Entamanu Ngorongoro has glorious crater views. © Nomad Tanzania

Tanzania | Savannah, Crater & Wilds | 9 Nights Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater & Ruaha National Park

This luxury Tanzania safari is a journey in many senses: from witnessing wildebeest calves in the Serengeti begin their own voyage, to journeying into the Earth at the Ngorongoro Crater, back in time at Olduvai Gorge, or off the map in Ruaha National Park. Every day is truly an exploration.

  • The endless plains of the Serengeti set the stage for a luxury safari that also includes dramatic descents into the Ngorongoro Crater and following the course of the Ruaha River.
  • Opportunities to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration, to look for rare black rhino in the crater of an extinct volcano and to explore a part of southern Tanzania very few people have visited.
  • Three authentic, classic tented safari camps sited either beneath spreading acacia trees, on the rim of the crater or deep in a remote wilderness. For more information, see Serengeti Safari Camp, Entamanu Ngorongoro and Kigelia Ruaha respectively.

Three nights at Serengeti Safari Camp

Visiting the Serengeti in February – outside the traditional peak season – was very deliberate, and meant that we could witness mass wildebeest birthing, and see the savannah at its lushest and loveliest. Happily, the team at Serengeti Safari Camp had had the same idea – this moveable feast of a luxury Tanzania safari lodge is relocated several times each year for optimum migration viewing. We didn’t have to wait long for our first arrival: on our afternoon game drive, we witnessed the initial uncertain steps of a freshly minted calf, and the bravery of its mother as she chased off an overly inquisitive jackal. This southeastern portion of the Serengeti had turned into a giant antelope antechamber – a dramatic prelude to the main event of the Great Wildebeest Migration. Before the calves could participate, however, they had to survive their first few days under the eyes of opportunistic local predators. On our second day we soon realised that while the green flush was an opportunity for the wildebeest, the appearance of so many calves was a bonanza for lion, hyena and cheetah alike … all of which meant that our full-day game drive with bush picnic turned into a series of dramatic sequences, with both narrow escapes and some untimely demises. Our guide suggested a more leisurely pace for our third day, and while we focused on some of the area’s resident wildlife, he took the time to explain the bigger picture of the migration to us, and also how regional rainfall patterns determine when the wildebeest move – and the camp also. Right on cue, a light afternoon shower began. Although it only lasted a few minutes, it was wonderfully refreshing and resulted in stunning limpid light, and a vibrant rainbow which gave me one of my favourite ever Tanzania memories – and a prize-winning image.

Visiting the Serengeti in February – outside the traditional peak season – was very deliberate, and meant that we could witness mass wildebeest birthing, and see the savannah at its lushest and loveliest. Happily, the team at Serengeti Safari Camp had had the same idea – this moveable feast of a luxury Tanzania safari lodge is relocated several times each year for optimum migration viewing. We didn’t have to wait long for our first arrival: on our afternoon game drive, we witnessed the initial uncertain steps of a freshly minted calf, and the bravery of its mother as she chased off an overly inquisitive jackal.

This southeastern portion of the Serengeti had turned into a giant antelope antechamber – a dramatic prelude to the main event of the Great Wildebeest Migration. Before the calves could participate, however, they had to survive their first few days under the eyes of opportunistic local predators. On our second day we soon realised that while the green flush was an opportunity for the wildebeest, the appearance of so many calves was a bonanza for lion, hyena and cheetah alike … all of which meant that our full-day game drive with bush picnic turned into a series of dramatic sequences, with both narrow escapes and some untimely demises.

Our guide suggested a more leisurely pace for our third day, and while we focused on some of the area’s resident wildlife, he took the time to explain the bigger picture of the migration to us, and also how regional rainfall patterns determine when the wildebeest move – and the camp also. Right on cue, a light afternoon shower began. Although it only lasted a few minutes, it was wonderfully refreshing and resulted in stunning limpid light, and a vibrant rainbow which gave me one of my favourite ever Tanzania memories – and a prize-winning image.

Two nights at Entamanu Ngorongoro

Northern Tanzania has an embarrassment of riches in terms of safari hotspots, which meant that after a leisurely late breakfast (and a spot of birding with our Darjeeling), we could continue our itinerary with a vehicle transfer. Although it was also a tented luxury Tanzania safari camp, Entamanu Ngorongoro was quite different in feel. Noticeably higher than our previous lodge, the air was crisp, but its location on the lip of Ngorongoro Crater made for superb views down into the caldera. It wasn’t long before we were following the descent road, keen to get to start our crater safari as soon as possible and find a black rhino – the number one animal on our list. We needn’t have worried: our guide ensured that we spent the late afternoon with an unusually placid female and calf. After a second Ngorongoro game drive in the morning – during which we saw not only lion, but an apparently unconcerned Maasai walking his cows close by – we set off to meet our distant relatives. Chronologically distant, that is – Olduvai Gorge was easily accessible from the lodge, which meant walking in the footsteps of some of the earliest humans, and hearing the fascinating story of the human family tree, at least one branch of which was already flourishing in this part of Tanzania some two million years ago. Returning to the comfort of the lodge felt like time travel after our adventures in prehistory!

Northern Tanzania has an embarrassment of riches in terms of safari hotspots, which meant that after a leisurely late breakfast (and a spot of birding with our Darjeeling), we could continue our itinerary with a vehicle transfer.

Although it was also a tented luxury Tanzania safari camp, Entamanu Ngorongoro was quite different in feel. Noticeably higher than our previous lodge, the air was crisp, but its location on the lip of Ngorongoro Crater made for superb views down into the caldera. It wasn’t long before we were following the descent road, keen to get to start our crater safari as soon as possible and find a black rhino – the number one animal on our list. We needn’t have worried: our guide ensured that we spent the late afternoon with an unusually placid female and calf.

After a second Ngorongoro game drive in the morning – during which we saw not only lion, but an apparently unconcerned Maasai walking his cows close by – we set off to meet our distant relatives. Chronologically distant, that is – Olduvai Gorge was easily accessible from the lodge, which meant walking in the footsteps of some of the earliest humans, and hearing the fascinating story of the human family tree, at least one branch of which was already flourishing in this part of Tanzania some two million years ago. Returning to the comfort of the lodge felt like time travel after our adventures in prehistory!

Four nights at Kigelia Ruaha

After a guided walking safari along the rim of the crater, we set off for the airstrip for the first of two light-aircraft flights that would bring us to Ruaha National Park, in relatively uncharted southern Tanzania. While there was nothing tame about either the Serengeti or the crater, by travelling to Kigelia Ruaha, we felt that we’d taken a definitive step off the safari circuit, and embarked on a different kind of adventure. Everything was wilder in Ruaha National Park – from the herds of elephant to the impressive baobab trees, we felt as though we had stumbled upon an unspoiled paradise. To ease us in gently, our guide took us on a short afternoon game drive, which ended just before sunset when we came upon an elephant family tearing up bunches of green, rain-fed grass. Being in the eastern part of Ruaha meant that we were ideally placed for wildlife viewing, although after recent rains, the river was no longer the only source of water, and the game had dispersed somewhat. However, we found that this only added to the sense of adventure, and gave our guide a chance to demonstrate some of his phenomenal skills. We also saw Ruaha at arguably its most lovely – in our minds, baobab trees will always be decked in green, and heavy white blooms like arboreal ballerinas. Indeed, we often found ourselves pausing to admire our surroundings as much as the animals. After several days of safari, we agreed that we’d earned the right to a more relaxed day, and gave ourselves the rare luxury of a day spent in and around the lodge. Far from seeing us as an imposition, the staff seemed delighted to have the company, and we were treated to a back-of-house tour (with the kitchen being the highlight, of course). We also had the chance to get to know our guide as a person rather than just a spotter extraordinaire, and comparing notes, we found that we had much in common. For our final day, we naturally spent as much time as we could in the bush, and, as so often in Ruaha, we found that our day was effortlessly dominated by elephant, from the huge bull walking past our safari tent at dawn to the delightful calves mud wrestling by a small waterhole. As though he had deliberately saved the best until last, our guide found two male lion in the late afternoon, and as dusk crept upon us, we watched enthralled as they awoke, greeted each other, and then roared together in the cool evening air – we could feel the air vibrate!

After a guided walking safari along the rim of the crater, we set off for the airstrip for the first of two light-aircraft flights that would bring us to Ruaha National Park, in relatively uncharted southern Tanzania.

While there was nothing tame about either the Serengeti or the crater, by travelling to Kigelia Ruaha, we felt that we’d taken a definitive step off the safari circuit, and embarked on a different kind of adventure. Everything was wilder in Ruaha National Park – from the herds of elephant to the impressive baobab trees, we felt as though we had stumbled upon an unspoiled paradise. To ease us in gently, our guide took us on a short afternoon game drive, which ended just before sunset when we came upon an elephant family tearing up bunches of green, rain-fed grass.

Being in the eastern part of Ruaha meant that we were ideally placed for wildlife viewing, although after recent rains, the river was no longer the only source of water, and the game had dispersed somewhat. However, we found that this only added to the sense of adventure, and gave our guide a chance to demonstrate some of his phenomenal skills. We also saw Ruaha at arguably its most lovely – in our minds, baobab trees will always be decked in green, and heavy white blooms like arboreal ballerinas. Indeed, we often found ourselves pausing to admire our surroundings as much as the animals.

After several days of safari, we agreed that we’d earned the right to a more relaxed day, and gave ourselves the rare luxury of a day spent in and around the lodge. Far from seeing us as an imposition, the staff seemed delighted to have the company, and we were treated to a back-of-house tour (with the kitchen being the highlight, of course). We also had the chance to get to know our guide as a person rather than just a spotter extraordinaire, and comparing notes, we found that we had much in common.

For our final day, we naturally spent as much time as we could in the bush, and, as so often in Ruaha, we found that our day was effortlessly dominated by elephant, from the huge bull walking past our safari tent at dawn to the delightful calves mud wrestling by a small waterhole. As though he had deliberately saved the best until last, our guide found two male lion in the late afternoon, and as dusk crept upon us, we watched enthralled as they awoke, greeted each other, and then roared together in the cool evening air – we could feel the air vibrate!

What sets it apart

We immediately felt the unique energy of Tanzania, and this feeling of perpetual motion – plus a contrasting but complementary sensation of deep relaxation – set this luxury Tanzania safari apart for us. We were on our own journey, but we were never at a loss for wonderful travelling companions, whether they were wobbly new wildebeest calves about to take their places in the massed herds of the migration, our ancestors (fossils now, but still running in our DNA) or Maasai herders following the rhythms of the day. Even our first lodge – Serengeti Safari Camp – was mobile, and would be on the move a few weeks after our visit as the herds moved on once the mass birthing was over. The landscape too was going through changes, as trees were shaken by elephant and hundreds of thousands of hooves trampled the grass flat. This sense of people, animals and even accommodation on the move lent a wonderful energy to our time in Tanzania. Not that we ever felt rushed or lacking for time (although, inevitably, every safari holiday seems too short!). We soon learned to make the most of the midday pause after lunch, whether to download our images, catch up on our journals or take a power nap. These moments of stillness contrasted with the wildlife action we saw, and Serengeti Safari Camp, Entamanu Ngorongoro and Kigelia Ruaha became oases of calm where we were immediately able to relax after the adrenaline rush of our game drives.

We immediately felt the unique energy of Tanzania, and this feeling of perpetual motion – plus a contrasting but complementary sensation of deep relaxation – set this luxury Tanzania safari apart for us.

We were on our own journey, but we were never at a loss for wonderful travelling companions, whether they were wobbly new wildebeest calves about to take their places in the massed herds of the migration, our ancestors (fossils now, but still running in our DNA) or Maasai herders following the rhythms of the day.

Even our first lodge – Serengeti Safari Camp – was mobile, and would be on the move a few weeks after our visit as the herds moved on once the mass birthing was over.

The landscape too was going through changes, as trees were shaken by elephant and hundreds of thousands of hooves trampled the grass flat.

This sense of people, animals and even accommodation on the move lent a wonderful energy to our time in Tanzania. Not that we ever felt rushed or lacking for time (although, inevitably, every safari holiday seems too short!).

We soon learned to make the most of the midday pause after lunch, whether to download our images, catch up on our journals or take a power nap. These moments of stillness contrasted with the wildlife action we saw, and Serengeti Safari Camp, Entamanu Ngorongoro and Kigelia Ruaha became oases of calm where we were immediately able to relax after the adrenaline rush of our game drives.

DAY 1–3

Serengeti Safari Camp has six tents. © 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. After a private transfer to Arusha Airport, you’ll take a schedule light-aircraft flight to the Serengeti. A transfer will take you to Serengeti Safari Camp, where you’ll spend three nights.

DAY 4–5

Entamanu Ngorongoro is set on the crater rim. © Nomad Tanzania

A transfer will take you from Serengeti Safari Camp to Entamanu Ngorongoro, where you’ll spend two nights.

DAY 6–9

Kigelia Ruaha has wonderful local decor. © Nomad Tanzania

Following a transfer from Entamanu Ngorongoro to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light-aircraft flight to the Serengeti, and another to Ruaha. A transfer will take you to Kigelia Ruaha, where you’ll spend four nights.

DAY 10

Lion hunt in Ruaha by night. © Nomad Tanzania

Following a transfer from Kigelia Ruaha to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light-aircraft flight to Dar es Salaam, to connect with your international flight.

  • 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 luxury safari trip idea is simply to show you what’s possible. To see what this type of safari costs, and what’s generally included, click hereFor 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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