Tanzania and Kenya
Fly in/out: Kilimanjaro/Nairobi
Recommended ages: 8 and up
Ball Park Price: $5,600/person (airfare not included)
Best Season: June-March (for game viewing)
Currency: Tanzania Shilling and Kenyan Shilling
This itinerary was planned by Travel Beyond who comes highly recommended.
DAY ONE: Take multiple connections on Ethiopian Airlines to arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport. (KIA) Upon arrival meet Travel Beyond representative and take a short 30 minute drive to settle in at Serena Hotel in Arusha.
DAY TWO: After breakfast, transfer in a private game vehicle to the town of Karatu at the foothills of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Arrive in time for lunch and enjoy the town of Karatu and the surrounding coffee plantations. Check into Plantation Lodge
DAY THREE: In the morning, take a private game photo safari through Ngorongoro Crater. Spend the second night at the Plantation Lodge.
DAY FOUR: Take a safari in the Lake Manyara National Park. Enjoy last night at the Plantation Lodge.
DAY FIVE: After breakfast, transfer to the Manyara Airstrip for a flight bound for Kilimanjaro International Airport. Connect to your flight bound for Wilson Airport in Nairobi. Upon arrival, meet a Travel Beyond representative, explore parts of Nairobi and visit the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. In the afternoon transfer to the Macushla House for the night.
DAY SIX: After breakfast, transfer to Wilson Airport to board a private charter flight bound for renowned Samburu National Park. Upon arrival, meet a safari guide from Samburu Intrepids Camp. Enjoy an afternoon game drive.
DAY SEVEN & EIGHT: On safari in Samburu National Reserve for two days and Samburu Intrepids Camp for two more nights.
DAY NINE: Transfer to the Lewa airstrip for the scheduled aircraft flight bound for the Masai Mara. Meet the safari guide from Mara Intrepids Camp, and get settled in for three nights.
DAY TEN & ELEVEN: On safari in the Masai Mara in Southwest Kenya located in the northern part of the Serengeti National Park.
DAY TWELEVE: Head to the Mara airstrip for the scheduled flight bound for Wilson Airport in Nairobi. Meet Travel Beyond representative to rest at the Panari Hotel as a “dayroom” before the homebound departure flight. Depart from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. (NBO)
- There is such a joy in travelling with your family where animals roam freely in their natural habitat. On some days, there would be wildlife viewing every 10 minutes, (particularly in Ngorongoro Crater) and other days, we would search for hours in hopes to find that one stealth-like cheetah. Regardless, the excitement and thrill of this family journey far outweighed the many hours riding in a bumpy safari vehicle in dusty savannahs.
- Our first part of our safari experience included Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara National Park. We were spoiled on the first part of the journey with so many of the “Big Five’ being spotted easily and within a short period of time. The Ngorongoro Crater is unforgettable with the 25,000 wildlife living in this giant caldera in an ecosystem that is a fully enclosed. Within the same area, Lake Manyara Reserve offers an impressive variety of birds, monkeys and baboons with the lake covering two-thirds of the area providing nice bathing opportunities for hippos and elephants.
- A beautiful park but less touristy is the Samburu National Reserve. This area is teeming with over 50 species of wild animals in the reserve including the Gravy Zebra, Giraffe, Lesser Kudu and Beisa Oryx, This reserve is on the northern part of Kenya and is along the Ewaso Nyiro River featuring over 450 species of birds.
- Our last part of our safari journey was in the Masai Mara situated in southwest Kenya and is part of the northern section of the Serengeti National Park. The Serengeti national park is vast with expansive views at every turn. Here we drove for a large part of the safari, but only scratched the surface of this huge park. We were welcomed by the warm Masai Mara tribe who were gracious to show us their village. We did not see the Wildebeest Migration which occurs in late summer, but did get a tremendous viewing of this massive park.
- The first safari area we visited was the Ngorongoro Crater. This is the world’s largest volcanic caldera created some 2 million years ago. The crater wall drops and creates a circular enclosing protecting some 25,000 animals who live in the caldera. The crater provides a protective ecosystem for zebras, buffalo, antelope, black rhinos, hippos and more.
- If you have any save the elephant believers in your family, then visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. This is an elephant orphanage responsible for rescuing and rehabilitating elephants that has been in operation since 1977. Visiting time is limited to one hour in the morning where it’s possible to view the orphaned elephants in a roped off area often playing or during feeding time if you’re lucky. If you are a donor, it is possible to view the elephant that you are adopting privately. Some tour companies have a connection to have that arranged.
Places to stay
- Our first stop was a one night stay at Serena Hotel in Arusha which is the gateway to the Northern Tanzania Safari Circuit and located a short drive from the Kilimanjaro airport.
- Our second stop at Plantation Lodge for two nights was an ideal setting for exploring the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It offered a great pool for after a full day of dusty safaris and fabulous dining experiences.
- The Macushla Hotel was a transit hotel we stayed at for one night as an in between spot before headed to Samburu National Park.
- For three nights we stayed at the luxurious Samburu Intrepids Camp which had newly renovated tents, picturesque mountainous landscape a pool, and kids club.
- The Mara Intrepid Camp was located in the middle of the four game viewing area of the Masai Mara Reserve. It was a luxurious ending to our trip.
Inside the safari lodges, meals were included which typically entailed a breakfast and lunch buffet and sit down dinner with menu options including a great variety. We felt very pampered at all of our dinners that included child-friendly menus and alcoholic options as well. (Not all lodges have alcoholic beverages, so double check!)
- The whole trip was planned and executed by Travel Beyond. They ensured we were escorted with a guide through every step of our journey which we felt was necessary particularly in Nairobi. They customized our itinerary to fit the needs of our multigenerational family. In hindsight, because the consecutive photo safaris were mildly sedentary, we would request a service trip to a local village, a kayaking experience or a partial day hike to Mt. Kilimanjaro to add some exercise and variety to the trip. Other than that, the trip was executed flawlessly.
- We brought with us an exceptional camera zoom lens to get fabulous pictures close up. Rather than buy a lens for thousands of dollars, we rented ours from Lensrentals.com.
- Flying with Ethiopian Airlines can save several hundred dollars per ticket but can add on 1-2 extra connections each way. Our connections worked but made for a very long journey. Try booking flights 10-12 months in advance for the most flight availability at reasonable prices.
- Most meals were included in all of the hotels where we stayed. Bring along as many extra snacks as possible (we packed a small suitcase) like protein bars and granola as “pantry raiding” wasn’t readily available between meals.
- Pack lightly. Some of the domestic flights have a weight limit. The safaris require the same travel apparel throughout the trip. Avoid black or blue clothing because they tend to attract Tsetse flies. All dinners are considered fine dining but the dress code was always casual.
- Bring fun games/toys for night time entertainment. Although many of the lodges had board games and activities, we brought a frisbee, paddle balls, and a deck of cards and all were used frequently and enjoyed by the local staff.
- Tipping is not included in the price for the guides. They were great naturalists and we spent a great deal of time with them on the driving safaris. A recommendation was $5-10 per person/day. Double check that recommendation from the local tour operator.
Before You Go
- Valid Passports (remember children’s passports are only valid for 5 years versus 10 for adults).
- Visas are necessary in advance with Tanzania and can be obtained through Travel Beyond. Visas to Kenya can be purchased at the border at the airport, but double check with the US Embassy in case that changes.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that travelers intending to visit Africa should consult a medical professional up to six months in advance and schedule vaccinations at least six weeks in advance. When we entered Tanzania, the first thing they asked was for our Yellow Immunization Card. At that time, they were looking for Yellow Fever vaccinations.
- It is fun to keep a log and journal the safari experiences for the kids. This educational book, The African Safari Journal and Field Guide features color illustrations of wildlife, botany, maps and allows kids to keep a meticulous record of all the observations for each safari. This also gets kids interested in seeing all animal species and not just the Big Five.