Arrive in Arusha any time. Upon arrival look for information from your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) on the hotel bulletin board regarding the meeting time. At this point you may be joined by other G Adventures travellers who have started their safari trip in Kenya. Arusha, also known as Tanzania’s “safari capital”, is undoubtedly the most important center in northen Tanzania. With many protected national parks, reserves, and mountains nearby (on a clear day, it may be possible to see Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance), Arusha is a modern town, and with its markets, services, and fine location, it is a great base for your safari trip. Arusha officially became a city on the 1st of July 2006. The primary industry of the region is agriculture with large vegetable producers sending high-quality produce to Europe. The city and its environs are also spotted with large coffee plantations, adding to the area’s charm. Though in recent years, due to the coffee crisis, many local farmers have been badly hit, and now subsistence farming is the most common source of livelihood. Arusha owes its name from the local Wa-arusha people who resided here for hundreds of years, and is historically and politically significant city within East Africa. In 1961 the official documents ceding independence to Tanzania were signed by the United Kingdom in Arusha. Six years later the Arusha Declaration of Self Reliance in Tanzania was signed. On the 4th of August 1993 the Arusha Accords were signed by representatives of competing factions in the civil war in neighbouring Rwanda. After the Rwandan genocide, the UN Security Council decided by its Resolution 955 of 8 November 1994 that Arusha should host the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The establishment of the tribunal with its employees has influenced the local economy of Arusha.
After breakfast, we make our way to Lake Manyara National Park and take part in a cultural walk to learn a little about what a typical village in the area is like. The village - Mto wa Mbu, whose name means "mosquito river," has over 18,000 inhabitants from 120 tribes. This two hour tour will take you from the village's local market through several different farms, local huts, and artisan shops, and back to the market, giving you the opportunity to get a true glimpse of northern Tanzanian culture!! After a traditional lunch in the village, the afternoon will be spent touring and viewing wildlife in the park. This area is truly stunning, as the western wall of the Rift Valley escarpment provides a backdrop for your search of the park's phenomenal birdlife, tree-climbing lions, elephants, giraffes, and hippos. The afternoon is spent game viewing along the main road that winds for several kilometers through a cool, lush, mature groundwater forest dominated by large fichus trees and a tangle of green epiphytes. The name Manyara is derived from the Masai word “Emanyara”, which is a Euphorbia species of plant that is found around a family homestead in the area. The lake itself is a shallow, alkaline lake stretching 50km at the base of the sheer 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment. This forms part of the national park that covers an area on roughly 330km sq. Lake Manyara National Park is home to the giant fig trees, acacia woodlands, mahogany trees and grassy flood plains. The contrasts of this area are simply breathtaking, with the open plains, huge escarpment, central soda lake, dense woodlands, and distance volcanic peaks coming together in an area best described by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”. Animals such as blue monkeys, hippo, impala, elephant, wildebeest, buffalo, warthog, and giraffe all roam the park’s territory. The park is also home to legendary tree-climbing lions, and also has small populations of leopard. Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s bird life, with over 400 species having been recorded within the parks boundaries. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large water birds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.
This morning we journey to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, famous for Africa's best game viewing. The views from the Ngorongoro Crater rim are stunning, and there is an ever-present abundance of wildlife, due to the permanent water supply on the crater floor. You will arrive at your campsite at the crater rim in the late afternoon. The 8,300 km² Ngorongoro Conservation Area is named after its central feature, the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera, and arguably its most spectacular natural arena. Ngorongoro Crater has often been described as one of the wonders of the world, not only because of its inherent geological significance, but also because it serves a quite extraordinary natural sanctuary for some of Africa’s most dense population of large mammals. The Ngorongoro was part of the original Serengeti National Park proclaimed in 1951, but it was made a separate conservation area in 1956 so that the Masai could graze their cattle there. The Ngorongoro Crater became a World Heritage Site in 1978. Land in the conservation area is unique to Tanzania as it provides protection for the wildlife whilst allowing human habitation. The landscape is made up of a blend of volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and mountain forests, where the wildlife is extensive. The southern and eastern boundaries are approximately defined by the rim of the Great Rift Valley, which also prevents animal migration in these directions. The annual ungulate migration passes through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, with wildebeest and zebra moving south into the area in December and moving north in June. The area has healthy resident populations of most species of wildlife.
Today marks an early start as we continue on to the Serengeti, one of Africa's premier game parks. The park is to Tanzania what the Masai Mara Game Reserve is to Kenya, though with an area of 14,763 sq km, it is actually over 7 times as large! The area where you will be staying and game viewing is in the central Serengeti 'Seronera' area, which lies in the southeast of the National Park. Because of the sheer size of the National Park other areas will not be accessible during your stay. As we drive through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and on to the Serengeti National Park, en route you will begin to experience the sheer vastness of this territory, and you will marvel at the multitude of animal and bird life while cruising through this acacia-spotted savannah. On day 4, after an early rise we enjoy an early morning game drive, returning for a hearty lunch followed by a brief but well-deserved rest. Continue your search for the "Big 5" - lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino - while taking in the vastness of the Serengeti plains. The Serengeti National Park is to Tanzania what the Masai Mara Game Reserve is to Kenya, though with an area of 14,763 sq km, it is actually over 7 times as large! The Serengeti, which derives its name from the Masai for “endless plain”, is the jewel of Tanzania’s protected areas, together with the Masai Mara and the Ngorongoro Conservation area it protects the most varied and greatest collection of wildlife on earth. With the Big Five, the Small Five and the extensive amounts of wildlife, this region offers arguably the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the world. That said, with its vast size and varied terrain, game viewing is only one aspect of the Serengeti - the scenery is simply breathtaking. The Masai people arrived into the Serengeti plains in the 17th century, displacing the Datoga pastoralists who had previously lived there. They lived an undisturbed, nomadic life in the region for hundred of years, until the first westerner, American Stewart Edward White, passed through in 1913. He recorded the plains in the chronicles of a journey that began in Nairobi, Kenya. What he wrote still applies today: “... We walked for miles over burnt out country... Then I saw the green trees of the river, walked 2 miles more and found myself in paradise” . There is no bad time to visit the Serengeti as every season has its own special highlight – even the rainy season has the daily thunder and lightening to look forward to. Changing seasons and light patterns form the most beautiful backdrop to view Africa’s majestic and incredible wildlife. It has more than 1.6 million herbivores and thousands of predators. Blue Wildebeests, gazelles, zebras and buffalos are the animals most commonly found in the region. This area is most famous for the migration that takes place every year; in October over a million herbivores travel toward the southern plains, crossing the Mara River from the hills to the north. They continue west across the Serengeti, and then north once again, crossing the Mara River, after the rains around April, and often totals more than 800km. This phenomenon is sometimes also called the Circular Migration. Over 250,000 wildebeest alone will die along the journey from Tanzania to Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya. Note: If you have pre-booked a Serengeti Balloon Safari Theme Pack, your flight be early in the morning of day 4.
Transfer to Arusha for a flight to Zanzibar, commonly known as "the Spice Island". On arrival, we head to the northern beaches of Nungwi for three nights at one of Zanzibar's major highlights. Here you can either relax on the idyllic white-sandy beaches, take an optional diving/snorkeling excursion, or take a wander through the village of Nungwi. Additionally, there will be plenty of beach time for catching up on a good book or making sand castles with the kids. Remember that Zanzibar is a Muslim society, and immodestly dressed women, or men in shorts, will get harassed and cause great offence in Stone Town. In Nungwi, customs are a little more relaxed, but passengers are encouraged to be respectful of the islands culture and still cover up when walking around. Never try to take a photograph without asking permission. The polite way to ask is “Tafadhali (pronounced tougher-thaarli) naomba ruhusu kwa kupiga picha yako.” Many guidebooks say the correct phrase is “nataka kupiga picha yako”, but this is incredibly rude, the equivalent of saying “give me your picture”.
Travel back south to Stone Town, for our final night on this enchanting island. It's your last chance to shop and/or enjoy all that Stone Town has to offer. Opt to spend one last night with your fellow travellers before your tour ends the next day. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stone Town is a captivating labyrinth of narrow streets and winding alleyways. Lose yourself in the buzz of the markets, delight your senses in the bustling bazaars, and check out the many mosques and grand Arab residences. You can spend hours just wandering the alleys and squares, drinking potent coffee from pavement vendors, or buying local snacks, such as sesame bread, from scores of tiny cafes.
Departure day, feel free to depart at any time.