Have a pre-dinner drink while taking in the evening views of the caldera at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.

Tanzania | Rift Valley Lake, Serengeti & Crater | 8 Nights Lake Manyara National Park, Serengeti National Park & Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area

Northern Tanzania was shaped by incredible natural forces, and the evidence of their actions can still be seen in the spectacular scenery. Today, it’s living things which are having more of an impact on these ancient cliffs and craters, but their allure remains irresistible – to wildlife, and to spellbound visitors.

Two nights at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge

Our overnight at Arusha Coffee Lodge meant that we could get an early start on our luxury Tanzania safari, arriving at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge for lunch.We wasted no time in heading to the lakeshore afterwards, to see our first flamingos. Great expanses of Lake Manyara were coloured a delicate fuchsia pink as thousands of birds filtered tiny creatures from its sodic waters. Olive baboon patrolled the shore, and we were surprised that the birds didn’t feel threatened by their presence, as they’re known to try and catch flamingos unawares. As the sun sank in the western sky, we settled on rocks by the lake, and watched the baboon head back towards the trees to roost. We joked that like them, we would be sleeping among the branches!Top of our morning game drive agenda were the tree-climbing lion of Lake Manyara and our guide, who had more than 10 years of experience in this area, knew just where to start looking. As the day began to heat up, he somehow distinguished a tawny mane from the golden grass, and we arrived in time to see the lion scramble up into a small tree. The cubs in the pride had other ideas: why relax, when you can play? Later, enjoying the indulgent spa at the lodge, we conceded that it was the adult lion who had called this one correctly!

Our overnight at Arusha Coffee Lodge meant that we could get an early start on our luxury Tanzania safari, arriving at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge for lunch.

We wasted no time in heading to the lakeshore afterwards, to see our first flamingos. Great expanses of Lake Manyara were coloured a delicate fuchsia pink as thousands of birds filtered tiny creatures from its sodic waters. Olive baboon patrolled the shore, and we were surprised that the birds didn’t feel threatened by their presence, as they’re known to try and catch flamingos unawares. As the sun sank in the western sky, we settled on rocks by the lake, and watched the baboon head back towards the trees to roost. We joked that like them, we would be sleeping among the branches!

Top of our morning game drive agenda were the tree-climbing lion of Lake Manyara and our guide, who had more than 10 years of experience in this area, knew just where to start looking. As the day began to heat up, he somehow distinguished a tawny mane from the golden grass, and we arrived in time to see the lion scramble up into a small tree. The cubs in the pride had other ideas: why relax, when you can play? Later, enjoying the indulgent spa at the lodge, we conceded that it was the adult lion who had called this one correctly!

Three nights at Serengeti Under Canvas

It felt at times as though our luxury Tanzania safari was the realisation of childhood fantasies as we flew from our dreamy suite among the trees, to the most magnificent tent either of us had ever seen.It was hard to believe that Serengeti Under Canvas had only been in its current, very private, location for a few days. With impeccable timing, they’d anticipated the next twist in the annual saga that is the Great Wilderness Migration and now we were perfectly positioned to watch the herds arrive. Seated on canvas director’s chairs in front of the open mess tent, we watched in awe as the vanguard of the massed herds filed slowly by. The chairs added to the cinematic quality of the moment, but no amount of Hollywood special effects could surpass this epic scene.Our morning drive gave us an insight into the harsh realities of the migration. Our guide had noticed one wildebeest with a limp, and so too had several spotted hyena that had been tagging along. They made several runs at the herd, which caused panic to set in, and as wildebeest fled left and right the lame one was left behind. The hyena surrounded it, and to a soundtrack of crunching jaws and high-pitched giggles, soon dragged it down. Although this was tough to watch, it was also hard to look away. Our guide gently reminded us that this was not about cruelty, but survival.On our final evening, we sat around the campfire with a family who was from a nearby suburb to us ‘in real life’. Their son enthused about his WILDchild experience – and the kids’ programme had given his parents some precious time alone. As the campfire embers glowed, we pulled our red Maasai shukas around our shoulders and sipped our (rather excellent) red wine. It was good to have time to reflect on the day’s events – the vultures squabbling over the scraps of yesterday’s kill, and the courage of the herds in running the gauntlet of the marauding hyena.

It felt at times as though our luxury Tanzania safari was the realisation of childhood fantasies as we flew from our dreamy suite among the trees, to the most magnificent tent either of us had ever seen.

It was hard to believe that Serengeti Under Canvas had only been in its current, very private, location for a few days. With impeccable timing, they’d anticipated the next twist in the annual saga that is the Great Wilderness Migration and now we were perfectly positioned to watch the herds arrive. Seated on canvas director’s chairs in front of the open mess tent, we watched in awe as the vanguard of the massed herds filed slowly by. The chairs added to the cinematic quality of the moment, but no amount of Hollywood special effects could surpass this epic scene.

Our morning drive gave us an insight into the harsh realities of the migration. Our guide had noticed one wildebeest with a limp, and so too had several spotted hyena that had been tagging along. They made several runs at the herd, which caused panic to set in, and as wildebeest fled left and right the lame one was left behind. The hyena surrounded it, and to a soundtrack of crunching jaws and high-pitched giggles, soon dragged it down. Although this was tough to watch, it was also hard to look away. Our guide gently reminded us that this was not about cruelty, but survival.

On our final evening, we sat around the campfire with a family who was from a nearby suburb to us ‘in real life’. Their son enthused about his WILDchild experience – and the kids’ programme had given his parents some precious time alone. As the campfire embers glowed, we pulled our red Maasai shukas around our shoulders and sipped our (rather excellent) red wine. It was good to have time to reflect on the day’s events – the vultures squabbling over the scraps of yesterday’s kill, and the courage of the herds in running the gauntlet of the marauding hyena.

Two nights at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

The views from Serengeti Under Canvas made us feel as though the land was infinite; in contrast, as we arrived at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge it seemed as though we were peering off the edge of the world.As our first day here was actually our wedding anniversary, we were very focused on indulging ourselves – and the staff went out of their way to make the day unforgettable. After an incredible circuit of the Ngorongoro Crater, we returned to our suite. A carpet of red rose petals led us to a pre-filled bubble bath, with French Champagne on ice to hand. We ate dinner in the fabulous domed dining room, a gentle breeze tinkling the crystals in the chandelier overhead, before heading to the wine cellar for chocolates and more Champagne. Wedded bliss – and now my partner has no excuse for ever forgetting our anniversary!Our last day on safari took us back in time as we drove to Olduvai Gorge, one of the most important early human fossil sites in Africa. We walked where our ancestors had, and held a fascinating reconstruction of an ancient hominid skull found here in our hands. We took pictures with our modern tools – smartphones – and then continued to the remarkable Shifting Sands. These crescent-shaped volcanic ash dunes are steadily being moved across the desert floor by the wind. In northern Tanzania, it seems, even the very landscape is migrating.

The views from Serengeti Under Canvas made us feel as though the land was infinite; in contrast, as we arrived at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge it seemed as though we were peering off the edge of the world.

As our first day here was actually our wedding anniversary, we were very focused on indulging ourselves – and the staff went out of their way to make the day unforgettable. After an incredible circuit of the Ngorongoro Crater, we returned to our suite. A carpet of red rose petals led us to a pre-filled bubble bath, with French Champagne on ice to hand. We ate dinner in the fabulous domed dining room, a gentle breeze tinkling the crystals in the chandelier overhead, before heading to the wine cellar for chocolates and more Champagne. Wedded bliss – and now my partner has no excuse for ever forgetting our anniversary!

Our last day on safari took us back in time as we drove to Olduvai Gorge, one of the most important early human fossil sites in Africa. We walked where our ancestors had, and held a fascinating reconstruction of an ancient hominid skull found here in our hands. We took pictures with our modern tools – smartphones – and then continued to the remarkable Shifting Sands. These crescent-shaped volcanic ash dunes are steadily being moved across the desert floor by the wind. In northern Tanzania, it seems, even the very landscape is migrating.

What sets it apart

The scale of everything we experienced in Tanzania is what will linger longest in our hearts and minds, from the incredible drama of the Great Wildebeest Migration, with its cast of literally millions, to the great tears in the landscape that are the Great Rift Valley and the Ngorongoro Crater. At the same time, nothing was too much trouble for the staff who looked after us at each camp. Their painstaking attention to detail meant we barely had to lift a finger, with everything from our dietary requirements to favourite cocktails noted and acted upon with no fuss, and no mistakes.Spending eight nights in Tanzania gave us ample time to adjust to the rhythms of safari (although more often than not, the safari timetables were adjusted to accommodate our whims) and to feel as though we really belonged in these prehistoric landscapes that the passage of time has still not tamed.It was humbling to walk among rocks where our earliest ancestors had once lived, and to descend in the space of an hour into a prehistoric volcano whose steep walls now protect thousands of animals. There was a sense of sanctuary everywhere we went, that these were places where life was treasured, and where the value of conserving wild animals and their habitats far exceeded any monetary calculations.We also loved the views – of the endless savannah from Serengeti Under Canvas; through the mahogany trees at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge and down into a lost world from Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.

The scale of everything we experienced in Tanzania is what will linger longest in our hearts and minds, from the incredible drama of the Great Wildebeest Migration, with its cast of literally millions, to the great tears in the landscape that are the Great Rift Valley and the Ngorongoro Crater.
At the same time, nothing was too much trouble for the staff who looked after us at each camp. Their painstaking attention to detail meant we barely had to lift a finger, with everything from our dietary requirements to favourite cocktails noted and acted upon with no fuss, and no mistakes.

Spending eight nights in Tanzania gave us ample time to adjust to the rhythms of safari (although more often than not, the safari timetables were adjusted to accommodate our whims) and to feel as though we really belonged in these prehistoric landscapes that the passage of time has still not tamed.

It was humbling to walk among rocks where our earliest ancestors had once lived, and to descend in the space of an hour into a prehistoric volcano whose steep walls now protect thousands of animals. There was a sense of sanctuary everywhere we went, that these were places where life was treasured, and where the value of conserving wild animals and their habitats far exceeded any monetary calculations.

We also loved the views – of the endless savannah from Serengeti Under Canvas; through the mahogany trees at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge and down into a lost world from Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.

Day 1

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

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 Coffee Lodge, where you’ll spend one night.

Day 2–3

End your day at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge with sundowners in the bush. © &Beyond

Following a private transfer from Arusha Coffee Lodge to Arusha Airport in Arusha, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Manyara. You’ll then take a slow three-hour game drive to Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, where you’ll spend two nights.

Day 4–6

Serengeti Under Canvas moves with the Great Wildebeest Migration. © &Beyond

Following a slow three-hour game drive from Lake Manyara Tree Lodge to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to the Serengeti. You’ll then take a transfer to Serengeti Under Canvas, where you’ll spend three nights.

Day 7–8

Go all out with a private rose-petal dinner at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. © &Beyond

Following a transfer from Serengeti Under Canvas to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Manyara. You’ll then take a scenic hour-and-a-half-long drive to Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, where you’ll spend two nights.

Day 9

These wildebeest and zebra look magnificent against the backdrop of the flamingo. © Asilia Africa

Following a scenic hour-and-a-half-long drive from Ngorongoro Crater Lodge to Manyara, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Arusha. After disembarking, you’ll be assisted through check-in for your international flight.

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