You’ll be hard pressed to out-do this safari when it comes to the overall experience in Tanzania! Staying at some of our favourite lodges in Northern Tanzania, each selected because of the activities and experience they offer which you would otherwise miss out!
Itinerary in Brief
This epic safari starts with a comfortable overnight in a guest house just on the outside of Arusha where you can relax and recover from international flights. From there head straight to Tarangire National Park where you will spend 2 nights in a luxury camp located in central Tarangire close to the famous Silale Swamp. Visiting this area is the peak of the dry season is incredible as thousands of animals from the region move closer for the water that the swamp hold, making this a MUST DO! After seeing thousands of elephants, you leave Tarangire behind as you drive north to Lake Manyara National park where you will spend another 2 nights in one of the best located eco-friendly camps in Tanzania! You can explore this diverse park on game drives, night drives, walking safaris or just from an armchair in camp as the animals come to you! Elephants are a frequent visitor to this hidden gem of a camp. After Manyara, you are now heading to the Ngorongoro highlands for 2 nights’ accommodation at a luxury lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. From here you can easily visit the Crater bottom for incredible Big 5 viewing, visit the local Maasai villagers for a cultural experience or go for a stunning sunset walk along the crater rim! A special activity that few every get to experience and certainly unforgettable! After the Ngorongoro Crater you will head on a full day’s expedition as you head to one of the most scenic locations in all of Africa – Lake Natron. Spend 2 nights at Lake Natron experiencing a wide range of activities and breathtaking scenery! A must do here is to go swim in the natural swimming pool! From Lake Natron, head back across the rift valley and onto northern Serengeti where you will be accommodated in a remote, less populated section for 2 nights. Here you can experience the wildebeest migration away from the crowds and also embark on walking safaris, something we cannot recommend highly enough!! Then to top it all off, heading towards the Mara river, you will stay another 2 nights in a luxury mobile camp where you will head out each day in an attempt to witness the wildebeest crossing the river! One of the greatest shows on earth, this will be the main event! By now you would have seen and experienced it all and it’s time for a charter flight back to Arusha for onwards connections and marks the end of your safari.
This Very Best of Northern Tanzania & Great Migration Safari is one of our favourite and most highly recommended itineraries in all of our selection. We cannot recommend it highly enough as it truly showcases all of what we consider to be the best of Northern Tanzania! It’s perfect for small groups or families whom want to truly experience the best of Northern Tanzania and the Migration.
Day 1: Arusha
On arrival into Kilimanjaro International Airport, clear immigration and collect your luggage before proceeding through customs.
In the arrivals hall, you will be warmly greeted by a driver and assisted with your luggage to your vehicle. Transfer to your hotel in Arusha.
On arrival at Katambuga House, check in and spend one night with breakfast included.
Day 2 & 3: Arusha to Tarangire National Park
Today your adventure will begin!
This morning there is the option to do a very early scenic fixed wing flight around Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain in the world at 5895m, a sight to behold from above! The flight will be around 1 hour 20 mins and will be in a luxury PC12 plane which is able to fly high for those extra special views and photos, just a great experience!
Upon returning to the lodge, or for those that slept in, a hearty breakfast will await, followed by check out and meeting your guide at the agreed time.
Leaving Arusha behind, we will head towards Tarangire National Park passing through villages and farmlands along the way. Entering Tarangire, have your camera ready to go as there will be plenty to see along the way to Camp, which is located in the far south of the Park, arriving at Oliver’s Camp in the late afternoon.
Simply put Tarangire is elephant paradise! This Park has one of the highest density of elephant populations of any park in Tanzania and this combined with beautiful and varied scenery, ancient baobabs and flat-topped acacias have made it a popular stop-over on the northern safari circuit. The dry season (July to September) is a spectacle to behold as large concentrations of animals congregate along the Tarangire river and the permanent swamps. Oliver’s Camp is also perfectly located for access to the Silale Swamp, which in the dry season is a huge magnet for wildlife!
Oliver’s Camp is situated in the remote south-eastern reaches of Tarangire National Park and with 10 en-suite safari tents epitomise bush elegance in a spectacular setting. All suites come complete with flushing toilets, spacious indoor and outdoor showers, as well as a safe. Private verandas have magnificent views of the horizon punctuated by the silhouettes of the ever-present baobab trees. The stay is on a full board basis including all house drinks other than champagne, as well as limited laundry service.
Upon arrival at Camp settle into you tent and relax, or watch the sunset from the Camp’s deck. After a scrumptious dinner return to your tent for a well earned early night, or for the adventurous go on an optional (extra cost) night game drive! Night drives focus on the nocturnal animals big and small and is always a very special experience.
The next morning will be an early start for sunrise amongst the Baobabs and the opportunity to perhaps see some of the large predators still on the prowl. A visit to the close by Silale Swamp will be spectacular, as this is elephant central! Spend some time with these gentle giants and other wildlife as they come down to drink at the swamp. This will present some great photo opportunities!
Day 4 & 5: Tarangire to Manyara
After check out at Oliver’s Camp continue on an extended game drive north through Tarangire and entering the close by Manyara National Park in the south.
This scenic park is home to Tanzania’s tree climbing lions who are often found resting in large acacias to escape the heat. However, Manyara is far from a lion sanctuary, it is an entire destination in its own right. It boasts many habitats and is home to a large diversity of other life forms, such as the thousands of flamingoes that sometimes flock here. It is also home to one of the highest Olive Baboon densities of any park in Africa.
The game drive in Manyara towards Camp will take you along the shores of Lake Manyara, as well as the forests below the Rift Valley escarpment. This is a very special drive and regular stops will be done for those great wildlife and scenery photos. Enjoy a packed lunch along the way.
On arrival at Wayo Manyara Green Camp, check in and spend 2 nights in a tent with all meals, selected drinks (beers, wine and local spirits) and game viewing activities included. Wayo Green Camp offers stylish bell tents and proper African ‘glamping’ in every sense of the word. The tents are 4m across with double beds, 100% linen bedding, chairs, luggage racks and attached a large bush bathroom with a hot water shower.
The Camp is in a great location on a river bed often frequented by elephants walking past close by. Spend the afternoon around Camp and take in the very special surrounds of this Camp, you will love this!
After dinner, embark on a night game drive. Discover a whole new world of nocturnal animal species. It gives you a different perspective of the park and wildlife. Especially a night game drive in Lake Manyara National Park!
The less seen animals are generally active at night and Lake Manyara National Park are full of them! Porcupines, genets and civet cats are frequent visitors to the forest. Hippos are nocturnal animals (active by night) and it is highly likely you will see many of these beasts grazing on the side of the road. Lake Manyara is well known for a large number of leopards and although it is not a common occurrence these elusive cats are spotted on a regular basis. Lion sightings are more common and where lions are mostly sleeping in day time, at night they are almost always active.
Day 6 & 7: Manyara to Ngorongoro
Upon exiting Manyara National Park in the north you will be heading up to the Ngorongoro Highlands via the town of the Karatu. The guide will stop at the lookout point which shows magnificent views down into the Crater before heading to your next lodge, Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp for lunch.
On arrival at Sanctuary Camp, which is located on the rim of the crater with spectacular views down into the caldera, check in and spend two nights in luxury tents with all meals included, as well as alcoholic drinks other than premium brands and champagne.
The small Camp comprises of just 10 classic safari tents, all with ensuite bathrooms with indoor bucket showers, king-size beds, and everything that makes a Sanctuary tented camp an authentic safari experience. All the tents also feature hairdryers, mosquito nets, in-room safes and a small sitting area in front of each of the tents where early morning coffee and biscuits can be enjoyed before starting the day of incredible game viewing. Electricity supply is a combination of a silent packed generator and an inverter battery system.
The Ngorongoro Highlands is Maasai Country, the Maasai have a very unique style of singing and dancing, often associated with jumping which has been much documented throughout this fascination with this rich culture.
In the afternoon upon arrival at Camp and after lunch you will be visiting a nearby Maasai village for a unique insight into Maasai life. You will have the opportunity to see the dancing and hear the singing ﬁrst hand, when young girls and warriors are invited to join. The ritual with its throaty calls, shrieks and high jumps are steeped in tradition and part of the way that the Maasai tell stories and celebrate occasions. The red shuka, beading and armour particularly appeal to photographers and make for some striking images. And of course any willing participants are welcome to test their jumping skills against the Maasai…
After another delicious dinner it is time to hit the sack, as tomorrow will be another busy day!
The next morning will be an early wake and descent (600m) onto the crater floor for a spectacular game drive. Sanctuary Camp is located on the crater rim, close to the descent road allowing you to be one of the first vehicles on the crater floor. Game viewing here is spectacular and so is the Crater! The Crater is 16 kilometre across and a natural wonder which shelters close to 25,000 large animals, a unique experience! The perfect spot to see the BIG 5, including the rare black rhino.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 180km west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The main feature of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest inactive, intact, and unfilled volcanic caldera. The crater is full of wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, eland, warthog, hippo and elephants. Supported by a year-round supply of water and food, the crater supports a massive variety of animals, as well as its impressive population of predators, including lions, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs and the elusive leopard.
After the extended game drive in the Crater the guide will stop for a picnic lunch at a location inside the Crater and then return to camp in the afternoon.
After a bit of R & R it will be time for a crater rim walk. This is a lovely activity and with the right weather conditions it can present one of the best sunset photographic opportunities anywhere in Africa!
Return to Camp for dinner and another night in luxury on the edge of the Crater!
Day 8 & 9: Lake Natron
After breakfast, it will be time to pack up and head towards Lake Natron!
Upon descending the escarpment there will be a stopover for a village tour in Mto Wa Mbu.
During this walk, or bike, or Tuk Tuk ride, you go on a 2-hour guided tour through the local farming village of Mto Wa Mbu. This village is unique in Tanzania since it is home to over a 120 different tribes from across Africa. The tour will take you to see local farms, schools, a kindergarten, local homes, the market and milling machines. The tour also includes a local lunch in the middle of the village, or at the Swahili Canteen Restaurant in Mto Wa Mbu. The fresh produce on display in the market and the friendly people make for great insight into life in Tanzania and present some great photo opportunities too. This is a real authentic cultural experience.
The drive to Lake Natron will take a few hours along the Ngorongoro Highlands escarpment through villages and spectacular scenery. As you get closer to the Lake the majestic Ol Donyo Lengai will appear on your left. This free standing volcano at an elevation of 3000m is a sight to behold!
The destination is Lake Natron Camp which is just on the edge of Lake Natron in an enviable position.
Lake Natron Camp is near Ol Donyo Lengai, at the lowest point of the Great Rift Valley in East Africa at an altitude of 600m above sea level. Here, between the only active carbonatite volcano in the world, Ol Donyo Lengai to the south, pinnacles of Mt Gelai to the east, the gorge etched escarpment of the Rift Valley to the west, and the mirror-surfaced lake, a sanctuary to millions of flamingoes to the north, is the oasis adjacent to the soda flats where Lake Natron Camp lies! Just breathtakingly beautiful!
Upon arrival at Camp settle in and have a delicious lunch prepared from fresh local produce. After lunch head to the spring fed natural pool for a G&T (or two), pure heaven!
Lake Natron Camp holds ten spacious guest tents, cleverly disguised under camouflaged shade netting. Each tent is comprised of a porch area, main bedroom and en-suite bathroom with a shower and eco toilet. The main bedroom is furnished with a comfy king size bed*, luxurious Egyptian linen and furniture made from greenwood. *Each tent can also accommodate 2 extra single beds upon request. The stay is on a full board basis with breakfast lunch and dinner, filtered water, house beers and soft drinks. All activities are also included other than the Lengai climb.
Spend the next two days exploring this fantastic area, recently described by a famous photographer as one of the most photogenic locations he has ever been too.
The Camp offers a myriad of Activities/Adventures/Treks, as follows:
- Activities: Flamingo Walk/Hominid Footsteps/Natural pool swimming.
- Adventures: Ngare Sero Waterfall hike/Ol Doinyo Lengai climb/Rift Valley Hike.
- Trekking: Great Rift Valley Trek/Walk in the Footsteps of Man/The Gol Mountain.
Decide which of these takes your fancy and head out with your guide!
Spend two nights at Lake Natron Camp, pure indulgence!
Day 10 & 11: Wilderness Zone Northern Serengeti
After an active few days at Lake Natron Camp and a wholesome last breakfast, join your guide and continue the drive north along the Lake and below the escarpment, towards the north east entrance into the famous Serengeti National Park.
The Serengeti is one of the most famous National Parks in the world, known for the spectacular wildebeest migration that takes place here annually. However, it also offers much more! The name is derived from the Maasai language and means ‘the land of endless plains’ and is certainly one of the most scenic safari destinations in Africa and one of the most sought after. The enormous park is a critically important open ecosystem as it covers nearly 15,000 km2 of protected land and is surrounded by a greater area of unfenced wildlife reserves. The variety and abundance of wildlife you see here is unmatched anywhere else in Africa, including the BIG 5 and annual wildebeest migration.
Arrive into the Wayo Kogatende Green Camp in the wilderness zone of the Serengeti. The camp is the only camp in a large exclusive area set aside for walking safaris. The Camp is about an hour’s drive from the Mara River right on the edge of the Northern Serengeti Wilderness zone, close enough for fantastic game viewing, but far enough away from the crowds to offer remote game-viewing and a real wilderness experience. The Camp is located on a salt lick frequented by many animals and amongst some rolling hills and open savanna giving guests that unique Serengeti experience.
On arrival at Wayo Kogatende Camp, check in and spend two nights in tents with all meals, selected drinks and game viewing activities included. The Camp is an area normally teeming with wildlife at this time of the year with the migration in full swing. Subject to weather conditions at the time, one could experience wall to wall wildlife as far as the eye can see! The best however is there will be nobody else around, pure bliss!
The camp itself is stylish and comfortable with accommodation being in the form of 10 spacious square tents. Each contains double beds, linen bedding, outdoor chairs, luggage racks and an attached large bathroom with a hot bucket shower system. All meals are prepared by the camp chef and are either served as plated or buffet style. They are all hearty three course meals which are enjoyed inside or at an outside dining area around the fireplace. The camp is designed to be environmentally sustainable with impact on the environment minimised where ever possible. It is 100% plastic free, uses solar lanterns, recycles and much more. The stay is on a full board basis including beers, wine and local spirits.
Spent the next two days exploring the areas around Camp on either game drives or bush walks with the local guides. The walks are highly recommended as this is one of the BEST walking safari areas in the whole of Africa! Here you WILL see many large animals on foot and up close too!
Early morning and late afternoon excursions to vantage points around the area for sunrise and sunset will provide fantastic photo opportunities of the Serengeti landscape, just unforgettable!
The stay at Kogatende Green Camp will be a real highlight of the tour as you will experience the migration without the crowds!
After a game activity on the last morning followed by another wholesome breakfast join your guide for an extended fantastic game drive along the Mara River towards the central northern Serengeti and your next camp, Ubuntu Migration Camp!
Day’s 12 & 13: Serengeti Migration Camp
After leaving Kogatende Green Camp you will head north towards the Mara River which is also the border between Tanzania and Kenya in this area. Once at the river you will turn west with the Masai Mara NP on your right and the Serengeti on your left, does it get any better than this!
If the migration follow its usual pattern and timing, the game viewing will be spectacular with large herds of wildebeest and zebra around and predators such as lion and cheetah in attendance too. As you proceed the number of game viewing vehicles will also increase as guests and their guides wait at different spots along the river known as crossing points of the herds.
The next two days will present you will many photographic opportunities, and with some luck, witness the dramatic river crossings of the wildebeest migration. Be sure to watch out for predators who will be lurking close by, especially crocodiles! This is also BIG 5 terrain with sightings of rhino quite possible away from the river crossing points.
Depending on game events and sightings along the way you will arrive at the next camp Ubuntu Migration Camp in the afternoon.
Ubuntu Migration Camp moves throughout the year to three spectacular locations across the north, west and south of the Serengeti, following in the tracks of massive herds of wildebeest as they cross the vast plains of the Serengeti in an ancient migration cycle.
From late July to October, Ubuntu is positioned to intercept the Great Migration in the northern Serengeti as the herds make their way towards Kenya and the Masai Mara. Daily game drives stop regularly at the Mara River to observe the spectacular river crossings across waters populated with Nile crocodiles and hippo, providing dramatic and exciting game viewing. The northern plains are home to large herds of resident plains game throughout the year – this draws high numbers of predators, and so sightings of lion, leopard and cheetah roaming the grasslands are frequent. Herds of elephant can be found in the lush woodland that lines the Mara River as well as an astounding array of birdlife, with over 500 species in the area.
The Camp’s open-plan main area spills into the surrounding wilderness – impressive views of the landscape stretch as far as the horizon. Breakfast and lunch are served under canvas in the next-door dining tent, while dinner is often enjoyed under the stars beside the glowing embers of the campfire, to the soundtrack of the Serengeti’s nocturnal animals.
Ubuntu’s eight suites are spacious under-canvas safari tents, designed to balance traditional safari authenticity with true comfort. Each room has king-sized beds (twin beds are available) and en-suite bathrooms with hot-water safari bucket showers, flushing toilets and a safe. The stay is on a full board basis including all house drinks other than champagne, as well as a limited laundry service.
Spend 2 glorious nights at Ubuntu Migration Camp!
Day 14 : Northern Serengeti to Arusha
Day 14 : Northern Serengeti to Arusha
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, however there is still more adventure to come!
Very early on the last morning at Ubuntu there will be opportunity (at extra cost) to do a hot air balloon flight over the Mara River and plains of the Serengeti. For those that have the money to spend on this activity it is highly recommended as one the best experiences available in Africa, never to be forgotten!
Guests not joining the ballooning will head to the river again for another opportunity to experience a river crossing and photo opportunities that it presents!
The tour allows for a ‘late checkout’ from the Serengeti and after a picnic lunch along the way the guides will take you to Kogatende airstrip for an afternoon light plane flight to Kilimanjaro Airport for your onward connection.
The light plane flight over the Serengeti is an awesome experience in itself with great photo/video opportunity, an appropriate farewell to the TRIP OF A LIFETIME!
On arrival into Kilimanjaro Airport, disembark and collect your luggage. You can await the boarding time of your onward flight at the airport, or head over to the close by Kia Lodge for a light dinner before your onward connection later that night.
When to go
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