The Serengeti is full of plains game, like zebra.

Tanzania Classic Affordable Safari | Flamingos, Caldera, Serengeti & Migration | 7 Nights Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Central Serengeti & Western Corridor

Northern Tanzania contains some of the most prolific protected areas in Africa, between resident wildlife in such hotspots as the Ngorongoro Crater, and the peripatetic herds on their ceaseless journey. The key locations are relatively close to each other, making driving between them not just viable, but greatly enjoyable.

  • A chance to gaze on the towering Great Rift Valley escarpment, across shimmering Lake Manyara, out over the rolling Serengeti savannah and down into the secret depths of the Ngorongoro Crater.
  • Opportunities to see flamingos on Lake Manyara, search for black rhino against the spectacular backdrop of Ngorongoro Crater cliffs, explore the origins of humankind at Olduvai Gorge and witness the Great Wildebeest Migration and enjoy walking safaris in the Serengeti.
  • Near lovely Lake Manyara, Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge has 67 rooms, including doubles, twins, triples, connecting and one suite. Facilities include a dining room, a bar and lounge and a swimming pool.
  • Clinging to the rim of one of the world’s last remaining natural wonders, the enchanting Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge has 75 rooms, including doubles, twins, triples and one suite, each with private terraces with views of the crater floor. The lodge has a bar, a restaurant, a gift shop and a safari boutique.
  • Inspired by a traditional African village, the extraordinary Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge is set high on a hill, with rolling vistas over the teeming Serengeti plains. As well as 66 rooms of assorted combinations, the lodge has a restaurant, bar and swimming pool.
  • Styled to replicate the elegant hunting camps of yesteryear, Kirawira Serena Camp is adjacent to the famous Western Corridor of Serengeti National Park. It has 25 double and twin tents, twin dining tents and a swimming pool.

One night at Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge

In terms of proximity to national parks, Arusha is probably the best-located town in Africa. Crouched beneath the conical Mount Meru, it was the perfect springboard for our week-long affordable African safari. As the afternoon heat began to subside, we left Arusha and headed west with the sun, ultimately descending to the shores of our first Great Rift Valley Lake. We bounded up the steps to our thatched rondavel and took in the view of Lake Manyara from our private balcony. Within minutes, we’d already seen ten different species of bird – a promising sign!To make the most of our time with the Great Rift Valley flamingos, we left Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge before breakfast the next morning (but after our coffee). Framed by the Mto wa Mbu escarpment, the lake drew us just as magnetically as it did the many migratory birds for which it’s a vital stopover. On our game drive into Lake Manyara National Park, our guide gave us an impromptu Swahili lesson and advised us to look out for the area’s renowned tree-climbing lion. We didn’t see them, but we did see several hundred flamingos before we continued our journey.

In terms of proximity to national parks, Arusha is probably the best-located town in Africa. Crouched beneath the conical Mount Meru, it was the perfect springboard for our week-long affordable African safari. As the afternoon heat began to subside, we left Arusha and headed west with the sun, ultimately descending to the shores of our first Great Rift Valley Lake. We bounded up the steps to our thatched rondavel and took in the view of Lake Manyara from our private balcony. Within minutes, we’d already seen ten different species of bird – a promising sign!

To make the most of our time with the Great Rift Valley flamingos, we left Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge before breakfast the next morning (but after our coffee). Framed by the Mto wa Mbu escarpment, the lake drew us just as magnetically as it did the many migratory birds for which it’s a vital stopover. On our game drive into Lake Manyara National Park, our guide gave us an impromptu Swahili lesson and advised us to look out for the area’s renowned tree-climbing lion. We didn’t see them, but we did see several hundred flamingos before we continued our journey.

Two nights at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge

The road climbed steadily so that looking back, we had wonderful views of Lake Manyara. Our next destination was the semi-mythical Ngorongoro Crater, the sort of place where it was easy to imagine that prehistoric creatures could have clung on. Speaking of clinging on, Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge was perched, eagle-like, on the very lip of the crater, ensuring superb views down to its blue-green mosaic floor from our private balcony. It was hard to tell where our stone-built room ended, and the crater edge began – it was seamlessly integrated with the boulders and vines.We got up early the next morning to go down into Ngorongoro Crater; it was well worth any missed sleep. Our driver expertly negotiated the hairpin bends and proved just as adept at conducting a mesmerising game drive. We’d read that the crater held Africa’s greatest concentration of lion, and we weren’t disappointed. They were indeed concentrating: intent on making a meal of a hartebeest. A young male triggered the ambush prematurely, and the antelope cantered away to safety. Following his flight, we spotted one of the creatures we’d most wanted to see: a black rhino, horn standing proud of the golden grasses.

The road climbed steadily so that looking back, we had wonderful views of Lake Manyara. Our next destination was the semi-mythical Ngorongoro Crater, the sort of place where it was easy to imagine that prehistoric creatures could have clung on. Speaking of clinging on, Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge was perched, eagle-like, on the very lip of the crater, ensuring superb views down to its blue-green mosaic floor from our private balcony. It was hard to tell where our stone-built room ended, and the crater edge began – it was seamlessly integrated with the boulders and vines.

We got up early the next morning to go down into Ngorongoro Crater; it was well worth any missed sleep. Our driver expertly negotiated the hairpin bends and proved just as adept at conducting a mesmerising game drive. We’d read that the crater held Africa’s greatest concentration of lion, and we weren’t disappointed. They were indeed concentrating: intent on making a meal of a hartebeest. A young male triggered the ambush prematurely, and the antelope cantered away to safety. Following his flight, we spotted one of the creatures we’d most wanted to see: a black rhino, horn standing proud of the golden grasses.

Two nights at Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge

Our three-hour drive to Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge became a four-hour game drive as we traversed the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Before entering the fabled Serengeti, we stopped to visit what could be where our species started out from. Olduvai Gorge has proven to be a rich seam of paleoanthropological discoveries, including some of the oldest stone tools used by our ancestors. On an itinerary that was all about epic journeys, it seemed appropriate to be able to travel back in time several million years just by descending into the ravine. After freshening up at the lodge, we watched the light fade while enjoying cooling G&Ts.Our room at Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge had a reassuring solidity to it, from the gleam of polished wood to the dull glow of bronze. As we sipped our coffees on our balcony the next morning, overlooking the Mbingwe Valley, we determined that there was no doubting we were now in Great Wildebeest Migration territory. Heading out on our game drive, we passed stragglers at first, but then longer and longer lines of wildebeest, stoically tramping towards fresh green pastures. This was no myth of hoofprints; this was a population on the move. On our next trip here we’ll plan for a walking safari, to see the herds from the ground.

Our three-hour drive to Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge became a four-hour game drive as we traversed the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Before entering the fabled Serengeti, we stopped to visit what could be where our species started out from. Olduvai Gorge has proven to be a rich seam of paleoanthropological discoveries, including some of the oldest stone tools used by our ancestors. On an itinerary that was all about epic journeys, it seemed appropriate to be able to travel back in time several million years just by descending into the ravine. After freshening up at the lodge, we watched the light fade while enjoying cooling G&Ts.

Our room at Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge had a reassuring solidity to it, from the gleam of polished wood to the dull glow of bronze. As we sipped our coffees on our balcony the next morning, overlooking the Mbingwe Valley, we determined that there was no doubting we were now in Great Wildebeest Migration territory. Heading out on our game drive, we passed stragglers at first, but then longer and longer lines of wildebeest, stoically tramping towards fresh green pastures. This was no myth of hoofprints; this was a population on the move. On our next trip here we’ll plan for a walking safari, to see the herds from the ground.

Two nights at Kirawira Serena Camp

The bulk of the herds were in transit between the Central Serengeti and the Western Corridor, drawn unerringly onwards by the promise of fresher shoots. The grass is always greener on the other side of the Grumeti, joked our guide, referring to one of the major river obstacles that lay in front of the herds. Our drive to Kirawira Serena Camp was nothing less than a Serengeti game drive. By the time we reached our luxury tent, with its echoes of past safari legends of screen and page, we’d already seen several thousand antelope; from our private balcony we saw many more.To be able to spend the entire next day amid the lowing, pawing herds was a magical experience. From wonderful silhouettes of horns against by rosily-lit dust to the whites of the eyes of an uncertain gnu, we took some of our best photographs in the Western Corridor. My favourite though was the statuesque cheetah, sitting bolt upright on a termite mound and watching the masses file past, like a critical drill instructor. It was hard to tell whether he approved of us, but as the late afternoon sun made his deep-set amber eyes glow, I clicked the shutter one last time. Flying from the Grumeti back to Arusha the next day meant that we reversed a journey of days in minutes and gave us a new perspective on the paths we’d trod.

The bulk of the herds were in transit between the Central Serengeti and the Western Corridor, drawn unerringly onwards by the promise of fresher shoots. The grass is always greener on the other side of the Grumeti, joked our guide, referring to one of the major river obstacles that lay in front of the herds. Our drive to Kirawira Serena Camp was nothing less than a Serengeti game drive. By the time we reached our luxury tent, with its echoes of past safari legends of screen and page, we’d already seen several thousand antelope; from our private balcony we saw many more.

To be able to spend the entire next day amid the lowing, pawing herds was a magical experience. From wonderful silhouettes of horns against by rosily-lit dust to the whites of the eyes of an uncertain gnu, we took some of our best photographs in the Western Corridor. My favourite though was the statuesque cheetah, sitting bolt upright on a termite mound and watching the masses file past, like a critical drill instructor. It was hard to tell whether he approved of us, but as the late afternoon sun made his deep-set amber eyes glow, I clicked the shutter one last time.

Flying from the Grumeti back to Arusha the next day meant that we reversed a journey of days in minutes and gave us a new perspective on the paths we’d trod.

What sets it apart

From the vehicle transfers between lodges – long enough to give us a sense of the epic journeys taking place around us without ever becoming wearisome – to the organic, almost rustic feel of the accommodation at each lodge, our affordable African safari gave a us a true sense of connection with the Earth.We felt as though we were tuned into the rhythms of life playing out all around us, and our safari antennae definitely became more sensitive with each new lodge.The timing of our journey across northern Tanzania – June – was perfect, as it meant that we were joined on our traverse by columns of wildebeest up to 40km long. While we were travelling in search of new safari experiences, their needs were rather more mundane: grass and water. Wherever they found them, they would pause for a day or two to replenish their depleted energy stocks, giving us time to catch up before they pressed on again.Despite the grandeur of the skies and the impression that the horizon was always receding ahead of us, the most important wildlife locations are all within easy-enough reach of each other, meaning that they could be combined into a single itinerary. With each inter-lodge transfer essentially becoming a game drive, we never felt we were missing out on what was happening, even on the days that we moved on. To be on a journey of discovery, in the midst of so many other travellers, gave us a genuine sense of belonging.

From the vehicle transfers between lodges – long enough to give us a sense of the epic journeys taking place around us without ever becoming wearisome – to the organic, almost rustic feel of the accommodation at each lodge, our affordable African safari gave a us a true sense of connection with the Earth.

We felt as though we were tuned into the rhythms of life playing out all around us, and our safari antennae definitely became more sensitive with each new lodge.

The timing of our journey across northern Tanzania – June – was perfect, as it meant that we were joined on our traverse by columns of wildebeest up to 40km long. While we were travelling in search of new safari experiences, their needs were rather more mundane: grass and water. Wherever they found them, they would pause for a day or two to replenish their depleted energy stocks, giving us time to catch up before they pressed on again.

Despite the grandeur of the skies and the impression that the horizon was always receding ahead of us, the most important wildlife locations are all within easy-enough reach of each other, meaning that they could be combined into a single itinerary.

With each inter-lodge transfer essentially becoming a game drive, we never felt we were missing out on what was happening, even on the days that we moved on. To be on a journey of discovery, in the midst of so many other travellers, gave us a genuine sense of belonging.

DAY 1

Buffalo are known to rest next to Lake Manyara. © Serena Hotels

From Arusha you’ll take a scenic transfer to Lake Manyara. After about two hours you’ll arrive at Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge, where you’ll spend the night.

DAY 2–3

The rooms at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge have private terraces with views of the crater floor. © Serena Hotels

From Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge you’ll take a scenic transfer to Ngorongoro. After about one-and-a-half hours you’ll arrive at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge, where you’ll spend two nights.

DAY 4–5

Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge is set high on a hill, with rolling vistas over the teeming Serengeti plains. © Serena Hotels

From Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge you’ll take a road trip to the Serengeti. After about three or four hours – wildlife encounters dependant – you’ll arrive at Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge, where you’ll spend two nights.

DAY 6–7

Kirawira Safari Camp has a large swimming pool. © Serena Hotels

From Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge you’ll take a scenic transfer to the Serengeti, through the Western Corridor. After about two or three hours – wildlife encounters dependant – you’ll arrive at Kirawira Serena Camp, where you’ll spend two nights.

DAY 8

You'll be as relaxed as this lion after your classic safari. © Serena Hotels

After a transfer from Kirawira Serena Camp to the airstrip, you’ll take light-aircraft flight to Arusha.

  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, taking into account when you’d like to travel, how long you’d like to be away for, who you’d be travelling with, what safari lodge style you’d prefer, and more.
  • This classic affordable safari idea is simply to show you what’s possible. To see what this type of safari costs, and what’s generally included, click here. For a general overview of African safari prices, you can click through to our blog.
  • We also offer a curated selection of Tanzania safari packages, wrapped and priced for your convenience, click here to explore them.

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