Sun-drenched plains filled with fascinating creatures - elephant, wildebeest and zebra - intoxicate during a journey to four varied Tanzanian parks. Recall the golden age of safari, when caravans camped privately under lamp-lit trees. Embark on exclusive visits to a Maasai village and Olduvai gorge and sleep beneath the stars at luxurious, mobile-tented sites.
Days 1-2: USA or Canada/Arusha, Tanzania
Mountain Village Lodge Depart by overnight flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Arusha. Nestled in the heart of a coffee estate, your lodge boasts views of Lake Duluti and Mount Meru.
Day 3: Arusha/Tarangire National Park
Exclusive Mobile Tented Camp This morning, travel by road to Tarangire National Park and on to your exclusive tented, mobile campsite, which evokes the romance of a bygone era; an en-suite bathroom, ceramic flush toilet and shower ensures complete comfort throughout your stay. While living under canvas, a gracious, authentic feeling pervades. Partake in candlelit meals, spend time lounging before a roaring fire and sip cocktails while watching in quiet reflection as natureÂs wonders unveil. Surrounded by prime game viewing, you camp privately, situated amid rolling hills with baobab trees and enveloped by countless species of wildlife. Birders feel right at home: the endemic rufous-tailed weaver, as well as vibrantly-colored lilac-breasted roller, are waiting to be seen. As the day comes to a close, relax on your veranda, where you may lose yourself in a good book or simply absorb the magical scenery. Enjoy a special welcome dinner this evening.
Day 4: Tarangire National Park
Exclusive Mobile Tented Camp Begin the day with a cup of hot coffee or tea, brought by your private tent attendant. After a bush breakfast prepared by your staff, morning and afternoon game drives intersect TarangireÂs varied, fascinating landscapes Â from baobab tree forests to swamp and acacia-punctuated plains. Look for eland, wildebeest and zebra, along with a sizable elephant population. Return to camp for dinner.
Day 5: Tarangire/Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara Serena Lodge This morning, while your staff breaks camp and packs up the tents, depart for Lake Manyara National Park. Lake Manyara proper, one of a chain of lakes in AfricaÂs Great Rift Valley, is nestled at the foot of a spectacular 2,000-foot escarpment adorned with a towering canopy of mahogany trees and giant fig. En route, visit a traditional blacksmith making Maasai swords and spears, and stop at the linguistically rich Mto wa Mbu Â home to more than 90 tribes Â to peruse the market and Maasai handcrafts. After taking time to settle in at your lodge, explore the trails by foot with a resident naturalist, look out from an observation post or take a dip in the pool. After finishing lunch, set out on a late afternoon game drive through verdant, bird-populated foliage. Also, pay a visit to the Great Rift Valley, a stunning geographic trench where some of the worldÂs tallest mountains and deepest gorges are found.
Day 6: Lake Manyara National Park/Ngorongoro Crater
Exclusive Mobile Tented Camp Travel overland to quaint GibbÂs Farm for a freshly prepared lunch. Proceed to a luxury, mobile tented camp at the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater Â your home for the next two nights. Within the craterÂs 100-square-mile floor lives a fascinating microcosm of East African wildlife, including a thriving lion population. The oldest and still the most exclusive way to take a safari, sleeping under canvas is reminiscent of the vintage days when every safari was a self-sufficient, intimate caravan traveling through glorious landscapes. From your private perch at the rim of the great crater, you are lulled to sleep by the sounds of the African night.
Day 7: Ngorongoro Crater
Exclusive Mobile Tented Camp Drive down into the Ngorongoro Crater, one of AfricaÂs most unusual wildlife areas and the largest unbroken ancient caldera in the world. Protected by steep walls with a large soda lake at its center, the natural amphitheater is where you are likely to see many species of wildlife, including lion, elephant, hyena, wildebeest and gazelle. Even the rare and elusive black rhinoceros Â one of AfricaÂs most endangered species Â is a resident here. Flamingo and other birds share the shallow waters, stopping to bathe, drink or seek shelter from the fierce African sun. Relax over a gourmet hot barbecue at a private, shaded picnic site, set amid a yellow acacia woodland. Meanwhile, watch for nomadic, red-garbed Maasai herdsmen and their cattle, coexisting with wildlife as they have for centuries. Visit a nearby Maasai village, and meet with a village elder to gain insight into the Maasai lifestyle, culture and traditions. This evening, the colorfully attired Maasai put on a private, traditional dance performance.
Day 8: Ngorongoro Crater/ Serengeti National Park
Serengeti Serena Lodge Head west to Serengeti National Park, stopping en route at Olduvai Gorge, where the Leakey family unearthed Â among many fossil discoveries Â a skull identifying manÂs distant, East African ancestor. Descend into the gorge for a privately-guided exploration of this famous, compelling archaeological site. Then, visit the museum on the grounds, where a private lecture on the findings illuminates their historical significance. From here, continue your drive into the arid, spectacular country of Serengeti National Park and your lodge. Famed throughout Africa and around the world, the parkÂs 10,000 square miles support a myriad of wildlife, including lion, leopard, hyena, cheetah, giraffe and topi. Perched high on a hill, your lodge boasts magnificent views of the plains, which seem to go on forever. Meanwhile, the intimate accommodations Â inspired by a traditional African village Â consist of individual thatched huts, furnished with authentic African furniture and handicrafts. The lodge offers its own game trails to allow enjoyment of the SerengetiÂs unparalleled variety of game. Time permitting, an afternoon safari drive introduces you to the Serengeti.
Days 9-10: Serengeti National Park
Exclusive Mobile Tented Camp Transfer to your exclusive tented camp, where you spend two more days on safari in the Serengeti, watching vast herds at one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world. After settling in to your elegant accommodations Â resonant of an Out of Africa-era halcyon safari Â set out to explore once more. Ruled a protected animal refuge in 1929, the SerengetiÂs habitats support a wide variety of birds, mammals and reptiles Â all amid scenic landscapes. In addition to the ÂBig Five,Â the lesser-known ÂLittle FiveÂ Â ant lion, rhino beetle, leopard tortoise, buffalo weaver and elephant shrew Â may be seen peeking from behind stones or near-hidden in acacia branches. At the end of one day, linger over sundowner cocktails overlooking the Serengeti plains Â soon, nocturnal leopard sharpen their claws and prepare to hunt. Return to camp, spending time appreciating the looming, star-studded skies above. On your final evening, join fellow travelers for a farewell dinner, backdropped by a fiery African sunset.
Day 11: Serengeti National Park/Arusha/USA or Canada
Mountain Village Lodge Bid a fond farewell to the Serengeti and your camp staff, as you leave the vastness of the plains and fly to Arusha. Spend the remaining afternoon at leisure; a dayroom is provided for your comfort and convenience.
Day 12: USA or Canada
Connect with your homebound flight.