- Tarangire National Park
- Ngorongoro Crater
- Masai Village visit
- Serengeti plains
- Scenic flight over the Rift Valley (optional)
Unwind under vast African skies, in some of the few last expanses of true wilderness and arguably the best game viewing areas on the continent. From untouched Tarangire, to the world famous Serengeti and Ngorongoro National Park, this safari is run at a leisurely pace, allowing ample time to discover the wild, free spirit of this vast, awe inspiring country.
Day 1– Saturday, Tarangire National Park
Day 1 – Saturday – Tarangire National Park An early morning briefing kick starts our safari, before we head off away from the main safari route of the Northern Circuit, to TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK, a true hidden gem.
Highly underated, yet bursting with a dense wildlife population, it won’t take you long to appreciate just why we love Tarangire.
It’s a special park – virtually untouched, with far fewer visitors than the world famous Serengeti and Ngorongoro – that offers an undisturbed, secluded safari. During the dry season of June – September thousands of animals including elephant, buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, kudu, and the rarely seen oryx migrate from the dry Masai steppe to the Tarangire River in search of water.
Lion, leopard and other predators follow – so be sure to be sure to charge your battery and empty your memory stick as some unique memories await you. Home to the largest population of elephant of any park in the northern circuit, and over 550 varieties of bird, Tarangire offers far fewer tourists and loads of game – a winning combination!
From Tarangire, we head up through the beautiful highlands to the rich farming area of Karatu on the outer slopes of Ngorongoro crater, where we overnight at Bougainvillea Lodge.
Day 2 – Sunday, Ngorongoro
Breathtaking, incredible, unforgettable – today is surely one you’ve been itching to tick off your Wildlife Bucket List. One of the natural wonders of the world, the volcanic caldera of Ngorongoro offers spectacular game viewing in the crater – we can almost guarantee you four of the Big Five will show up, as well as a rich variety of birds, all viewed against the backdrop of the thickly forested crater walls. Our picnic lunch in the crater will forever remain a unique memory – good luck beating this view on your next picnic!
Varied terrains consisting of forest, grasslands and both freshwater and soda lakes make this a true marvel of creation.
Overnight Bougainvillea, or similar.
Day 3 – Monday, Serengeti
Our route to the Serengeti today takes us via fascinating Olduvai Gorge and the ‘cradle of humankind’. It’s here where, in 1959, the ground-breaking discovery of a hominid (human-like) skull dating back 1.8 million years preceeded other more recent hominid remains discoveries – dating as far back as 3.7 million years.
Take time to visit a Masai village – immerse yourself in their culture and daily vibe. When we take the time to understand and appreciate another’s culture and way of life, our eyes open to Henry Millar’s wisdom that “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
We continue onto Serengeti Wilderness Camp, or Ndutu/North Wilderness Camp, to settle in for the evening.
Day 4 & 5 – Tuesday/Wednesday, Serengeti
Relax with two full days in the Serengeti – unequalled for its beauty and home to more than three million large mammals spread over the vast endless plains. It is here, at certain times of the year, that we may encounter the breathtaking spectacle of the annual wildebeest migration, where one and a quarter million wildebeest trek in columns of up to forty kilometres long in search of grazing, drawing with them their predators and numerous other species of game. From January to March the herds can largely be found in the southern area, proceeding north through the centre and Western Corridor during June and July before splitting to the west and north, continuing their way toward the Mara River. They return south in November to repeat this amazing instinctive procession all over again.
Huge herds of wildebeest and zebra can be found here along with smaller concentrations of Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, impala, kongoni, Kirk’s dik dik, klipspringer and small numbers of roan, oryx, oribi, eland and waterbuck. There are also significant numbers of buffalo, giraffe and warthog. Elephants are relatively scarce on the open plains, and more common in the northern areas and the western corridor. The few remaining black rhinos are restricted to a small part of the park and are not often spotted. But the most popular animals to be found here in greater abundance than elsewhere on the northern circuit are the cats.
Lions, cheetahs and leopard may all be seen here along with other predators, such as the spotted hyena, golden and black-backed jackals, wild cats and servals.
Overnight Serengeti Wilderness Camp.
Treat yourself to an adventure words fail to capture, as you soar effortlessly above the vast plains in a hot air balloon – an added optional extra well worth spoiling yourself with. This is one story you will brag about for years to come!
Transfer to the Seronera/Ndutu or Kogatende airstrip for your (optional) flight to Arusha – mid morning. It is an exceptionally scenic flight (weather dependent) over the highlands of Ngorongoro, across the vast expanse of the Rift Valley escarpments. Or return by road to Arusha.
If you are not flying out tonight, but overnighting in Arusha, we highly recommend heading out to Mosque Street. Here, you will find probably the best chicken in Africa (we will phone in your order the day before – to be sure…) Relax, eat, meet the locals … real people.
A uniquely authentic optional extra:
You may have heard of Khan’s first as “Chicken in the Ditch”, or “Chicken on the Bonnet”, “Kuku on the Curb”, or “That place by Soko Kuu with the fantastic chicken”, or “Zubeda Autospares by Day, Khan’s Chicken BBQ by Night”.
In every town there are a few gems – delightful places off the beaten path that give you a sense of the soul of the town. Khan’s is undoubtedly one of the key gems in Arusha, and while it’s definitely been discovered, it’s still the real deal. Tasty salads, Zanzibar pizzas, garlic naan, barbecued chicken, beef mishkaki and mutton shish kabob are all stars. Even the passion juice is top notch. But Khan’s serves up more than an evening out – it’s the kind of place that you’ll always remember when you think of Arusha.
Another memorable spot is the ” Lively Lady Bar and Grill “, down by the old train station, where the ambience is great (best pork chops ever), drinks icy, and, 1960’s ROCK AND ROLL is played … loudly!
However you end off your Essence trip with us, your journey through Tanzania will forever remain a huge highlight along the journey of your life.
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Travel during the months of April/May – GREEN SEASON – and SAVE!
April and May in the Serengeti are two of our favourite times to travel. Not so busy, no dust, amazing skies and spectacular sunsets and generally the migration is around the central area/Moru Kopjies. During this period less people visit the area which result in hotels/lodges etc. lowering their rates. So you can take advantage of paying less and having less people around a wildlife sighting.
We offer many other fabulous safaris to this part of the world with activities ranging from walking, photography, bird-watching and spa treatments. We tailor make itineraries from camping to upmarket lodge safaris for individuals and groups.
Optional Extras: Balloon safari. Flight Serengeti-Arusha / Kilimanjaro
Charging facilities: There are charging facilities at the lodges/camps as well as on in our Wild Frontiers’ safari vehicles for camera batteries, mobile phones etc. Two-pin plugs as well as the round three-square pin plug points.
Weather: Tanzania is a land without winter. Temperatures in northern Tanzania range between 15-21C during the day and 4-10C at night, from May to October. From November to March the daytime temperature varies from 21-32C and from 15-23C at night. However, if you are travelling to high altitude areas like Ngorongoro Crater and Kilimanjaro, of course the temperature drops substantially.
The following should be used as a guideline when planning your safari to East Africa – movement of wildlife depends on a great many aspects – but this helps to explain the seasonality of game viewing. Remember there is resident game throughout the year in the Serengeti/Ngorongoro eco-systems.
JAN / FEB / MARCH
The big herds of wildebeest are generally in the southern plains of the Serengeti eco-system, calving takes place over approximately two weeks. Lots of predators, good visibility of game, mix of open plains and some woodland.
APRIL / MAY
The herds start moving toward central Serengeti. This is typically the rainy season, however, game viewing is still excellent and there are some great discounts available at lodges and camps. It generally doesn’t rain all day. Photography is generally superb with moody skies and good depth of colour.
JUNE / JULY / AUGUST
The wildebeest move from the central area and split to the west and north, continuing their trek toward the Mara River. River crossings may be seen in both the western corridor (Grumeti area) and north (Mara River) within the Serengeti.
SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER
Whilst some of the wildebeest successfully reach the Masai Mara, there are still hundreds of thousands remaining in the northern region of Serengeti, offering those with patience the chance to see river crossings (the Mara River runs through the Serengeti).
NOVEMBER / DECEMBER
The big herds start to return from the north, to the southern plains, to start the whole process again!