a stranded wildebeest; move specifically, you find a stranded dead wildebeest that’s been ravaged by eight hyenas. A herd of elephants keep their distance, avoiding the intensity of the scene. A few miles ahead, you find the rest of the wildebeest herd, a straggling group of around 200. They look devoid of energy, plodding without the enthusiasm seen in other herds. Perched on a rock, there’s a pride of lions, and you can already sense they’ve picked a target. It won’t be until late afternoon or evening before the hunt takes place, but on these open plains everyone seems everything.
Game drives in the Serengeti demand flexibility. You might find dozens of evocative scenes within a few miles of the camp, meaning it’s easy to return for a coffee or brunch before heading out on an afternoon drive. Yet you may follow the wildlife clues and cross great swathes of the plains. Nothing is static as the landscape evolves with the seasons and the days. Privately guided game drives also respond to your energy levels. When the world’s largest population of wild mammals surrounds you, a safari doesn’t need a fixed schedule. Relax, take your time, and allow yourself to slip into the rhythm of the plains.
Serengeti – Hot Air Balloon over the Serengeti
A hot air balloon safari is the only fixed part of your Serengeti schedule. On all the other days, you explore at leisure, tracking wildlife and absorbing the drama of the grasslands. The game drives are about all the details, from the tension in a frightened Thompson’s gazelle herd to the melancholy eyes of a giraffe. On a hot air balloon safari, you savor the scale, floating across the grasslands and trying to fathom the size of this ecosystem. You’ll see the herds; wildebeest are scattered across huge areas, while zebras huddle together in a tight formation. It’s a two-hour flight that’s followed by a champagne brunch and a continuation of the Serengeti safari-under-canvas experience.
Day 6 - 7
Serengeti – Tracking the Wildebeest Migration
The great wildebeest migration continues to confound researchers. Although this annual spectacle follows a similar pattern, every year is completely different. Around 1.5 million animals are on the move, mostly wildebeest that are closely followed by zebra. They don’t form one humongous herd, but migrate in clusters of large herds, usually at least 100,000 animals moving in unison. From December to March, the wildebeest raise their young on the nutrient-rich grass of the southeastern plains. Then they cross the Serengeti, arriving at the Mara River in July and August, where many make the treacherous crossing into the Masai Mara. Every cluster of herds takes a new path north, enabling them to feast upon fresh grass. If every animal went the same way, the migration wouldn’t be sustainable, as the herds must get fresh grass to graze on. Many sources talk about the migration coming up the Western Corridor, which is true in some respects, but only accounts for a fraction of the animals.
To really see the great wildebeest migration, you have to be in the heart of the herds. This is what a mobile-tented camp achieves, packing up every week or two, responding to the subtle changes in the spectacle. Understandably, this fully mobile camp isn’t quite as luxurious as the others on your safari. However, you’re still going to have wooden floors, raised beds, en-suite spacious tents with hot water (locals have devised ingenious ways for you to have a hot shower deep in the bush), and a glorious view of the migration. During these two days, you’re likely to spend a lot of time at the camp, sitting back on the comfy chairs and watching the herds fill the grasslands in front of you.
The sounds are astonishing. Wildebeest hooves provide continual percussion, anxious zebra create a haunting treble, while sonorous lion roars pierce the stillness of the air. With a safari under canvas, you have a 24-hour soundtrack. Often you hear something in your sleep and must wait until morning to ask the Masai warrior guards about who was grazing just outside the tent. Although everything is unfenced, and this is prime big cat country, don’t worry about safety. Masai warriors keep a lookout, just like they have done for thousands of years. Keeping the fire burning and crackling, they listen to the sounds and ward off any unwanted visitors. It sounds like a scary job, but it’s an integral part of a Masai being a warrior.
Being amongst the migration brings thrilling moments. Watch as leopards disappear into the grass and pounce on a wildebeest calf, the body hanging limply between powerful jaws as the spotted cat disappears. Find young male lions and hyenas locked in battle, attempting to steal each other’s meal. Watch the dust spiral as cheetahs hunt Thomson’s gazelle. Get close enough to see black and white limbs torn from deceased bodies. Smell the blood and find a rotting carcass consumed by vultures. Many safaris daydreams are about seeing the big cats on a hunt. With the great wildebeest migration, you’re likely to see all the different stages of a hunt, from the first patient steps to the final piece of a body.
Namiri Plains (Serengeti) – Safari in Private Concession
Completing this VIP safari under canvas is Africa’s most exciting new safari destination. The Namiri Plains share unfenced borders with the Serengeti National Park’s eastern boundary. It’s an integral part of the ecosystem, although you’ll find that the woodland is denser on this side, attracting a slightly more diverse collection of animals. For many decades, this area was exclusively set-aside as a wildlife research zone, meaning visitors were not allowed to enter (foreign visitors and locals alike). Animals aren’t used to vehicles or visitors here. They respond with curiosity and you get to appreciate how wild and untouched these plains can be. The Namiri Plains are now the custodian of a single tented camp with just ten luxurious-appointed suites; there isn’t another camp within an hour’s drive and you won’t see other safari vehicles here.
The game drives aren’t privately guided here but they are enhanced by the knowledgeable big cat researchers. Cheetah and leopard behavior is still being analyzed and taking a safari with such knowledgeable researchers helps to further unravel the Serengeti’s nuances. Morning and afternoon drives stay within the private concession and the researchers have an intimate knowledge of where each cat likes to hide. Not just where the leopards hide out. But where a specific female with two cubs resides. Or where a pride of bachelor male lions scavenges for food. Or how an old male cheetah is struggling to protect his realm from a younger rival. Combined with the concession’s exclusivity, this knowledge is making Namiri Plains Africa’s most exciting new destination in years.
Namiri Plains (Serengeti) – Walking Safaris
A further twist in the safari trail comes on a walking safari. This is the home of all the apex predators but with Masai warrior guides, you can walk safely across the famous plains. Avoiding the cats, guides take you across open grassland that’s teeming with life. Now you’re really just another mammal on the plains. Zebra herds stop and stare, inspecting their unusual visitors. Excitable male wildebeest get closer, gazelles skip in front of you, and buffalo herds graze within astonishing proximity. For many generations, the Masai have had to herd their cattle in this big cat environment, so they know exactly how to plot a safe route. At Namiri Plains, there are walking safaris every morning and afternoon, so for these three days you’ll be able to plan a personal program of activities. It’s highly recommended to try at least one walk.
Namiri Plains (Serengeti) – Safari With Big Cat Researchers
A final day in the Serengeti, and you’re still captivated by the details. New sounds float into the tent, expansive views never seem to end, and there’s a wonderful sense of tranquility that accompanies the safari adventure. If you’re looking to escape, it’s hard to get more remote and intimate that a safari under canvas. On this final day, you enjoy game drives and walking safaris, taking in the last impressions of big cats, large herds, wandering nomads, and exotic treasures. As with all days on the safari, you can expect quality food and drinks to accompany the experience; dining beneath the stars as elephants wander past is a very special experience.
Namiri Plains – Departure
After a relaxed morning, it’s a two-hour game drive back into Serengeti National Park, where you board a light aircraft bound for Kilimanjaro International Airport. Here you transfer to your outbound flight.
- Treat yourself to the ultimate luxury camping, with tented suites complete with a private butler, fluffy duvets, chandeliers and silverware
- Privately-guided game drives reveal all the famous Serengeti scenes, especially the big cats chasing prey across the plains
- Seven days on Serengeti safari unravels all the subtleties of the ecosystem, from unique animals to tense scenes at the waterhole
- Be captivated by the drama of the great wildebeest migration by staying in a mobile camp that tracks the herds
- Soar above the Serengeti plains in a hot air balloon, admiring the patchwork of grasslands and migrating animals
- Open all your senses to the wild and let the great wildebeest migration sing you an evening lullaby
- Uncover an exclusive piece of the Serengeti with three days in the Namiri Plains, a private concession that’s only recently been opened to guests
- Wander across the densely populated plains on a unique Serengeti walking safari
- Start the safari under canvas with an enchanting camp perched on the Ngorongoro Crater rim, ideally situated for a sunrise game drive on the crater floor
$14,295 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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