Each of the two camps at Lamai Serengeti have their own guest areas.

Tanzania | Baobabs, Serengeti & Chimps | 11 Nights Tarangire National Park, Serengeti National Park & Mahale Mountains National Park

This luxury Tanzania safari effortlessly combines famous locations with less well-known, but equally fascinating destinations. Spend time in both the sea of land that is the Serengeti, and on the shores of the ‘great plain-like lake’, Tanganyika. Comfort and service are recurrent themes, set against pristine natural habitats that invite exploration.

Three nights at Kuro Tarangire

We’d researched our trip carefully to ensure that we’d be travelling at the very best time of year for each destination on our itinerary. Our drive into Kuru Tarangire underlined this for us. It was the height of the dry season, and the Tarangire River had all but disappeared; in its place, a wide ribbon of sand with just a trickle of water. It was this water that was exerting such a pull on the many elephant we saw on our first afternoon game drive, digging in the riverbed to drink. Smaller animals took advantage of these new miniature waterholes to slake their thirst.The next morning, while it was still relatively cool, we went on a walking safari in search of trees. Not just any trees, but the rotund, smooth-barked baobabs that are such a feature of Tarangire National Park. For all the jokes about eco-conscious people like ourselves, I’d never actually hugged a tree before. Now, I felt compelled to. We both did, but we still couldn’t join hands around its circumference. Our guide, Laurence, knew many secrets about baobabs – including, rather wonderfully, the fact that behind one of them was a table laid for brunch, with a crisp white tablecloth and a feast for hungry walkers.Keen to see more of the amazing wildlife of Tarangire, we now decided to do a full-day safari. The camp is built in a grove of acacia and kigelia trees, close by a major animal highway leading to the river. We spent time watching the traffic … elephant, of course, but also some less familiar species – antelope like oryx and gerenuk that have adapted to this dry corner of Tanzania. We also made quite a dent in the list of over 550 bird species, although we couldn’t quite break Laurence’s record of 93 species in a day. That was the day’s only disappointment!

We’d researched our trip carefully to ensure that we’d be travelling at the very best time of year for each destination on our itinerary. Our drive into Kuru Tarangire underlined this for us. It was the height of the dry season, and the Tarangire River had all but disappeared; in its place, a wide ribbon of sand with just a trickle of water. It was this water that was exerting such a pull on the many elephant we saw on our first afternoon game drive, digging in the riverbed to drink. Smaller animals took advantage of these new miniature waterholes to slake their thirst.

The next morning, while it was still relatively cool, we went on a walking safari in search of trees. Not just any trees, but the rotund, smooth-barked baobabs that are such a feature of Tarangire National Park. For all the jokes about eco-conscious people like ourselves, I’d never actually hugged a tree before. Now, I felt compelled to. We both did, but we still couldn’t join hands around its circumference. Our guide, Laurence, knew many secrets about baobabs – including, rather wonderfully, the fact that behind one of them was a table laid for brunch, with a crisp white tablecloth and a feast for hungry walkers.

Keen to see more of the amazing wildlife of Tarangire, we now decided to do a full-day safari. The camp is built in a grove of acacia and kigelia trees, close by a major animal highway leading to the river. We spent time watching the traffic … elephant, of course, but also some less familiar species – antelope like oryx and gerenuk that have adapted to this dry corner of Tanzania. We also made quite a dent in the list of over 550 bird species, although we couldn’t quite break Laurence’s record of 93 species in a day. That was the day’s only disappointment!

Four nights at Lamai Serengeti

Our flight to the northern Serengeti gave us our first impression of the magnitude of the Great Wildebeest Migration – the plains were dotted with clusters of wildebeest, which together formed an almost infinite herd. Much like the savannah, it seemed to stretch on forever.We had been in Tarangire in the best season for game viewing, and it was clear that this was a great time to be in the Serengeti, too. River crossings had been taking place for a few days now, but there were still many more wildebeest that needed to overcome this natural obstacle. Our first afternoon by the river proved to be a relatively calm affair – Ezekiel pointed out that some of the resident crocodile were already replete. For now at least, they showed little interest as occasional groups of wildebeest splashed across. Small herds of zebra also crossed, their coats standing out against the muddy water.Lamai Serengeti is built on a rocky kopje, and the views over the plains as the sun rose were breathtaking. So much so in fact that we changed our plans and spent a morning that was equal parts relaxing and exciting as we gazed towards the distant Masai Mara. Over lunch, Ezekiel told us that the mood at the river had changed, and we were soon on our way. Countless wildebeest had massed on the bank, but seemed hesitant to enter the water. Their anxious feet stamped and stirred up clouds of dust, and their lowing was deafening. We waited; but none crossed. The tension was palpable.At first light we hurried back to the river, and just after sunrise we witnessed an incredible spectacle. As if a starting pistol had been fired, wildebeest began leaping and crashing into the water, tumbling down the steep banks as the pressure built behind them. We lost count at around 400. I remembered my promise to myself to put my camera down and take in my surroundings, the sound and the sight of the spray and the flailing legs and heads. Eventually, calm was restored. There had been some casualties, and the Thomson’s gazelle who came afterwards had to pick their way gingerly past them.After witnessing the crossing at ground level, we took to the air early the following day for a different perspective. Drifting along on our hot-air balloon safari, we could see the paths trodden in the grass by the herds, and more wildebeest starting to assemble by the river. Those that had crossed yesterday had not gone far, but were grazing determinedly, as though to rebuild their strength for the next leg of their journey. Our pilot told us that he was having to search for a place clear of wildebeest to land – but soon enough he found an open area, where we found Ezekiel, our 4×4 vehicle, and a champagne breakfast!

Our flight to the northern Serengeti gave us our first impression of the magnitude of the Great Wildebeest Migration – the plains were dotted with clusters of wildebeest, which together formed an almost infinite herd. Much like the savannah, it seemed to stretch on forever.

We had been in Tarangire in the best season for game viewing, and it was clear that this was a great time to be in the Serengeti, too. River crossings had been taking place for a few days now, but there were still many more wildebeest that needed to overcome this natural obstacle. Our first afternoon by the river proved to be a relatively calm affair – Ezekiel pointed out that some of the resident crocodile were already replete. For now at least, they showed little interest as occasional groups of wildebeest splashed across. Small herds of zebra also crossed, their coats standing out against the muddy water.

Lamai Serengeti is built on a rocky kopje, and the views over the plains as the sun rose were breathtaking. So much so in fact that we changed our plans and spent a morning that was equal parts relaxing and exciting as we gazed towards the distant Masai Mara. Over lunch, Ezekiel told us that the mood at the river had changed, and we were soon on our way. Countless wildebeest had massed on the bank, but seemed hesitant to enter the water. Their anxious feet stamped and stirred up clouds of dust, and their lowing was deafening. We waited; but none crossed. The tension was palpable.

At first light we hurried back to the river, and just after sunrise we witnessed an incredible spectacle. As if a starting pistol had been fired, wildebeest began leaping and crashing into the water, tumbling down the steep banks as the pressure built behind them. We lost count at around 400. I remembered my promise to myself to put my camera down and take in my surroundings, the sound and the sight of the spray and the flailing legs and heads. Eventually, calm was restored. There had been some casualties, and the Thomson’s gazelle who came afterwards had to pick their way gingerly past them.

After witnessing the crossing at ground level, we took to the air early the following day for a different perspective. Drifting along on our hot-air balloon safari, we could see the paths trodden in the grass by the herds, and more wildebeest starting to assemble by the river. Those that had crossed yesterday had not gone far, but were grazing determinedly, as though to rebuild their strength for the next leg of their journey. Our pilot told us that he was having to search for a place clear of wildebeest to land – but soon enough he found an open area, where we found Ezekiel, our 4×4 vehicle, and a champagne breakfast!

Three nights at Greystoke Mahale

Lake Tanganyika is a place of superlatives, and as we flew there, our pilot shared some incredible statistics with us about Africa’s deepest lake. Its name means ‘the great lake spreading like a plain’ and that’s exactly how it appeared, as we descended towards it.The final part of our journey to Greystoke Mahale was by boat, and in our excitement we hung over the prow as a hippo passed beneath us in the crystal clear waters. Later, in the shadow of the towering Mahale Mountains, we leapt into the shallows and waded ashore. Our welcome committee exclaimed that we’d already embraced the spirit of the camp! We walked barefoot up the white sand beach to our banda – made of repurposed dhow timbers, it gave us the sense that we were drifting in more ways than one as we took an afternoon siesta.A major drawcard in Mahale Mountains National Park is the largest wild population of chimpanzee in Africa. Researchers have studied them since 1965, so they are used to humans – but still completely wild. Chimpanzee can be very boisterous, but the group we spent time with on our chimpanzee safari were in a more reflective mood. They were all grooming each other – an important social bonding ritual. We’d come across the chimp equivalent of a luxury spa. Two or three very small youngsters chose scampering over pampering, and we had to stifle our delighted laughter. Leaving them in peace, we walked away from this contented scene across a carpet of dry leaves.With 16% of the world’s fresh water literally on our doorstep, we were unable to resist spending a day on – and in – the lake. A highlight was fishing for our lunch from the boat – we caught several colourful fish in quick succession, two of which the captain identified as cichlids and gently released back into the water. The larger fish were taken below, and reappeared moments later as the freshest (and most delicious) sashimi either of us had ever had. Sitting on the warm wooden deck in the sunshine, with the beach and mountains slipping by to starboard, we had yet another perfect safari moment.

Lake Tanganyika is a place of superlatives, and as we flew there, our pilot shared some incredible statistics with us about Africa’s deepest lake. Its name means ‘the great lake spreading like a plain’ and that’s exactly how it appeared, as we descended towards it.

The final part of our journey to Greystoke Mahale was by boat, and in our excitement we hung over the prow as a hippo passed beneath us in the crystal clear waters. Later, in the shadow of the towering Mahale Mountains, we leapt into the shallows and waded ashore. Our welcome committee exclaimed that we’d already embraced the spirit of the camp! We walked barefoot up the white sand beach to our banda – made of repurposed dhow timbers, it gave us the sense that we were drifting in more ways than one as we took an afternoon siesta.

A major drawcard in Mahale Mountains National Park is the largest wild population of chimpanzee in Africa. Researchers have studied them since 1965, so they are used to humans – but still completely wild. Chimpanzee can be very boisterous, but the group we spent time with on our chimpanzee safari were in a more reflective mood. They were all grooming each other – an important social bonding ritual. We’d come across the chimp equivalent of a luxury spa. Two or three very small youngsters chose scampering over pampering, and we had to stifle our delighted laughter. Leaving them in peace, we walked away from this contented scene across a carpet of dry leaves.

With 16% of the world’s fresh water literally on our doorstep, we were unable to resist spending a day on – and in – the lake. A highlight was fishing for our lunch from the boat – we caught several colourful fish in quick succession, two of which the captain identified as cichlids and gently released back into the water. The larger fish were taken below, and reappeared moments later as the freshest (and most delicious) sashimi either of us had ever had. Sitting on the warm wooden deck in the sunshine, with the beach and mountains slipping by to starboard, we had yet another perfect safari moment.

One night at Legendary Lodge

Our final light aircraft flight brought us to the town of Arusha. It’s within reach of many of the country’s great national parks, and grows (we were told) the world’s finest coffee.The final night of our safari proved to be an indulgently sensuous one, as we inhaled the fragrance of jacaranda blossoms and fresh coffee at Arusha’s Legendary Lodge. In the shadow of Mount Meru, we enjoyed spa treatments and the views of the tropical gardens from our verandah. As the cooler evening set in, we repaired to the Old Farmhouse for a gourmet meal by a roaring fire, before falling asleep to dream of chimpanzee and crocodile as our safari memories accompanied us through the night. We even had time in the morning for a revitalising coffee tasting before our short drive to the airport.

Our final light aircraft flight brought us to the town of Arusha. It’s within reach of many of the country’s great national parks, and grows (we were told) the world’s finest coffee.

The final night of our safari proved to be an indulgently sensuous one, as we inhaled the fragrance of jacaranda blossoms and fresh coffee at Arusha’s Legendary Lodge. In the shadow of Mount Meru, we enjoyed spa treatments and the views of the tropical gardens from our verandah. As the cooler evening set in, we repaired to the Old Farmhouse for a gourmet meal by a roaring fire, before falling asleep to dream of chimpanzee and crocodile as our safari memories accompanied us through the night. We even had time in the morning for a revitalising coffee tasting before our short drive to the airport.

What sets it apart

Our luxury Tanzania safari gave us striking insights into wildlife behaviour, courtesy of the time we were able to spend with many different species and the expert observations of our guides. The stubborn insistence of the Great Wildebeest Migration on crossing the Mara River, and the blind courage of individual antelope plunging into the swirling muddy waters (and in some cases, into the jaws of waiting crocodile) is an experience we’ll never forget.For each moment of drama, there were more pensive times: the ruminations of elephant, or the exploratory play of young chimpanzee daring each other to stray that little bit further from their mothers.Each landscape we saw presented different challenges and opportunities, not just to the local (and migratory) wildlife, but also to the local communities. The pristine fragility of each ecosystem mean that the camps had to have the lightest of footprints – indeed, that was a key criterion for us when planning our itinerary.Most of all, we were left with a feeling of abundance, in the sense that nature beautifully and simply provided what each species required during each season. As temporary residents of Tanzania’s great national parks, we were almost overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscapes. Perhaps even more than that, our abiding impression was one of people who have a passion for where they live, and for preserving the wild places for future generations. Their care and dedication was immediately apparent from the way they took such very good care of us.

Our luxury Tanzania safari gave us striking insights into wildlife behaviour, courtesy of the time we were able to spend with many different species and the expert observations of our guides. The stubborn insistence of the Great Wildebeest Migration on crossing the Mara River, and the blind courage of individual antelope plunging into the swirling muddy waters (and in some cases, into the jaws of waiting crocodile) is an experience we’ll never forget.

For each moment of drama, there were more pensive times: the ruminations of elephant, or the exploratory play of young chimpanzee daring each other to stray that little bit further from their mothers.

Each landscape we saw presented different challenges and opportunities, not just to the local (and migratory) wildlife, but also to the local communities. The pristine fragility of each ecosystem mean that the camps had to have the lightest of footprints – indeed, that was a key criterion for us when planning our itinerary.

Most of all, we were left with a feeling of abundance, in the sense that nature beautifully and simply provided what each species required during each season. As temporary residents of Tanzania’s great national parks, we were almost overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscapes. Perhaps even more than that, our abiding impression was one of people who have a passion for where they live, and for preserving the wild places for future generations. Their care and dedication was immediately apparent from the way they took such very good care of us.

Day 1–3

There are lots of opportunities to go on game drives from Kuro Tarangire. © Nomad Tanzania

You’ll be met as you disembark from your international flight at Kilimanjaro International Airport in Arusha, and assisted through customs and immigration. A private transfer will take you to Arusha Airport, where you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Tarangire. A transfer will take you to Kuro Tarangire, where you’ll spend three nights.

Day 4–7

After lunch, take a dip in the pool at Lamai Serengeti. © Nomad Tanzania

After a transfer from Kuro Tarangire to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to the Serengeti. A transfer will take you to Lamai Serengeti, where you’ll spend four nights.

Day 8–10

End the day with sundowners overlooking Lake Tanganyika at Greystoke Mahale. © Nomad Tanzania

After a transfer from Lamai Serengeti to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Mahale. A transfer and boat ride will take you to Greystoke Mahale, where you’ll spend three nights.

Day 11

Stretch your legs with a game of golf while staying at Legendary Lodge. © Legendary Expeditions

After a boat ride and transfer from Greystoke Mahale to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Arusha. A private transfer will take you to Legendary Lodge, where you’ll spend one night.

Day 12

Tanzania is the perfect stage for both epic natural events and intimate shared moments.

A private transfer will take you from Legendary Lodge to Kilimanjaro International Airport, where you’ll be assisted through check-in for your international flight.

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