Evocative History of Man and Nature: Serengeti Safari & Zanzibar Escape

A 15 day trip to Tanzania 
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History is alive in the Serengeti and in Zanzibar as tales of humankind’s evolution mix with roving elephants and Masai tribes continue ancient lifestyles as they herd cattle past lion pride. Wildebeest and zebra migrate across the grasslands and follow an annual pattern unchanged since the beginning of time. These destinations whisper the secrets of the world’s past, and on this 2-week safari, you will uncover that they also hold the key to the future.

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General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Loliondo Reserve, Zanzibar, Stone Town, House of Wonders, Old Fort, Old Dispensary, Palace Museum, Forodhani Gardens, Tippu Tip’s House, Dongwe

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro Crater – Perched on the Rim of the Crater

Begin your safari on the rim of the world’s largest intact caldera and gaze down on a lake speckled pink by flamingos. Your lodge will stand on the rim, and your suite will offer an iconic vista over to the far side of the old volcano. An elephant may wander past, followed by a herd of zebra, then a bashful herd of bushbuck. From above, you can make out some dots on the grasslands, and soon see that they are small herds of buffalo and wildebeest. You will have landed at Kilimanjaro International and transferred onto a light aircraft for the short flight to the crater. Check into your hotel and enjoy sundowners with an incredible view before an evening of fine dining as elephants roam nearby.

What’s Included: accommodation, micro flight, airport transfer, dinner

Day 2: Ngorongoro Crater – Exquisite Safari on the Caldera Floor

If Africa had to choose one destination as the symbol of its natural history, then Ngorongoro Crater would be the obvious choice. Down on the caldera floor, there are six juxtaposing habitats and each provides food and shelter for a distinctive cast of wildlife character. On the open grasslands, you will find the abundant grazers such as the zebra, the wildebeest, and the buffalo. Enjoy the views as a salt lake is tinged by flamingos while another is the daily resting place for a huge hippo pod. The compact savannah woodland is dotted with large elephant bulls, and their majestic tusks curve above your safari vehicle. Across the caldera’s slopes are catchment forests, home to stealthy predators like the leopard and there are also many animals who live on open moorlands around your lodge, but make the daily journey down to the lake to drink.

You will descend into the crater at dawn for the chance to explore the park before day-tripping vehicles arrive from 9 am onwards. Lions are always active at this time and will greet your arrival with fluttering manes and prowling paws. Black rhinos will be marching about, and an early start will ensure that you see them out in the open. Time seems to stand still as this critically endangered animal will slowly plod past with their horns a display of elegance and pride. In total, there are over 30,000 animals residing in the crater, including almost all the famous African mammals – the only notable exception is the giraffe. You will spend six hours on the crater floor, then enjoy an afternoon at leisure at the lodge.

What’s Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner  

Day 3: Olduvai Gorge to Serengeti – The Origins of Mankind

The earliest evidence of human ancestors has been found in Olduvai Gorge. In the visitor center, you will find the clues that have been unearthed, such a stone tools and fossilized remains. Skulls and vertebrae date back 2 million years, from the time of Homo habilis, one of man’s early ancestors. A local guide will share the stories and provide a detailed narrative on both Homo habilis and the anthropologists that have made the findings. You will then take a walk through the gorge to find that the Olduvai Gorge does not exist in isolation as a scattering of animals wander alongside.

Olduvai is a rich anthropological site, and the complete tour will fill your morning. After lunch, you will continue to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and descend onto the Serengeti plains. When the Ngorongoro volcano exploded, flumes of nutrient-rich ash was flung westward, flattening a vast area. Fast forward a few million years, and this ash has created flourishing grasslands, with enough food to support over a million grazers. The nutrients in this grass are the secret of the Serengeti, and allow wildebeest and Thomson’s gazelle to evolve from calves to adults in record time. You will spend an afternoon on a game drive to these southern plains, and then enjoy your evening at your luxury camp.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Serengeti – The Magical Grass Plains Where the Migration Begins

The southern plains abound with life from December to March as the wildebeest come here to raise their young. As they arrive, thus begins the great wildebeest migration as the herds move off as soon as their calves are strong enough. Thomson’s gazelle and Grant’s gazelle are also abundant here, along with large herds of zebra. For these four months, you cannot look in any direction without seeing wild animals. But throughout the rest of the year, there is still plenty of natural history to enjoy as the battle between predator and prey continues uninterrupted. Only hyenas have the stamina to follow the herds as all of the other big cats must stay behind to protect their realm, so everywhere in the Serengeti, you will be in the realm of resident predators.

On your full-day game drive, you will begin to piece together the scenes. Lion pride lounge on rocky outcrops watching for their next meal. Leopards are on the move, and your guides know how to uncover their camouflage. Watch elephants on their nomadic journeys as these giants grace the horizon, and then follow hyenas as they scamper about and cackle loudly at the vehicle. The southern Serengeti is home to a wonderful diversity and the day’s game drive can lead you in so many directions. This region is where it all began, and understanding the Serengeti’s natural history is not possible without first exploring these flat and open plains. Midway, enjoy a picnic lunch by a pool that is always full of grunting hippos.

What’s Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner  

Days 5 – 6: Serengeti – Big Game Safari on the Serengeti Plains

The herds will be on the move, and you will follow, watching the spirals of dust that accompany the millions of hooves as they cross the grasslands. The great wildebeest migration is nature’s most astonishing visual spectacle, and its history is relatively unknown. Scientists and researchers are beginning to understand the intricacies of the migration, yet they can only guess at its age. Over these two days, you will stay at a camp that moves with the seasons, so that the roving herds will practically surround you. Gaze out from your camp, and you will see wildebeest cantering around. Through the evening, you will hear lions roar and the strangled shouts that accompany a successful hunt. Your senses are softly pummeled and you will be captivated by the nuances of the migration.

Your guide will provide the narrative on this vastly misunderstood phenomenon. Many sources site migratory patterns, but that oversimplifies what is taking place. Rather than a single migration, the wildebeest and zebra move off in clusters of herds, currently four to six each year. Each group takes its own route north, feasting on the fresh grass of the April rains and moving towards the pastures of the Masai Mara. Rather than head due north, the herds graze in a circular pattern, helping to open the landscape and improve their ability to spot the predators. Over these two days, you will also witness how the predators react to the migration. Hyenas are territorial but will allow rivals to pass through their home patch. Lions would not tolerate such a thing, and you will see a pride of bachelor males will push away from the herds. The migration is creating an evolving history, and your guide will use all the animal encounters to tell you the stories of time.

The next day, you will spend your morning in a hot air balloon to drift across the plains. Your high vantage point will provide a detailed perspective on the migratory patterns, and you will see how the zebra are always two or three days behind the wildebeest. Spending two days will give you a chance to trace individual scenes. Watch a lion make the first exploratory journeys towards a humongous zebra herd. Later in the day, watch a team of lionesses rile the herd and separate their pre-determined target. A whole eating ritual is followed, with the big male lion warding off the other males. Return the next morning, and you will see the remains of the carcass in the hands of hyenas, and then later on, it will be the jackals and the vultures seeking to pick from what’s left.

What’s Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 7 – 8: Loliondo Reserve – Immersed in the World of the Masai Tribe

The Masai are the Serengeti’s traditional landowners, and they continue to practice lifestyles unchanged for millennia. This is big cat country, but they still herd their goats and cows, warriors leading their prize possessions on daily journeys across the plains. The Masai tribe are a perfect example of man coexisting in harmony with nature, proving that there is a place for everyone without interrupting the ecosystem. Over these two days, the Masai will provide a detailed insight into their culture unaffected by modernity. You will learn how to track animals on foot, gain the basics of bush survival and learn how to ward off dangerous predators (without confrontation), and the ways of a lifestyle that is as inspiring now as it has been for thousands of years.

You will spend these two days at a camp in the private Loliondo Reserve with Masai guides. Spend each afternoon on a walking safari with a slow journey that will piece together the clues. Most people can see a print in the sand, but after a little practice, you will also be able to distinguish which print belongs to which animal. With a single glance, your Masai guide will be able to tell you the rough age of the animal and exactly when it passed by. When inspecting spoor by crumbling it between the hands, the guides will know the health, age, and sex of the animal that left it. Exploring with the Masai will teach you the history of the Serengeti, revealing the behavior of animals and the patterns they follow.

You will spend your first morning in this region driving east to Loliondo, a private concession that borders the Serengeti National Park. The next morning, you will head out on a game drive in the concession and enjoy the chance to go off the trail to see the wildlife world from a very intimate perspective. With the Masai as your guides and trackers, there will be an incredible opportunity to see predators on the prowl. Your accommodation will be a beautiful camp that is partly owned by the local community and is helping to preserve their presence on the grasslands.

What’s Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9: Loliondo to Stone Town – Landing on the Spice Island

After a short journey back to the Serengeti, you will board your plane destined for Zanzibar Island. You will fly in a light aircraft that will hop across the country to drop passengers off and pick them up at a number of points along the way so it is a great way to get a glimpse of destinations you have not visited on your safari. Landing in Stone Town, the evening is at your leisure to explore and relax. The Forodhani Gardens are where locals and visitors alike congregate you will enjoy an atmospheric evening illuminated by paraffin lamps. Choose your dinner from any of the barbecue stalls and enjoy it with a mug of masala tea, blended with many of the flavors from the Spice Island.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, micro flight, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 10: Stone Town – Exploring an Evocative Trading History

Zanzibar’s history is enshrouded in both poetry and deceit. Zanzibar was the hub of Africa’s trading and where tortoise shells were swapped for porcelain and precious gems exchanged for silk. A visit to the spice plantations and the spice market reveals much history, but it will your visit to the caves that will bring the other side of the stories. Long after the trade was internationally outlawed, slaves continued to be held in these darkened caves before being sold off to international traders, and the walls seem to speak from the souls of the stolen. Today’s full-day private tour will give you a detailed look at Zanzibar’s evocative trading history, from the house of slave trader Tippu Tip to the caves and plantations dotted across the island. From Persian wanderers to Omani sailors and Chinese explorers, this is a land with over a thousand years of trading history to discover.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 11: Stone Town – The World Heritage Stone Town Maze

The Stone Town maze is perfect for aimless wandering. Scents will guide you to octopus being sizzled on a little fire and sounds will lead you to old mosques, colorful temples, and an austere Cathedral. Life is lived on these narrow streets, and you will have had plenty of excitement as you have explored over the last two days. Today you will enjoy a guided tour with an insightful narrative on this living World Heritage site. Decorative wooden doors are a poignant place to start, beautifully carved and studded with ornate metal. Look carefully, and you will see two door knockers, one each for men and women, so those inside knew who should answer the door.

Houses are constructed from coral and built in a harmonious style from what poked above the low tide line. The Palace Museum was the setting for the shortest war in history, while the Old Fort is crumbling evocatively. Explore the House of Wonders and Old Dispensary for a sense of the island’s old-world grandeur and then your guide will bring you to the ancient markets and the small squares where locals congregate over thick scented coffee. With your expert guide along, you will be able to put a name to the places in the maze and uncover a world that is as redolent now as it was three centuries ago.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 12 – 14: Dongwe – Barefoot White Sand Paradise

After all of the history, your final three days will be about removing your shoes and basking in the white-sand beauty of the coast of Zanzibar. Eroded cliffs stand over the beaches to separate the coastline into a series of hidden coves at high tide. During low tide, you can walk for miles and dip your feet into the soft sand. The natural history will continue to impress with a series of snorkeling sites just offshore, or you could take an optional diving excursion. You could also visit a local coastal village and watch the mamas cook up feasts of coconut and fresh fish.

One incredible piece of history comes on the water, with a traditional dhow, or sailboat, that will lead you along the coast of the island. For thousands of years, the dhow is how people have traveled, using wind power to cruise from village to village. You will see the small local boats being used throughout the day, built with sails from empty rice and maize bags, which are opened out into single pieces of cloth and then stitched together. Your cruise will be a bit more stylish with comfortable seating and perfect for sitting back leisurely to enjoy a sundowner drink. These three days are at your leisure, and your lodge will offer a number of inclusive activities, with the sundowner cruise bringing your two weeks in Tanzania to an end.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 15: Dongwe to Stone Town – Departure

Wake early for your short drive back to Stone Town for your morning flight to Nairobi, which connects with your homebound departure as you say goodbye to Africa.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.