A full-on safari that takes you into the heart of Northern Tanzania’s wildlife areas. Arguably the best parks for all-round game viewing in East Africa.
This trip begins with the wonderful Tarangire, combines with a sensational small camp on one of the most coveted sites on the Ngorongoro Crater rim and culminates with the star attraction of the wildebeest migration. Between July and October you'll be there for the river crossings, between December and March for the herds gathering to give birth on the short grass plains.
Crossings happen periodically and in groups ranging from dozens of animals to tens of thousands. With luck and a little patience, you’ll have the chance to watch as the herds take the plunge from the banks of the river and surge through the turbulent, croc-filled waters.”
DAYS 1& 2 Tarangire
ARRIVAL & HEAD TO TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
The migration is only one of a number of excellent reasons to head to the North of Tanzania, hence this trip begins in Tarangire, a wonderful, diverse park teaming with wildlife.
During the dry season animals are drawn to the permanent water in the Tarangire River, while in the green season Elephant in particular thrive on the lush grasses.
We advocate heading to the quiet southern end of this park, and staying in the deeply charming Kuro Tarangire, a beautiful camp built mostly of fresh air and light. This is one of those places where you may see as much from your veranda over your morning coffee as out on a game drive.
Tarangire: The Park
Tarangire is perhaps best-known for it's iconic baobabs and elephant, both of which are in abundance here, but of course the park offers so much more than this, with excellent populations of plains game and healthy prides of lion, strong leopard numbers and countless other species of mammals, birds and plants.
Tarangire: The Wildlife
Superb game viewing
A couple of days in Tarangire will give you the chance not only to get out on game drives, but also to explore on foot with an armed guide.
Even short walks - leaving early before breakfast and returning once you've built an appetite - can be incredibly productive. The area is a favourite with elephant which makes foot safaris particularly rewarding.
Tarangire: The Camp
Kuro is a beautifully understated camp, designed with incredible attention to detail to fit into the fragile Tarangire ecosystem. The rooms have been carefully placed to take best advantage of natural shade and the materials used create a light and airy feel.
You'll find all the comfort you could hope for in a wonderfully wild setting, just a short distance from the Tarangire River, but tucked well away from other tourists.
Days 2 & 3 Ngorongoro Crater
Up to the Highlands
Leave Tarangire and head northwest and you're on journey through some of Africa's most dramatic scenery. Passing under a string of dormant volcanoes, you'll soon reach the wall of the Great Rift Valley at Manyara.
From here it's an hour or so more before you start to enter the rarified air of the highlands themselves. Finally the Crater itself appears as if by magic, at just over 7000 ft above sea level. Following the rim you'll make your way to your small, but immaculate camp on the northwestern side.
Ngorongoro: The Area
Into Maasai Land
Ngorongoro is Maasailand and it is largely down to the pastoralist lifestyle of the Maasai that this breathtaking area has remained so unspoilt. The Maasai culture is as fascinating as it is all-encompassing in the highlands.
Your camp is staffed in large part by Maasai from the local area and revenue from your visit contributes to much needed funding of education and health projects in the area. While you're here you'll be able to spend time with the local villagers, accompanying the cattle as they return to the boma in the evenings and getting an insight into Maasai life.
Ngorongoro: The Wildlife
The largest concentration of mammals
Nothing really prepares you for the spectacle of the Crater. And while it's well-known that the area draws a lot of tourists it's worth remembering that this is a truly unique place. The world's largest unbroken crater, that also happens to be home to one of the world's greatest concentrations of large wild mammals.
But remember that game-drives on the Crater floor are just one aspect. The Rim and the surrounding highlands which go up to over 12,000 ft are both diverse, fascinating and well worth exploring on foot as well as by vehicle.
Ngorongoro: The Camp
Luxury and Breathtaking views
Your stay at Ngorongoro will be in the award winning Entamanu Ngorongoro. A beautiful small camp where you can expect not only remarkable views, exceptional food and great wildlife, but also the opportunity to understand Ngorongoro from the perspective of the Maasai people. This camp is very much run in partnership with the villagers who live in this part of the highlands.
Above all, be sure to plan for at least one full morning or afternoon to simply soak up the atmosphere at this wonderful and highly unusual safari camp.
Today you leave Ngorongoro and head to the Serengeti. In the dry season this will be a flight of about 40 minutes from Manyara or - for those who want to see more of this part of the world - a fabulous day-long game drive that takes from top to toe through the Serengeti. Incredible wildlife (and here we choose our words carefully) guaranteed.
Between December and May, attention is focused on the Southern Serengeti so the drive down from the highlands is shorter and a must.
Serengeti: The Park
High Octane game viewing
While in the Serengeti, your days will be spent exploring the Migration. Between July and October this means the Mara River area, where much attention is on the crossings. Between December and May you'll explore the wide open plains around Ndutu woodland as well as the soda lakes and mature acacia woodland itself.
But aside from the Migration you are in territory where you can expect to encounter exceptional wildlife throughout. The sheer number of animals and the open nature of the terrain mean that sightings in the Serengeti are second to none.
Serengeti: The Camp
Superb small seasonal camps
Your base while in the Serengeti is Nomad's Serengeti Safari Camp - the original seasonal tented camp and the first to follow the migrating herds year round.
Your camp won't move while you're there, but moving every few months it should be in the right place to connect you with the action.
Serengeti: The Camp
Once in a life-time safari experience
Everything about this camp is about simple quality. From the people who run it to the guides who lead your safaris to the food, the tents and everything else.
A note from Alex
Inspiration for this trip
In 1994 I was living in Southern Tanzania's Ruaha National Park, running a small safari camp and relishing having such a wild part of Africa virtually to myself. The widlife was breathtaking and visitors were so few that we rarely if ever shared our game viewing with others; a thoroughly spoiling experience.
So when the chance came to visit Northern Tanzania - the better known part of the country - for the first time, my initial reaction was one of scepticism. Surely this would be all minibuses and tourists. Two days of nail-biting travel by bus got me to Arusha and from here a friend offered me a lift on a small aircraft into the Serengeti - surely one of the world's great flights on a clear day as you head over the Great Rift Valley with the Ngorongoro Crater and Highlands giving way to the endless plains of the Serengeti itself.
As soon as I set foot in this remarkable park there was a palpable sense of excitement; wildlife thrives everywhere here - from the large mammals that are virtually omnipresent to the more than 400 species of bird the park boasts. Not only is the landscape sublime, its open nature and the seemingly endless views make wildlife viewing here truly remarkable.
Since that first trip to Northern Tanzania I've been lucky enough to return their regularly and even lived there for a number of years while working as a bush pilot. The one thing that continues to strike me is how much the quality of experience you have here depends on a few small, but critical ingredients.
If you're unlucky this is indeed the land of traffic jams and large characterless safari lodges. But pick carefully and you'll be in the hands of people who have lived and breathed this area for most of their working lives. With these people the experience is like walking into a David Attenborough or National Geographic documentary.
The camps and guides we've picked for this itinerary are very simply the best in the business. We've worked with them for more than 20 years and our trust in their ability to deliver remarkable safaris time after time is based on many years of them doing just that.
Our experienced travellers include:
It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary.
All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.