Venture into the wilds of Tanzania on a family safari and encounter a mind-boggling array of wildlife. Here, humans are but tiny dots on a sweeping savannah, surrounded by zebras and wildebeest, lions and cheetahs, elephants and rhinos, and hundreds of colorful bird species. Settle into a remote camp in a part of the eastern Serengeti known for its vast numbers of giraffes and elands. Get to know local Maasai people, who welcome us into their homes and schools and share their vibrant traditions. With the help of our trip leader and local rangers, learn to identify tracks and interpret animal behavior, and encounter an incredible array of wildlife on safari in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater.
Karibu! Arrive in Tanzania and transfer to our hotel in Arusha. Take the night to rest up before our adventure begins!
Mount Meru Hotel
On a short flight to the eastern Serengeti, take in views of flamingo-fringed Lake Natron and Ol Doinyo Lengai, a freestanding active volcano that rises nearly 10,500 feet. As we travel into our 12,000-acre private refuge, hailed as a model for community conservation and habitat restoration, catch a first glimpse of the Serengeti’s wildlife. This area has been nicknamed “Giraffic Park” and boasts some of the highest concentrations of elands in the region. Set out into the bush in the afternoon, exploring on foot or by 4x4. Then immerse yourself in the vivid traditions of the Maasai, meeting young Maasai warriors, visiting a women’s beading collaborative, and listening to a local storyteller recount Maasai fables. Tonight, head out under a dazzling canopy of stars on a thrilling night safari, spotting nocturnal creatures such as the aardvark, and listening for the sounds of animals in the dark.
Eastern Serengeti Nyumba Camp (B,L,D)
Rise early for a morning walk with a wildlife expert, learning about the morning rituals of the Serengeti’s creatures and looking for a wide variety of birds. Pay a visit to a Maasai village school and meet with students and teachers to learn about the role of education in Maasai culture. Then get to know your Maasai pen pals, playing games and sharing stories. This afternoon, set out for a typical boma, a hamlet of mud houses surrounded by a brush fence, and “jump” into a traditional Maasai dance. Or walk with our rangers into the wilderness and enjoy a night in a bush camp, sitting around the campfire surrounded by the sounds of the Serengeti.
Eastern Serengeti Nyumba or Exclusive Bush Camp (B,L,D)
Spend three amazing days in fabled Serengeti National Park. Crisscross the open savannah on daily safaris, on the lookout for zebras, lions, giraffe, wildebeests, warthogs, elephants, wild dogs, hyenas, primates, and many hundreds of species of birds. Wind though rocky kopje terrain, tracking leopards on the hunt, and watch hippos wallowing in ponds. Get a bird’s-eye view of the stunning Serengeti on an optional early morning hot air balloon ride, or take a dawn game drive to see wildlife at their most active time. Experience the rich cultural life of the area on a number of excursions. Take a walk back in time at the Serengeti Vistors Center and then travel deep into the park to identify footprints with trackers. Pick up a few phrases in Swahili on our return to camp in the afternoon. Learn to use a wa’lkoma bow and arrow and try your hand at the game of bao before sitting down to a traditional Tanzanian feast.
Central Serengeti Nyumba (B,L,D daily)
Head into the highlands to Olduvai Gorge, where, in 1960, Louis and Mary Leakey discovered the remains of Homo habilis, one of the earliest humans, on a National Geographic-sponsored expedition. Later, settle into Gibb's Farm, a beautiful organic coffee estate and eco-lodge on the outer slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater. Take advantage of a free afternoon to relax on the veranda, visit the farm and its animals, go for a walk in the forest, or ride a bike to the nearby village.
Gibb's Farm Cottage Room (B,L,D)
Descend 2,000 feet to the crater floor, home to one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa, including some of the continent’s largest lion prides. Spend a full day on safari, watching for baboons, elephants, and cheetahs, and keeping an eye out for endangered black rhinos on the shores of Lake Magadi. Pause for a picnic lunch—surrounded by some 25,000 wild animals! Back at the lodge, gather around a fire to hear tembo (elephant) folktales or enjoy an optional Maasai massage before our farewell dinner. Enjoy a rare chance to spot nocturnal bushbabies in the trees behind our lodge tonight.
Gibb's Farm Cottage Room (B,L,D)
Return to Arusha, stopping on the way to meet a local historian and storyteller of the Iraqw people. See the beaded textiles created by his wife, and venture into their typical mound-like Iraqw home. Visit an inspiring art center that employs local people with special needs, and browse local handicrafts at the Cultural Heritage Center. Check into day rooms and enjoy time to relax or take a swim before transferring to the airport for your flight home.
Mount Meru Hotel (B,L)
Children (ages 7–17)
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $800. On the December departure, there is an additional holiday surcharge of $300 per person. The optional bush camp accommodations on Day 4 are $250 per person. Airfare is not included in the expedition cost. Round-trip economy airfare between New York and Kilimanjaro begins at $1,900, and flights within Tanzania are $300 (subject to change).
About Our Accommodations:
In the eastern Serengeti, we stay in eco-friendly, mobile safari tents situated to maximize wildlife viewing while keeping in harmony with our surroundings. Each tent is comfortably appointed and features private facilities with queen beds, fine linens, and a hot shower.
We tap into National Geographic’s vast network to design unique travel experiences for the whole family, filled with hands-on activities and memorable moments. A special aspect of this expedition is the Kid-to-Kid Connection, which links every young traveler with a pen pal of similar age in Tanzania. During our stay in the Eastern Serengeti, kids will spend time in a Maasai village getting acquainted with their pen pals. We'll learn phrases in Swahili and the local language, Maa; play a friendly game of soccer; and teach our Maasai friends traditional American games.
Our dynamic Expedition Leaders enrich each experience with their insights, knowledge, and energy, and a Young Explorer Leader joins every group to facilitate fun activities that help kids get the most out of the places we go. As we travel, we’ll also meet up with fascinating people doing meaningful work in the field.