Trip Number: 12515B
Staff: Mary O'Connor
- Experience the abundant wildlife of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater
- Meet the Maasai, Hadzapi, and other tribal groups that date back to
the Stone Age
- Delight in the thrill and adventure of a classic safari quest
- Comfortable accommodations in lodges and tents
- All lodging, meals, admissions, park entrance fees, and gratuities
- On-trip transportation, and airport pick-up and drop-off
Photo: Margie Tomenko
Tanzania provides all the essential elements of a classic African Safari adventure
of a lifetime. The largest country in East Africa and situated just south of
the equator, Tanzania has a truly magnificent variety of landscapes and 12 national
parks that are unsurpassed in beauty and variety. Among its unspoiled savannah
one can still find Maasai nomads and millions of wild animals. Tanzania is home
to over 40 species of mammals, including elephant, giraffe, cape buffalo, hippo,
rhinoceros, zebra, wildebeest, antelope, warthog, lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena
and many more. This is the typical season for birthing. We hope to witness this
miracle and possibly see a wildebeest being born. This is a spectacular site
to witness. The calf is up and running in a matter of minutes of being born
-- for survival.
Tanzania is also a bird watcher's paradise with too many species to list. Who
can say which bird is more spectacular? The greater flamingo, secretary bird,
bateleur, crowned crane, lilac-breasted roller, kori bustard, lily trotter,
spoonbill stork, marabou stork, the bee eaters, or any of a dozen others?
Of all the African wildlife areas, none surpasses Tanzania's for spectacular
scenery and number of animals. Our safari takes us from the green foothills
of snow-mantled Mount Kilimanjaro (the continent's highest mountain at 19,340
ft); through the limitless expanse of the Serengeti Plain (a World Heritage
site) and to the misty Ngoronogoro Crater (the world’s largest intact
caldron, which measures 12 miles across). And if these natural wonders are not
enough, the trip will also visit historic places like Oldovai Gorge, the site
of Leakey's discovery of the oldest human bones, the very dawn of human existence.
In addition to wildlife observation, this outing also offers opportunities
to learn about two of Tanzania's ethnic groups (the Maasai and the Hadzapi),
and to see a vast cross-section of Tanzania -- the largest in East Africa, and
the continent's most politically stable.
We will be accompanied at all times by an accomplished Tanzanian naturalist
who will be able to identify and tell us all about the wildlife encountered.
We will listen for the sounds of the bush as we enjoy our comfortable camps
and lodges. In settings of incomparable beauty and grandeur, we will savor the
African dawn and sunset.
Photo: Margie Tomenko
Day 1: After our arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport we will be
met by our safari staff, who will drive us 45 minutes to a beautiful lodge situated
in the foothills of Mount Meru. There we will relax and enjoy the spacious gardens.
On a clear day we will be able to see Mount Kilimanjaro as well as Mount Meru,
Africa’s first and fifth highest mountains. We will have an opportunity
to meet everyone and enjoy a welcome dinner this evening.
Day 2: We will spend the day in Arusha National Park -- the
smallest of Tanzania's parks, but also one of its most beautiful. The park is
bordered by Mt. Meru (14,000 feet) on the west and Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,400 feet)
on the east. The park is rich in many kinds of wildlife and hundreds of different
species of migratory and resident birds. You'll also likely catch your first
view of some buffalo and elephants.
Day 3: After breakfast, we will depart for Manyara National
Park. Manyara National Park is located along the western edge of the Great Rift
Valley. The entrance to the park is a rainforest fed by underground springs
and is home to baboons, monitor lizards, leopards, pythons, and a tremendous
variety of birds. We hope to see the famous tree-climbing lions as this is one
of the very few places they are found. The heart of the park is a large soda
lake where flamingos, water fowl, and hippos abound.
Day 4: After an early breakfast, we will head to the rim of
the Ngorongoro Crater, a World Heritage Area. The Ngorongoro Crater has been
referred to as the Garden of Eden, and it will not disappoint you. Ngorongoro
Crater measures over 100 square miles and represents every micro-climate found
in Tanzania. Along the way, we will have the opportunity to stop at a school,
orphanage, and medical center.
Photo: Margie Tomenko
Day 5: We will enjoy a full day's game drive in the Crater,
leaving the lodge early in the morning to enjoy the early light and higher activity
level of the predators. The crater wildlife remains constant during the year,
as most animals find no need to migrate elsewhere. The crater boasts a huge
number of hyenas and the densest population of animals in any Tanzanian park.
Black rhinos are usually seen and the elephant population consists of very old
and extremely large bulls.
Day 6: We'll depart after breakfast for Serengeti National
Park. We’ll game view as we drive to the Ndutu area of the Serengeti ecosystem.
We will stop at the Olduvai Gorge Archeological Museum and gorge overlook which
is the site of Louis and Mary Leakey’s archeological work. It was here
that Mary Leakey discovered the earliest known human footprints, which were
solidified in volcanic ash some 3.6 million years ago. Standing at the top of
the Gorge envisioning early man evokes a feeling of returning home to the birthplace
of humankind, quietly reminding us that we are all related. This will be our
first night in the classic Safari Mobile Camps that allow us to be in the area
of the most wildlife activity. It is fabulous to hear the sounds of the wilderness
in these comfortable canvas tents with comfortable beds! There's nothing quite
like falling asleep and waking to the sights and sounds of the nearby herds
The Serengeti National Park's name is derived from the Maasai language "Siringet"
which means endless plains. Within an area of 5,700 square miles we’ll
find a staggering animal population of about four million, including huge herds
of zebra, wildebeest, and other grazing animals. Over 350 species of birds and
35 larger mammals can be found here. Each game drive will feature different
animals and surprises. The skill and experience of our driver guides will be
obvious as they look for animal viewing opportunities.
During this time of year, between the months of January and March, wildebeest
calving begins. More than 750,000 females will drop their calves within 24 hours.
Although it is not possible to predict the exact time this will occur, we hope
to witness a herd in this process. Many other animals give birth at this time
of year. Predatory activity will be at its peak, so you can be sure to see plenty
of lion, cheetah, hyena, jackal and, hopefully, the shy leopard looking for
Days 7-10: The world famous Serengeti! We will wake to the
call of birds, or perhaps the howl of monkeys, or the roar of a lion. The fresh
air and sounds of the wild will be all around you. We will take advantage of
four full days of game drive opportunities. This is where the heart of the activity
will be. Some days we may choose to spend the full day photographing and observing
far away from the camp, or we may have better viewing opportunities to leave
before sunrise and return for brunch and rest (while the animals typically also
rest in the heat of the day). Late-afternoon drives allow us to enjoy the interesting
light and increased activity of the predators. After these excursions, you will
be met back at camp with cold beverages, appetizers, hot showers, a gourmet
meal, and a crackling campfire.
Day 11: On the move again. We'll enjoy our last Serengeti
game drive as we travel eastward. The beauty and awe of the Serengeti will soon
be in the rear view mirror. We arrive at our lodge in time for lunch and afternoon
free to relax or enjoy a cultural tour to Iragw village.
Photo: Margie Tomenko
Day 12: We will do a day trip to Lake Eyasi to visit the Hadzapi
and WaToga tribes of this region. The Hadzapi are Tanzania's Bushmen, who still
speak in clicks and who currently number less than 600 individuals. Our local
guide will locate a family group for you to visit. Since Hadzapi are nomadic
hunters and gatherers, we do not know which family grouping we may be visiting.
Men are eager to show you how they hunt, make, and prepare their arrows. Women
will usually take you into the surrounding bush to gather berries. Be aware
that the Hadzapi love to smoke tobacco, so be prepared for their poor health
and for seeing even very young children partake in smoking tobacco. The WaToga
raise livestock and live in the Lake Eyasi region after the government moved
them out of Ngorongoro Crater to avoid conflicts with the Maasai.
Day 13: We will travel back to Arusha, stopping for souvenirs,
lunch and shopping at the cultural heritage centre along the way. We will end
at the lodge where we began our adventure. We will have our farewell dinner
there. Afterward, we will depart for our evening flight home from the Kilimanjaro
Airport. It will be sad to say goodbye to Africa and our new friends. You will
be enticed to return again -- and soon -- like I was!
There are several options to reach the trip starting point. Participants will
need to book a flight from the U.S. to Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania. KLM
is the only airline that currently flies into Kilimanjaro Airport from Europe.
That flight will require a transfer in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Another option is Lufthansa airlines. Lufthansa flies into Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania)
and several smaller airlines fly into Kilimanjaro Airport.
You can also fly into Nairobi, Kenya, and then transfer to a short flight to
Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania. At this time, you will not need a visa for
Kenya if you are transferring. However, things do change, and you may want to
double-check at the time of booking your flights.
Since there is only one airline that flies directly from Europe into Kilimanjaro
Airport in Tanzania, it is advisable to commit to this trip as soon as possible
so that you can then purchase your airline tickets. Since this trip occurs during
high season, the limited, less expensive seats will sell quickly. Airfares will
increase as time progresses, and one takes the chance of not being able to get
a seat at all.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Margie Tomenko
Accommodations will include safari lodges and a private classic mobile camp.
Most of the lodges are among the finest that Tanzania has to offer, but do not
correspond to luxury class hotels in the more developed countries of the world.
Private classic mobile camps will be adequate and comfortable, but not luxurious.
Stand-up tents will accommodate two persons each and will be 10 feet by 10 feet
in size, with cots, mattresses, and bedding. Showers and toilets are communal
and will be shared by four people. The toilets will be either chemical bucket
toilets or a trench with a toilet seat over it. The proper procedure for using
these facilities will be explained on site. The setting will be serene, quiet,
and private. The advantage of these mobile camps is that they are set up in
the area of the most wildlife activity at that time. Plus, they are private.
A large canopy will be set up as the dining/food area. Food is fresh, well
prepared, and tasty. Most of the dishes are western or European-style, with
some African meals included. Meals will be served at the table or will be buffet-style.
Basic vegetarian diets can be accommodated. Please check with the leader regarding
other dietary requirements.
No special conditioning is required for this safari. We will ride in vehicles
with a maximum of seven persons in each vehicle, each person having access to
a window and roof hatch. There will be the inevitable inconveniences and difficulties
associated with travel in a developing country. It is important to accept Tanzania
on its own terms, with a sense of adventure and good humor. On rare occasions
the itinerary may need to change somewhat due to unforeseen circumstances.
Equipment and Clothing
A good camera with at least a 300 mm lens is ideal for photography. One can
take some good photos with a smaller digital or other type of camera when animals
are close to the vehicle, but it will not be possible to take good quality pictures
of birds and animals that are a longer distance away. Many animals in the parks
are habituated to vehicles so they do not shy away; therefore close photo opportunities
Good binoculars are a necessity. It is best for each person in a couple or
family group to have a pair of their own. Dress is always informal. A clothing/equipment
list will be sent to participants by the trip leader.
There are many good general guidebooks to Tanzania and East Africa. For example,
Passport's Regional Guides of Africa: Tanzania, by Lisa Asch and Peter
Blackwell, gives a very readable overview of this fascinating country.
For more in-depth material and a better understanding of the safari experience,
here are a few of the leader's recommendations:
- Gallmann, Kuri, I dreamed of Africa.
- Markham, Beryl, West with the Night.
- Moss, Cynthia, Portraits in the Wild.
- Bonner, Raymond, At the Hand of Man.
- Smith, Anthony, The Great Rift: Africa's Challenging Valley.
- Saitoti, Tepilit Ole, and Carol Beckwith, Maasai.
- Matthiessen, Peter, Sand Rivers.
- Grzimek, Bernard and Michael, Serengeti Shall Not Die.
- Hatch, John, Serengeti: A Profile.
- Iwago, Mitsuaki, Serengeti: The Natural Order.
- Matthiessen, Peter, The Tree Where Man Was Born.
Photo: Margie Tomenko
The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about
conservation and sustainability of resources both locally and globally. Our
work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, and encourages
grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward environmentally
understanding parallel concerns at home and abroad.
As of this writing, there is a proposed road to be build thought the Serengeti.
It is feared this will interfere with migration of the animals. It will also
allow poachers more opportunity to devastate the remaining herds
Twenty-five percent of Tanzania's land (over 95,000 square miles) has been
set aside for wildlife parks, reserves, and game areas. This is probably more
than any other country on earth. However, Tanzania's economic resources for
rangers, roads, research, and administration of these lands is meager, and illegal
poaching and hunting still take their toll on wildlife. The integrity of national
parks and wildlife reserves is also being threatened as the need for land and
There are many projects going on in Tanzania today to help solve these problems.
Ngorongoro Crater is part of the extensive Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which
is a pioneering effort in multi-purpose land, allowing for the protection of
animals and the continuation of tribal lifestyles at the same time. Also, there
are several animal research projects in the field, including the world's longest-running
research project, the Serengeti Lion Project, which began in the l960s.
One of our conservation objectives will be to try to understand the challenges
that Tanzania faces in continuing to support such a large national park system.
Tourist dollars are a major source of revenue, so by coming to see these magnificent
animals and their habitats, we are helping to ensure their future. That said,
we will become aware of both the positive and negative consequences of tourism
in a country like Tanzania.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Mary O'Connor began leading Sierra Club safaris to Africa in 1986 and has returned many times since then. She says every safari is unique because each time she sees thrilling events she's never seen before. She thinks the experience of seeing these magnificent animals and birds in the wild is a one of life's most inspiring experiences.
Mary's interest in geography and ethnology began when she was young and led her to become a world traveler. To date, she has visited about 80 countries and in addition to several countries in Africa, has led numerous trips in Central and South America as well as Turkey, China, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Canada and Alaska.
She loves sharing the safari experience with participants and looks forward to returning to Tanzania to visit the warm, friendly people there.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips