Days 1 & 2 — Depart home and arrive in Tanzania
Upon arrival in Arusha, you and your family will be met and transferred to your lodge. Rest and relax after your long journey—the real adventure begins tomorrow!Day 3 — Arusha to Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Rise and embrace the day! Depart for the Ngorongoro Highlands after breakfast and a safari briefing with your guide. Cross the famed Great Rift Valley before ascending to the Ngorongoro Highlands and the village of Karatu. Stop at Ayalabe Primary School, where children can meet their Tanzanian peers in an informal setting (children who have written ahead to a pen pal can meet him or her here). Exchange stories, talk about your favorite music, or teach a team sport—whatever feels fun and interesting to the group.
Savor lunch at a nearby coffee plantation before visiting with Daniel & Elizabeth Tewa, who are very talented local craftspeople and storytellers. Listen to Daniel recount the history of his people while you learn the meaning of each intricately beaded wedding skirt—you can even try one on and practice your dancing skills! There is also time to check out a traditional underground home, learn to grind maize, and try throwing a spear. Arrive at your Nyumba in time to settle into your unique camp surroundings, which are conveniently located a very short drive from the Crater floor.
There will be time for games and snacks before sitting down to a freshly prepared evening meal, and time to gather round the fire before bed. Overnight: Ngorongoro Nyumba
(B,L,D)Day 4 — Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Spend the full day today exploring the Crater floor. The area is famous around the world and very small in its scale, so you will see other safari goers. Don’t let that distract you from the beauty of the place or from the fact that this remains one of the only places on earth where you may see all of the Big Five at once: lion, leopard, bull elephant, African buffalo and black rhino.
After a picnic lunch, your journey continues throughout this tremendous landscape. Animals move to and fro in search of pasture, water, or prey. You will have ample opportunities to see numerous giraffe, zebra, warthog, jackal, hippo, hyena, and more. Before sunset you’ll depart this Garden of Eden and head back to camp. At this camp you’ll have a special opportunity to try some traditional Tanzanian dishes. Local cuisine here is known for its fresh, flavorful ingredients, diverse culinary influences and masterful use of spices. (Please note that this does not include game meat.) Your expert camp chef will share some tasty treats with you tonight! Overnight: Ngorongoro Nyumba
(B,L,D)Day 5 — Ngorongoro Conservation Area to Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti is your destination today, as you make your way around the southern edge of the crater rim, spotting the occasional animal along the way. Stop at Olduvai Gorge to view some of the incredible finds of Drs. Louis and Mary Leakey, and go for a guided VIP-tour to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the current digs. You’ll also have time to visit the small museum before having a picnic lunch.
By early afternoon you will arrive at famed Serengeti National Park. Meander through the wildlife-rich central Serengeti and its seemingly endless plains en route to your next campsite. Late this afternoon you can settle into your Nyumba, throw a Frisbee, play some games or have a cool drink before joining folks in the dining area for your evening meal. Afterwards gather round the campfire for some stargazing or stories with your guide before heading off to bed. Overnight: Southern Serengeti Nyumba (Central)
(B,L,D)Day 6 — Serengeti National Park
Families with advanced reservations will awaken early (approx. 4 a.m.) for the sunrise hot-air balloon ride, then meet back up with the group after a bush breakfast. (Extra costs and advance reservations apply. Participants must be 4’ tall and seven years old.) Travelers who opt to skip the balloon ride will wake up to hot drinks and a hearty breakfast at camp. Then hit the trail in your trusty Land Rovers for wildlife viewing with your guides. You’ll meet up with ballooners later this morning and continue wildlife viewing in the heart of the park.
Enjoy more wildlife viewing in the heart of the park today, stopping for lunch and a swim at a nearby lodge. Continue your family’s exploration of this remarkable place, with stunning landscapes, jaw-dropping sunrises and sunsets, and amazing wildlife.
Return to camp with time to relax after a busy day. Under your dining tent, hot soup, fresh bread, entrees and a scrumptious dessert await. Overnight: Southern Serengeti Nyumba (Central)
(B,L,D)Day 7 — Serengeti National Park
For a different perspective on the scenery, you will move to a Nyumba located in the Kogakuria region of the park. The northern part of the Serengeti is home to the famed Mara River, which cuts through the ecosystem. Few travelers have access to this exclusive region, so the riverbanks and surrounding woodlands remain pristine, and are a photographer’s delight! With your skilled guides at the helm, the wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities promise to be interesting in each new area you visit. During the day you may see gazelle, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, buffalo, and more.
Arrive at your Nyumba with time to refresh before an al fresco dinner under the canopy of your dining tent. Having experienced wonderful wildlife viewing throughout the day, dinner is sure to be a lively, engaging affair as guests swap stories about all that you’ve seen. Continue your conversation around the crackling campfire this evening. As you gaze up at the stars overhead, you will feel privileged to have personally experienced this special place. Overnight: Central Serengeti Nyumba (Northern)
(B,L,D)Day 8 — Serengeti National Park
Spanning nearly 6,000 square miles, the Serengeti has even more to offer you today. Take a picnic lunch and your camera as you head out in your trusted Land Rovers. Roll down the windows, or stand up to take advantage of the customized roof hatch, feeling the fresh air rush past as you navigate the winding park roads in your pursuit of interesting wildlife sightings. With this perspective, you have unhindered views. The possibilities for what lies ahead are endless!
This evening when you return to the Nyumba you can indulge in a few tasty snacks while watching the brilliant equatorial sun dip below the horizon. Head into the dining tent where the tempting aromas of home-made soup and fresh bread beckon you to dinner. Overnight: Central Serengeti Nyumba (Northern)
(B,L,D)Day 9 — Serengeti National Park to a Private Nature Refuge
Drive to a new part of the Serengeti ecosystem today, for your final days in this remarkable area.
Just outside the park’s northeastern boundary lies an exclusive 12,000 acre property that guests of Thomson have the privilege of visiting. Here you have the flexibility to traverse the landscape on foot during guided walks, to do off-road driving, and to visit with the local Maasai people. This secluded wilderness location will serve as home base for two nights as you explore the plains and rolling hills.
This afternoon you have time for an authentic cultural immersion experience at a local Maasai boma
, or village. The Maasai are pastoralists who tend sheep, goats, and their most prized possessions: cattle. You will arrive in time to meet the young warriors who are returning with their herds from their grazing lands today. This hub of activity affords you an opportunity to catch a glimpse into the lives of these traditional people. Feel free to ask questions (through your translator) about Maasai history and culture, and what it’s like to live so close to Africa’s richest wildlife territories.
Take a short hike before sunset tonight, then return to your Nyumba in time for dinner. Afterwards you can opt to go on a night drive through the bush. Overnight: Eastern Serengeti Nyumba
(B,L,D)Day 10 — Private Nature Refuge
Start the day with a hot drink and a light snack before heading out for a pre-breakfast guided nature walk. After your morning walk you will have a special visit with the Maasai, where day-to-day activities are different for girls and boys. Girls will spend time learning the traditional Maasai art of beading while the boys walk with warriors through the bush. Meanwhile parents will have a unique opportunity to visit with Maasai elders, connecting with parents across cultures.
Have lunch at camp and then spend the afternoon exploring the area by Land Rover in search of your favorite animals and a few last photographic opportunities. Nicknamed Giraffic Park
, this portion of the Serengeti ecosystem will give you a glimpse into the past. The vast expanses of wilderness, diversity of species and the warm welcome you’ll receive from the local Maasai people will harken back to the days when Teddy Roosevelt first went on safari near this area.
Tonight a special visitor will join you in camp. Meet Nekaaki Kioki, respected Maasai elder, feisty grandmother, and fantastic storyteller. She knows hundreds of Maasai folktales and tells them in a truly dramatic fashion. Relax over one final dinner in the bush. Afterwards you may want to sit around the campfire with friends to gaze at the starlit sky or simply listen to the landscape during the serene quite of nighttime. Overnight: Eastern Serengeti Nyumba
(B,L,D)Day 11 — Private Nature Refuge to Arusha, Depart
Hop on a mid-morning scenic flight back to Arusha (33 pound baggage limit). As you visually retrace your route from above, note the change in landscape from the flat plains of the Serengeti to the verdant, rolling hills of the Ngorongoro Highlands. Touch down at Arusha Airport in time for a bit of shopping and a farewell lunch at River House with your new safari friends. Day rooms are provided for your family to take an afternoon swim, rest, repack, and have a snack before your early evening transfer to Kilimanjaro international airport, where you’ll check in for your departing flight to Amsterdam. Day Room: Mt. Meru Hotel or similar
Note that in July/August 2013 the group will spend nights 5 and 6 at Thomson’s Central Serengeti Nyumba and nights 7 and 8 at Thomson’s Northern Serengeti Nyumba, in order to maximize wildlife viewing opportunities by taking advantage of typical seasonal wildlife migrations.Day 12 — Arrive U.S.
Connect in Amsterdam and arrive back in the U.S.