with your flashlight to see the glowing eyes looking back at you!

 

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Day 7:  Awake to another most excellent situation in the middle of the Serengeti. Plan on early morning game drives atdawn, with return to camp for breakfast. After breakfast on this first morning we will prepare for a journey along the
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Wildlife Adventure Safari Daily Diary

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This is a description of a 9-day African Journey through the northern ecosystems of Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, with an optional 5-day trip to the tropical beaches of Zanzibar Island. The safari is a combination lodge and camping safari designed as a group exploration of wildlife, culture and environment, combining a bit of adventure with a bit of luxury and a whole lot of fun.

 

Safari Style

 

This safari is designed for active people of any age who are interested in an in-depth group safari experience. The safari’s emphasis is on being close to the land, close to the people and close to the culture, as this is what a true African safari is all about. For adventurous people, there are no disadvantages to this approach, only advantages. Although our safaris are comfortable and at times “luxurious,” they are planned and designed to emphasize the quality and depth of the experience rather than simply to maximize luxury.

 

This safari style is not the Love Boat, but neither is it Survivor

...it's more like Gilligan's Island

 

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This safari will involve both accommodations in first-class lodges as well as classic African camping in beautiful, wild and pristine locations. Camping will be in full-size classic African tents, with beds, hot showers and sit-down toilets.

 

Transportation will be primarily by well-equipped four wheel drive Land Rover or Land Cruiser safari vehicles, with on-board radio communication. The road conditions, although generally good and constantly improving, can sometimes be rough, dusty, muddy or even underwater. We provide enough vehicles so that no more than four persons have to fit in a vehicle. This ensures everyone has a window seat and enough room to be comfortable.

 

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We will often spend a good deal of time together in our safari vehicles, especially when changing locations. While in a particular location however, we are generally free to relax on our own, and in fact, all activities described in this itinerary should be considered optional. Anyone who wants to take a break from the group to kick back and read a book under a tree while the camp crew makes some popcorn is welcome.

 

The nature of this safari will require us to be together as a group for an extended period, and participants should enjoy being part of, and contributing to, a group experience. If you are a “people person” and have an easy going and adventurous spirit, we can almost guarantee the trip of a lifetime - if not, you should consider such options as a private safari, which we can also provide. 

 

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When we do have to make a certain fixed schedule, we rely on the group to help things go smoothly. We can expect, however, that in spite of the best teamwork and planning, there will inevitably be times when things don't go according to schedule. For example, a safari vehicle may get a flat, or road or weather conditions may force a delay in schedule. In these situations it is even more important to keep a relaxed, positive attitude - after all, this is Africa! 

 

As you may have gathered this will not be a standard tour bus safari. We will show you what we truly believe are the most incredible places we know with the time, budget and logistics we have available. What we make of it then, depends on each of us. Therefore, each member of the group should consider themselves an active participant in this adventure. A positive attitude and the ability to adapt are the keys to a great experience on this safari.

 

“Now, being in Africa, I was hungry for more of it, the changes of the seasons...the discomforts that you paid to make it real, the names of the trees, of the small animals, and all the birds, to know the language and have time to be in it and move slowly.”

Ernest Hemmingway

  

Costs and Group Size

The 9-day safari is $3,250 per person with a $400 single supplement.  The cost is based on a group size of 8-15 and does not include international airfare. The cut-off is 15, and will need a minimum group size of 8 for the trip to go. Reservations are made with a $500 deposit.

 

Often people are interested in remaining in-country a few extra days to explore on their own after the safari, and/or to stop off in Europe on the way back. This is easily arranged, and changes can be made in either tou outbound or return flights to allow extra time in Europe of Africa. For those wishing to stay on for a while in Tanzania, we can also arrange hotels, lodges, additional excursions or even homestays with African families.

 

Since most people like to book their trips in combination with other travel, the international airfare is booked separately. The current round-trip fare from San francisco to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania is about $1,500.  We can, and will, help you with those arrangements.

 

Safari Schedule and Description

Day 1: The flight arrives into Kilimanjaro Airport at in the morning or at 9:30 p.m. and is met by our staff.  We will go to the Moivaro Coffee Plantation or the KIA Lodge, where you will find a charming atmosphere together with every comfort: an ideal spot to enjoy the impressive flora and fauna of East Africa. The Lodges aresituated right in the heart of beautiful, natural scenery at the foot of Mt. Meru, sister to Mt. Kilimanjaro. 

 

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Day 2:  HAve a relaxing breakfast and spend some time getting use to being in a different continent and time zone. Walk around the grounds or go into town for a little while or visit to the Cultural Heritage Center if you're interested in looking at or purchasing African art. We will arrive at Tarangire Park for a late afternoon game drive on our way to the Tarangire Safari Lodge where we'll spend the night overlooking the Tarangire River.

 

For those that don't mind an early start, there is an optional trip to Arusha National Park (ANP). It creates for a rather long day, but there is a lot to see in ANP and we will be on foot for most of it. We would arrive at ANP after about a two hour drive through a dry landscape that gives way to lush fields and forest. In the park, a ranger will lead us up the slopes of Mt. Meru through a mostly alpine environment which includes open glens, canopied forests, water falls and elephant grass. This place is reminiscent of Jurassic Park, with African big game taking the place of dinosaurs. You can either go slow and spend time observing a few locations in detail or go more quickly and cover more ground. We will have lunch on the trail and head back to the gate.  On past trips people have said this was one of the highlights of the trip -- walking through a meadow with giraffe, buffalo and other wildlife all around us.  On the trail we will likely also see elephant, colobus monkey, baboons, warthog and evon leopard if we are lucky!  

 

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Once back at the gate, if time allows, we will head to the other half of the park. Expect to see large flocks of flamingos grazing in the shallow lake. Small antelope called dik-dik and guinea fowl (kanga) are also common. We also might get to see Mt. Kilimanjaro peeking out of the clouds a short distance to the East. 

 

Around three o'clock, we will head to Tarangire National Park which is a good three hour drive from the park. While Arusha Park is a gem, many people prefer not to make the day quite so long and also prefer to spend more time in Tarangire Park. It is a hard call as there is just not enough time to see and do everything and some things are missed. The good news is you can wait to see how you're feeling and decide then. Often, people prefer to stay in Arusha for a couple of days before or after the safari and can go to Arusha National Park then.

Regardless of how people decide to spend the day, sitting on the deck overlooking the Tarangire River with a cold one in hand is a wonderful way to end the day.

 

 

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Day 3: Waken to the sound of hundreds of birds singing the sun up. We can go on a game drive before breakfast or take a liesurely morning listening to the birds while sipping coffee or tea.

 

Tarangire is absolutely our favorite park in East Africa. There is just something about it. It’s laid back, wild and it always makes you feel like we are the only ones there. Big fat baobob trees dot the landscape, elephants roll in the mud down at the river and prides of lions swagger around like they own the place…and they do!

 

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For lunch, we can have our choice of a picnic lunch or lunch back at the lodge.  After lunch, it's good to relax a bit around the pool or sitting in the lobby looking out over the river. We will resume our safari adventure with an afternoon/early evening game drive. (Wildlife are usually the least active during mid-day, so this is our time to relax also.) We have the rest of the day to explore this amazing park that straddles the Tarangire River. During the dry season it is the main water source for the wildlife, so prides of lions take up residence near the river and wait for lunch “on-the-hoof” to come to them. There are also lots of elephants, giraffe, wildebeest, baboons, zebra and hyenas to be seen here, in addition to an amazing array of bird life.

 

We will have to be at our destination by sunset, so as the sun begins to descend we will trundle out of the park in our trusty, dusty Land Rovers, and head across the Great Rift Valley to Kirurumu Tented Lodge for dinner and the night.

 

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Kirurumu Lodge is real rustic elegance. Accommodations are in spacious classic safari tents with all the modern conveniences, and decks looking out over Lake Manyara and the Rift Valley. This location is ideal for local cultural excursions and walking tours in the surrounding communities. The lodge is a 20-minute walk from the town center of Mto wa Mbu.  There is a bustling market there, and lots of things to see, do and buy. This is also perhaps the best place in the world to buy bananas…red ones, yellow ones, green ones; short, long, fat or thin. They got‘em all. Try the ones called ice cream bananas!

 

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Day 4: Mto wa Mbu is nestled on the north shore of Lake Manyara. We will spend the morning walking through parts of it with a guide who will show us how the diverse people of this area live, how they farm banana, the medicines they use, the schools the children go to, and even have a chance to try some of the banana beer. The Masai Market is in town and it's a great opportunity to by some of those gifts everybody expects you to come home with.

 

We can have lunch in town or back up at the lodge. In the late afternoon, we we head off to our next safari adventures in Ngorongoro Crater, a World Heritage site with what is estimated to have the highest concentration of predators in the world. To get to the crater, we will travel west up the Rift Valley escarpment wall and climb to an altitude of 6,000 -7,000 feet to the Ngorongoro Highlands. This is a fascinating area with unique flora and avian fauna. The Serengeti always seems to have a mystical, reverent quality to it. In contrast Ngorongoro seems like one big animal playground -- even the name sounds comical! 

 

The Crater rim is only an hour or two away from Kirurumu Lodge and we will stay at the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge with a deck overlooking the crater 2,000 feet below. Now these people know decks and it is a wonderful place to watch the sunset from.

 

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Day 5:  Early morning breakfast and we will descend to the floor of the 100-square-km caldera for all day game drives, birding and a picnic lunch by a small lake in the crater. Although there are lots of bird species, including flamingos, vultures, marabouk stork, secretary birds, etc, the kites that hang out at the lake where we stop for a picnic can steal the show with their acrobatic skills. These birds are a joy to watch even for a neophyte birder. They are also brazen thieves and we will do well to watch our lunches closely, as they are so agile and quick that they can swoop down and pick a morsel of food out of your hand before it reaches your mouth.

 

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Ngorongoro crater also hosts a small population of extremely rare black rhino. These creatures were hunted mercilessly throughout the ’80s for their horns, but now conservation efforts have tentatively begun to turn the tide. We don’t always get to see rhino here, but when we do it is an inspiring sight.

 

 

 

We will spend the night again at the Wildlife Lodge. Sunset on the deck with a gin & tonic, watching a herd of elephants grazing 2,000 feet below is a most excellent way to end an African day!

  

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Day 6:  Sunrise peeks over the crater wall at about 6 am so if you are an early riser, grab your coffee and a warm sweater and come outside on the deck for the dawning of a new day. After breakfast, we pack up and continue west, down into the Ndutu short grass plains of the southern Serengeti. On the way we will stop at Olduvai Gorge to visit the archeological site there. This is another fascinating place and we could easily spend a couple of days in the rugged countryside around the site. Depending on the group’s interests we can spend some time there or proceed more directly across the plains through the Serengeti.

 

The Serengeti is about the size of a New England state, and in contrast to Ngorongoro, has no permanent human habitation other than some small park facilities. At any given time there are perhaps less than a couple hundred humans in the whole place. On the short grass plains, land birds such as ostrich, cory bustard and secretary birds are very common. There are also several species of vulture, which can amazingly appear in large numbers out of a clear empty blue sky within minutes of a kill. Cheetah, lion, leopard, hyena and other major predators rule the plains here.

 

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Our camp will be at a private special campsite in a rock formation (called a Kopje) in an edge habitat between the grasslands and savannah forests. We will camp here in our “island in the plains” for three nights. There are lots of animals here and we humanoids will be vastly outnumbered. Depending on the weather we may see the vast herds of wildebeest on the plains or we will look for them farther north. 

 

Our transit across the plains to our camp will take all day, so we will arrive at camp at sunset. Our trusty camp crew will have gone ahead of us to set up a comfortable camp. We should arrive to a nice camp, shower, cold drinks, and a hot dinner.

 

Dinner will be elegant dining under the eternal stars of the Serengeti. Look out around the camp perimeter