I first visited Tanzania in the late 1980s and fell in love. Over the years this iconic East Africa safari destination has done nothing but improve! The days of camping on the Crater floor are long gone but getting around is far easier and many camps now offer open safari vehicles along with professionally guided walks.+
Start with a night in Arusha and luck on your side, snap a photo of Mount Kilimanjaro. Next visit Tarangire which is the seasonal home to more elephant, lion, giraffe, and hippo than you can shake a stick at. Continue to Lake Manyara made famous in Ian Douglas Hamilton’s book “Among the Elephants”. Tree climbing lions can be seen along with incredible numbers of flamingos. Next visit one of the 7 wonders of the world – Ngorongoro Crater where we include a lavish crater floor picnic right amongst the animals! Continue by air to Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains to witness the world’s largest animal migration. If you are lucky catch the wildebeest crossing the Mara River or calving on the open grass plains.
You will be met upon arrival at the Kilimanjaro Airport and as an Ultimate Africa guest you will be whisked past other travelers to the front of the immigration line before being transferred by road to Rivertrees Country Inn.+
Set next to the burbling Usa River on 10 acres the rooms and food are simple, yet nice.
Accommodations: Rivertrees Country Inn, 1 night, bed and breakfast
Rivertrees Country Inn, Arusha, Tanzania – Overall the best value in Arusha… comfortable farmhouse cottages, 10 acres of lovely gardens, and tasty wholesome food. Service can be a bit hit / miss and lights may flicker as power can come and go depending upon the time of year / weather.
What we do: If you have the time add a second night upon arrival here. Go for a morning swim, enjoy a spicy sausage wood fired pizza, and an afternoon massage.
A short air transfer (included in land cost) has you landing amongst the Tanzania’s greatest concentration of wildlife outside of the Serengeti ecosystem.+
The guides at Little Oliver’s know this area like the back of their hands. They will take you on day and night wildlife viewing drives in open 4×4 vehicles and walking safaris right amongst the animals!
Accommodations: Little Oliver’s, 2 nights, all inclusive
Little Oliver’s Camp, Tarangire, Tanzania: Set deep within Tarangire National Park Little Oliver’s strikes the perfect chord for us. The camp has been built far from the madding crowd that can be encountered around the park’s entrances. With only 5 rooms (each with comfortable beds, ensuite bathroom with hot / cold running water, toilet and both indoor and outdoor showers) the camp atmosphere is intimate and unpretentious. Animals can, and do, walk freely amongst the rooms. Welcome to Africa!
Continue by road with your own private safari vehicle and guide to the Ngorongoro Highlands and Gibbs Farm – a must visit location in Tanzania.+
The afternoon of day 4 will be spent with your private guide looking for tree climbing lions in Lake Manyara National Park with a boxed lunch. Early the next morning your guide will drive you to Ngorongoro Crater for a full day wildlife viewing. A picnic breakfast on the crater floor is a bucket list experience.
Accommodations: Gibbs Farm, 2 nights, all inclusive
Gibbs Farm, Ngorongoro Highlands, Tanzania – This utterly charming property, built on a lush hillside within a 40 acre organic farm, is the ideal base to explore nearby Lake Manyara, the town of Karatu, and Ngorongoro Crater. The 17 rustic, yet wonderfully comfortable rooms, each with its own fireplace, are surrounded by incredible flowering gardens with views of the misty Ngorongoro Highlands. The farm fresh meals are wholesome and hearty – so good I wish I were married to the chef (please don’t tell my wife). When not out on safari you can watch coffee being roasted, take a hike to the elephant caves, or learn to bake bread. Voted #2 hotel in Africa and #16 in world according to Conde Nast in 2016. Please note this great value property is not set within a wildlife area.
Ultimate Africa Exclusives: As an Ultimate Africa guest enjoy a private fireside dinner in the gardens your first evening. UA guests also receive a complimentary bag of Gibb’s Farm organic coffee beans.
Continue by light air transfer (included in land cost) to the Serengeti and Olakira Camp. Nights under canvas and days surrounded by wildebeest and wildlife!+
We chose Olakira for 2 reasons – it is in our opinion the very best value yet high quality experience in the Serengeti and importantly the camp moves with the migration throughout the year. Open 4×4 vehicles put you right in the action. Depending upon the time of year visit Olduvai Gorge or catch the migration crossing the Mara River. Optional hot air ballooning.
Accommodations: Olakira Camp, 3 nights, all inclusive
Olakira Camp, Serengeti, Tanzania – No safari to Tanzania would be complete without a few nights spent in a comfortable tented camp right amongst the migration. It is so cool to fall asleep to the sounds of lion roaring and wake to thousands of wildebeest and zebra within arm’s reach. Each of the 9 tents offer comfortable beds, a flushing toilet and bush shower which is filled with hot water upon request.
When it comes to the wildebeest migration location is EVERYTHING. When the migration is in the northern Serengeti late July through early October Olakira is located a 5 minute drive from the Mara River. Only Singita Mara River Camp is closer. When the migration is in the south, January through March’ish, Olakira moves to Ndutu – the same area chosen by legendary wildlife photographer Hugo Van Lawick (one time husband to Jane Goodall) as his base from which to live and work.
Ultimate Africa Exclusive: Enjoy a complimentary private bush breakfast on the Serengeti Plains one morning!
Light air transfer (included in land cost) to the Kilimanjaro Airport.+
You will be met on arrival and transferred by road the short distance to Kia Lodge where you will have the use of a day room. As the sun is setting head up to the pool deck for a view of the world’s tallest free standing mountain – Kilimanjaro. Later this evening you will be transferred by road to the airport and assisted with the check in to your onward flight.
Kia Lodge, Kilimanjaro Airport, Tanzania: Kia lodge, 3 minutes by road from the Kilimanjaro Airport, is set in 30 acres of lush, tropical and savannah gardens, providing a haven for over 100 bird species. The lodge has 40 basic, en-suite rooms. They are nothing to write home about… in fact the word spartan comes to mind. The swimming pool is located on top of a hill, with panoramic views of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru, and the Maasai steppe. Please note that we are not suggesting Kia Lodge as a quality destination. It is simply a very convenient location where clients can clean up and rest before their long international flight home.
January through February, 2017: $8,100
April through May, 2017: We do not suggest travel during these months
June, 2017: $8,100
July through October, 2017: $9,000
November through December 19, 2017: $7,500
Prices are per person and do not include international flights
Specials and exclusive offers
Depending upon the time of year you intend to travel we may be able to secure free nights or discounted rates at certain properties on this trip. Please don’t hesitate to ask.
Clients paying by check can save 2.5% off their land costs
What you get
– Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti Plains, and Mount Kilimanjaro
– 12 wildlife viewing / safari activities
– Africa’s Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo) – really close
– Wildebeest migration
– Tree climbing lions
– Day and night wildlife viewing drives in open and closed 4×4 vehicles (no minibuses) with unlimited mileage and guaranteed window seat
– Walking safaris with professional guides at Little Oliver’s Camp
– Optional Serengeti hot air balloon excursion with Champagne breakfast (at extra cost)
– A private full day wildlife viewing drive in Ngorongoro Crater
– Bird watching including flamingoes in Ngorongoro Crater
– All park and entrance fees
– Expert English speaking guides
– 1 night Rivertrees Country Inn on a bed and breakfast basis
– 2 nights Little Oliver’s Camp on an all inclusive basis
– 2 nights Gibb’s Farm on an all inclusive basis
– 3 nights Olakira Camp on an all inclusive basis
– Kia Lodge dayroom
– VIP airport meet and assist in Kilimanjaro
– Private airport transfers in Arusha
– 3 light air transfers (Kilimanjaro to Little Oliver’s Camp, Lake Manyara to Olakira Camp, Olakira Camp to Kilimanjaro)
– 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners
– Private bush breakfast at Olakira Camp
– Private fireside dinner at Gibb’s Farm
– Complimentary bag of Gibb’s Farm organic coffee
– Lavish Ngorongoro Crater picnic
– All drinks at Little Oliver’s Camp, Gibb’s Farm and Olakira Camp (waters, teas / coffees, sodas, beers, wines, spirits)
– Laundry at Little Oliver’s Camp and at Olakira Camp
– Confirmation package with a wealth of predeparture information
– Major bragging rights at the office (and pretty much everywhere else)
What isn’t included?
– International flights from your home city to Kilimanjaro / from Kilimanjaro back home
– Trip insurance
– Tips / gratuities
– Some meals and drinks (i.e. when staying bed and breakfast lunch and dinner and most drinks are not included and when on safari premium spirits / champagne are not included)
– Spa treatments (unless stated)
– Telephone calls.
When to travel
This trip is best January through mid March and June through October each year.
Why not stay at Ngorongoro Crater?
Crater Lodge offers jaw dropping views and incredible rooms however it is not cheap. The Sopa and Serena lodges offer basic rooms and pretty good food at a much lower cost, however overbook often leaves guests without rooms. Rhino Lodge is filled with super budget European travelers. Tented camps such as Sanctuary and Lemala offer fairly priced tented rooms however at 8,000 feet they can be cold and dark – especially when it rains (which it does frequently) and there is little to do in the way of other activities. Therefore we often recommend properties such as The Manor, Plantation Lodge, Kitela, Farmhouse and Gibbs Farm which offer fireplaces in the rooms, beautiful gardens, great food, lots of activities, and in some cases swimming pools to relax beside. We try to get our clients into the crater each day as early as possible. Not only to avoid possible queues at the park gate but the early morning is the best time in the crater. Cats are more active and you are likely to see a leopard crossing the road or lions and hyena fighting over a kill. The light is also sublime for photography. By bringing a packed breakfast we can and avoid the lunchtime crowds. After 10AM it starts to get hot and dusty so we often leave the crater around 11AM getting back to Gibbs Farm in time for a 1PM lunch (and lunch at Gibbs Farm is unforgettable)… then the afternoon is free to go for a hike or to enjoy any of the other activities on offer. By staying on the crater rim you will get into the crater perhaps 30 minutes earlier.
Grab a coffee at the Arusha Airport – delicious!
Both Tarangire National Park and the Western and Northern parts of the Serengeti are home to tsetse fly. Similar to a horse fly we jokingly refer to them as “flying teeth” – they pack a mean bite. Despite warm to hot days we suggest long pants, sleeved shirts, and closed shoes in these areas.
Add 3 nights on the spice island of Zanzibar staying at Matemwe Lodge. Includes a private Stone Town walking tour learning about the island’s slave trading past and a private candlelit beach dinner.
Add 5 nights at Rwanda trekking for mountain gorillas!
Getting to Africa
From North America there are direct flights to Africa from Washington DC, New York and Atlanta. Alternatively you may fly via Europe, or even Dubai, to Africa. If you let us know the name of your preferred departure city we can provide you with airfare options. Air tickets may only be booked 330 days in advance. Please note air fares are subject to change over time. Most light aircraft transfers between lodges and camps are included in the land cost and are noted on the itinerary.
Is this a group trip?
This is not a group trip. This trip can depart on any dates for 1 or more people (the trip costs have been based on 2 guests traveling together). With additional guests costs may change.
How much luggage can I bring?
As small aircraft are often used to transfer travelers between lodges and camps body weight and luggage weight are important safety considerations. Baggage is strictly limited to 15 kilograms (33 pounds) packed in one or two soft sided bags plus a small backpack per person. This includes camera equipment. Suitcases will not be permitted. If you wish to exceed the luggage limit please inquire about the extra cost of doing so.
At Gibbs Farm / Ngorongoro Crater you will have your own private safari vehicle and private professional, local English speaking, guides. At Little Oliver’s Camp and at Olakira Camp activities, such as wildlife viewing drives, are shared with other guests (no more than 6 guests per vehicle) and led by professionally licensed, local English speaking guides who are based at each safari camp / lodge. They know their areas intimately. Your safety and comfort are their highest concerns. They are also trained and prepared to respond to medical emergencies. If you prefer to have a private guide and vehicle at any location this can be arranged at extra cost.
Do I need shots?
No. Most travelers do take anti-malaria tablets for the safari portion of their trip and get a Hepatitis A shot. We recommend that you visit with a local travel health specialist in your hometown to discuss any special concerns you might have.
Do I need an entry visa?
American passport holders visiting Tanzania do need an entry visa. This may be purchased upon arrival for US $100 cash per person.
How far in advance to book
Most of the properties we recommend are small and dearly sought after. To ensure availability of accommodations we suggest planning and booking your travel arrangements at least 9-12 months in advance. If planning closer to your travel dates we may need to look at alternate properties to make things work.
How to make it happen
At Ultimate Africa Safaris we do it all – from hotel and lodge bookings, to air tickets and travel insurance. We handle dinner reservations and celebrations as well – we love celebrations! The first step is to check availability at the various properties. We will then prepare a personal proposal for you. To learn more call our Seattle office toll free 1 800 461 0682. From outside the USA / Canada call on 425 793 8877. We are in between 9AM and 5PM weekdays. Alternatively email us at email@example.com
No money, no funny
To confirm an itinerary we require a 25% of land cost non-refundable deposit per person. Your land payments may be made by credit card (MasterCard, Visa or American Express) or by debit card (MasterCard or Visa). Alternatively payments may be made by personal, business or certified check made out to Ultimate Africa and posted to our office. Clients paying by check can save 2.5% off their land payments which will be credited to your invoice upon receipt of the check payment (please do not deduct this from your deposit amount). Future discounts will be applied to land payments made by check. Deposits must be accompanied by completed reservation forms. Upon receipt of your deposit full trip details will be posted to your address. This includes a confirmation letter, invoice, country specific information, travel checklist (what you need to bring), and final air / land itinerary. Your final trip payment will be due 75 days prior to your departure.
Make sure you are covered
All clients are required to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance plan before trip departure. This should cover you for events such as tour operator bankruptcy / financial default, trip cancellation, delay or interruption, lost or delayed baggage, emergency accident, sickness and evacuation, 24 hour medical assistance, traveler’s assistance, and emergency cash transfer. For coverage we suggest Travel Guard insurance. The total premium will be based on your total land / air cost and your ages. If you provide our office with your credit card details we will purchase / complete the insurance formalities on your behalf.