Fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport and transfer to the Dik Dik Hotel for dinner and overnight. The Dik Dik overlooks Mount Meru in the Arusha National Park and provides individual cabins with rather plush facilities.
After breakfast, we will drive to Lake Manyara Hotel in time for lunch. The park is on the western edge of the Great Rift Valley and the hotel stands 3,000 feet above the park, affording a fabulous view. The Rift Valley wall is part of the earth's crust stretching from the Zambezi River in Mozambique to Turkey. There will be an afternoon game drive (our first!) in lake Manyara National Park. The park offers some of the best bird watching in Tanzania. The park is comprised of a ground water forest, swamps, bush, a soda lake and open areas. The park is known for its tree climbing lions, herds of elephants and variety of hornbills. The lakes and swamps are bustling with hippos and water birds. Overnight at the Lake Manyara Hotel.
Morning game drive at Lake Manyara Park and lunch at the Manyara Hotel. After lunch we will drive to Ngorongoro Crater. In between Manyara and Ngorongoro live the IRAQW people, who are both farmers and pastoralists. Their culture is different to that of the Maasai and as you drive through you will enjoy not only the unique scenery, but also be able to observe these people in their day to day activities. This area is considered one of the most fertile areas of Tanzania and produces a majority of crops for the country. As you enter the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, you will notice the change in altitude as the highland forest begins. As you reach the view point at the Crater rim, the view of the Crater is magnificent. The Crater is 100 square miles and home to over 25,000 larger mammals. Dinner and overnight at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.
There will be two full days in the Crater to explore this wonderful place. Some people refer to it as the Garden of Eden. We will leave early in the morning, enjoy a picnic lunch in the Crater and return late in the afternoon for dinner at the Lodge.
After breakfast, we start into the Serengeti National Park, a park equal in size to many small countries such as Northern Ireland. We will enter the park through the Salei Plain, an untraveled route for tourists. We will detour to O'Karien Gorge, which is the nesting site for the Serengeti vultures and then return into the park through a passage in the Gol Mountains, driving directly to our campsite at Naabi Hill. The Serengeti is at its best during this time of the year with the migration of the large herds complete and the calving of the wildebeest and zebra prolific, all making for excellent predator/prey activity. The animal population is at its peak of over 3.5 million with the wildebeest alone numbering 1.5 million. We will have 7 nights camping and will not only be able to view and explore unique areas of the Serengeti, but we will also be close and feel the exuberant, vibrating and brawling life of the wilderness. Humans have no right of passage here (it is a privilege) as the law gives the right of way to the wildlife. The Serengeti is never the same, for activites, events and occurrences are creating new scenes every day, every hour and every minute.
We depart the Serengeti and make a short visit to the cradle of Mankind-Olduvai Gorge-as we leave the park. Those interested in archaeology will find this place a goldmine of evolution with fossils, settlement remains and stone artifacts dating millions of years ago. Lecture tours are offered, or you may enjoy a picnic lunch and enjoy the view and the birds surrounding the area. There is a certain magic for many people, to be standing where all of humankind may have begun. The differences between us all seem small when we recognize the home of our ancestors. We will proceed to Kifaru Lodge for dinner and overnight. Kifaru was originally the farm house on the Shangri-La plantation, a coffee, flower and cattle farm. Still an operating farm, the house has been renovated into a lodge with a bed and breakfast atmosphere, with a five star chef. It is the perfect stop after camping for seven days. There is a swimming pool, tennis court and gorgeous flower gardens. Walking is permitted.
After breakfast, we drive to Tarangire National Park, with a quick stop for shopping along the way. We will have two nights at Tarangire tented lodge and game drives during the days. The park gets its name from the river which threads its way through the length of the reserve. Famous for its dense wildlife population, which is most spectacular during the dry season when thousands of animals migrate into the park to the river. You can see elephants over a hundred and tree pythons are easily seen. The giant baobab trees dot the park, providing spectactular scenery. Baobab trees have branches that look like a root system and the legend is that a displeased god turned the tree upside down at the time of creation.
After breakfast, we proceed to Dodoma en route to Ruaha National Park. Overnight at the Dodoma Hotel. Dodoma is officially the capital of Tanzania, but it is still under development for the move from Dar Es Salaam.
After a long drive from Dodoma, we reach Ruaha National Park, the second largest and best kept park in Tanzania. We will be camping at Mwagusi Campsite. Comparative inaccessibility of the park has ensured that it has remained virtually unchanged for centuries, unaffected by mankind and by far the wildest of the parks. Its name derives from the Great Ruaha River, which flows along its entire border, creating spectacular gorges. Crocodiles, hippos and clawless otters soak and play in the water and on the banks of the river. The park is also known for its concentration of lesser and greater kudu and the roan antelope. Over 370 species of birds have been recorded, some of which are not found in northern Tanzania. Wild dogs should be easily seen.
We travel to Mikumi National Park for the last night of our safari. The drive from Ruaha will allow a short visit to a historical museum. The main feature of the park is the Mikumi flood plain, with its open grassland that eventually merges with the woodland covering the foothills of the mountains that border the park on two sides. The park is rich in wildlife and bird life. It is also the most frequented park as weekend excursions are organized by tour operators from Dar-Es-Salaam. We will overnight at the lodge.
After breakfast, we will depart for Dar and reach the city in time for lunch. We will have the afternoon at leisure, for shopping, relaxing, sightseeing and packing. Our flight is just past midnight.
(Itinerary provided by Unique Safaris)