Tanzania 2023 Detailed Itinerary and FAQ

Detailed Itinerary

Tanzania Dark Skies Trip August 9-18 2023

August 9


Arrive at Kilimanjaro airport (JRO) and private transport to the 5-star Gran Melia Arusha hotel. Details based on individual flight arrival times.

August 10


Half-day guided walking safari in Arusha National Park. Potential to spot buffalo, giraffe, zebra, baboons, and more on the way to a lovely waterfall. Keep an eye out for the black-and-white colobus monkey; this is the only place on our trip to see them!


Terrain is mostly flat but on natural surfaces with the potential for mud, so hiking boots are recommended. Distance and time are dependent on group interest and wildlife spottings. A ranger will also accompany the group. Overnight at Gran Melia Arusha. [B]

August 11


The scenic drive to Tarangire National Park will be approximately 3 hours depending on wildlife spotting. Lunch and relaxation at Lolkisale luxury safari camp before an evening game drive and then optional star viewing. Overnight at Lolkisale (exclusive use). [FBA]

August 12


Full day of game drives (with breaks for meals) in Tarangire National Park. Known for huge herds of elephants, beautiful birds, and a unique landscape featuring the baobab tree, Tarangine is also home to lions, antelope, giraffes, zebras, and more.


Enjoy sunset from the campfire before we pull out the telescope to observe galaxies, clusters, and more that can only be seen from the Southern Hemisphere. Look out for shooting stars all night long as the Perseid meteor shower is expected to reach its peak. Overnight at Lolkisale. [FBA]

August 13


Sleep in after the long night of stargazing! Enjoy a game drive on the way to Plantation Lodge, which will be our home base for exploring Ngorongoro Crater. [FBA]

August 14


Full day game drive in Ngorongoro Crater, the world's largest inactive and unfilled volcanic caldera. 30,000 animals fill this small area, from predators like leopards, lions, and cheetah to game like warthog, wildebeest, and zebra. Look for the endangered black rhino, as this is our best chance to see it, and enjoy viewing thousands of flamingos around the crater lake.  Return to overnight at Plantation Lodge. [FBA]

August 15


Charter flight to Serengeti National Park. Game drive from airstrip to Osero Exclusive-Use Mobile Camp, our safari base for the next 3 nights. Expect to see the Great Migration in full swing! After dinner and a bonfire, the telescope will come out for another night of stargazing under amazingly dark skies. [FBA]

August 16 & 17


Daytime game drives across the Serengeti to witness the Great Migration. This includes visiting the river to see wildebeest attempt to evade predators as they cross to the other side! The vast numbers of both predators and prey make seeing a kill highly likely. Return for snacks and drinks by the bonfire, followed by dinner and more (optional) stargazing. Overnights at Osero camp. [FBA]

August 18:


Breakfast and a final game drive on the way back to the airstrip for our charter flight to Arusha. Transfer to Gran Melia for day use (to eat, relax, and/or shower) and then transfer to Kilimanjaro airport for your return flight. [DR]

Optional Add-on Excursion


Not ready to return home quite yet? Contact us about arranging a post-safari excursion. Some popular ideas include:


  • Hiking and camping on Mt. Kilimanjaro. From a 1-2 night stay to a full week summit, Kilimanjaro is unique in its accessibility by most hikers. Mountain climbing experience and equipment is not needed.


  • Forest treks to see wild primates in their natural habitats. Look for chimpanzees in Tanzania or mountain gorillas in Uganda!


  • Swim, snorkel, scuba, or just relax at the beautiful beaches on Zanzibar or along the Tanzanian coast.


Ask for more details or ideas on how to spend your time post-safari!


Frequently Asked Questions



Q: Why is going on safari during the Great Migration so special?


A: The Great Migration is the largest movement of land animals on earth. About 2 million wildebeest and 700,000 gazelles, zebras, and other antelope species will be passing through the Serengeti and our private special use camp will give us a front seat to all the action!


Q: How physically demanding will the safari be?


A: Going on a safari is not physically strenuous. You need only be able to walk short distances* and get in and of out a high-entry vehicle with minimal help. 


             *Our optional hike in Arusha does require the ability to walk unassisted over uneven terrain for a few hours. You are welcome to skip the walk and instead enjoy the Gran Melia's gorgeous pool and grounds with views of Mt. Meru.


Q: Can I have a window seat in the safari vehicle?


A: YES!  Every guest will have a window seat. Furthermore, the vehicles feature full-sized windows that go all the way down/up. The roof pops up for even greater visibility and room to stand up and attach camera equipment. Charging ports for cameras and phones are also provided in each vehicle, as is a cooler with drinks and snacks. 


Q: What is the Perseid Meteor Shower?


A: The Perseids are considered the best meteor shower of the year, featuring 50-100 meteors (shooting stars) during their peak.


Q: Am I going to see animal kills?


A: The migration is a key time for predators to eat and sustain themselves. Given the vast array of wildlife during this time it is highly likely that we will witness a chase and/or kill. For many visitors seeing nature in action is an amazing experience. You are welcome to opt not to look, but please understand that the default will be to stay with the chase/kill as much as possible. Guides will position the vehicle to maximize our viewing experience while taking care not to disturb the wildlife.


Q: What is a safari "tent" camp?


A: The camps are luxury tented accommodations furnished with normal beds, fine linens, and furniture. They feature full electricity, charging ports, lighting, side table(s) and seating area, and a private patio area in front of your tent for watching wildlife in the morning while you enjoy coffee/tea and biscuits brought to your tent by camp staff. The tents also feature full en-suite bathrooms with running water, regular flush toilets, sinks, vanity, mirror, robes, laundry basket, and hot showers (free flowing at Lolkisale, on-demand at Osero). All entrances and windows are screened with flaps lowered at night (or on-demand) to block light. The walls are canvas tent material and the floor is a mix of area rug-covered canvas, and wood flooring.


Q: Is visiting Tanzania safe?


A: Africa is a huge continent - bigger than Canada, the United States and China put together! Unfortunately, the news often reports issues as occurring generally in Africa as opposed to being isolated to a specific spot in a specific country.  Tanzania is rated as one of the safest countries in Africa. You will be in a top-rated secure hotel for the brief time we are in the small city of Arusha, and the bulk of our time will be in wilderness areas seeing very few other people.


Q: Are safaris safe?


A: Staying safe on safari is simple: follow all instructions given by your guides, who are professionals in animal behavior as well as spotting and identifying wildlife. They will decide how much time we spend watching animals and how close our vehicle can safely approach.  Clients are expected to use common sense and must comply with all instructions given by guides, staff, and trip leaders. Remember that animals view us as predators and see the jeep and its occupants as one big animal.


Q: Will there be bugs?


A: While on safari, there will be bugs around. Some are unique and quite interesting like praying mantises, others are simply annoying like flies. Our tents are fitted with quality screens and serviced every day to help ensure that only humans are allowed inside. If a non-human should sneak in, staff will attend to it.


Q: What if I have to use the "facilities" while on safari?


A: Tell your guide! They will look for a safe open area, and once they ensure it is clear of any wildlife you can exit the vehicle and proceed to the back of the vehicle to "visit the spare tire".


Q: Why was TopGuides Safari chosen to guide us?


A: I always prefer boutique locale tour operators and guides over large conglomerates who sub out the actual provision of services. I have traveled with TopGuides several times, along with using them for clients; they have many years of experience in guiding and are fun, nice folks to be with as well!


Q: Is stargazing and looking through the telescope required? What else can I do?


A: Stargazing is an optional bonus and the scope will be brought out every night we are at camp. You will be amazed by what you can see under some of the darkest skies on earth! Of course, you are welcome to join the viewing for as long or as little as you like. Otherwise, you can spend time in the lounge tent reading, playing games, accessing Wi-Fi, and enjoying a custom cocktail or drink, or you may opt to return to your private tent.


Q: How big is the included local flight? 


A: There are a few airlines that service the various camps and airstrips across Tanzania. They are flown by fully qualified professional pilots.  They fly planes varying from a selection of Cessna, King Air, Pipers, and Beech. The size is based on the number of passengers with a max of 19 seats plus the pilots.  The views overlooking the wilderness (and on a clear day of Mt. Kilimanjaro) are fantastic!
 

Q: Will there be internet access?


A: All accommodations and camps have Wi-Fi access and plenty of places to charge your devices. There is very limited access to phone and Wi-Fi while on safari.


Q: Can diets and food preferences be accommodated?


A: Yes! Most diets - gluten-free, vegetarian, etc.* along with allergies, likes, and dislikes will be accommodated.  Each camp has its own chef who prepares huge, multi-course meals featuring local produce and meats. *The only exception is strict Kosher diets as Kashrut rules can not be followed.  


Q: Do I need travel insurance?


A: Yes; you should purchase a travel protection plan matched to your needs and desires.  Your trip cost includes Flying Doctors evacuation coverage to local medical care in case of a medical emergency only. It does not cover transport to your home, delayed flights, lost baggage, etc. To make things easier, you will be given a link to a dedicated travel protection consolidators' website to review and choose what coverage you want. You are free to choose your own company and plan. 


Q: Is the itinerary final and unchangeable?


A: This is the full planned itinerary, and great care and expertise went into picking the locations, camps, and activities. As with any safari, we can not predict what the weather, wildlife, or similar conditions will be.  Therefore we reserve the right to make changes or amendments as needed due to wildlife spottings, weather, or any other unforeseen circumstances. Your tour leader and guides are the final authority on any activity or itinerary. No price adjustment applies.  



Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.


Pricing and Related Details


Group Size: Minimum of 7, maximum of 12 people (excluding guides, trip leaders, and staff).


Cost: Rates start at $8,700 per person for double occupancy, and $9,000 per person for single occupancy (2 single occupancy rooms available). The final price will be based on the total number of people who sign up.


Cost Includes:


  • All luxury hotels and safari camp accommodations
  • All in-country transportation and flights
  • Private guides, park rangers, and staff
  • Park and conservation fees
  • Laundry service while at safari camps
  • Snacks and drinks during game drives
  • All safari activities in our private vehicles as outlined in the itinerary
  • Flying Doctors coverage for emergency evacuation to the nearest medical care while on safari 
  • A custom photo album of the trip personalized for each registration
  • Meals and drinks as indicated each day:

[B]: Breakfast included

[FBA]: Full Board All-inclusive - breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and standard drinks including water, soda, juice, beer, house wine, and spirits

[DR]: Day room use only, no meals.


Not Included in Trip Cost:


  • International airfare to/from your home city
  • Tanzania entry visa
  • Wire transfer and/or processing fees
  • Personal travel, medical, and cancellation insurance coverage
  • Items of a personal nature such as souvenirs, gift shop purchases, and spa services
  • Meals and drinks not specified in the itinerary
  • Optional add-on excursions before or after the safari
  • Tips for safari staff, porters, guides, rangers, housekeeping and laundry staff, and other locals who tend to us.  Tips are a mainstay of life for the locals. You have the option to include tips as a part of your trip cost, or to provide tips as you go. Tips average around $35 per person per day (distributed amongst the various staff as appropriate). Please note that only clean, crisp and new (2006 or newer) U.S. currency is accepted in Tanzania