N1 – “Mara Pamoja” – migration safari July-October
Lake Manyara – Ngorongoro – Serengeti – Tarangire – Natron
8 days, 7 nights – scheduled departures for small groups of max 6 people
– from 8/13 to 8/20/2023 –– from 9/9 to 9/16/2023 –
Wildebeest and zebras in the Serengeti eco-system are the actors of “the greatest show on Earth”, they are part of the largest migratory movement of wild animals anywhere in the world, about 2,000,000 ungulates constantly moving in search of pastures and water.
During this time of the year the migrant herds head north, towards the dry season grazing grounds. It is a great time for the epic crossings of the Mara River, haunted by huge crocodiles.
The first wildebeest to arrive at the river are very reluctant to cross, but as the pressure builds from the rear they are eventually left with little choice and the spasmodic crossings begin. By the end of August some wildebeest cross into Kenya and enter the Maasai Mara, while many others stay in Tanzania.
In actual fact there as much of the Mara River in the Serengeti as there is in the Kenyan Maasai Mara.
But whereas on the Kenyan side there is accommodation for in excess of 5000 visitors, which translates into heavy tourist pressure, over “our side” there is just a handful of excellent small camps.
Limited accommodation means low numbers of visitors, northern Serengeti remains relatively light on traffic.
Day 2: Lake Manyara
Departure from Arusha in the morning for Lake Manyara National Park. Game drives.
Lake Manyara, below the Rift Valley escarpment, is home to various habitats despite its small area (330 sq km/205 sq miles), of which two hundred are occupied by the lake).
They range from dense forests fed by springs that emerge at the foot of the Rift Valley to savannahs and wetlands. Among many animal species there are large colonies of baboons, vervet monkeys and other species of monkeys, elephants, giraffes and three hundred and eighty species of birds.
Predators include numerous leopards and lions; the latter, annoyed by soil moisture and insects, have acquired the habit (rather rare in these big cats and found only in a few other areas) of climbing on tree branches.
Late afternoon, proceed to Karatu, on the Ngorongoro Highlands.
Lodge – Pamoja Olea Farm Lodge
Day 3: Ngorongoro Crater
Today is dedicated to game drives in the Ngorongoro Crater.
The Ngorongoro Crater is unique and unparalleled in the world.It is what remains of an ancient volcanic cone, whose peak collapsed about two and a half million years ago, creating the current caldera: a truncated cone containing a large “pan” with a diameter of 16/20 km (9/12 miles) with raised edges reaching about 600 metres (2000 feet) over the ground.
This basin has developed into savannah inhabited by more than 25,000 big game and every species typical of the region, with the exception of the giraffe (which does not find food here) is represented in the Ngorongoro Crater.
The crater rim reaches an altitude of 2,350 metres (7,700 feet) and offers breath-taking views. The outer slopes are covered with dense primary forest.
In the evening you will reach central Serengeti.
Lodge – Serengeti Pure Camp
Days 4 & 5: Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti ecosystem is home to over 1.5 million wildebeests, 400,000 zebras, 500,000 Thompson gazelles, more than 2,700 lions, 1000 leopards, 500 cheetahs, huge herds of elephants, elands, impalas, waterbucks, giraffes, ostriches, and genets. The rivers offer the perfect habitat for crocodiles and hippos; there are more than 400 species of birds.
The 15,000 square kilometres (9320 sq miles) of the Serengeti National Park are only the major portion of a larger ecosystem, which includes the Ngorongoro Plains (the flat region to the north east of the Ngorongoro Crater, which plays an important role in the famous migration and is administered by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area) and the Maasai Mara (which is located further north, in Kenya).
Here the orography, the soil composition and, consequently, the type of vegetation, allow unmatched animal sightings in Africa. The subsoil, made of volcanic rocks especially in the south, prevents the growth of tall trees and grasslands prevail, so the open environment fosters sightings.
Wildebeests and zebras in the Serengeti, always in search of new pastures and water, are part of the largest migratory movement of wild animals anywhere in the world: it is the Great Serengeti Migration which between July and October congregates in the northern sector of the Park.
Lodge – Mara Pure Migration Camp (2 nights)
Day 6: Serengeti – Lake Natron
Departure for the region of Lake Natron through north-eastern Serengeti. Lake Natron is 50 km (30 miles) in length and about 25 km (15 miles) in width.
It is a highly alkaline lake that occupies a depression created by the Rift Valley, a lava desert area of rugged beauty in the extreme north of Tanzania. Natron is the usual nesting area for millions of lesser pink flamingos who are fond of the cyanobacteria present in high concentration in the lake water, especially during the dry season (June to October), so they flock to its shores.
Oldonyo Len’gai volcano
At an altitude of nearly three thousand metres above sea level, Oldoinyo Leng’ai is the only volcano in the world that emits natron-carbonatite lava, rich in sodium carbonate, with very low viscosity and temperatures since it rises at 500–590 °C.
When the lava is flowing it resembles a kind of very fluid, dark “river” that some have likened to a stream of mud. After emission, when it comes into contact with water, the colour of natron-carbonatite lava changes rapidly to white, so that the top of the volcano seems to be cloaked in snow.
The last eruption was in December 2007 – January 2008 (which we witnessed in person as we were right there!) and it made the climb to the volcano summit even tougher since the lava completely erased the temporary trail that could sometimes be followed, and the small flat areas for stopping to catch your breath have gone completely. At that time we stopped offering trekking on Oldonyo Leng’ai.
What to do?
Arrival at your camp for (late) lunch, then hike along the Engare Sero creek, which flows through a narrow rocky gorge, leading to a beautiful waterfall where it is possible to swim. This isn’t a difficult trek but part of the route requires walking through water (which rarely reaches the knee height) so requires swimwear and non-slip footwear (reef shoes).
The trails to reach Lake Natron (both from the Serengeti, taking about five to six hours, and from Manyara, taking about three to four hours) are extremely scenic and you will be able to meet the Maasai communities who live off most tourist circuits. Accommodation at Natron is limited and pretty basic.
Lodge – Maasai Giraffe Lodge
Day 7: Lake Natron – Tarangire National Park
Early morning walk to the lake, to admire a landscape shaped by lava and water. Then drive through the scenic Crater Highlands to Engaruka, to meet the tarmac road at Mto wa Mbu and proceed to the Tarangire National Park where you will have a first game drive in the afternoon.
With its 2,600 square kilometres (1600 sq miles), Tarangire is a different habitat to the other northern parks.
It is 30 km across (18 miles), from east to west, and 100 km across (62 miles), from north to south. Considered a “park of giants”, Tarangire is home to huge baobab trees and large herds of elephants, as well as lions, leopards, antelopes, gazelles, wildebeests, zebras, buffalo, and about five hundred species of birds, both resident and migrant, the highest concentration in Tanzania.
The centre of life is the Tarangire River itself, which during the dry season, along with the Silale Marsh, becomes the only source of water, thus attracting large numbers of animals.
Lodge – Tarangire Safari Lodge
Day 8: Tarangire National Park – Arusha
Early morning game drive in Tarangire National Park, back to Arusha for lunch and transfer to airport.
From 1st night in Arusha
To departure in the afternoon
13th August 2023
20th August 2023
9th September 2023
16th September 2023
- Safari circuit by customized 4×4 Toyota Land Cruiser with pop up roof
- Full board, from dinner on day 1 to lunch on day 8 (some lunches will be packed)
- Entry fees to National Parks and Protected Areas
- All indicated activities
- English-speaking Guide (we have a limited number of Guides who speak French, Spanish, Italian and German, they are subject to availability at the time of booking)
- Transfers to/from Kilimanjaro Airport/Arusha Airport
- Flying Doctors AMREF insurance (air evacuation in case of emergency)
- Bottled mineral water during game drives
- VAT (value added tax) 18%
- International and domestic flights
- Entry visa (EU, CH, UK citizens = US$ 50, USA citizens = US$ 100, on arrival)
- Extras of personal nature
- Whatever not specified
Central Serengeti Balloon Safari, Seronera
Northern Serengeti Balloon Safari, Kogatende
Tarangire Ballon Safari