On Safari in Tanzania

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 15520A, International

Highlights

  • Experience the sights and sounds of wildlife in Arusha, the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire
  • Meet tribal groups, some dating back to the Stone Age, and see Leakey’s discovery site
  • Delight in close encounters with wildlife during our safari excursions 

Includes

  • Comfortable lodges and luxury tents
  • All meals, gratuities, and park fees
  • On-trip transportation, including airport pick-up and drop-off on scheduled arrival and departure dates

Details

DatesFeb 5–17, 2015
Price$6,745 (12–15)
$7,395 (or fewer)
Deposit$200
Capacity15
StaffEllen Stein

Trip Overview

The Trip

Of all the African wildlife areas, none surpasses Tanzania for spectacular scenery and quantity of animals. Our safari takes us from the green foothills of snow-mantled Mount Kilimanjaro to the limitless expanse of the Serengeti Plain. If these natural wonders aren’t enough, the trip will also visit historic places that recall the very dawn of human existence.

Tanzania is Africa’s land of superlatives. It contains Mount Kilimanjaro, the continent’s highest mountain at 19,340 feet; Olduvai Gorge, the site of Leakey’s discovery of the oldest human bones; the Serengeti, the largest concentration of game in Africa; the Great Rift Valley, the continent’s most impressive escarpment; and Ngorongoro Crater, which measures 12 miles across. These wonders are just some of what you will see on this safari.

Diversity is Tanzania’s strong point. This trip presents the possibility of seeing 40 or more species of wild mammals: elephant, lion, cheetah, leopard, cape buffalo, giraffe, zebra, hippo, rhinoceros, hyena, topi, konguni, hartebeest, wildebeest or gnu, jackals, fox, eland, oryx, waterbuck, warthog, impala, gerenuk, gazelle, genet, giant eland, kudu, monkey, and baboon. The prolific bird life is also quite varied. Who can say which is more spectacular? The greater flamingo, secretary bird, bateleur, crowned crane, lilac-breasted roller, kori bustard, lily trotter, spoonbill stork, the bee-eaters or any of a dozen others?

In addition to wildlife observation, this outing also offers opportunities to learn about Tanzania’s ethnic groups and to see a vast cross-section of the country—the largest in East Africa and the continents most politically stable.

We will be accompanied at all times by accomplished Tanzanian naturalists who will be able to identify and tell us about all the wildlife we encounter. We will listen to the sounds of the bush as we enjoy comfortable camps and lodges. In settings of incomparable beauty and grandeur, we will embody the African dawn and sunset.

Itinerary

Day 1: Upon arrival in Arusha, we will be warmly welcomed and transferred to Rivertrees Country Inn. Set beside the rushing waters of the Usa River on the outskirts of Arusha, this inn has colonial charm with simple but elegant style along with modern day amenities and fantastic cuisine. We will have pool access and internet services. Rivertrees also supports its nearby community, including programs for women and vulnerable children. This inn will make a fine storybook beginning and ending to your adventure.

Day 2: We will spend most of the day in Arusha National Park. The park encompasses a mere 53 square miles and is situated just outside the growing town’s busy center. Mt. Meru (14,980 feet) borders the park on the west, while Mt. Kilimanaro (19,340 feet) lies to the east. Arusha National Park also has unique flora and fauna, such as the exquisite colobus monkey, which makes its home in the lush forest canopy. There are also hundreds of bird species and the Momella Lakes, where great numbers of flamingo can often be seen. After a welcome dinner, we will overnight at Rivertrees Country Inn.

Days 3-4: We will depart after breakfast for Tarangire National Park, where we will spend the next two nights. Once outside the city, you soon cross the Maasai Steppe into the wide and open acacia-covered plains. The route moves past settlements and districts that are predominantly inhabited by Maasai. Tarangire astonishes many with its massive heards of elephants, distinctive winding riverine landscapes and swampy floodplains. We will take in the diverse wildlife as well as the baobab-studded landscape. You never know what is behind the next corner. We will overnight at Tarangire Nyumba, a private location close to the river, sharing with the resident wildlife.

Day 5: After enjoying our last morning of wildlife viewing in Tarangire, we will make our way out of the park. A memorable stop at Gibb’s Farm is scheduled for a delicious lunch prepared with ingredients fresh from the estate’s organic farm. After our wonderful meal, we will stretch our legs a bit on a leisurely stroll through the gardens, enjoying the views of the surrounding highlands. Before reaching our Ngorongoro destination, we will make one more stop to visit a Maasai boma. Many Maasai still roam the plains of northern Tanzania with their herds of cattle, maintaining their traditions while adapting to new ways of life. Learn more about their extraordinary culture as we tour the boma and take in the scenes of village life. Overnight in Ngorongoro Nyumba.

Day 6: We will be spending the day in the Ngorongoro Conservation area. Sometimes there are more than 30,000 animals in and around the crater, including black rhino, cheetah, lion, hyena, eland and numeroud antelope. You will see why Ngorongoro is considered to be among the world’s great wonders. Overnight in Ngorongoro Nyumba.

Day 7: Departing after breakfast, we will make our way to Serengeti National Park, stopping along the way to visit Olduvai Gorge. This deep ravine is the site where Mary and Louis Leakey discovered fossilized remains of animals and hominids that date as far back as two million years ago. After a museum tour and brief talk, we will enjoy an afternoon wildlife viewing in the Serengeti. We will overnight at Serengeti Nyumba at Ndutu in luxury tents.

Days 8-10: There is nothing as marvelous as traversing the plains of the Serengeti just after dawn and through the morning hours. We have three full days to explore the nearly 6,000 square miles of grassland, plains, savannah, kopjes, hills, woodlands, and riverine forests. Beyond the heralded migration of wildebeest and zebra, the Serengeti is best known for its big predators, including cheetah and leopard, as well as large prides of lions and clans of hyenas. February is an excellent time to see the calving. Overnight in Serengeti Nyumba at Ndutu.

Day 11: As we depart the Serengeti, we will take in the gorgeous scenery and wildlife viewing before moving on to the Ngorongoro Highlands. We will cross grasslands abundant in dramatic granite outcrops called kopjes. The grasslands eventually lead into the wide-open treeless plains that are so emblematic of the Serengeti. After leaving the park, we will have some time to unwind and enjoy our lodge and its swimming pool. Overnight at Bougainvillea Safari Lodge.

Day 12: After breakfast we will embark on a cultural journey to the shores of Lake Eyasi to visit with members of the Hadza and Datoga tribes. We will head into the bush to meet members of the Hadza, one of the world’s last hunter-gatherer tribes. In the afternoon we will make our way to a Datoga village for a rare glimpse into pastoralist culture. We will conclude the day with a farewell dinner at the Bougainvillea Safari Lodge, where we will also overnight.

Day 13: We will depart the highlands for Arusha, where our adventure began. Along the way we will stop at Cultural Heritage Center, where you can shop for gifts or memorable artifacts. The center has an abundance of wooden carvings, apparel, crafts, and tanzanite. You can also see one of the finest displays of African Art in Tanzania in a separate wing of the center, if you aren’t interested in shopping. We will have one last farewell lunch at the River House, where we can say goodbye to our safari companions and prepare for our departure flights.

Photos

Details

Getting There

There are several options to reach the trip starting point. Participants will need to book a flight from the US to Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania. The flight will require a transfer in Amsterdam, since KLM is the only airline that currently flies into Arusha.

You can also fly into Nairobi, Kenya and then transfer to a short flight to Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania. This flight will require a visa for Kenya and a taxi transfer from the international airport in Nairobi to a local airport across town. 

Accommodations and Food

Accommodations will include four nights in lodges and nine nights in luxury tented camps. The lodges are among the finest that Tanzania has to offer, but do not correspond to luxury class hotels in the more developed countries of the world. The tented camps have proper beds with fine linens and private en-suite bathrooms with a hot safari shower and self-contained pump-flush toilet. The tents are spacious and have solar lighting. The exceptional camp crew will make sure you have everything you need to stay comfortable. A dining tent will be set up where you will enjoy deliciously prepared meals using the best local ingredients. You will dine on fresh breads, homemade soups, healthy salads, and a variety of delicious entrees and delectable desserts. Basic vegetarian diets can be accommodated. Please check with the leader regarding other dietary requirements. Drinks and snack will also be offered around a roaring campfire. 

Trip Difficulty

No special conditioning is required for this safari. We will ride in vehicles with a maximum of five to seven persons in each vehicle, each person having access to a window. There will be the inevitable inconveniences and difficulties associated with travel in a developing country. It is important to accept Tanzania on its own terms, with a sense of adventure and good humor. Every effort will be made to adhere to this itinerary. Some conditions (political, climatic, environmental, cultural or wildlife migrations) may necessitate changes in the itinerary.

Equipment and Clothing

The trip leader will send approved trip applicants detailed apparel and equipment recommendations. 

References

There are many good general guidebooks to Tanzania and East Africa. For example, Passport’s Regional Guides of Africa, Tanzania, by Lisa Asch and Peter Blackwell, gives a very readable overview of this fascinating country. For more in-depth material and a better understanding of the safari experience, here are a few of the leader’s recommendations:

  • Moss, Cynthia, Portraits in the Wild.
  • Bonner, Raymond, At the Hand of Man.
  • Smith, Anthony, The Great Rift: Africa’s Challenging Valley.
  • Saitoti, Tepilit Ole, and Carol Beckwith, Maasai.
  • Matthiessen, Peter, Sand Rivers.
  • Grzimek, Bernard and Michael, Serengeti Shall Not Die.
  • Hatch, John, Serengeti: A Profile.
  • Iwago, Mitsuaki, Serengeti: The Natural Order.
  • Matthiessen, Peter, The Tree Where Man Was Born.

Conservation

The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, and encourages grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward environmentally understanding parallel concerns at home and abroad. Twenty-five percent of Tanzania’s land (over 95,000 square miles) has been set aside for wildlife parks, reserves, and game areas. This is probably more than any other country on earth. However, Tanzania’s economic resources for rangers, roads, research, and administration of these lands is threatened as the need for land and food increases.

There are many projects going on in Tanzania today to help solve these problems. Ngorongoro Crater is part of the extensive Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which is a pioneering effort in multi-purpose land, allowing for the protection of animals and the continuation of tribal lifestyles at the same time. Also, there are several animal research projects in the field, including the world’s longest-running research project, the Serengeti Lion Project, which began in the 1960s.

One of our conservation objectives will be to try to understand the challenges that Tanzania faces in continuing to support such a large national park system. Tourist dollars are a major source of revenue, so by coming to see these magnificent animals and their habitats, we are helping to ensure their future. That said, we will become aware of both the positive and negative consequences of tourism in a country like Tanzania.

Staff

Leader:

Ellen Stein continues on her quest for new and exciting travel experiences. As a former San Francisco Firefighter/EMT she enjoys the challenges of running into unique and unpredictable situations but prefers leading groups into exotic locations. She finds travel similar and has been leading trips for the Sierra Club since 1996. Her hobbies include almost every sport excluding those that require minimal activity. Join her in a fun-filled adventure of your passionate destination of choice.

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