Serengeti National Park

Size: 5,700 sq. miles (14,800 sq. km.) Best time: Dec-July (wildebeest); June-Oct (predators)

The word “serengeti” is derived from the Masai word for “endless plains.” Without a doubt the vastness of the Serengeti, Tanzania’s largest national park, will leave you breathless. To the south and east, the plains roll unbroken for hundreds of miles, providing an ideal habitat for grazers like zebra, gazelle, and wildebeest who spend much of their lives migrating within the boundaries of the Serengeti. Literally millions of animals can be seen on the plains of the Serengeti; when the grazing is good, you’ll be sure to spot wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, ostrich, cheetah, hyena, jackal and vultures.

Lions also frequent the open plains because of the abundance of food. The Serengeti is home to many lion prides that tend to live on and around the kopjes – rocky outcroppings that dot landscape. The rocks provide a shady place to lie in the hot afternoons as well as a nice place to hide and wait for unsuspecting antelope and wildebeest. Naabe Hill, one of the entrances to the park, has been the base for much of the lion research that has been conducted in the area. In fact, many of the lions you see will be wearing radio collars and you can read up on their personal histories!

In the centre of the Serengeti lies the Seronera Valley. This area is greener and wetter than the plains and is home to a different set of wildlife. Leopards might be sighted lounging in a sausage tree, hippos can certainly be found wallowing in the hippo pool and a variety of antelope bound in and out of the brush. At the brand new visitor centre (opened in 2000), you might be amused by the antics of curious vervet monkeys who will gladly steal your lunch if given a chance. Also in abundance are hyrax, mongoose, and baboons although these tend to keep their distance.

To the west, the Grumeti Western Corridor sees the great migration move through in June and July. The Grumeti river is home to the famous Nile crocodiles – giants that grow up to 18 feet (6 meters) long! As the migration moves through the area, the crocodiles snap up animals that stop to drink and cross the river. The crocodiles may not eat again for a full 12 months until the herds return again next year.

Of course, many of the animals of the Serengeti only come out at night and these are difficult to find since night safaris are not permitted. Early risers may be lucky enough to catch the “tail end” of nocturnal activities but some animals such as the genet cat, serval, bushbabies, and pangolins are a really rare treat.

Visitors to the Serengeti may arrange for a balloon safari and experience the wonders of the great ecosystem from above. Accommodations are available within the parks boundaries and along the edges. Excursions into the Gol area to the east can be made off road with a ranger specially trained in the behaviour of lions.

Why do zebras have stripes?

There are many theories about the zebra’s stripes. Some people say it is to confuse predators, others say it is a kind of display like the peacock’s feathers. The official website of the Serengeti relates a different story.

“While studying buffalo and wildebeest in Serengeti, Dr. Sinclair would watch these animals at night with ‘night vision’ goggles. On starless nights, the ground appeared black and the sky a greenish colour on the screen. Animals appeared as either black or grey shapes silhouetted against the sky. Strangely, every now and then, a wildebeest would just disappear and then re-appear a few seconds later. After watching this occur a few times, a powerful spotlight was brought into play. Standing among the wildebeest were a group of zebra, invisible on the goggles. Since then, technology has improved, but the zebra remain invisible at night.”
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Accommodation

Seronera Wildlife Lodge (TAHI group)

The Seronera lodge is situated in the centre of Serengeti National Park near the visitors centre and hippo pool. The lodge has seventy-five rooms with private bathrooms and offers a spectacular vantage point from which to observe the wildlife of the Serengeti; it’s central location makes it ideal for accessing various areas of the park.

Lobo Wildlife Lodge (TAHI group)

Deservedly earning a reputation as one of the most beautiful lodges in Tanzania, the Lobo wildlife lodge is built into a large rocky outcropping overlooking the Serengeti Plains. The Lodge features a swimming pool and is located ideally for game drives.

Serengeti Serena Lodge

Serengeti Serena Lodge is set atop a hill that provides awe-inspiring views of countless zebra, buffalo, gazelle, wildebeest, and other species. Big game feed in full view of the lodge. Inspired by traditional African architecture, the lodge design is charming, offering accommodation in individual cabins that are rich in atmosphere and indigenous touches.

Serengeti Sopa Lodge

The buildings of this Sopa Lodge (link) are inspired by the Maasai, with rounded corners and flat roofs. The lodge is situated in an acacia woodland near year-round springs. It’s elevated position provides scenic vistas and cool breezes.

Loliondo

Located just inside the north-eastern edge of the Serengeti near the Masai Mara in Kenya, Loliondo is a semi-permanent camp located in the shadow of massive kopjes where wildlife frequent the waterholes. Guests are attended by the permanent camp crew and can expect the highest level of service.

Grumeti River Camp

Located in a hidden valley in the western corridor of the Serengeti, the Grumeti Camp overlooks a tributary of the Grumeti River, home to hippo and crocodile. Ten self-contained tents are available, each with private shower and toilet.

Kirawira Cam

Located on the Kirawira hills in the western corridor of the Serengeti, the Kirawira Camp also overlooks the famous Grumeti River – home of the giant Nile crocodiles. 25 double tents are available, each one with its own solar-heated shower.

Kliens Camp

This camp is at a private ranch on the north-eastern edge of the Serengeti and offers high standards of comfort to guests in eight individual thatched-roof cottages.

Migration Camp

Built into a rocky outcropping near Lobo, this camp also overlooks the Grumeti River.

Classic Camping

Classic camping can be arranged and is a truly rewarding experience for those who want a closer look at the Serengeti ecosystem. Generally, food and supplies are provided and you will be accompanied by a staff to assist with the logistics of camping in the Serengeti.

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Wilderness and Culture Safari

Duration: 14 nights, 15 days
Description: Luxury camps, tented lodges & lodging safari
Location: Masai Mara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Manyara, Tarangire, Arusha, Amboseli
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Day 1

Arrive at Jomo Kenyata International Airport and transfer to Nairobi for dinner and overnight stay or transfer to Nairobi for breakfast if you arrive in the morning. After breakfast drive to Lake Nakuru where you arrive in time for lunch. Afternoon game drive and thereafter return to the hotel for dinner.

Dinner and overnight stay at Sarova Lion Hill.

Day 2

After breakfast depart to Masai Mara (northern part of Serengeti) to arrive in time for lunch at the lodge. Thereafter go on an exciting game drive along the Mara River where you may see the large Nile crocodile along the river banks waiting for their prey; other animals which depend on the Mara River for drinking. You may also see a big herd of zebras and wildebeest (gnus) which migrate from Serengeti to Maasai Mara. Return to the lodge before dusk.

Dinner and overnight stay at Masai Mara Serena Lodge.

Day 3

After breakfast depart on a morning game drive to explore the area along the plain. Observe the grasser animals and some predators, like cheetah, lion, hyena as well as birds. Then drive back for lunch and enjoy a cooldown at the swimming pool. In the afternoon go on a game drive to the woodlands where the animals are resting during the daytime when it is too hot. Drive back to the lodge before dusk.

Dinner and overnight stay at Maasai Mara Serena Lodge.

Day 4

After breakfast depart for Isebania on the way to Lake Victoria, stop at the Sirari border for immigration and customs clearance and continue to Speke Bay Lodge. Speke Bay Lodge is located on the southeastern shore of Lake Victoria in Tanzania, East Africa, 15 kilometres from the Serengeti National Park. Speke Bay is part of Speke Gulf, named after the famous explorer John Hanning Speke, who in 1858 discovered Lake Victoria to be the source of the Nile. Arrive at the camp for lunch. After lunch relax or enjoy activites offered at the lodge, such as fishing, bird watching (water birds) and excursion by local canoe.

Dinner and overnight stay at Speke Bay Lodge.

Day 5

After breakfast depart with picnic lunch to Serengeti National Park. On the way to the centre of Serengeti where you may spot more animals, especially the Big Five, and depending on the time of the year even the migrating animals. Serengeti is famous for its migrating animals, as well as its non-migrating residents, such as two groups of wildebeest (gnus), lions, elephants, gazelles and various cats.

Dinner and overnight stay at Olakira Luxury Camp.

Day 6

After breakfast have a full day game drive with picnic lunch to give you more time to explore the Serengeti, a “sea of grass” with its unique flora and fauna. The Serengeti is an endless plain where you always see the horizon with spectacular landscape such as the Kopjes (rocks) which lie on top of each other. The Serengeti is the largest national park in Tanzania, covering almost 15,000km², with almost two million migratory animals. Drive back to the camp before dusk.

Dinner and overnight stay at Olakira Luxury Camp.

Day 7

After breakfast depart to Ngorongoro Crater via Olduvai Gorge where Dr Leakey found the first human fossils named Homo habilis almost 2.5 Million years ago. Arrive at the lodge for lunch before proceeding to the crater. After lunch descend into to the crater for an afternoon game drive where you will have a special time, hopefully spotting several of the non-migrating animals. This is one of the places where all kinds of animals can be found, including the Big Five, which are living here all the time. Due to its rich biodiversity, the Ngorongoro Crater is a dedicated conservation area.

Dinner and overnight stay at Ngorongoro Serena Lodge.

Day 8

Early morning game drive with breakfast box and packed lunch, to wake up the animals in the crater. You will have time to see all the animals and birds in the crater within a section of the yellow-barked acacia forest. Return to the lodge just before dark.

Dinner and overnight stay at Ngorongoro Serena Lodge.

Day 9

After breakfast depart to Lake Manyara, where you arrive at the lodge in time for lunch. After lunch you continue to Lake Manyara National Park in search for the remaining Big Five and other animals and birds around the lake shore. Then drive back to the lodge before dark.

Dinner and overnight stay at Kirurumu Tented Lodge/Migunga Forest Camp.

Day 10

After breakfast drive to Tarangire National Park passing through the Great Rift Valley. Along the way you will stop at various villages and come across nearly all Tanzanian tribes living in the region. Arrive at Tarangire National Park for lunch and have a short rest by the swimming pool. In the afternoon you continue the journey along the Tarangire River where you can watch a big herd of elephants drinking with their young ones and wallowing in the mud to cool their bodies. Then drive back to the lodge before dusk.

Dinner and overnight stay at Tarangire Safari Lodge.

Day 11

Depart before breakfast for an early morning game drive in the Great Rift Valley before the cats hide from the heat of the sun. Then drive back to the lodge for breakfast and a short rest before departing for another game drive along the park. Thereafter have a warm lunch at the lodge. Continue the day with another game drive in the afternoon and enjoy a sundowner by the majestic baobab trees.

Dinner and overnight stay at Tarangire Safari Lodge.

Day 12

After breakfast have a game drive around Tarangire National Park and return to the lodge in time for lunch. Thereafter drive to Arusha where you will arrive at noon, have dinner and stay overnight.

Dinner and overnight at Moivaro Coffee Plantation Lodge.

Day 13

After breakfast drive to Mulala Culture Village: This village lies on the slopes of Mount Meru and its inhabitants are farmers. They grow coffee and banana on small plantations and have small gardens with vegetables for their own consumption as well as selling in the market. Additionally they raise cattle and produce cheese from their milk. One of the local women will show you around the village before having lunch at the Mulala Culture Village.

Dinner and overnight stay at Moivaro Coffee Plantation Lodge.

Day 14

After breakfast depart to Amboseli National Park via the Namanga border. After completing immigration and customs formalities, continue to Amboseli National Park, where you will arrive at the lodge in time for lunch. At noon begin a game drive in the park which should give you plenty of photo opportunities of wild animals and depending on the weather the Kilimanjaro.

Dinner and overnight stay at Amboseli Serena Lodge.

Day 15

After breakfast have a half-day game drive, then drive back to the lodge for lunch. Thereafter drive to Nairobi where you will have an early dinner at Carnivore, a meat specialty restaurant, before proceeding to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for your departure.

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Programme includes:
– accommodation on full board basis
– transport and transfers
– park fees
– crater fee
– camp fee
– mineral water in the car
– driver guide

Programme excludes:
– International flight
– soft drinks and alcohol
– Maasai visit
– Bushmen visit
– personal expenses
– visa

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Link to all our Classic Itineraries, click here.

Masai Mara National Reserve

Size: 1510 sq. km. Best time to visit: July-Sept. (migration); Anytime

The Masai Mara is one of the finest wildlife reserves in Kenya. It is the ecological continuation of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the south and provides a home for millions of Wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra at the northernmost point of the great migration.

At this time of the year the abundance and concentration of life is overwhelming as the grazers fill the plains and the predators come to share in the time of plenty.

Fantastic arrays of large mammals and over 450 species of birds can be observed in the Reserve year-round. From the peacefully grazing zebra, to the nervous gazelle and cantankerous hippopotamus and rhino, the Masai Mara offers wildlife for all temperaments. Roan antelope, bat-eared foxes and topi are among the less common animals that can be seen in the Masai Mara.

Accommodation

Mara Safari Club

Located in the Ol-Choro Oiroua Conservation Area on the edge of the Masai Mara National Park, the club offers 50 luxury tents that feature electricity, four-poster beds, private verandahs with views and complete bathroom facilities. Activities include nature walks, Maasai dancing and talks on ecology and local culture.

Mara Serena Lodge

Set in an ideal place to watch the great migration, the Mara Serena Lodge is constructed like a traditional African village. The lodge offers accommodations in 74 individual luxury cabins overlooking the plains.

Governor’s Camps

Four camps in the Masai Mara feature luxury tents in the classic style (link), each tent has its own en-suite bathroom with constant hot and cold running water and flushing toilets. Lighting is by gas, kerosene lantern and candlelight.

Siana Springs Tented Camp

The peaceful atmosphere and 38 charming luxury tents set among the trees offer a beautiful setting in which to relax after a long game drive.

Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp

45 luxury tents with en-suite facilities and twin beds and several thatched cabins are available at this tented camp on the banks of the Mara River. Views of the plains are excellent and game-viewing is prime.

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Kenya, safaris and wildlife adventures.

One of east Africa’s most prosperous nations, Kenya has enjoyed comparative economic growth in recent history. Its densely populated southern region, home of cosmopolitan Nairobi, offers many wildlife and cultural attractions while the sparsely populated northern regions offer vast tracts of uninhabited and protected land.

Many Kenyan safaris are combined with Tanzanian safaris. Together, the two countries offer a sensational array of cultural, historical and wildlife adventures. On the Kenyan side, visitors are likely to spend time in sprawling Nairobi, the setting of “Out of Africa,” the autobiographical story of †’s experiences in colonial East Africa. Nairobi National Park’s animal orphanage allows visitors to see and even pat baby animals that have been orphaned by poaching or other tragic circumstances. Other parks include the Masai Mara, home to millions of Wildebeest at the northernmost point of the great migration; Amboseli, famous for its elephant herds; and gigantic Tsavo.

Along the coast, beautiful white-sand beaches and coral reefs beckon sun bathers and divers alike. From sailing on a dhow (a type of boat invented in the 8th century) around the historical island of Lamu to setting off on a camel safari in the desert north, the farther reaches of Kenya also have a lot to offer. A climb up Mt. Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak, may entice some while an exploration of the mysterious Gedi ruins will attract the archaeologically minded.

Day by Day Safari details and Safari list

You can simply state the length of time for your safari and Christopher will design it for you. Alternatively you can take one of the standard safaris off the list or design your own trip. Just send an email to christopher@idreamofafrica.com.

Click here to discover all the most popular safaris destination in Kenya.