Day 1 Arusha – L. Manyara National Park
Leave Arusha at 09.00 am, drive for about 2 hours to Lake Manyara National Park , famous for its green scenery, varied bird life, tree-climbing lions, hippos and baboons. Dinner and overnight at Lake Manyara Serena Lodge or similar.Lake Manyara National Park/Biosphere Reserve (80,300 acres/32,500 hectacres), a slim sanctuary extending from the northern and western parts of Lake Manyara to the top of the western rift valley wall, is 75 miles (120 kilometers) southwest of Arusha, just south of the main road to the Serengeti Plains. Verreaux’s eagles, vultures, storks, swifts and swallows wing by lodgings atop the spectacular cliffs overlooking the lake. Springs in the park’s northern end support a dense groundwater forest of giant figs and mahogany, which shelters blue monkeys, baboons, bush bucks, common water bucks, elephants, and silvery-cheeked horn bills. South of the groundwater forest, acacia woodland and open grassland are frequented by buffalo, wildebeests, impalas, giraffes, zebras, lions, and gray backed fiscal-shrikes. Streams attract pythons, Nile monitor lizards and mountain wagtails. Lake Manyara, at 3,150 feet (960 meters) varies in salinity levels with wetter and drier climate cycles. At times it is replete with flamingos, pelicans, storks and cormorants. The hippo pool, where visitors may get out of their vehicles, is located on a freshwater stream that enters the lake at its northern tip.
Day 2 Manyara – Serengeti National Park
Early breakfast at 6.00 am. Game drive en route to Serengeti National Park. Serengeti is the largest and most famous park in Tanzania, known worldwide for its endless plains, wildebeest-migration, herds of lions and other predators like hyenas, cheetahs and leopards. Crocodiles can be found in the Grumeti River, as well as hippos, giraffes, antelopes, and gazelles. Dinner and overnight at Serengeti Serena Lodge or similar.
The world famous Serengeti National Park (the second largest in Tanzania) occupies about 14,763 sq. kms. The name Serengeti means endless plains and is derived from the Maasai word siringiti. The park lies in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands and the Kenya/Tanzanian border, extending almost to Lake Victoria. It encompasses the main part of the Serengeti ecosystem.
The most famous features of the Serengeti are the spectacular concentration of animals found nowhere else in the world, as well as the annual wildebeest migration. This spectacle sees more than one million wildebeest, 200,000 zebras and 300,000 Thomson’s gazelles trek to new grazing grounds. The brief population explosion of wildebeest produces over 8,000 calves a day before the migration begins.
As in all ecosystems the vegetation and types of animals you find are closely correlated. The principal features of the park are the short and long grass open plains in the southeast, the acacia savannah in the central area, the hilly, more densely wooded northern section, and the extensive woodland and black clay plains, dominated by the central ranges of mountains in the western corridor.
Day 3 Full Day in Serengeti National Park
A Full day game drive in the Serengeti Plains until sunset, then dinner and overnight at Serengeti Serena Lodge or similar.
Day 4 Serengeti – Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Another game drive in Serengeti as you drive en route (optional stopover at Olduvai) to the rim of Ngorongoro Crater for dinner and overnight at Ngorongoro Serena Lodge with an excellent view of the crater floor.
Day 5 – Ngorongoro – Arusha
A full day in the Ngorongoro Crater. There is a very high possibility of spotting the big 5 in one day: lion, rhino, elephant, buffalo and leopard. Lunch will take place at the picnic site at the crater floor. Late afternoon, drive back to Arusha drop off at your hotel.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area/World Heritage Site (2,045,200 acres/828,000 hectacres) protects wildlife habitat as well as the rights of local Maasai who graze their livestock on about 75 percent of the area.Ngorongoro Crater, 12 miles (19 kilometers) wide, is the world’s largest intact caldera. Before the cataclysmic collapse of its cone 2 million years ago, this volcanic mountain may have been taller than Kilimanjaro. Its rim, which averages 7,600 feet (2,316 meters) elevation, is cloaked in moist montane forest and grassland, hosting elephants, golden-winged and eastern double-collared sunbirds, stonechats and Jackson’s widowbirds. From lodges and campsites on the rim, visitors are driven down to the crater floor for a day-long survey. At 5,600 feet (1,700 meters) elevation, the crater floor is primarily grassland, with patches of spring-fed marshes, freshwater ponds, a salt lake, and small forests. Harboring 20,000 large animals, it is a virtual Noah’s Ark (without giraffes). Great effort has gone into saving the black rhino here, and several dozen are resident. Buffaloes, wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, and hartebeest graze the grassland, while elephants roam the wooded areas, and hippos gather in marshes and ponds. Lions, spotted hyenas, and golden and black-backed jackals are easy to find, and servals and cheetahs are sighted rarely. Resident ostriches, crowned cranes, and kori bustards are joined seasonally by migrant flocks of white and Abdim’ s storks. The conservation area also includes two other voluminous craters, six peaks that top 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) and the southeastern corner of the vast Serengeti Plains. Olduvai Gorge, just north of the road to the Serengeti, has yielded hominid fossils key to the study of human evolution. Here sit a museum and shaded picnic sites. Red-and-yellow barbets join less colorful birds here for crumbs, while cheetahs sometimes roam nearby.