Visit the most famous wildlife parks in Kenya and Tanzania on the most comprehensive itinerary available—a perennial favorite!
East Africa is the perfect place to go big, and this comprehensive trip has it all: Serengeti, Tarangire, Amboseli, and Masai Mara. Let MTS, the African safari experts since 1971, guide you on a classic safari adventure through the iconic game parks of Tanzania and Kenya. Witness the Great Migration, where millions of animals gallop and graze their way through the southern and eastern Serengeti plains. Explore Ngorongoro Crater, a verdant, tranquil world that’s part Garden of Eden and part Noah’s Ark. Surrounded by glorious scenery—grasslands, lush green crater walls, and the snow-topped peak of Kilimanjaro in the distance—you’ll encounter wildebeest and zebras, elephant herds, lions and leopards, buffalo, rhinos, and amazing birdlife. After each remarkable day in the bush, you’ll spend the night in comfortable lodges or tented camps. What more could you ask for? This sweeping survey of East Africa's great wildlife paradises is ideal for your first time on safari—or your tenth!
Game viewing by 4-wheel-drive vehicle
- Classic safari brought to you by the experts since 1971! See all the major game parks of East Africa’s Tanzania and Kenya on one great adventure
- Visit Tanzania’s “must-see” spots—Tarangire, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Oldupai Gorge
- Explore Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, noted for its elephant herds and dramatic views of Kilimanjaro, and the Masai Mara, offering game viewing par excellence
- Fascinating, authentic cultural visits with the Maasai
Duration: 14 days Start Location: Arusha, Tanzania End Location: Nairobi, KenyaDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Tanzania
You may arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) at anytime today, but most flights arrive in the evening. A Mountain Travel Sobek representative will meet you outside the customs and immigration area at the airport. He or she will escort you to the Mountain Village Lodge, set on a tree-shaded coffee plantation in Arusha. Enjoy dinner anytime tonight at the lodge.
Day 2 : To the Serengeti
Transfer to the airport for an early morning flight to an airstrip in the Serengeti. You will be met by a local guide and transferred to your accommodation, with a game drive en route. After lunch and a rest, you’ll go out again for a late afternoon game drive.
Lodging varies depending on the season for the best location for wildlife viewing. Accommodations on the December through March trips will be at the Ndutu Lodge, located in the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti. Shaded by majestic acacia trees, each of the thirty four cottages, which are built of local materials, has a private veranda facing Lake Ndutu.
Accommodations on the June through September departures are at the Serengeti Serena Lodge, a beautiful two-story lodge with specialty restaurants, bars, and an outdoor swimming pool. Rooms feature a view over the vast Serengeti plains.
Days 3 - 4 : In the Serengeti
Our itinerary is seasonally adjusted so you will have the best game viewing possible. Generally, from December to May the great herds of the Serengeti migration (mostly wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle) are on the grassy plains of the southern Serengeti. More than a million prehistoric looking wildebeest inhabit the plains—the largest herd of mammals on earth—and during this period, hundreds of thousands of young calves are born. The co-mingling of wildebeest, Thomson’s gazelles, and zebra makes perfect ecological sense and acts as a huge organic lawnmower. The wildebeest munch the taller, tougher grasses, followed by the zebra that eat the shorter, more tender grasses. Bringing up the rear are the gazelles, which nibble on the new sprouts that spring up after the heavy fertilization of the migrating predecessors.
On the June through September departures, we’ll explore the area around Seronera, a jumping off point in all directions. Here the savannah woodlands of the northern Serengeti meet the edge of the treeless plain. They are a mosaic of habitats: small grassy plains mix with tree savannas and areas of dense bush. The variety of vegetation makes for a much greater diversity of animals: buffalo, giraffe, dik-dik, reedbuck, impala, waterbuck, baboons, and vervet monkeys are all common resident species, as are lion, cheetah, leopard, and hyena. The bird life is also extremely varied and prolific, ranging from colorful weaverbirds to imposing Martial eagles. In the Seronera area itself is the Seronera River—one of the finest areas in Africa for encounters with the elusive leopard. Seronera always has resident game, including several resident prides of lion, and may well be thronged with zebra herds. Just to the north is the game-rich area around the Retima Hippo Pool. Also in Seronera are the beautiful Maasai kopjes, rounded piles of boulders—outcroppings of the earth’s original crust (2.7–4 billion years old)—formed into their distinctive shape by eons of wind. They occur as archipelagos, artistic islands of stone punctuating the Serengeti’s sea of grass, and each has a very different character. During these days we’ll search for small animals: aardwolf, African wildcat, bat-eared fox, dik-dik, rock-climbing klipspringer antelope, porcupine, and more.
Day 5 : Oldupai Gorge – Ngorongoro Crater
From the Serengeti Plains we ascend to the Crater Highlands, passing through more of the Serengeti’s kopje country in the southern plains. Also common here is the beautiful chestnut-colored topi antelope, with delicate reedbuck often encountered in the vegetation that surrounds the rock outcrops. Lions greatly favor kopjes as daytime resting places as well. En route we’ll pass through Oldupai Gorge, where Louis and Mary Leakey made some of the most important discoveries in the search for evidence of early man. (Once called Olduvai Gorge, the name was officially changed to Oldupai Gorge by government decree.) We’ll visit the simple Oldupai Museum, which documents the Rift Valley’s paleoanthropological history. Continue to our semi-permanent deluxe tented camp on the crater rim for overnight.
We sleep on cot-beds with foam pads and comfortable bedding in well-ventilated, fully netted, bug-proof, two-person tents that are tall enough to move about. Food served in our safari camps is abundant, fresh, and delicious. Our staff will bring you hot water basins for daily washing. Special shower and toilet tents are set up en suite. The water for the showers is solar-heated and the toilets are sit-down environmentally appropriate chemical toilets.
Day 6 : Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro Crater is truly one of the great natural wonders of the world. A spectacular setting for wildlife is presented within its 102-square-mile crater framed by steep green walls. The crater floor is almost entirely open country, so wildlife is in full visibility, a wonderful opportunity for photography and meaningful observations.
If you had only one day in your life to see African wildlife, Ngorongoro Crater would be “the" place. Imagine a pride of lions, bellies flat to the ground, closing in on a group of unsuspecting zebra, or a black rhino gazing across the grassy plains, casually unaware that his species teeters on the brink of extinction. Herds of zebra, white-bearded wildebeest, and gazelle mingle and circulate together, while buffalo graze the long grass areas. Bull elephants feed in green marshes and there are plenty of hyenas and huge prides of lions (we may be fortunate to witness predation in action). And if that isn’t enough, we can enjoy clusters of flamingos gathered around the caldera’s soda lakes (seasonal), raptors such as the auger buzzard, bateleur, or long-crested eagle perched for the hunt, or the colorful mosaic of brilliant birds, including the jacana, little bee-eater, Hildebrandt’s starling, and the red bishop. We’ll spend the morning in the Crater.
In the afternoon we’ll drive into the highlands above Ngorongoro Crater where a steep but relatively easy ascent of about an hour through montane forest brings us to the summit of Olmoti volcano. Here, in addition to enjoying fantastic views of the surrounding Crater Highlands, we meet the Maasai, the fascinating inhabitants of this part of the world. The Maasai are pastoralists who have lived in harmony with the northern Tanzanian ecosystem for centuries. The men tend herds of cattle and goats that graze and drink from the area’s year-round springs, while the women bear responsibility for the manyatta (village), building their rectangular homes made of cut branches, ash, and cow dung, as well as the cattle corral that is central to the manyatta. A large number of the Maasai have managed to keep their traditions intact despite the onslaught of modern African culture: polygamy is practiced (a man will average three to four wives), and there are intricate rituals and rites of passage, including circumcision for males.
We’ll be greeted with traditional welcome dances, noted for athletic leaps and earth-shaking stomping. After overcoming our initial shyness, we’ll have the opportunity to break into groups and have the chance to ask extensive questions about this traditional culture. Our hosts will also have the chance to ask questions about our own culture as we visit their homes.
Days 7 - 8 : Tarangire National Park / Tarangire National Park
Drive to Tarangire National Park in the Great Rift Valley, with lunch en route. In the afternoon we’ll proceed to Tarangire Safari Lodge, our accommodation for the next two nights. Tarangire is a very scenic park, with expansive views of baobab-studded grasslands stretching in every direction. Its small permanent river attracts a multitude of thirsty animals: all day long, a parade of wild animals proceed to the Tarangire River to drink. Animals to be seen include numerous family groups of elephants (often in concentrations of hundreds), huge herds of buffalo, wildebeest, and zebra, many groups of kongoni, impala, and reedbuck as well as lion and leopard. Sometimes we find real safari oddities here, including the incomparably beautiful antelope called the lesser kudu and the elusive African python. We'll arrive at the lodge in the late afternoon for sundowners and a delicious dinner.
Day 9 : Arusha – Amboseli National Park
Drive to Arusha, with lunch en route. In the afternoon, we say goodbye to our Tanzanian guide and transfer to the Kenya border at Namanga. After clearing customs and immigration, we’ll meet our Kenyan guide and proceed to Amboseli National Park by road, game viewing along the way. Amboseli, at the foot of Kilimanjaro, is well known for its dramatic views of Kilimanjaro and is one of the best places to see undisturbed elephant herds. Tonight we’ll enjoy terrific sunset views of snow-crowned Kilimanjaro and stay in the very comfortable Ol Tukai Lodge.
Day 10 : Amboseli National Park
We’ll rise early to enjoy clear views of Kilimanjaro, then spend the day exploring the park, a mixture of acacia woodlands, dry open plains, and marshy areas harboring year-round waterholes—an ideal habitat for the wildlife typical of the African plains. The elephants in this region have been immortalized by the work of renowned naturalist/scientist Cynthia Moss. Her book Elephant Memories is an account of her observations of local elephant families. Though elephants are the specialty of Amboseli, buffalo and hippos also abound, as well as giraffe and other less common species such as fringe-eared oryx and the graceful gerenuk.
Days 11 - 13 : Masai Mara National Reserve
This morning we will transfer to the Amboseli airstrip for a scheduled flight to the Masai Mara (via Nairobi). You’ll be met upon arrival and game drive en route to Mara Simba Lodge, our home for the next 3 nights.
The Masai Mara, an extension of the Serengeti ecosystem in Tanzania, is Kenya’s game country at its best. The grassy plains of this savanna landscape are dotted with occasional trees and an ever-present abundance of wild animals, while distant mountains and escarpments break the line of the puffball African sky. Herds of Thomson’s gazelles leap before our vehicle as family groups of zebra contentedly graze, and the black wildebeest run past in their columns. The variety of animals in the Mara is extraordinary and we are sure to find all the classic African species here, including surprisingly graceful elephants and aristocratic giraffes. The swift Mara River is home to pods of hippo, and we’ll spot huge crocodiles sunning on its banks. The antelopes are here in astonishing variety and abundance: we’ll make our acquaintance with topi, eland, Grant’s gazelle, waterbuck, and reedbuck. And with so many grazing animals in the area, we are sure to see the cats: large prides of lions are in permanent residence in the Mara, as are good numbers of cheetah. The Mara is also one of the best places to see the always reclusive leopard.
Day 14 : Departure
We'll transfer to the Mara airstrip for the late morning flight back to Nairobi, then transfer to the Stanley Hotel, where dayrooms are available until your evening ride to the airport. Depart on late evening homeward-bound flights or join one of our many East Africa extensions to places like Lamu Island or gorilla trekking in Rwanda.
DATES: Departures: Dec 18 - 31, 2014 Feb 8 - 21, 2015 Jun 10 - 23, 2015 Aug 12 - 25, 2015 Dec 19, 2015 - Jan 1, 2016
Age 10-12yrs: $500 off Park Fees and $600 off Land Cost
Mountain Village LodgeArusha, Tanzania
Set in the midst of a coffee plantation on the shores of Lake Duluti and at the foot Mount Meru, this unique hotel boasts stunning vistas of nearby Mount Kilimanjaro. Thatched rondavels, flowered gardens and groves of coffee bushes make this lodge an idyllic haven.
Serengeti Serena Safari LodgeSerengeti National Park, Tanzania
Inspired by the circular rondavel dwellings and winding paths of a traditional Maasai village, the lodge features thatched, stone-built rooms set among groves of trees cooled by a sparkling stream and papyrus-fringed pond.
Ndutu Safari LodgeTanzania
Ndutu Safari Lodge is situated in the South-eastern part of the Serengeti ecosystem. Shaded by majestic acacia trees, each of the thirty four cottages, which are built of local materials, has a private verandah facing Lake Ndutu. The Lodge is surrounded by indigenous trees and shrubs which encourage a host of birds and mammals to come right to your front door.
Mara Simba LodgeKenya
At the Mara Simba Lodge the ambiance is Masai, and the decor incorporates ethnic design elements from the local tribes. The grounds extend almost a kilometer along the Talek River with the beautiful riverbank left in its virgin state. Further back, lush landscaped gardens of indigenous plants and trees attract colorful birds and butterflies. The lodge overlooks a dramatic bend in the river and is designed to complement its natural setting. The 84 guest rooms, arranged in clusters of 6, are outfitted in natural wood tones and stone banda. Guest rooms have ensuite showers and tiled bathrooms with natural granite. Each spacious room opens onto its own private veranda with uninterrupted views across the river.
Ol Tukai LodgeAmboseli National Park, Kenya
Ol Tukai Lodge is a comfortable safari lodge situated in the heart of Amboseli National Park. The property overlooks Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Amboseli plain to the south and the eastern boundary is amongst the best spots in the world to watch elephant.There are 80 chalet-style twin rooms at Ol Tukai Lodge, all with an uninterrupted view of the wetlands or Kilimanjaro. The rooms are built from gum trees, local river stone and slate. All rooms are comfortably furnished and have private bathrooms and individual terraces.
Tarangire Safari LodgeTarangire National Park, Tanzania
Built high on a bluff overlooking the game-rich Tarangire River, the lodge offers you an uninterrupted view of the landscape and wildlife below. Luxury tents combine modern comforts with the authentic safari atmosphere.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way. This trip features two separate guides—one on Tanzania and one for the Kenya portion. The national parks of both Kenya and Tanzania have certain restrictions on using foreign guides, and we find that using 2 in-country guides, each experts in their particular region and culture, enhances your safari experience. One of our often-assigned Tanzania guides is:
James Adiel Kivuyo was born in Arusha, Tanzania. He is interested in the conservation of biodiversity in African wildlife, and has had previous experience as an interpreter. James speaks a number of languages from English and Masaai to the local dialect of Chagga and Kiswahili—the national language of Tanzania. He enjoys using his knowledge of other languages to communicate with people from a broad cultural spectrum, and loves sharing his experience with travelers from around the globe. He has also been helping travelers climb Kilimanjaro for more than a decade, with qualification to respond to emergencies on the mountain.