We spend two nights each in Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve and Tanzania's Serengeti National Park giving us plenty of time to explore these iconic gamelands. We also discover further wildlife at Lake Naivasha, the Ngorongoro crater and Tarangire National Park. An optional excursion to the lands of the Datoga and Hadzabi bushmen at Lake Eyasi add another dimension to this world-class safari.
2013/14 Standard Itinerary
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12 nights Basic Camping
1 night Standard Hotel
2 nights Comfortable Hotel
1 night Standard Hostel
4WD Safari Truck/Land Rover(s) in Ngorongoro Crater.
Approx 12 -
Explore Tour Leader plus driver(s) and cook + transfer rep on Zanzibar.
East Africa Wildlife Holiday
Details may vary depending on departure date. Please choose
On this wildlife based holiday we travel through Kenya’s beautiful Rift Valley discovering Lake Naivasha, Crescent Island Nature Reserve and the shores of Lake Victoria. We explore the vast gamelands of the Maasai Mara in search of elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, buffaloes and rhinos. We discover the impressive Ngorongoro Crater and meet Maasai warriors, Hadzabi bushmen and the Datoka tribe at Lake Eyasi. We also relax on the shores of the Indian Ocean on the spice island of Zanzibar and explore the historical Stone Town.
Masai Mara & Serengeti - Game viewing in the most iconic and prolific national parks in Africa.
Ngorongoro Crater - The world's largest intact caldera, home to rhino, leopard and giraffe.
Tarangire - Large herds of elephants in baobab dotted bushland.
Lake Naivasha - A walking safari and an opportunity to observe wildlife at close range.
Lake Victoria - The second largest lake in the world and the source of the mighty river Nile.
Zanzibar - The Spice Island and the narrow streets of Stone Town.
After arriving in Nairobi this morning we drive north towards one of Africa’s most important physical features. Created by the collision of the great continental masses of Africa and the Middle East, the African Rift Valley is more than 9656km long, stretching from Jordan to Mozambique. At the southernmost end of the Kenya Rift Valley lies the fertile oasis of Lake Naivasha, one of the Rift Valley’s freshwater lakes and the site for our overnight camp. Translating as Rippling Waters Naivasha is a picturesque setting of grazing hippos and floating islands of papyrus, occupying the floor of the Valley and dominated by the towering heights of Mount Longonot. There may be an opportunity today to visit Elsamere Conservation Centre (optional), once the home of Joy and George Adamson of “Born Free’ fame, where you can take high tea on the lawn, amidst a tranquil lakeside setting and look around the museum presenting an in depth history of Joy Adamson’s remarkable attempts to raise Elsa the lion cub and introduce her back into the wild. Another optional alternative is a boat trip on Lake Naivasha to enjoy the splendours of the abundant birdlife.
This morning we include a visit to Crescent Island Nature Reserve, where we can explore on foot this great bird and wildlife sanctuary in the company of a local guide, hoping to find giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and some of the 350 bird species that have been recorded here. Afterwards we head south to our Maasai community campsite at Ilariak. In the Maasai language Ilariak means a place of salt lick rivers which provide much needed minerals for the animals in the area.
This morning we will head for the incredible setting of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, without doubt one of Africa’s dazzling jewels and Kenya’s finest wildlife park. Situated at the northern end of the Serengeti National Park, there is almost every species of animal native to East Africa here and during our game drive in the area this afternoon we may well find some of the ‘Big Five’ (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino), as well as the herds of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle that roam in large numbers across the grasslands. We aim to enter at the Sekenani Gate and head for our campsite located near the exit at Talek Gate, situated close to the river.You may also be interested in an optional visit to a Maasai boma to gain a greater understanding of the local culture and lifestyle.
The Maasai Mara is not actually a park, but is in fact a national reserve and, as such, the Maasai people have been able to retain their traditional way of life. Unchanged through the centuries, tribesmen are often seen herding their cattle along the many trails. The areas that we will be travelling through on our game drives are teeming with herbivores and carnivores, the hunters and the hunted and, depending upon conditions, we may even see this constant battle for life in all its grim glory. The Mara boasts large prides of lions, as well as leopard, cheetah and hyena, so a hunt is always a possibility across these open plains. One of the most memorable and unique spectacles of this area is the annual migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle as they move between the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti Plains. This annual trek costs the lives of many of the old and the sick, picked off by the predators that thrive here, both on the plains and in the muddy waters of the Mara and Talek rivers. Trips running between August and October fall within the time frame of these annual migrations, although obviously we cannot guarantee that specific trips will witness this most unique natural phenomenon. Along the forested banks of the Mara and Talek rivers are excellent places to view hippos, crocs and waterfowl and the reserve is also home to some 450 species of bird, including Denham's Bustard, Black Coucal, Red Tailed chat, Yellow Bellied Hyliota and Magpie Shrike.
Leaving the Mara behind this morning we head for the fertile landscapes of the Western Highlands and the lively market town of Kisii, famed for its soapstone. Home to the Gusii people, Bantu speaking tribes who migrated here from the Congo, Kisii sits amidst a landscape rich with tea and coffee plantations, banana groves and agriculture and our journey north takes us through some of the most productive land in the country
Drive to Musoma via the Isebania border crossing
Today’s scenic drive takes us across into Tanzania, travelling via Migori and crossing the border at Isebania, before continuing along the eastern shores of Lake Victoria to Musoma. We plan to arrive at camp in the late afternoon and spend the remainder of the day relaxing by the waters of Africa’s largest freshwater lake. Discovered by the explorer John Speke in August 1858, Lake Victoria is the second largest on the planet, covering over 69,000 sq km. and bordering Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The source of the White Nile, scattered with islands and reefs, it is home to over 200 species of fish and fishing is a major contribution to the economy and livelihood of the Bantuspeaking tribes that live along the lakeshore.
From Musoma it is a short drive before we enter the Serengeti and continue through its remote ‘Western Corridor’. Covering some 15,000 sq km the Serengeti is the oldest and largest park in Tanzania, its name derived from the Maasai word for ‘endless plains’, Although particularly famed for its lions, it offers unrivalled opportunities to photograph many other species of wildlife, including an amazing number of birds. The area encompasses the largest concentration of wildlife on the continent and the annual migration of tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebra is a truly impressive spectacle as they battle their way to fresh grazing land, running the gauntlet of the great African predators as they go. It is on these plains that we focus most of our attention over the next couple of days, spending two nights in the Seronera region and taking early morning and late afternoon game drives in search of the ‘Big 5’ and so much more.
Our exact movements today are very much dependent upon the location and concentration of the wildlife. We may head to the Retima Hippo Pool, the Moru Kopjes or perhaps the Seronera River area in search of leopard and lion. Cheetahs are often seen in family units out on the Serengeti plains, a special sight indeed. During the annual migration hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra move westward, covering some 800 km from the central plains through the park’s ‘long corridor’, towards richer grazing lands and fresh water. These spectacular journeys are often fraught with danger as their long trek invariably draws the attention of the ever-present predators – lion, leopard, hyena and crocodile. This is nature in its rawest sense, where the struggle for survival is played out daily across these expansive plains and churning rivers. The unique sight of hunting packs are always a possibility during our time here. For an alternative view of the magnificent wildlife, depending on the weather, there may be the possibility to take an unforgettable early morning balloon safari (optional) during our stay here.
Drive to Ngorongoro Conservation area. Visit Olduvai Gorge
Driving to Ngorongoro today we stop to visit the remarkable setting of Olduvai Gorge, where in 1959, anthropologists Dr and Mrs Leakey discovered the remains of an almost intact human skull that was eventually discovered to be 1.75 million years old. Named ‘Nutcracker Man’ on account of its powerful jaw, this incredible discovery proved to be an important milestone in the search for human evolution, only being eclipsed when even older finds were later made in Ethiopia and Laetoli. Accompanied by a local guide we visit Olduvai Gorge Visitor Centre and Museum overlooking the gorge itself, to learn something more of this fascinating discovery. Our journey today affords an opportunity to enjoy more game viewing as we depart the Serengeti, and also offers a chance to view several Maasai settlements along the route. To the south east of Olduvai Gorge lies the huge bowl-like crater of Ngorongoro, a spectacular almost circular depression with a diameter of some 19 kilometres that lies amidst Tanzania’s Crater Highlands. Technically classed as a caldera, the crater owes its existence to the violent fracturing of the Rift Valley over a period of some 25 million years. At one time a volcano occupied this spot, until it became extinct and finally collapsed into the empty magma chamber below, leaving only the gigantic natural basin that we see today. This incredible natural amphitheatre presents us with the perfect setting for some remarkable game viewing and an ideal spot from which the sun setting over the African plains. Come prepared for a cold night tonight.
Game viewing in Ngorongoro Crater, then drive to Karatu
This morning we enter the caldera, descending from the upper rim in specially chartered 4WD vehicles in search of big game. As we negotiate the steep track that drops some 600m to the grassy basin below, we enter a setting that provides a rich haven for herbivores and carnivores alike. The open plains thunder beneath the hooves of countless zebra, buffalo and antelope, whilst predators like lion, hyena and cheetah thrive amidst this plentiful open-air buffet, all against a stunning backdrop of dramatic cliffs and lush vegetation that present the perfect photo opportunities. Elephant, black-maned lion, cheetah, buffalo and rhino are in abundance here, whilst the perennial marshes teem with all manner of birdlife, including Egyptian vultures, ostriches, Verreaux’s eagles and kori bustards and, during the summer months, the plains echo to the spectacular migrations of millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelles as they make their way from the Serengeti. After our morning’s game drive we depart for our camp at Karatu, set amidst an area of cool verdant hills on the Manyara Escarpment. Once a popular spot for the German settlers and farmers during the country’s colonial occupation, this area was once an important coffee growing area and the hills on the approach to the town are still dotted with plantations. Tonight we camp just on the outskirts of the Conservation area, in a region that is home to the Barbaig and Iraqw tribes.
Free Day. Optional 4x4 excursion to Lake Eyasi or local walk to Gibbs Farm
Today you have the option of heading into the Great Rift valley, driving along dusty tracks to Mangola village at Lake Eyasi, home to one of the ‘Datoga’ families. They are pastoral like the Maasai and grow crops such as maize and collect honey. The women traditionally tattoo a circle of dots around their eyes, usually when they are teenagers. The Maasai call these people ‘Mangati’, the ‘Feared Ones’ though they are actually very friendly and welcoming to visitors. We’ll also head out into the bush with our local guide in search of the Hadzabi Bushmen, transient people living in small family groups. The men hunt with bows and arrows, whilst the women will gather roots, berries and honey or beg maize from their neighbours, the Datoga. There are only 1000 or so of these true hunter-gatherers left in East Africa! Alternatively, you may like to take a walk in the local area around Karatu to Gibb’s Farm. This is a working farm built in 1929 and located on the forested slopes of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This ecofriendly farm grows organic coffee, organic fuit and vegetables, flowers and herbs, has a tree nursery and a working dairy and pig farm. En route we may have the opportunity of visiting a local market, a local artist, a wood carver, a traditional wedding dress maker and a distillery depending on what is available on the day.
Travelling via Makunyi today we head for the Tarangire National Park, which derives its name from the Tarangire River flowing through its expansive landscapes. Lying to the southeast of Lake Manyara this is one of Tanzania’s lesser known parks and one of its most striking features are the majestic old baobab trees whose massive silvery trunks and gourd-like fruits dominate the skyline. Tarangire has the greatest concentration of wildlife outside of the Serengeti Ecosystem and is part of a much larger ecosystem that extends further south into the Maasai Steppes. Here we can find vast herds of elephants and unprecedented numbers of birds, attracted by the permanent water sources. This is also home to the shy fringed eared oryx and the gerenuk antelope, a species not seen in other parks and during our game drive this afternoon we will hopefully catch sight of some of this abundant wildlife
This morning we will take a final opportunity to have a game drive on our exit from the park before making our way back to Arusha from where we take a short flight to the exotic and friendly island of Zanzibar and transfer to our hotel on the north coast.
Overnight Standard HostelIncluded meals: Breakfast, Lunch
At North Coast
Your time is free for personal exploration and relaxation. Spend time watching the fishermen bringing in their catch or go out in one of the dugout canoes with them and try your hand at line fishing. Stroll or cycle along the beach or visit nearby villages. Alternatively, with a mask and snorkel, you can explore the colourful reef offshore, teeming with tropical fish. You may even choose to explore the surrounding area by mountain bike. Scuba diving is available.
Overnight Standard HotelIncluded meals: Breakfast
Drive to Zanzibar Town
This moring is left free for you to relax and enjoy your surrounding before transferring to the capital. Zanzibar Town has white washed houses and labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways. Filled with colourful bazaars and hawkers selling a myriad of goods, and everywhere the atmosphere is permeated with the smell of spices.
Today those who wish can take a tour of Stone Town followed by the Spice Island Tour (including lunch) and learn more of Zanzibar’s history, visit the Sultan’s palace and see clove plantations established by the Sultan in the 19th century.
Please note that from time to time our itineraries may be amended, either for operational reasons or in response to feedback from customers. Please ensure you have read the latest Tour Notes before booking or travelling on your tour.