Welcome to Northern Tanzania

A safari around the Northern Tanzania Circuit follows a popular safari route. Tanzania is a diverse nation that has devoted more surface area towards the conservation of wildlife and habitat than any other country in the world and you will find this as a unique, memorable and adventurous experience.

Natures Cradle organises Tanzania Lodge Safaris aswell as Camp Safaris. A Lodge Safari is a tour around the safari parks whereby you will be accommodated in Safari Lodges within the park in the midst of the surrounding nature. Tented Camps are also available in some of the National Parks which are also a popular choice. Some Camps are permanent on concrete or wooden base whilst others are “Mobile” camps that move around at intervals around the year to be within close proximity of the animal migration routes.

Northern Tanzania consists of mountains, lakes and superb plains. The game viewing here is truly amazing and lakes such as Manyara are home to the pink flamingo providing an excellent bird-watching experience. Serengeti is renowned as one the world’s best game-viewing reserves with its tree-climbing lions, Big 5 and a vast number of other species. At Serengeti you may be lucky enough to witness the spectacle of the Wildebeest Migration. The breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater is home to around 30,000 animals including the Big 5, Zebras, Gazelles, Black Rhinos and many other types of animals. Tarangire National Park and the Tarangire River are home to large herds of elephants.



137 sq km (53sq miles.)


Northern Tanzania, northeast of Arusha town.

Getting There

An easy 40-minutes drive from Arusha. Approximately 60km (35miles) from Kilimanjaro International Airport. The lakes, forest and Ngurdoto Crater can all be visited in the course of a half-day cutting at the beginning or end of an extended northern safari.

To Do

Forest walks numerous picnic sites, three-or four-day Mount Meru climb – good acclimatization for Kilimanjaro.

Best Time

To climb Mount Meru, June – February although it may rain in November. Best views of Kilimanjaro December-February.

The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital- Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safari goers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours.

The entrance gate leads into shadowy Montana forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colorful turacos and trogons – the onus place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngudoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.

Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela lakes, each one a different hue of green or blue. Their shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos, the lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and shaggy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between gazing zebra herds, while pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs.

Although elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park and lions absent altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, only 50km (30miles) distant.

But it is Kilimanjaro unassuming cousin, Mount Meru – the fifth highest in Africa at 4,566 meters (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park’s horizon. Its peaks and eastern foot slopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparallel view of its famous neighbor, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.

Passing first through wooded savannah where buffalos and giraffes are frequently encountered, the ascent of Meru leads into forests aflame with red-hot pokers and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching high open heath spiked with giant lobelias. Everlasting flowers cling to the alpine desert, as delicately-hoofed klipspringers mark the hike’s progress. Astride the craggy summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, blushing in the sunrise.



2,600 sq km (1,005 sq miles)


118 km (75 miles) southwest of Arusha

Getting There

Easy drive from Arusha or Lake Manyara following a surfaced road to within 7km (four miles) of the main entrance gate can continue on to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. Charter flights from Arusha and the Serengeti.

To Do

Guided walking safaris, day trips to Maasai and Barabaig villages, as well as to the hundreds of ancient rock paintings in the vicinity of Kolo on the Dodoma Road.

Best Time

All year round but dry season (June-September) for sheer numbers of animals.

Day after day of cloudless skies. The fierce sun sucks the moisture from the landscape baking the earth a dusty red, the withered grass as brittle as straw. The Tarangire River has shriveled to a shadow of its wet season self. But it is choked with wildlife. Thirsty nomads of parched kilometers knowing that here, always, there is water.

Heards of up to 300 elephants scratch the dry river bed for underground streams, while migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the shrinking lagoons. It’s the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem – a smorgasbord for predators – and the one place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope such as the stately fringe-eared oryx and peculiar long-necked gerenuk are regularly observed.

During the rainy season, the seasonal visitors scatter over a 20,000 sq km (12,500sq miles) range until they exhaust the green plains and the river calls once more. But Tarangire’s mobs of elephant are easily encountered, wet or dry. The swamps, tinged green year round, are the focus for 550 bird varieties, the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world.

On drier ground you find the Kori bustard, the heaviest flying bird, the stocking thighed ostrich, the world’s largest bird, and small parties of ground hornbills blustering like turkeys. More ardent bird-lovers might keep an eye open for screeching locks of the dazzlingly colourful yellow-collared lovebird, and the somewhat daber rufous-tailed weaver and ashy starling-all endemic to the dry savannah of north-central Tanzania. Disused termite mounds are often frequented by colonies of the endearing dwarf mongoose, and pairs of red-and-yellow barbet, which draw attention to themselves by the loud, clockwork-like duetting Tarangire’s pythons, climb trees, as do its lions and leopards, lounging in the branches where the fruits of the sausage tree disguise the twitch of a tail.


Hot Air Balloon safari at Tarangire cost U.S.$ 410:00 Per Head. Adult/Child same price. (Minimum 2 Persons Required. For added comfort Maximum 8 Passengers for 12 sitter A-250 Balloon and Maximum 6 Passengers for 8 Sitter N-180 Balloon)

Balloon flights reporting time at Launching Site 06h00. Take off at 06h15. Passengers arrive in time to watch the balloon inflation as the pilots torch the coloured fabric to life. The flight is for approximately 1 hour, each one different path and following the days prevailing winds. A Balloon flight allows passengers to float over the world’s most spectacular Tarangire National Park, where you will find two of the `Giants of African Wilderness’: the Elephants and the Baobab Trees, and the other. On landing, the balloon crew set up a full champagne breakfast complete with “Bloody Mary’s”. Each passenger then receives a certificate from their pilot as a special memoir of their flight. A game drive (provided by our vehicle) en route from/to the lodge or the main gate ends a special morning.

Pick up/drop off provided by Africa balloon Safari: Chem Chem, Elephant Lodge, Kirurumu-Tarangire, Tarangire River Camp, Lake Burunge Lodge, Maromboi tented Lodge, Minjingu Village and Paradise Camp Site. Transfer rates may apply depending on where you will be spending the night (Your Preferred Lodge)



330 SQ KM (197 SQ MILES)


In Northern Tanzania. The entrance gate lies 1.5 hours (126kms/80miles) west of Arusha along a newly surface road, close to the ethnically diverse market town of Mto wa Mbu.

Getting There

By road, charter or schedules flight from Arusha, en route to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.

To Do

Game drives, canoeing when the water levels is sufficiently high. Cultural tours, mountain bike tours, abseiling and forest walks on the escarpment outside the park.

Best Time

Dry season (July-October) for large mammals, wet season (November-June) for bird watching the waterfalls and canoeing.

The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzania safari experience from the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle like groundwater forest where hundreds-strong baboon troops lunge nonchalantly along the roadside, blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees, dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows, and outsized forest hob ills honk cacophonously in the high canopy.

Contrasting with the intimacy of the forest is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views, eastward, across the alkaline lake, to the jagged blue peaks that rise from the endless Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, as do giraffes – some so dark in coloration that they appear to be black from a distance.

Inland of the floodplain, a narrow belt of acacia woodland is the favored haunt of Manyara’s legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants Squadrons of banded mongoose dart between the acacias, while the diminutive Kirk’s dik-dik forages in their shade. Pairs of klipspringer are often seen silhouetted on the rocks above a field of searing hat springs that steams and bubbles adjacent to the lakeshore in the far south of the park.

Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded, and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in one day. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large water birds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.


Guest at Lake Manyara can now enjoy the unprecedented experience of waterside game viewing. From the safe shallow waters of this beautiful soda lake, guests paddle silently along the shoreline in two-man canoes. Drifting past buffalo, giraffe and elephants on the banks and walloping hippo and fabulous aquatic bird life in the water, this is a most unusual and memorable safari seeing wildlife from a whole new perspective. “Wildlife from Water”

What is included: Transfer to and from the launching site. This includes a game drive along the way. A total of one and a half to two hours will be spent on the water, with one qualified, experience guide per group; quality two-man canoes, dry bags, back rests, paddles and foot wash. Transfer to and from Lake Manyara National Park.

What to expect: A guide will lead you to the launching site, which is only a gentle stroll from the hotel. Here you will go aboard a stable two-man canoe. The guide will escort you along the shores of the lake, all the way around, and back to the launching site. During this leisurely paddle, you will encounter interesting bird life, experience the awesome beauty of this secluded portion of serene nature and breathe the fresh African air.

Length of entire excursion: Approximately 5 hours of which 1½ to 2 hours are spent canoeing.

Cost: Per Person U.S.$ 60.00 + Park Entrance Fees U.S.$ 40.00 Per Adult / U.S.$ 10.00 Per Child

Children Policy: Below 5 years not charged. Children from 5 to 11 years old get 50% discount. Children 12 years and older will pay the full price


The Game drive starts from Lake Manyara National Park gate at 19h30. Here you will be introduced to your guides and be given a brief introduction talk about the ‘do’s and don’ts’ while on a night game drive. Your drive should start around 20:00 from where you head in to the thick ground-water forest of Lake Manyara. Porcupines, genets and civet cats are frequent visitors to the forest. From the forest you head down towards the lake following the Simba River to the hippo pools. Hippos are nocturnal animals (active by night) and it is highly likely to see many of these beasts grazing on the side of the road. It is a rare sight to see a hippo out of the water. Your drive will return back through the ground water forest and have you back at the park gate around 22h30.

Cost: Per Person U.S.$ 70.00 + Park Entrance Fees U.S.$ 55.00 for the night Game Drive APART from the normal Day time Game Drive.

Children Policy: Below 5 years not charged. Children from 5 to 11 years old get 50% discount. Children 12 years and older will pay the full price

Children Policy: Below 5 years not charged. Children from 5 to 11 years old get 50% discount. Children 12 years and older will pay the full price


Northern Tanzania is a land of superlatives, from Africa’s highest mountain to one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet. But Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti are merely starting points to so many journeys of a lifetime. Mt Meru is Kilimanjaro’s rival in both its beauty and the challenge of climbing it, while the Crater Highlands rank among Africa’s most haunting landscapes. When it comes to wildlife



14,763 sq km (5,700sq miles)


335km (209 miles) from Arusha, stretching north to Kenya and bordering Lake Victoria to the west

Getting There

Scheduled and charter flights from Arusha, Lake Manyara and Mwanza. Drive from Arusha, Lake Manyara, Tarangire or Ngorongoro Crater

To Do

Hot air balloon safaris, Maasai rock painting and musical rocks. Visit neighboring Ngorongoro rater, Olduvai Gorge, Ol Doinya Lengai volcano and Lake Natron’s flamingos.

Best Time

To follow the wildebeest migration, December-July. To see predators, June – October.

A million wildebeest… each one driven by the same ancient rhythm, fulfilling its instinctive role in the inescapable cycle of life: a frenzied three-week bout of territorial conquest and mating: survival of the fittest as 40km (25 mile) long columns plunge through crocodile-infested waters on the annual exodus north: replenishing the species in a brief population explosion that produces more than 8,000 calves daily before the 1,000 km (600 mile) pilgrimage begins again.

Tanzania’s oldest and most popular national park, the Serengeti is fames for its annual migration, when some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebras and 300,000 Thomson’s gazelle join the wildebeest’s trek for fresh grazing. Yet even when the migration is quite, the Serengeti offers arguably the most scintillating game –viewing in Africa: great heards of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant’s gazelle.

The spectacle of predator versus prey dominates Tanzania’s greatest park. Golden-maned lion prides feast on the abundance of plain grazers. Solitary leopards haunt the acacia trees lining the Seronera River, while a high density of cheetahs prowls the southeastern plains. And most uniquely, all three African jackal species are present here, alongside the spotted hyena and a host of more elusive small predators, ranging from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful serval cat.

But there is more to Serengeti than large mammals. Gaudy agama lizards and rock hyraxes scuffle around the surfaces of the park’s isolated granite koppies. A full 100 varieties of dung beetle have been recorded, as have 500-plus bird species, ranging from the outsized ostrich and bizarre secretary bird of the open grassland, to the black eagles that soar effortlessly above the Lobo Hills.

As enduring as the game-viewing is the liberating sense of space that characterizes the Serengeti Plains, stretching across sunburnt savannah to a shimmering golden horizon at the end of the earth. Yet, after the rains, this golden expanse of grass is transformed into an endless green carpet flecked with wildflowers. And there are also wooded hills and towering termite mounds, rivers lines with fig trees and acacia woodland stained orange by dust. Popular the Serengeti might be, but it remains so vast that you may be the only human audience when a pride of lions masterminds a siege, focused unswervingly on its next meal.


The route and timing of the wildebeest migration is unpredictable. Allow at least three days to be assured of seeing them on your visit – longer if you want to see the main predators as well.


Hot Air Balloon safari operated in Central Serengeti: U.S.$ 480:00 Per Person. (Maximum 32 seats – 2 Baskets of 16 seats per basket)

Hot Air Balloon safari operated in Serengeti’s Western Corridor: U.S.$ 480:00 Per Person. (Maximum 12 seats)

5:30 AM you will be given tea/coffee and cookies at the hotel while waiting to be picked up and driven to the hot air balloon launching site.

Pick-up time will be at approximately 06h30. As the sun rise so will the hot air balloon.

The flight duration is approximately 1 hour (Depending on wind speed). Upon landing you will be received with champagne and later driven to a location under a tree where you will be served with full breakfast in open Serengeti plains.

At Around 8:30 or 9:30 you will be dropped at Seronera Wildlife Lodge for those in Central Serengeti and those in Western Corridor will be dropped at their respective lodge where you will be staying.

Each participant will be awarded with a Certificate. Thereafter you will continue with Serengeti Game drive for the remainder of the day or as per your itinerary. Children under 7 years are not allowed on these flights.


Olduvai Gorge is a steep-sided ravine in the Great Rift Valley that stretches through eastern Africa. It is in the eastern Serengeti Plains in Arusha Region, Tanzania and is about 48 km (30 mi) long. It is located 45 km (28 mi) from the Laetoli archaeological site. The name is a misspelling of Oldupai Gorge, which was adopted as the official name in 2005. Oldupai is the Maasai word for the wild sisal plant Sansevieria ehrenbergii, which grows in the gorge

In the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a site of our Neanderthal Man – the Zinjanthropus. In 1959, the Zinj skull was discovered by Dr. Leaky at the Olduvai Gorge. Zinjanthropus is believed to have lived 1.8 million years ago. In the 1970’s, the footprints of animals and early hominids dating back 3.5 million years were found by Mary Leaky at Laetoli some 45 kms. South of Olduvai Gorge.

In 1974 some fossils of the hominid tooth were discovered, dating back 2.4 million years. Between half a million and a million years ago, “Homo Erectus”, a type of man, wandered around making use of hand axes. Many such tools were found at Olduvai.

More than 150 different species of extinct mammals have been identified from the fossils, as well as many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. An on-site Museum explains the archeological significance of the discoveries. This area, it seems, is the “Cradle of Mankind”.



14,763 sq km (5,700sq miles)


Located near to Arusha and Serengeti.

Described as one of the best-known natural landmarks of the world, Ngorongoro Crater is perhaps one of the most spectacular natural wonders that exist. As well as being the largest intact caldera in the world, the floor of Ngorongoro Crater offers unsurpassed game viewing, where vast herds of animals and even some extremely rare species such as the black rhino can be seen during an afternoon’s game drive around the area. Ngorongoro is volcanic in origin and was created during the same fracturing process that formed the Rift Valley about 20 million years ago. At its peak in size it would have matched Mount Kilimanjaro at its current height. The rim is still high at roughly 2220m so a good fleece or jacket is essential

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and International Biosphere Reserve, covering almost 8,300 sq km with altitudes ranging between 1,020m to 3,577m. Frequently referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, the area encompasses a blend of landscapes, archeological sites, people and abundant wildlife that is unsurpassed in Africa. Featuring volcanoes, grassland, waterfalls and forests, it is home to the nomadic Masai. The centerpiece and major landmark of the Conservation Area is the breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater, a natural amphitheatre surrounded by steep walls rising over 600 meters from the crater floor. It is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles whose magical setting and plentiful wildlife never fail to thrill visitors.

The crater is a natural sanctuary for some 30,000 animals including the `Big Five’ consisting of buffalo, elephant, leopards, lion, and rhino. It is also home to cheetah, hartebeest, hippo, hyena, jackal, reedbuck, serval, warthog, waterbuck, wildebeest, zebra and a great many bird and insect species. Close to Ngorongoro Crater there are two less famous, and less visited, craters ideal for walking and hiking safaris. Empakaai Crater is about 6 km wide with steep walls rising to almost 300m. Half of the crater floor is covered by a deep salt water lake where eland and waterbuck may be seen. The trail down to the crater floor offers spectacular views of a still active volcano, Oldoinyo Lengai, and, on a clear day, the snowy peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro. On the way down to the lake buffalo, bushbuck, blue monkeys and rare birds such as sunbirds and turacos may be seen.

Olmoti Crater’s floor is shallow and covered with grass where, in addition to the Maasai and their livestock, buffalos, eland, and reedbuck may be seen. The Munge River crosses the crater before falling hundreds of meters in a spectacular waterfall. Yet another attraction of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is Olduvai Gorge, the site where, in 1959, Dr Louis Leakey and his wife Mary discovered the remains of what was regarded as man’s first step on the ladder of human evolution. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority was established in 1959, to pioneer this multiple use in which conservation, tourism and pastoral activities co-exist in carefully managed harmony.


Visit Maasai Village – Ngorongoro. Per vehicle U.S.$ 70:00

The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Northern Tanzania. They are among the best known of African ethnic groups due to their distinctive customs and dress. They are member of the Nilo-Saharan family that is related to Dinka and Nuer and are also educated in the official languages of Tanzania: Swahili and English.

The Tanzanian governments have instituted programs to encourage the Maasai to abandon their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle, but the people have continued their age-old customs. Recently, Oxfam has claimed that the lifestyle of the Maasai should be embraced as a response to climate change because of their ability to farm in deserts and scrublands. Many Maasai tribes throughout Tanzania welcome visits to their village to experience their culture, traditions, and lifestyle.