At a Glance
Dates: September 1st - September 12th, 2022, with an extension ending September 15th.
Extension: We currently offer a three-night extension to southern Zanzibar.
Prices: £4,795 pp sharing (with no single supplement), excluding international flights. Our three-night extension to southern Zanzibar is available for £400 pp sharing with no single supplement.
In a sentence: The first small-group safari to Northern Tanzania focussed exclusively on rare mammals, including the elusive Harvey's, Abbott's and Aders's Duiker.
When one mentions the word 'safari', visions of Tanzania's vast plains are often the first image that comes to mind. And no wonder! The game densities seen in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater are envied across the continent. Quite simply, there is nowhere quite like Tanzania. There is, however, an unseen side to this beautiful area. Often missed by safari enthusiasts racing to the Serengeti or by trekkers making a beeline for the climbing routes, the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro have much to offer. Big game may be lacking, but numerous rare species can be located here, including Serval, Caracal and multiple genet species. Perhaps most importantly, this area is one of the last remaining refuges for the vanishingly rare Harvey's and Abbott's Duiker.
This itinerary is unique in that it combines the unmissable sights of the Serengeti with the quieter, but by no means less rewarding, backwaters of this famous area. This spin on a classic safari route is not to be missed!
On arrival into Kilimanjaro Airport, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative and local guide. We will transfer directly to Arusha National Park. Arusha is a beautiful national park, often left out of the traditional 'Northern Circuit' due to its perceived lack of game. Whilst it is true that the wildlife here does not rival some of the neighbouring reserves, Arusha more than makes up for this with stunning scenery. The slopes of the rugged Mt Meru are a stunning backdrop against which Bush Elephant, Giraffe and Savanna Buffalo are easily seen.
Our evening game drive will focus on the retiring Harvey's Duiker, a small antelope rarely encountered on safari. It is also possible that we might encounter Leopard or even Cheetah but these should be treated as an unexpected bonus. The Momella Lakes are also worth a visit for excellent birdlife and their views of Mt Kilimanjaro, and the forested fringes of the park are a great spot for a number of primate species. We will overnight at Hatari Lodge or similar.
Our first full day in Tanzania will begin with a walking safari in the beautiful Arusha NP. Photographic opportunities abound in this beautiful park and, if lucky, we may encounter wildlife including Zebra, Dik-Dik and Duiker on foot.
We will then make the 90 minute drive north to the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro and the idyllic Simba Farm Lodge. This quiet retreat is set in 7000 acres of farmland, all of which we are able to traverse during our stay. This is not an area renowned for its wildlife but on an afternoon hike today we are likely to encounter a variety of birdlife, as well as some excellent views of Mt Kilimanjaro.
Where our accommodation comes into its own, however, is in the early hours of darkness. We will head out for a night drive tonight, aiming to intercept a variety of wildlife descending from the mountain forest to the open farmland to hunt and feed. Previous visitors have encountered Serval, Caracal, Civet and much more here. Perhaps the highlight is an incredibly rare population of Abbott's Duiker, hardly ever encountered by visitors to the region. Our evening will be focussed on encountering these rare creatures. We will overnight at Simba Farm Lodge.
We have a full day to enjoy our surrounds today, with a variety of activities on offer. You may choose to remain at our accommodation for some rest and relaxation, or head up for a hike on the Shira Plateau. A walk along the Simba River is a great way to view the striking Black and White Colobus Monkeys, and we can even arrange a day trip to a nearby Wildlife Management Area, through which big game occasionally migrates from Amboseli NP in Kenya. Regardless of the activities you embark upon, the group will meet for sundowners in the evening, before heading out to patrol the farmland after dark in hopes of encountering the area's shy but rewarding wildlife. We will spend our final night at Simba Farm Lodge tonight.
This morning we will take our first steps on Tanzania's famous 'Northern Circuit' with a five-hour drive to Tarangire NP. This delightful national park is home to a wide variety of wildlife and, particularly at this time of year, wildlife concentrations are high as nearby swamps dry out. The park is home to a remarkable volume of Bush Elephants, as well as local specialities including Gerenuk and Fringe-Eared Oryx. Smaller predators, including Serval, Bat-Eared Fox and numerous Mongoose species, are here in abundance. Larger predators, especially Lion, are also present, although sightings are not always as forthcoming as in other parks. Our afternoon will be spent in pursuit of the the first 'big game' of the trip, and we would highly recommend using this first drive to soak in the exhilarating experience of spending time with the large herds of Elephant in the park.
We have the opportunity for a morning drive today in Tarangire, and we will use this time to focus on our first big cats of the tour, with both Lion and Leopard increasingly encountered within the park. After our morning drive we will make a beeline for the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater, arguably the premier wildlife destination on the continent. After checking into our lodge (Ngorongoro Sopa or similar), we will head out on an evening game drive into the crater.
Descending the crater rim, many guests are astonished by the wealth of wildlife laid out before them. All of the 'Big Five' are present in high numbers, with Black Rhino particularly well represented - there are several individuals here with remarkably long horns which makes for great photos. Lion and Leopard are seen frequently, with very healthy populations of Spotted Hyena and Serval also. Rarities including Cheetah and African Golden Wolf are also located easily - the only problem will be making sure you have enough space in your camera!
A morning drive in the crater is a fantastic way to start the day, and we will focus on any wildlife we may have missed during the previous afternoon. In the early light predators are more likely to be active and, if we are lucky, Lion, Leopard or Cheetah may be encountered on a hunt. Crowds of tourists can gather quickly in the crater, so we find the trick is to be nimble and selective when it comes to sightings - on many occasions we have driven away from a pride of sleeping lions surrounded by tourists, only to find something much more special and have it all to ourselves just around the corner!
Our drive will extend into the early hours of the afternoon, at which point we will return to the lodge for some well-earned recuperation. Should there be demand for an evening drive, we will gladly head out again to the crater to see what this fabulous area has yet to reveal.
A final, brief, morning drive will be permitted this morning, aiming to escape the crater before the hordes of tourists descend on the area.
Following this morning drive, we will head north once more, this time to the centre of the Serengeti. En route, we will pass through the Ndutu area, once a part of the Serengeti. This area can provide excellent sightings of game, although the wildebeest migration will be far from this are during our visit. Be sure to look out for wandering packs of African Wild Dogs - these apex predators have made a comeback in recent years around the fringes of the Serengeti, and Ndutu and Grumeti are two of their strongholds.
By early afternoon we will have reached our accommodation at Mbugani Camp or similar. This central area of the Serengeti is an extraordinary area for wildlife and we will use an evening drive to explore our new surrounds. The small rock formations dotting the plains are favourite spots for the resident prides of Lion to snooze, with the more heavily wooded riverine areas haunted by Leopards and rambunctious herds of Bush Elephant. The Serengeti has also got a knack of turning up the unexpected, and we shouldn't be too surprised to encounter Caracal or even Aardvark today.
Days Eight to Eleven
We now have four full days during which the Serengeti is our playground, with morning and evening game drives structuring our days. Days eight and eleven will be spent seeking out big cats in the centre of the Serengeti, with a two-day excursion in between to the northern extremities of the Serengeti on the border with Kenya. Our time in the northern Serengeti will be spent primarily traversing along the Mara River in search of the migrating herds of Wildebeest and Zebra that cross this river each season. Witnessing a crossing is partly down to skill and partly down to luck, and we will certainly put in the hours when it comes to locating this impressive spectacle. Provided the weather is hot enough, it is usually the Zebra who cross first, followed by the Wildebeest (which can number in the thousands) as they are driven onwards by the promise of better grazing. It's possible that animals may make multiple crossings each day so, if we are lucky, we may witness a host of predators being drawn to the river in search of food. Crocodiles, Lion and Leopard are often encountered within a few hundred metres of each other in the aftermath of a large crossing. This truly is amongst the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth.
This morning we will transfer directly to Arusha for our flights home or, if you have opted for the extension to Zanzibar, to our accommodation in Arusha for the evening.
Days Thirteen to Fifteen (Extension)
For those heading on to Zanzibar, it will be an early morning flight from Arusha to Stone Town. From here, you will be transferred to Unguja Lodge, situated in the quiet south-western corner of the island. Your time is entirely your own during your stay in Zanzibar and we recommend taking this opportunity to relax on the beach or enjoy the ample opportunities for snorkelling and diving that this rich marine ecosystem has to offer. On day fourteen, we have arranged for an early morning excursion to Mtende where, with the help of local guides, you will attempt to photograph the vanishingly rare Aders's Duiker, one of the most uncommon mammals in Africa.
Day Sixteen (Extension)
This morning you will be transferred from Unguja to Zanzibar Airport, where the tour will end.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in September 2022, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources. This is also the time of year when Wildebeest and Zebra cross the Mara River en masse, which is truly an incredible spectacle. The tour will run from September 1st to September 12th.
The cost of this trip is £4,795 per person excl. international flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. All drinks besides water are excluded. We are pleased to confirm that there is no single for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,700 must be paid. A three-night extension to Zanzibar is available for £400 pp (with no single supplement) - please note this is inclusive of accommodation and flights only.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Arusha at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Kilimanjaro after 15.00 on your return to avoid disruption to your plans.
British nationals do require a visa to enter Tanzania. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Tanzania will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of a Tanzania e-visa for UK citizens is $50 - these must be obtained online or on arrival into Tanzania. To acquire a tourist visa for Tanzania you will require a valid passport, one passport photo and a copy of your itinerary.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Tanzania in September is mild and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 26 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 15 degrees Celsius.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.
Safety and Security
There are currently no security concerns in any of the areas visited on this trip.
To secure a booking on this fantastic holiday, please fill out the details below.