Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Meet Louise Leakey or Fidelis Masao for a private tour of Olduvai Gorge, where Homo habilis was discovered on a National Geographic-sponsored expedition.
  • Seek out the great wildebeest migration in the Serengeti, and spot spectacular wildlife in the Ngorongoro Crater.
  • A renowned wildlife biologist accompanies each trip to interpret the flora and fauna we encounter on safari and to give fascinating lectures about animal behavior.
  • A Maasai chief invites us to witness a traditional ceremony and learn firsthand about the culture.

Itinerary

Itinerary

Go in search of the thundering herds of the legendary wildebeest migration on a wildlife safari in Tanzania. Experience the power of the migration up close in the vast savannas of the northern or southern Serengeti, depending on the season. Take in extraordinary vistas of the Great Rift Valley, and descend into the Ngorongoro Crater to spot lions, cheetahs, elephants, and more.

Day 1: Arusha, Tanzania

Arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport this evening and transfer to our hotel.

Accommodations:Arusha Coffee Lodge
Day 2: Lake Manyara National Park

Drive to Lake Manyara National Park, famous for its elephants, hippos, giraffes, flamingos, and tree-climbing lions. Set out on our first safari to discover East Africa’s legendary wildlife amid the stunning Rift Valley landscape.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Plantation Lodge
Day 3: Lake Manyara National Park

On a morning game drive, observe the wildlife that congregates on the shores of Lake Manyara. Enjoy a guided walk around the lodge’s grounds and gardens before hiking to a nearby coffee plantation.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Plantation Lodge
Day 4: Ngorongoro Crater

After breakfast, travel to the Ngorongoro Highlands, where we will meet with Maasai community members. Far from the tourist circuit, enjoy a rare opportunity to view traditional singing and dancing, witness an initiation ritual, and learn about this fascinating culture from the village chief and his wives. After lunch, descend 2,000 feet to the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater, where volcanic slopes shelter almost 25,000 animals. Observe the interactions between predator and prey; spot colorful birdlife, from superb starlings to crowned cranes; and track elephants, rare black rhinos, cheetahs, and more.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
Day 5: Ngorongoro Crater

Return to the crater floor for breakfast and a morning safari. Enjoy an afternoon to relax and watch the sun set over the crater from the lodge. Tonight, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Louise Leakey or Dr. Fidelis Masao, co-director of the Olduvai Landscape Paleoarchaeology Project, joins us for dinner and a discussion about the groundbreaking paleontological finds in the region.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
Day 6: Olduvai Gorge/Serengeti National Park

Drive to the Olduvai Gorge, where, on a National Geographic-sponsored expedition in 1960, Louis and Mary Leakey discovered Homo habilis, one of the earliest members of the human genus. This morning, Louise (the Leakeys’ granddaughter) or Dr. Masao will discuss the family’s legacy and ongoing work at Olduvai Gorge. Then take a private tour of the site, or accompany Dr. Masao on a walk through the area where much of his life’s research has been conducted. This afternoon, drive to our lodge in the southern Serengeti, looking for lions, giraffes, and leopards along the way.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Serengeti Sopa Lodge
Days 7-8: Serengeti National Park

Rise early for an optional hot-air balloon safari or a morning game drive before flying to the northern Serengeti. With luck, we will witness the dramatic river crossings of the wildebeest migration. Great herds of wildebeests and zebras eye predators warily as crocodile snouts break the surface of the Mara River. Stay at Sayari Camp, a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection, and take in the region’s spectacular array of wildlife on morning and afternoon game drives. On our last evening, gather for a candlelit farewell dinner in the bush.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:This night includes a stay at a National Geographic Unique Lodge.
Sayari Camp is one of the few safari lodges permitted in the remote northern Serengeti, where migrating wildebeests make their dramatic crossing of the Mara River.
Day 9: Serengeti/Arusha

After a final early-morning safari, fly back to Arusha. Relax at our hotel before connecting with your flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Rivertrees Country Inn

Extensions

Extensions

  • On Safari in Tanzania: Rwanda Gorilla Tracking Extension
    6 days from $7,395
  • On Safari in Tanzania: Ruaha Park Extension
    4 days from $3,295
On Safari in Tanzania: Rwanda Gorilla Tracking Extension

Post-Trip, 6 Days

Travel to Rwanda on an optional pre- or post-trip extension for an incredible opportunity to encounter endangered mountain gorillas in the wild. From our base just outside Volcanoes National Park, track gorillas and hike to the original site of National Geographic grantee Dian Fossey's Karisoke Research Center.

Day 1: Tanzania/Kigali, Rwanda

Depart Tanzania on a flight to Kigali. Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure.

Accommodations:Kigali Serena Hotel
Day 2: Kigali

Journey into the lush hills that surround Kigali to visit a community supported by the Millennium Villages project—a development approach conceived by Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the United Nations Development Project. Here, survivors and perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide live side by side in an effort to heal wounds and build a brighter future for the country. Listen to moving testimonies of village residents, and visit the health center and the primary school. Return to Kigali for dinner at the legendary Hotel des Mille Collines—featured in the film Hotel Rwanda—where more than a thousand Rwandans found safe haven during the genocide.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Kigali Serena Hotel
Day 3: Kigali/Parc National des Volcans

This morning, pay a visit to the Kigali Memorial Centre, where a poignant exhibition recalls Rwanda's mid-1990s genocide and testifies to the country's remarkable resilience. Then travel north through the beautiful countryside to Volcanoes National Park.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Virunga Safari Lodge
Day 4: Parc National des Volcans

Spend the day tracking mountain gorillas in the forested hills of Volcanoes National Park. Follow local guides through thick undergrowth and dangling vines in search of gorilla families. Sit among these gentle giants and observe their interactions, listening to their distinctive grumbles and viewing one of the planet’s most endangered creatures from an awe-inspiring, up close perspective.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Virunga Safari Lodge
Day 5: Parc National des Volcans/Kigali

Trek to the original site of the Karisoke Research Center, where the late Dian Fossey, a National Geographic grantee, carried out research on mountain gorillas for 18 years. Or strike out into the lower reaches of the park to seek out golden monkeys, a distinct species of primate that can often be found in thick bamboo stands. For an additional cost, opt to return to Volcanoes National Park for a second day of gorilla tracking. In the afternoon, head back to Kigali.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Virunga Safari Lodge
Day 6: Kigali

After breakfast, transfer to Kigali International Airport for your flight home, arriving the next day.

Meals Included:Breakfast