The 5-day safari in Tanzania quickly climbed into my top 10 most beautiful experiences since traveling. And I write this while admiring the black ebony rhino on my desk, a souvenir that will always remind me of the adventures in Serengeti and the other wildlife parks in Tanzania.
Organizing such a trip is not easy at all, especially if you don’t use the services of an agency. But I’ve already talked about everything you need to know before going on a safari in Tanzania.
In this article, I want to detail the itinerary for each day. From the moment we boarded the plane to Kilimanjaro and until we boarded to Zanzibar.
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5-day safari in Tanzania – safari itinerary and costs
The flight to Tanzania
We flew with Qatar, and it was an extremely long and exhausting journey. I left Bucharest at 6 pm and got off at Kilimanjaro airport at 6 pm, but the next day. The flight had three segments, so we had two layovers: Doha and Dar Es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania.
Flights to Tanzania are pretty expensive, but the more significant your flexibility in terms of flight dates, the better your chances of finding a cheaper flight. I talked in a previous article about how to find the cheapest flights.
First contact with Tanzania
At the airport, we were waited by the safari operator with whom we communicated for about two weeks before to work out all the details. I must mention from the beginning that this trip was not sponsored and that we chose a private tour.
The company we chose is Gosheni Safaris. I decided to pick them after all the positive reviews I read and the offer they had, which folded quite well on our wishes. At the end of the article, you can see all the costs and everything included in it.
Also, you should know that any tour operator can customize the offer according to your needs and budget but generally works with specific accommodations inside the parks.
We liked the accommodations that Gosheni Safaris has in their portfolio and the way they communicated. Fast and efficient. One week before leaving for Tanzania, we paid 30% of the total amount, knowing we would give the rest of the money when we meet.
Let’s go back to the day of our flight. Our guide, Zadock, waited for us at Kilimanjaro Airport and drove us to the hotel in Arusha. Gosheni Safaris is based even at Kilimanjaro Airport, which pleasantly surprised me, given how many tour operators there are in Tanzania.
READ ALSO: Best time to visit Zanzibar
First night in Tanzania – accommodation in Arusha
In Arusha, we stayed at Mrimba Palm Hotel, an excellent, budget accommodation, with friendly staff and all the comfort you need. We also stayed here the night after the safari, precisely because we liked it. The two nights spent at Mrimba Palm Hotel are not included in the price of the safari package.
Safari in Tanzania – Day 1 | Tarangire National Park
The next day, early in the morning, Zadock takes us from the hotel in a Toyota Land Rover (classic car model for safari) and leads us to the company’s official headquarters, where we establish the last details with the manager and make the rest of the payment. Then we head to Tarangire, the first park we will visit.
Tarangire is the 6th largest park in Tanzania, with an area of 2600 square kilometers. It is famous mainly for its herds of elephants and its multitude of baobab trees. But you can also admire several species of animals: impala, zebras, buffalo, mongooses, and over 550 species of birds.
Also, with a bit of luck (which we didn’t have, it seems), you can see tree-climbing lions here. The dominant feature of the park is the Tarangire river, so sought after by thirsty animals. The best time to visit Tarangire Park is from June to October, during the dry season.
Zadock makes the first stop in a village near Arusha, where we can take a quick look at the rural life of mainland Tanzania, after which we continue our way to the access gate to Tarangire Park.
Watch my vlog – 5 days safari in Tanzania | Tarangire National Park ↓
Before entering each park, the guide must stop and get permission. This is the ideal time to go to the toilet and to take some pictures. Park entrances are included in the total price of the safari package, so you don’t have to worry about that.
The first appearances of the animals in Tarangire Park include gazelles, zebras, ostriches, and a very colorful bird named coraciids.
And if we talk about vegetation, I must confess that Tarangire is my favorite from this point of view. The park abounds in all kinds of flowers, shrubs, acacia trees, and spectacular baobabs, some very large and very old.
As we advance in the park, we can spot more and more animals. We are already getting used to seeing the majestic giraffes crossing the road in front of us.
We also see the gray crowned crane, also known as African crowned crane or golden crested crane, a bird that wears a crown on its head, literally. How diverse and wonderful is the fauna in these places!
Around 1 pm, we are already hungry. The heat, the sun, and the bumpy road contribute to the need to eat something and take a well-deserved break.
So, there is a stop for lunch, at a viewpoint, right next to the river Tarangire. It’s just that we are not alone here, but surrounded by many tourists and baboons, as hungry as we are.
Despite our guide’s efforts to keep them away from our table, a fast baboon and good strategist manage to steal a piece of bread. No matter how much you like them, it’s forbidden to feed them because we could encourage them to lose their wild side. And that could end tragically for them.
After lunch, which consists of cream soup, rice, chicken with sauce, and some fruit, we go back to our game drive through the Tanzanian savannah. We want to see elephants, although it seems challenging. We’ve been looking for them for over an hour until we finally find them. And there are more than a few.
The large windows of the car are not enough to satisfy our pleasure of seeing these animals, so Zadock hurries to open the roof to see them better. African elephants are much more agitated and unfriendly than those in Asia.
First night on safari | Staying at Acacia Tarangire Luxury Camp
The walk ends in the evening, when we arrive, quite tired, at the first accommodation. Acacia Tarangire Luxury Camp welcomes us with smiling employees and welcome drinks.
An entire campsite just for us, because it seems that we are the only guests tonight. Since it’s very close to the equator, the day is equal to the night in Tanzania. This means the day starts at 6 am and ends at 6 pm. So, it gets dark pretty quickly after we get to the accommodation.
The jungle sounds are already beginning to penetrate our hearing, and we start to feel fear as darkness sets. Our room is a few hundred meters from the restaurant, so we feel a little abandoned.
We are hoping that a lion or, worse, an elephant would not break into our tented lodge. Zadock told us that they are the main threat to human life when talking about wild animals. So we try to rely on the walkie-talkie.
We decide to have dinner at 8, and one of the employees is coming to pick us up. He has a flashlight and a lot of courage. Dinner is quite tasty, although Tanzanian cuisine is not necessarily one of my favorites.
A little later we return to the room and, although we were promised electricity all night, it is suddenly and irreparably stopped at 11 pm.
Total darkness and scary sounds make this first night not an easy one…
Safari in Tanzania – Day 2 | Visit at the Maasai Tribe and game drive in Serengeti
Day 2 starts later than we intended the night before. That’s because the night was half white, so we had to make up with a good morning sleep. We leave for the Maasai tribe only around 10 o’clock, immediately after breakfast.
Maasai tribe experience is optional, and the tour operators usually don’t include it in the safari package. But we want to know more about their life and their choices, so the time spent here and $50 paid seems worth every penny.
There are many stories to tell about the Maasai, so a future article in which I want to talk exclusively about them is in preparation. On the spot, the son of the chief of the village is welcoming us. His English is unexpectedly good, so the dialogue is enjoyable.
He tells us something, after which he gives us a demonstration of dances and songs in which we are included, with or without our will :)). Not before dressing us in the proper outfits. After that, we enter the village gate and discover a surprising world. We take with us some gifts for children.
Tiny houses, built in just three weeks each, made of acacia wood, water, and soil. A fence surrounds the entire village; in the middle, another fence encloses the animals of the Maasai, gone to graze, and behind, there is the school where 25 children study.
A school without a roof, with a piece of broken blackboard made of wood, a place for study for these children raised right here, in the middle of nature, without any trace of modern civilization.
We spend a few moments here and then in one of the houses. It seems impossible to me how a house that measures a maximum diameter of 3 meters can hold six people.
I am intrigued by the stories of the Maasai, but at the same time, they arouse in me a feeling of admiration for their life lived in total communion with nature.
The day continues with a short visit to a craft store. We find here almost everything a person interested in interior design, art, and jewelry can wish for.
We quickly admire some spectacular ebony wood sculptures, which I would love to take with me back to Romania, some jewelry decorated with beautiful tanzanite stones, and then we head to Serengeti.
To get from Tarangire to the Serengeti, we have to cross the Ngorongoro Crater. It has a depth of 610 meters, so the route reveals beautiful landscapes. Up there, we cross an area full of Maasai villages, an increased number of animals, but also some new species, such as hippos.
We also see the elephants and giraffes up close, giraffes that cannot descend into Ngorongoro Crater due to their long legs.
Around 4 pm, we pass the gates of Serengeti Park, the most popular and the best in terms of fauna. With almost 15,000 square kilometers, Serengeti is one of the largest safari parks in the world. The Great Migration also takes place here, probably the most spectacular event in the animal kingdom.
About two million animals cross the plains on their way to the fresh grass of the Maasai Mara.
Serengeti has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. The animals you can find here are wildebeest antelopes, different kinds of gazelles, zebras, lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, and many more.
Here the day continues favorable for us because we have the opportunity to admire a beautiful group of lions resting on a kopje (a rocky outcrop specific to the savannah).
They feel our presence, but they don’t bother. We are just other tourists who come to admire the kings of the jungle.
We go further and meet a hyena, an animal that I remember was not my favorite when watching National Geographic as a child. But seeing her for the first time in reality and in her natural habitat, makes me reconsider my opinion. She’s actually adorable!
Second night in safari – Staying at Acacia Serengeti Luxury Camp
The day ends with a charming sunset, that kind of sunset that you can’t admire elsewhere. A gradient in reddish hues and the silhouettes of acacia trees are the best ingredients.
We arrive at the second accommodation where we will spend two nights: Acacia Serengeti Luxury Camp. We like it more because it is brighter and we are no longer the only guests.
Although we are told that lions often roam, the feeling of fear is not as strong as it was the night before. I think we’re getting used to it.
Safari in Tanzania – Day 3 | Full game drive in Serengeti
The most awaited day of our safari itinerary starts with two more responsible people, who understand the need to wake up early on safari. Yes, this is us. We had a quick breakfast, along with a strong coffee and a scenic landscape, to a herd of zebras, and then we hit the road.
We are already in ecstasy when we notice many African eagles devouring the lifeless body, or what is left of it, probably an antelope hunted by the king of the jungle. But the day is just at the beginning and will surprise us even more.
A few meters further on, three shy mongooses pull their sweet heads and curious eyes out of a massive mound of termites. How many visual gifts the vast plains of the Serengeti already offer us!
Next are two male giraffes, according to Zadock, who play with their long necks. I can’t stop admiring their grace and beauty. Their fur is a dream, it looks painted, and it really is, by God.
A few minutes later, we face the most feared animals in the jungle: lions. We find them sleepy on a hot day on the lands of the Serengeti.
They sleep just like domestic kittens after being well-fed, also on the kopje. I am beginning to believe that nature has placed these stone formations, especially for them, as a kind of pedestal from which no one can take them down.
We spend more than an hour in this place because we can’t get enough of admiring and taking pictures. Not just us, but more cars with tourists. It probably rained recently in Serengeti because a few puddles were around us, and one of the cars got stuck in the mud.
In a spirit of solidarity, defying all the lions around, Zadock and the other guides rush to help the stuck car. And they manage both to get it out and to stay alive. I realize that the lions are already full and don’t need new prey.
In the distance, we see a herd of wildebeest. Zadock tells us that a hunting scene may occur and tells us some adventures from his experience as a guide.
However, the herd is too far away and would not want to spend all day waiting for the action. So, we move on to where we can have our lunch.
The most dramatic and exciting images from the African savannah are just now coming. We discover a young male lion, judging by its small mane, chewing the last piece of meat from a wildebeest. It’s not hunted just recently, considering the bad smell.
Just a few meters further on, two lionesses are resting. They are probably responsible for antelope hunting. In general, females hunt, even if lions are the first to eat.
A few more hours of game drive pass, and we are in front of a tree where a lioness sits and looks at us from a height, literally and figuratively. Under the branches, although not seen in the picture, a car with an attached camera, probably filming a documentary.
We can also see a leopard. Even if he only shows his back, we can see that he’s taking a nap, having his prey climbed in the tree on a diametrically opposite branch.
From the tall grass, three cheetahs raise their heads. They remind me of my cats. Their small and curious face, their mouth open from the heat, and their tails make them look so much like domestic cats.
I am happy that we can see them so close because I have heard that they don’t appear very often.
Time is passing fast. It’s getting dark, and we have to make our way back quickly to the accommodation because the time spent in the park is restricted.
We see a small part of the great migration as it drinks from a lake, again the hippos and Zadock tells us some great things about them, and another sunset as splendid as the one of the previous evening.
You’re probably wondering what did he tell us about the hippos. Well, it looks like they are fearsome predators for crocodiles. If a hippopotamus cub is killed, the hippopotamuses will immediately kill all the crocodiles they find in that river.
Safari in Tanzania – Day 4 | Ngorongoro Crater
It’s not my favorite in terms of animal sight, but the scenery is enchanting. Along with the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater has found its place in the UNESCO World Heritage and on the list of the seven natural wonders of Africa.
Ngorongoro Crater formed over 2 million years ago when a volcano erupted and collapsed on itself, forming this caldera with an area of 260 square kilometers and a depth of 610 meters.
It’s the perfect place to observe the black rhino, although there are only a few of them. Indeed, it is challenging to find this animal that completes the list of the big five.
We make a first classic stop next to the restrooms, and then we continue our game drive inside the crater. Unlike the Serengeti, here, space no longer seems infinite.
On the contrary, the high walls of the crater set a visible limit. And, although it seems hard to believe, over 30,000 animals live inside it.
We see the famous birds with golden crowns, buffalo, zebras, gazelles, and Pumbaa (the African pig from famous cartoons) again. Timon, on the other hand, is missing.
We have lunch by a lake, and I think it is the most pleasant of all lunches so far. Then we take a few more drives around the park in desperation to look for the rhino. In the end, we see them, but only using the binoculars, because they are at a very long distance.
We also admire a flock of flamingos, birds I did not expect to see in the African jungle. Not sure why, but I used to associate them more with exotic beach destinations.
Fourth night in the safari – Staying at Ngorongoro Farm House
In the evening, we retire to my favorite accommodation of the three: Ngorongoro Farm House. It is a huge lodge with extremely spacious rooms, coffee plantations, vegetables and fruits, and a beautiful terrace.
The rooms have animal names, and we are in twiga (giraffe in Swahili). The following day, immediately after breakfast, we decide to go on a mini coffee tour with a lovely guide.
He explains to us, always with a smile on his face, the whole process of growing, harvesting, and processing coffee. Then we go to the last safari destination on our safari itinerary: Lake Manyara.
Safari in Tanzania- Day 5 | Lake Manyara
The last day of our 5-day safari in Tanzania is the one that disappointed me a little. I don’t know what Lake Manyara is like in general, but this time, most of the roads inside the park are under construction, so the piles of soil in the middle make it almost impossible to visit.
Typically, Lake Manyara is said to be the place where you have all the chances to see tree-climbing lions, but also large flocks of flamingos.
Well, this time, we only get to see elephants, baboons, a few zebras, and giraffes. Not that it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I had higher expectations.
I assume that the rest of the animals are hiding from the noise of the equipment in the park, and because of this, they are harder to see.
Personally, I would have preferred the park to be closed until the works are completed, and we to be able to see a different area of Tanzania. Otherwise, I declare the last day of safari in Tanzania a half-wasted day.
The cost of the 5-day safari in Tanzania and everything included
We paid $ 1900 per person. In addition to this money, you must also consider the cost of the Maasai tribe experience, the tips offered to the guide (around $ 100 per person for 5 days), the last day’s transportation from the hotel to the airport, but also the cost of the two nights at the hotel in Arusha.
What the 5-day safari in Tanzania package includes:
- transfer from the airport to the hotel
- full game drive inside the park
- the price of entrances to parks
- the four nights of accommodation inside the parks
- water, coffee, juices, and snacks during the game drive (although I wouldn’t say they are unlimited, as we had established)
- English speaking guide
- Three hot meals every day