Lakes, Plains & Craters of Tanzania

Go in search of magnificent wildlife in two of Tanzania’s most iconic locations – Ngorongoro Crater and the plains of the Serengeti – home to Africa’s big cats, the Big Five and flocks of flamingos.

Duration 6 days
Price From $6,473
When Year-Round
Destination Tanzania

Safari Overview

This short safari is the perfect tonic for wildlife-lovers who want to see a variety of species in under a week. You’ll be able to experience three disparate but equally exciting areas of northern Tanzania, spotting the African “Big Five” as well as cheetahs, crocodiles, hippos, giraffes, flocks of waterbirds, and herds of zebra, wildebeest, gazelle and eland. After beginning in Lake Manyara National Park, your safari will take you into Ngorongoro Crater – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and then on to the Namiri Plains of the Serengeti, one of the most exclusive areas in all of Tanzania, offering you intimate wildlife encounters during your game drives.

What makes this trip extraordinary

  • Catch sight of the Big Five in two different locations.
  • Explore Lake Manyara National Park and watch the seasonal migration of pink flamingos.
  • Descend into one of the most densely populated wildlife havens in all of Africa, the Ngorongoro Crater.
  • Enjoy a picnic lunch while watching hippos wallow in the Ngoitokitok Springs.
  • Visit Olduvai Gorge and Shifting Sands, two unique landmarks in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
  • Watch big cats stalk their prey across the vast Namiri Plains, one of the most remote areas of Serengeti National Park.

Day by day

Day 1

Arusha – Ngorongoro Crater

After arriving into Arusha, you’ll be met by your driver and transferred to Ngorongoro Crater, but not before stopping off at Lake Manyara National Park en-route. This wonderfully scenic area is set between the steep wall of the Great Rift Valley and the sparkling soda lake from which the park takes its name. Known for its famous tree-climbing lions, habituated baboons and large elephant populations, Manyara is also rich in birdlife, with more than 400 species having been spotted within the park’s borders. During the wet season when the lake may cover as much as 77 square miles, thousands of pink flamingos can be seen flocking to its shores, as well as other waterbirds like pelicans, storks and cormorants. You’ll be able to enjoy a picnic lunch in the park and, time permitting, a visit to the village of Mto wa Mbu for a guided cultural walk. As the afternoon draws on you’ll depart the park and drive up the impressive rise of the Great Rift Valley Escarpment, before heading to your lodge for the night at the edge of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Overnight: Gibbs Farm L, D

Day 2

Ngorongoro Crater

We suggest that an early-morning start is definitely the order of the day, as you head towards the natural wonder that is Ngorongoro Crater. Formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed in on itself three million years ago, the crater contains within it some of the world’s densest populations of lion and spotted hyena. This is also one of the few places in Tanzania where you can reliably see black rhino and many grand old “tusker” elephants, who come to spend their retirement peacefully feeding in the Gorigor Swamp. After a good few hours of wildlife-viewing you can enjoy a picnic lunch at the hippo-filled Ngoitokitok Springs – just watch out for hungry black kites! In the afternoon, you’ll continue your exploration in search of the Big Five that roam the plains of this natural amphitheatre, before heading back to your lodge for the night.

Overnight: Gibbs Farm B, L, D

Day 3

Ngorongoro Crater – Namiri Plains

Today you leave the crater behind and head to Serengeti National Park with your guide/driver, stopping off for a packed lunch at Olduvai Gorge along the way. This archaeological site in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is regarded as one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world, having been the site of numerous discoveries relating to ancient hominins. From here, you’ll venture along the winding sandy tracks through open grasslands studded with acacia trees to the mysterious Shifting Sands, a dune made of volcanic ash that moves up to 20 metres per year. Afterwards, continue your journey on into Serengeti National Park, driving through picturesque savannah toward your camp in the Namiri Plains, one of the most remote areas of the Serengeti.

Overnight: Namiri Plains B, L, D

Days 4-5

Namiri Plains

In Swahili, “Namiri” translates as “big cat”, and this newly opened corner of the Serengeti is home to plenty of them. The plains were closed to the public for over 20 years, with access reserved purely for research on Africa’s big cats, particularly the cheetah. The healthy felid populations here, coupled with the plains’ remoteness, means this is one of the best places in all of Tanzania to spot big cats in the wild. You’ll be able to take both morning and afternoon game drives into the wilderness, with hunting cheetahs – the fastest land animal on the planet – a particular highlight. There are plenty of other animals living here as well, from zebra and wildebeest to giraffes and pangolins, as well as around 500 species of bird, including the ostrich. There are no other camps within an hour’s drive of the plains, which allows for a truly exclusive experience here in this wildlife-rich region ruled by cheetahs, lions and leopards.

Overnight: Namiri Plains B, L, D

Day 6

Depart Namiri Plains

Time permitting, there may be time for a final morning’s game drive across the Namiri Plains before you leave the Serengeti behind to catch your flight home.

Trip Details

About Tailor-made Safaris

A tailor-made safari is one designed according to your specific requirements, including budget, dates, personal interests, the number of people travelling, and more. This itinerary is just an example and can be refined and altered to make it perfect for you.

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