Staff Members: Robin Paschall & Dean Paschall
Travel Dates: August 3-9, 2016
Destinations Visited: Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti
This was a great safari itinerary if you have 6 days and want to fly out of the Serengeti. I would recommend all of our accommodations. Our timing was off for the Serengeti Grumeti Camp, but it would be a great option in June.
DAY 1 – August 3 – Arrive Tanzania
Arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport:
If you are coming from Rwanda, Uganda, or Kenya, your will show your yellow fever certificate to enter the airport. Inside the Kilimanjaro Airport, everyone fills out a form (not just per family). There is a window to get your Tanzania Visa if you don’t already have it. It is $100/person for U.S. citizens and $50 for everyone else, and they take U.S. dollars that are newer and in good condition. Next, you go to a second window to get your visa photo. Then, you go to a third window for passport control and fingerprints. If you got your visa ahead of time, you can go right to the passport control line. There are people at the airport to help you.
After passport control, you will collect your luggage and go through customs. There are free carts to help you carry your luggage. When you exit security, look for a driver with a sign that says “Adventures Within Reach” and your name.
Rivertrees Country Inn
We stayed at the Rivertrees Country Inn, which was great. Even Prince Charles has stayed here! It is a 30 minute drive from the Kilimanjaro Airport. They have some nice walking paths, a swimming pool, beer garden, and vervet monkeys running around. Our group played frisbee on the spacious grassy areas and played cards at one of the many outside table areas.
DAY 2 – August 4 – Arusha to Tarangire
Tarangire National Park
Tarangire is best June-October, and it certainly did not disappoint! It is famous for the many huge baobab trees and large herds of elephants, and there were plenty! But, the density and variety of animals was really fantastic.
It was a 3-hour drive from Rivertrees to Tarangire (10am-1pm). There was some traffic in Arusha but not bad, and construction slowed us down a bit.
We stopped at shop en route, which has nice newer bathrooms and gives the safari guide a rest. The shop is huge, takes credit cards, and offers shipping.
There was a 1 hour wait at the Tarangire park gate to pay the park fees, but we ate lunch, used the toilets, and visited the viewing tower and short walking tour. The guide will need passports for kids 15 and under to get the discounted entry fee. There are tse tse flies in Tarangire, so insect repellent is a good idea.
Tarangire River Camp
We spent the night at the Tarangire River Camp. It is a very comfortable camp with large tents and great views. We saw 60+ elephants on the road to TRL — incredible! The pool was nice but chilly. Great views of the dry river bed from the large deck area. Cozy and tasty dinner.
DAY 3 – August 5 – Tarangire, Maasai Village, Gibb’s Farm
Tarangire National Park
At Tarangire River Lodge overnight, we heard leopards, baboons, and hyenas fighting — what an incredible sound! In the morning, we saw many lovely birds at the bird bath, and baboons crossing the river. On the road to Tarangire, we saw impala, mongoose, guinea fowl, zebra, Eurasian Collared Dove, and a male elephant group. It was an incredible wildlife experience before we even got to the park!
There are over 2000 elephants in Tarangire, and 15-20 prides of lions (about 10 lions/pride). It was another great day of game viewing!
The entrance of Tarangire has a nice baobab tree for pictures. An even bigger one is at the Maasai village nearby. There is also a “baby” baobab tree.
We visited the Maasai village right by the Tarangire park gate. It is a fun and interesting look at this fascinating culture. The experience included:
- Put on Maasai clothes
- Hello song outside village
- Inside do traditional singing and dancing with jumping then add guests to performance, super high jumping
- Start fire with wood and elephant dung
- Go inside house and see how they live.
- Buy things from the market with heavy bargaining (for example, from $90 down to $40).
Gibb’s Farm is one of the truly luxurious and special lodges on safari. It offers a nice variety to doing a game drive all day, every day. We spent the afternoon at Gibb’s Farm with their many activities. Dinner here was best on our trip.
- Farm Walk – About 1 hour guided tour around the gardens, lots of herbs and veggies, coffee
- Evening Lecture – 5:30pm about 1 hour lecture in garden with drinks and snacks (hyenas)
- Feed Bushbabies – 7:00pm at lodge, feed bananas
- Forest Walk – 1-1.5 hour or 2-2.5 hour guided leisurely walk with benches, waterfalls, bird life, nice views, stories en route, longer hike is steep, shorter walk is to waterfalls and back.
DAY 4 – August 6 – Gibb’s Farm to Ngorongoro Crater
The Ngorongoro Crater is often the highlight of any safari. The density of animals is incredible, and this is the one place you are likely to see the rhino. Because of the steep walls, the Crater does not have giraffes, cheetah, or impala. Is the one place in Tanzania where you can see the Big 5 in one day.
We stopped in Karatu to reload the park fee card and then stopped at the NCCA border to pay the fees. There was a long line and aggressive baboons, but there is a nice visitor’s center there. It was 1 hour driving from Gibb’s Farm to the NCCA gate, 50 minutes at the gate, 1 hour gate to crater entrance, 20 minutes to bottom, and 10 minutes back up (you have to be at bottom gate at crater by 5:30pm, and at the upper gate by 6pm.)
Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
The Ngorongoro Serena Lodge is located right on the crater rim, and every room has a view and a verandah. In the evening, there is live entertainment with music and amazing acrobats in a lively bar area. Meals are a buffet with great variety.
DAY 5 – August 7 – Ngorongoro to Serengeti
Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti is so vast that it offers endless game viewing opportunities. The borders of the part were designed to accommodate the Great Migration.
It was about 2 hours from Ngorongoro to the Serengeti gate. We had about 30 minutes wait to pay the entrance. There was a nice walking trail, shop, coffee and snacks, and toilets.
Grumeti Migration Camp
We stayed at the Grumeti Migration Camp in the Ikoma area right outside the park gate. This is a great location late May to mid-July, but the migration was early this year, so it was further north. There were elephant, zebra, Thompson gazelle, and wildebeest right at the camp.
DAY 6 – August 8 – Balloon Safari, Serengeti
We departed our camp in the Ikoma area at 4:15am. We picked up some other people at other camps and arrived at the launch site at 5:30am. We saw a lion and 2 hippos crossing the road (not together) on our drive there. The other car saw a leopard as well. It was cold at first, but it was warmer in the balloon (with hot flames). The sunrise was gorgeous!
There were 4 balloons flying that day. We were given a briefing by our pilot, then they filled it up, and it was time to get in. They start with the basket on the side. People climb in on their backs — 2 people in 8 compartments. As the balloon fills up, the basket rights itself.
We were in the air for about 1 hour. You go high up to see all around, and then you go way down close to the ground to see the animals. That’s why the acacia trees are so flat — ha ha!
When we landed, everyone gathers together for stories of the first hot air balloon ride and a champagne toast. Then we all drive to the beautiful breakfast spot in the bush.
It’s all white-glove service. Breakfast is eggs, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, sausage, bacon, fruit (watermelon, papaya, pineapple), bread, tea, coffee, mango juice, and lots more champagne.
You won’t want to miss the “Loo with a View”!
After breakfast, we drove to the Serengeti Visitor’s Center to meet our guide. It has a nice walking path, hyrax, interesting bones, a shop, and a bathroom.
The rest of the day is on game drive in the Serengeti National Park. We stopped for lunch at a popular lunch spot with amazing birds.
Back at the Grumeti Migration Camp, we went for a sundowner at 6pm. It was a 10 minute walk uphill to an overlook with a nice rock bench with cushions. Our guide explained some local information along the way. They served champagne, soda, popcorn, peanuts, and samosas. We asked the Maasai guide to give a blessing, which was translated into Swahili and finally English. It was an awesome view and an amazing sunset. It was a great way to finish the day!
DAY 7 – August 9 – Fly to Zanzibar
Departure from Serengeti
We flew from the Serengeti to Zanzibar. Our drive to the Seronera Airstrip included a game with a stop at the Hippo Pool, lots of animals and lions.
There were lots of safari vehicles at the airstrip, and everyone waits around for the right airplane to arrive. It was a great opportunities for group photos and to thank our guides. There were Caravans, Twin Otters, and King Airs landing and taking off. Sometimes, the airplanes have fly over the runway to scare off the animals.
The airport has bathrooms and a small snack bar with coffee. There was no check-in process (just a pilot roster), and no one weighed our luggage (but we were all careful to have the right kind of luggage and the right weight limits!). The pilot landed, paid the landing fee, loaded the luggage, and we were off (Runways 14-32, back taxi).
It was a 55 minute flight from Seronera to Arusha (a Caravan with 1 pilot). We had great views of the Ngorongoro Crater and Ol Doinyo Lengai. We got off in Arusha, re-checked our bags, and hung out for a while for our next flight. It was 1 hour and 40 minutes from Arusha to Zanzibar (a Caravan with 2 pilots). Kilimanjaro was barely peaking out of clouds.