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Join Naturalist Journeys’ owner Peg Abbott, on this Tanzania wildlife safari to see the splendor of East African birds alongside iconic animals like Elephant, Wildebeest, Common Zebra, Buffalo, Impala, Gazelle, Hartebeest, Eland, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Vervet Monkey, Baboon, and so many more. Travel at peak time: Wildebeest are calving and the interactions between predator and prey are intense.
We begin in Arusha, followed by time at Arusha and Lake Manyara National Parks, then five nights at comfortable safari camps so close to the action. Explore at Oldupai Gorge and the wildlife heavy Ngorongoro Crater. Finally witness the splendor of Tarangire National Park, perched on a principal migration corridor into the Serengeti; this is what wildlife documentaries are made of.
Throughout our exploration, learn about the Great Rift Valley and the whole area’s fascinating geology. Central to our journey is ample time in the Serengeti eco-system. With its endless plains, the Serengeti is the heart and soul of our African wilderness experience.
Our pre-tour Kenya extension is highly recommended to find the most species variety—chosen for habitats that differ from those we visit in Tanzania. We include time in some of country’s finest parks: Nairobi, Mount Kenya, Samburu/Buffalo Springs, and the Aberdares. Nairobi is a major air hub for the region and you may pass through here to get to Arusha. This extension is a great (and simple!) way to expand your experience.
“Throughout the journey, you are immersed in the splendor of wildlife, both mammals and birds, and our timing is set for the peak of the great Wildebeest migration. Because of this timing, we must confirm our tour early; we visit at PRIME time! East Africa is still the ultimate safari experience, hands down.”
— Peg Abbott, Owner of Naturalist Journeys
- Witness spectacular concentrations of wildlife at seasonally shrinking watering holes; watch interactions between predator and prey
- Discover Lake Manyara National Park, home to tree climbing Lion, enormous tusked Elephant, Bushbuck, Giraffe, Zebra, Buffalo, Leopard, Impala, and more
- Enjoy two nights at Gibbs Farm immersed in lush forests that shoulder Ngorongoro Crater
- Spend three nights at Tarangire National Park, with picturesque and ancient Baobabs and many elephants
- Search for fascinating birds in the Serengeti, like Hamerkop, Saddle-billed and African Openbill Storks, Lappet-faced Vulture, and Tawny and Martial Eagles
- Find big cats and watch their behavior; in the last years we have seen all the big cats, plus in some years, Serval and Caracal
- Visit Oldupai Gorge with a local guide, and learn about the sequence of important anthropological finds
- Opt for a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti — wow!
- Absorb the view from the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, then venture into the crater with its teeming wildlife
- Witness the rare Black Rhino in Ngorongoro Crater, as well as many bull Elephant
- Opt for the Kenya extension—with landscapes from Mt. Kenya to the arid north where a fascinating mix of birds and animals complement those of our main safari: Gerenuk, Grevy’s Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe, Gunther’s Dik Dik, Beisa Oryx, Somali Ostrich, and more
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Thurs., Feb. 8 : Arrival in Arusha | Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge
Welcome to Tanzania! Our tour begins in Arusha, where on arrival you find your first Superb Starling, and say, “why didn’t we get that one!”. The sounds and smells of Africa, including blooming jacaranda trees await. We have selected a hotel out of the city so you can immediately surround yourself with splendid views, wildlife such as Dik-dik, Vervet Monkey and Mantled Guereza (Black-and-white Colobus Monkey), and bountiful birds, from bee-eaters to barbets, Crowned Hornbill, Hadada Ibis, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, and more.
You may want to come in an additional night to rest up from travels. The lodge has extensive tropical plantings and is small and personal. There is a lovely swimming pool, WiFi, bar, spa and dining facilities, and pathways. Whenever you chose to arrive, this is a restful location to welcome you.
Both early arrivals and those coming in on the tour start date are met and transferred on arrival to the hotel.
Accommodations at the Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge (D)
Fri., Feb. 9 : Arusha National Park
The enthusiasm for this lovely park on the shoulder of Mt. Kilimanjaro was so high on past tours that we added it into our safari as a great way to begin. In 4WD vehicles we explore forests and lakes to see a host of wildlife. We may even walk with ranger guides to see some of the wildlife up close and personal. Warthog, Giraffe, Impala, Zebra, several species of monkeys, and a host of birds, including Greater and Lesser Flamingoes are all possible. We take a picnic lunch with us and make the most of the day.
The grounds of our hotel are equally fascinating for birding, with hornbills, barbets, weavers, and sunbirds enjoying the tall shade trees and flowering gardens. We return here in the afternoon and enjoy the sunset, happy hour, and a chance to tally up our sightings ahead of a delicious meal.
Accommodations at Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge (B,L,D)
Sat., Feb. 10 : Gibb’s Farm | Lake Manyara National Park
This morning, after a bird walk on the grounds of our hotel, we drive to the nearby Gibb’s Farm, located near the local town of Karatu. This is a local multi-faceted farm that grows coffee, fruits, flowers, and vegetables and also rears a variety of domestic livestock. We spend the morning here, exploring the grounds and the highland forest trails for birds such as Crested Guineafowl, White-tailed Blue-Flycatcher, Arrow-marked Babbler, Narina Trogon, Brown-headed Apalis, Eastern Mountain-Greenbul, Schalow’s Turaco, and White-browed Robin-Chat.
We then spend the afternoon birding here on the farm, as last year when we stopped for lunch we experienced a veritable explosion of birds, several species that we did not see again. With tall trees, it’s a great place for woodpeckers and barbets, hornbills, and possibly one of two species of trogons. Meals are served in the historic dining room, with lovely views and memorable hospitality.
Accommodations at Gibbs Farm (B,L,D)
Sun., Feb. 11 : Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania’s Rift Valley
We spend a full morning exploring Lake Manyara National Park, one of the region’s Great Rift Valley lakes. The park holds an expanse of woodlands and vast plains, as well as the large alkaline soda lake that attracts such a rich variety of waterfowl, perhaps the world’s tallest heron, aptly named the Goliath. The acacia trees and shrubs are home to tree climbing Lion, enormous tusked Elephant, Bushbuck, Giraffe, Zebra, Buffalo, Leopard, Impala, and other mammals. We learn more about the area’s geology from the Mto Wa Mbu escarpment, from which we overlook the Rift Valley and the Manyara Soda Lake.
One of the great features of Lake Manyara, situated in the Great Rift Valley, is the birding at the lake; both numbers and species are a highlight. Near the visitor center we may find a massive colony of Yellow-billed Stork, active in courtship and nest building. At a marshy area of the lake, we watch Hippo alongside African Jacana, numerous plovers, and handsome storks.
Manyara is a large alkaline lake and can attract large numbers of Lesser Flamingo and other waterbirds. The lake and wetlands teem with species, including Pied Kingfisher, Hamerkop, African Fish Eagle, African Spoonbill, Great White Pelican, Lesser Kestrel, Crested Guineafowl, a variety of hornbills, woodpeckers, and other species.
We return for lunch, some time to relax and then pick up again as bird activity peaks in the afternoon. There are trails and viewpoints we can access right from our lodge ahead of another wonderful meal.
Accommodations at Gibbs Farm (B,L,D)
Mon., Feb. 12 : To Ndutu | A Special Region of the Serengeti Ecosystem
This morning we work our way to Ndutu, part of the conservation area adjacent to Serengeti National Park. through an arid area, with fabulous scenery, geology, and impressive bird species, from wheatears to three species of sandgrouse and the elegant Kori Bustard. At the junction with Serengeti National Park, we veer south to the prime calving area for Wildebeest, on the mineral-rich soils of Ndutu, where wildlife watching abounds! We have three nights here, often one of the highlights of our journey.
Accommodations at Gnu Mobile Migration Tented Camp (B,L,D)
Tues., Feb. 13 & Wed., Feb. 14 : Ndutu—The Place to Be in February!
The Ndutu area is part of the Serengeti but administered as part of the large and vital Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It is the end of the line for the Wildebeest migration on the Tanzania end (the Mara, in Kenya being the other end, at its peak in August/September) and they roam here in numbers that you just have to see to believe!
As far as your eye can see, Wildebeest may be running, feeding, fretting over newborn calves, and keeping an eye out for predators. Vast numbers of prey invite predators and no two days are alike. Leopard, Cheetah, Lion, and other cats are all possible. Both days we enjoy very extensive game and bird viewing drives in the morning and afternoon. We are in the heart of the action—the areas we explore are prime for Wildebeest calving; the circle of life is astounding. We often find a kill made before dawn, and watch as vultures, Jackal, and other scavengers wait their turn for the Lion to be done.
Our camp is wonderful, small with a fine sense of hospitality, and you are in the right place—ask any wildlife photographer where they love to go, and Ndutu or nearby Lake Masek are likely high on their list! For birders it’s also a wonderland, with Taita Fiscal, Magpie Shrike, Southern Ground Hornbill, Bare-faced Go-Away-Bird, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, African Penduline Tit, Blue-capped Cordon-bleu, Southern Grosbeak Canary, Red-throated Tit, Short-tailed Lark, Silverbird, Black-lored Babbler, Black Bishop, Two-banded Courser, and many, many more.
Accommodations at Gnu Mobile Migration Tented Camp (B,L,D)
Thurs., Feb. 15 & Fri., Feb. 16 : Central Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti boasts a unique combination of diverse habitats, enabling it to support species of large herbivores, as well as birds. Its landscape includes open grass plains, savannah with scattered acacia trees in the center, wooded grassland, and black clay plains. Small rivers and swamps are scattered throughout. Kopjes are scenic knolls of granite and gneiss outcroppings, great for birds of prey and mammalian predators that use them for resting, nesting, and dens; they are also great for seeing smaller mammals. Central Serengeti holds ecological richness, and healthy numbers of predators, including Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, and smaller cats as well.
Serengeti National Park is undoubtedly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world, unequalled in its natural beauty and scientific value. With great concentrations of Wildebeest, Thomson’s Gazelle, Zebra, and many other herbivores, Serengeti forms the greatest view of plains game in Africa and has long been a natural classroom for wildlife biologists, many of whom reside here for years. The visitor center has excellent displays to highlight its iconic wildlife spectacle — the annual Serengeti migration.
Birding is also legendary in the Serengeti, and in between mammal sightings we find dozens of species! Over 500 species have been recorded, with 53 birds of prey and Secretary Bird among them. Some of the memorable species include colorful Saddle-billed Stork, African Openbill Stork, Lappet-faced Vulture, Tawny and Martial Eagles, Kori Bustard, Meyer’s Parrot, Black Coucal, Swahili Sparrow, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Malachite and African Pygmy Kingfishers, Rosy-breasted Longclaw, Chinspot Batis, Fork-tailed Drongo, Beautiful Sunbird, Golden-breasted Bunting, and so many more!
While in the Serengeti, we can arrange a hot-air balloon ride for you (an additional cost), timed to watch the sun rise as you drift over the plains, filled at this time of year with wildlife—this is pretty wonderful! Our lodgings also have an expansive view—including one from your luxury open-air shower!
Just opened in 2016, Kubu Kubu is a premium permanent tented camp with stunning vistas of the Serengeti Plains. This camp provides a wonderful blend of nature and creature comforts, including a pool. Rooms are spacious with a wooden deck with views and comfortable seating. You even have a view from your indoor/outdoor shower! Fischer’s Lovebird and a variety of songbirds that may include Purple Grenadier, Grey-capped Social Weaver, Red-cheeked Cordon-Bleu, and Red-billed Firefinch gather in acacia trees just off your patios; wake up calls compliments of Africa.
Accommodations for two nights at Kubu Kubu Camp (B,L,D)
Sat., Feb. 17 : Oldupai Gorge | Ngorongoro Crater Rim
This morning we enjoy a morning game drive as we work our way to the gate, departing Serengeti. We enjoy a picnic lunch and a visit to the world-famous Oldupai Gorge. The Gorge is famous for the study of human evolution and one of the most significant anthropological sites in the world. A local guide helps us understand the sequence of important finds here. This is an arid area, with fabulous scenery, geology, and colorful bird species, in addition to its renowned history. A recently-expanded museum here has excellent exhibits.
As we reach Ngorongoro Crater, we witness a landscape that is spectacular to view from above and below. Your first view from the rim down into this fabled crater is unforgettable!. After settling in, we spend the late afternoon birding and watching for wildlife from the rim, finding such beauties as Golden-winged Sunbird. Our lodge is a maze of rock and timbers that blends in perfectly with the rim environment. Your rooms have a patio facing the crater. Maasai villagers bring their beautiful beadwork and provide evening dancing and showcase feats of acrobatics.
Accommodations at Ngorongoro Serena Lodge (B,L,D)
Sun., Feb. 18 : Ngorongoro Crater
Early this morning we descend into the crater, taking a picnic lunch. The Ngorongoro Crater and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are, without a doubt, some of the most beautiful parts of Tanzania, steeped in history and teeming with wildlife. This protected area is located in the Great Rift Valley and is also known as the eighth wonder of the world. The Crater is actually a gigantic fracture in the earth's crust, consisting of volcanoes, mountains, plains, lakes, forests, and archaeological sites.
At 1600 meters (approximately 5200 ft.) above sea level, the bottom of the Crater is extensive, measuring 265 km (102 miles) square. It is dotted with watering holes and offers shelter to almost 30,000 individual animals in an area naturally enclosed by the slopes of the volcano. It is hard to find this density of mixed mammal species anywhere else in the world. The bird life is largely seasonal and is also affected by the ratio of soda and fresh water on the crater floor. Expect species such as Hildebrandt’s Francolin, Grey Crowned Crane, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Lyne’s Cisticola, Pied Avocet, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Black-bellied Bustard, Kori Bustard, Secretarybird, Rosy-breasted Longclaw, Lesser Flamingo, Greater Flamingo, Chestnut-banded Plover, and Rufous-tailed Weaver. We observe the behavior of the abundant wildlife: Lion, Zebra, Hippo, Buffalo, Warthog, Dung Beetle, and Eland are just a few. Considerable research has been done at Ngorongoro and we relate this as we drive. The crater’s Elephant are, strangely, mainly bulls. There are also a small number of rare Black Rhino.
We stay there in the crater until mid-afternoon, then head back to our lovely hotel on the rim. Those that wish to keep birding can enjoy some of the mountain species, such as Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Oriole Finch, Schalow’s Turaco, African Olive Pigeon, Hunter’s Cisticola, Bar-throated Apalis, Red-collared Widowbird, Rameron Pigeon, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, and others new for our route, on the hotel grounds.
Accommodations at Ngorongoro Serena Lodge (B,L,D)
Mon., Feb. 19 : Burunge Wildlife Area & Tented Lodge
We leave the wonders of the Crater, birding our way along the rim until mid-morning when we leave the park. Today we pass through Karatu town where we can find supplies, ATM machines, and modern conveniences. There are several shops with local crafts and art if we wish to stop – a great way to reach out to local people. From here we head back to the wilds, this time adjacent to the west side of Tarangire National Park in a wildlife area along a lakeshore. The birding here is excellent and we have a grand patio to gather on. A small freshwater hole attracts Elephants and the bird show is never-ending with colorful songbirds and species like Red-chested Cuckoo.
Accommodations at Burenge Tented Camp (B,L,D)
Tues., Feb. 20 & Wed., Feb. 21 : Tarangire Safari Lodge | Tarangire National Park
The Tarangire Safari Lodge is perched on a principal migration corridor into the Serengeti, about 100 miles from Arusha. Ancient boulders and baobab and fig trees surround us in this stunning landscape. At the park gate, Yellow-collared Lovebird, Red-chested Cuckoo, and Pearl-spotted Owlet may be among the welcoming committee.
Tarangire is home to one of the largest Elephant populations in Tanzania. February is baby time, irresistible! Because of varied habitats, it is a bird lover’s paradise, home to 550 bird varieties, the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world. Lush marshes provide home to bishops, queleas, and whydahs. Birds of prey abound and the endemic Ashy Starling becomes an easy find.
In Tarangire we expect to see many Elephant and other wildlife like Wildebeest, Common Zebra, Buffalo, several mongoose species, Impala, Gazelle, Hartebeest, Eland, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Vervet Monkey, Baboon, and many more. No two days are alike on safari, but every day holds tremendous wildlife viewing, often at close range in this lush and fanciful landscape.
The bird life in Tarangire includes many species associated with the trees, including woodpeckers, barbets, sandgrouse, and numerous songbirds. Red-and-yellow Barbet is common as are Tanzanian Red-billed Hornbill. The view from the patio of our lodge is one of the grandest in the region and the perfect spot for a sunset cocktail
with time to recount the day’s highlights as elegant-necked Giraffe walk by. An optional night drive here with a local guide reveals some impressive night birds including nightjars, owls, and possible courses.
Accommodations both nights at Tarangire Safari Lodge (B,L,D)
Thurs., Feb. 22 : Return to Arusha | Departures
We enjoy some final morning birding around the lodge before departing for Arusha. Once on the road we go fairly directly so we can dine together one last time with a fine lunch in Arusha before we drop off at the Kilimanjaro Airport for afternoon departures. For those that have later flights, you can relax at the hotel we dine at; if you don’t fly out until the next morning you can check into a room and enjoy the patio and some time to repack or relax. (B,L)
Kenya Pre-Tour Extension
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Thurs., Feb. 1 : Arrival in Nairobi | Ole Sereni Airport Hotel
Welcome to Africa! On arrival, you are greeted by Superb Starling and your tour leaders. We make our way to our comfortable hotel to relax after a long day of travelling. The patio looks over Nairobi National Park, and you can dine outside to ease the jet-lag, watching a rainbow of birds at the water feature. As everyone is on their own time table today (some napping, some wide-awake) meals are at leisure in the restaurant or bar area.
Accommodations at Ole Sereni Hotel, Nairobi Airport
Fri., Feb. 2 : Nairobi National Park
Today we explore Nairobi National Park, Kenya’s oldest. Located just seven kilometers from the edge of the Nairobi city center (Kenya’s capital), this is Kenya’s premier birding location with over 500 species recorded in the park. It has a wonderful variety of habitats, from Whistling-Thorn Acacia scrub to gallery forest along streams to ponds and open savanna. We should find species like the impressive Secretarybird, Kori Bustard, Hartlaub’s Bustard, and Saddle-billed Stork. We drive a series of park roads, searching out Spotted Thick-knee, Pangani Longclaw (a Meadowlark look-alike), Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, African Quail-finch, Zebra Waxbill, Harlequin Quail, and Violet Wood-hoopoe … to name a few! By our picnic area, we may find African Yellow White-eye, Common Nightingale, Ruppell’s Robin-chat, Northern Pied Babbler, Red-throated Tit, Speke’s Weaver, and more.
In well-watered areas we look for African Water Rail, Black-winged Plover, Little Grebe, Jackson’s Widowbird, and Hamerkop. In open areas, it’s reassuring to have a local expert to help us sort out pipits and larks: Nairobi Pipit, Grassland Pipit, White-tailed Lark, Rufous-naped Lark, Somali (Athi) Short-toed Lark, and those cryptic cisticolas—today perhaps Siffling, Croaking, Desert, and more! And watch the sky—avian predators and scavengers here may include Lappet-faced Vulture, Martial Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Auger Buzzard, and Wahlberg’s Eagle.
In addition to the many incredible animals we see during the visit, Nairobi National Park also hosts four of the “African Big Five”: Lion, Black Rhino, Leopard, and Cape Buffalo.
Accommodations at Ole Sereni Hotel, Nairobi Airport (B,L,D)
Sat., Feb. 3 : Mt. Kenya Foothills Birding
After a hearty breakfast, we head towards Mt. Kenya, located just north of Nairobi. We make a few birding stops near water crossings. In forests of the mountain foothills, we look for Purple-throated Cuckoo-Shrike, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike, Mountain Yellow-Warbler, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Crowned Hornbill, Red-fronted Parrot, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Montane (Kikuyu) White-eye, Dusky Turtle Dove, and Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon. This is a great perch to watch for local raptors like African Cuckoo-Hawk, Mountain Buzzard, and Crowned Eagle.
After settling into our lodgings, we venture out to look for many mountain specialties species such as the Slender-billed Greenbul, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, White-browed Crombec, Grey-headed Negrofinch, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Black-fronted Bushshrike, Olive Ibis, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Slender-billed Starling, Abbott’s Starling, Sharpe’s Starling, Kenrick’s Starling, Waller’s Starling, Fine-banded Woodpecker, White-headed Wood-Hoopoe, Bar-tailed Trogon, Yellow-crowned Canary, African Green Pigeon, Lemon Dove, and African Olive Pigeon—wow!
Mammals we are likely to see include Mt. Kenya Guereza (Black-and-white Colobus Monkey), Mt. Kenya Kolb’s (Sykes) Monkey, and Bushbuck, Suni (a tiny antelope), and Cape Buffalo. At night, we hear the calls of Tree Hyrax and with luck may hear or spot some owls.
Accommodations at Naro Moru River Lodge Lodge (B,L,D)
Sun., Feb. 4 : Mt. Kenya to Samburu & Buffalo Springs | Hinde’s Babbler Site
We bird locally around Mt. Kenya this morning. Scaly Francolin are secretive but present. Large trees attract Black-throated, Black-collared, and Chestnut-throated Apalis, Rueppell’s Robin-Chat, and Black-headed Waxbill. Flowering trees draw in Tacazze Sunbird, Malachite Sunbird, Golden-winged Sunbird, and Eastern Double-collared Sunbird.
By mid-morning, we head further north to one of Kenya’s premier ecological regions at Samburu and Buffalo Springs Reserves. En route, we take a short detour to a site where the rare Kenyan endemic, the Hinde’s Babbler, often appears and with searching here we may find an array of other birds, such as Purple Grenadier, Red-chested Cuckoo, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Red-faced Cisticola, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, and Rufous Chatterer.
Afterwards we continue north, passing through the city of Isiolo, to Samburu Reserve and our lodgings, a fabulous wildland area home to Leopard, Beisa Oryx, Gerenuk, Grevy’s Zebra, Cheetah, Reticulated Giraffe, Lion, and Elephant. The geography of this arid landscape is dramatic, with mountains and inselbergs dotting the landscape carved by sand rivers lined with palms.
Accommodations at Samburu Simba Lodge (B,L,D)
Mon., Feb. 5 : Buffalo Springs & Samburu National Reserves
There is still much to see as we continue our safari in these two adjacent, incredible reserves, seeking species we haven’t yet seen. Birds here include Somali Ostrich, Golden Pipit, Golden-breasted Starling, Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Rosy-patched Bushshrike, Pringle’s Puffback, Northern Puffback, Northern White-crowned Shrike, White-headed Mousebird, Fire-fronted Bishop, Somali Bee-eater, African Orange-bellied Parrot, Yellow-vented Eremomela, Northern Crombec, Northern Grey Tit, Black-capped Social Weaver, Northern Brownbul, African Bare-eyed Thrush, Somali Sparrow, Donaldson-Smith’s Nightjar, Dusky Nightjar, and Rufous Chatterer. Raptors include Egyptian Vulture, possible Palm-Nut Vulture, Bateleur, and both Martial and Tawny Eagles.
Trees flowering draw in Hunter’s Sunbird, Black-bellied Sunbird, and Shining Sunbird. In their shade we may find Somali Courser, Stone Partridge, Black-faced or perhaps Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Buff-crested Bustard, Vulturine Guineafowl, or one of three species of hornbill: Red-billed, Eastern Yellow-billed, or Von der Decken’s.
The reserves line two sides of a river, and we spend time in both. Along the water we may find groups of Elephant watering, huge troops of Baboons, and a variety of antelopes and other species.
At night, enjoy star-filled skies and time around the campfire.
Accommodations at Samburu Simba Lodge (B,L,D)
Tues., Feb. 6 : Aberdare National Park
We enjoy an early morning safari in Samburu, working along the riverbed with its palms and acacias and host of birds and mammals, before returning to pack up, and enjoy brunch. With luck a herd of Elephant is in view as we dine. We then start on our way south to our final birding spot, back in the mountains at Aberdare National Park.
Aberdare National Park runs the expanse of a majestic mountain range on the eastern edge of the Rift Valley. The park has a great stretch of alpine moorland vegetation, mainly above 3,000m. This incredible landscape has led to the park’s nickname, “The Majestic Moorland.” There is a thick tropical forest with deep ravines, dissecting riverine gorges, and in certain areas, impressive river-formed waterfalls. Home to some of Kenya’s greatest endemic birds, this area promises rewarding views.
A host of other animals occupy this stunning expanse, and good views of Elephants, Cape Buffalo, Common Bushbuck, and Giant Forest Hog can be expected. Here we learn in depth about highland forests and montane ecology.
Expected birds include Aberdare Cisticola, Hunter’s Cisticola, Montane Nightjar, Mountain Buzzard, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Common (African) Stonechat, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Brown Woodland Warbler, Malachite Sunbird, Golden-winged Sunbird, Moorland Chat, Black-fronted Bushshrike, Yellow-crowned Canary, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Jackson’s Francolin, and Olive Ibis.
Accommodations at Ark Lodge (B,L,D)
Wed., Feb. 7 : Kinangop Grasslands | Nairobi
This morning we enjoy our final birding in the magnificent Aberdares National Park before heading to Kinangop grasslands. Here, we search for another critically endangered Kenyan endemic—the Sharpe’s Longclaw. We spend our time searching for this impressive species amongst an array of other potential sightings. Local wetlands are also visited for the highland water birds.
Here we expect to see Red-throated Wryneck, Common Quail, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Long-tailed Widowbird, Jackson’s Widowbird, Angola Swallow, Montane Nightjar, Martial Eagle, Mountain Buzzard, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Red-throated Pipit, Black-tailed Godwit, African Snipe, Lesser Jacana, and African Stonechat.
After a fabulous day, we travel to Nairobi to rest before our departures and celebrate our incredible adventure in Kenya!
Accommodations at the Ole Sereni Hotel, Nairobi Airport (B,L,D)
Thurs., Feb. 8 : Nairobi to Tanzania!
We depart today for Tanzania … the adventure continues! (B,L)
Zebras at Ngorongoro Crater
Giraffe by Peg Abbott
Elephant in Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara Scenic
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the 15-Day / 14-Night Tanzania trip (main tour) is $10,970 DBL / $12,470 SGL from Arusha, Tanzania. This cost includes accommodations for 14 nights, all meals as specified in the itinerary, professional guide services, other park and program entrance fees and miscellaneous program expenses.
Cost of this 8-Day / 7-Night Kenya extension is $3690 DBL / $4390 SGL per person. This cost includes accommodations for seven nights, all meals as noted in the itinerary (B,L,D), transfer Arusha/Kenya border, all land transportation, game park entry fees, Mt. Kenya nature walk fee, Maasai Cultural village visit fee (if desired), unlimited game/bird viewing drives, bottled mineral water, temporary enrollment in flying doctor services.
Tour and extension costs do not include: round-trip transportation from your home city to Nairobi or Arusha, the flight connection between Nairobi and Arusha (extension only), optional activities, or items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone charges, gratuities for guides, lodges and drivers, or beverages from the bar; personal, medical, cancellation insurance. Optional activities such as the hot air balloon ride can be booked onto the main safari (extra cost), best to plan in advance to secure space, by the final payment due date is recommended.
Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.
Plan to arrive in Arusha, Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) no later than February 8, though we recommend you come in at least a day early. If you participate in the Kenya extension, please plan to arrive at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) no later than February 1, though we recommend you come in a day early.
Please plan departure flights after 5:00 PM on February 22; we plan to arrive at the airport by 2:00 PM or as needed to connect to flights out.
We offer the service of our travel agent, Willamette Travel, to help you plan and book flights and we cover the base ticket fee as an added value to travel with Naturalist Journeys. If you arrive early to Nairobi, Kenya, we can book extra nights for you at the Ole Sereni Hotel. If you arrive early to Arusha (main safari only), we can book extra nights for you at the Ngare Sero Lodge.
Items of Note
Flights through Nairobi are now very convenient, some direct from the USA. Many airlines typically offer flights with stopovers in Nairobi, making it quite possible to spend time in Kenya without added airfare.
Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.
Peg Abbott is the owner and lead guide of Naturalist Journeys, LLC. She has been designing, guiding, and organizing natural history tours for more than 25 years, working for the National Audubon Society and other organizations before launching Naturalist Journeys, LLC in 1998. Her work has taken her from Alaska to Africa and Argentina, as well as many other locations around the world. She has conducted research on several bird and mammal species and keeps a close interest in Yellowstone and Mexican wolf reintroduction projects. Her interests include all aspects of natural history and geology. After 20 years in and around the Yellowstone area, Peg relocated in 2003 to the birding mecca of Portal, AZ.
Photo credit: Carol Simon
Other trips with Peg Abbott
Uganda Highlights Fabulous Birds & MammalsNovember 22 - December 5, 2023
Lesser Antilles Birding & Nature FULL - Check out Caribbean Endemics of Jamaica January 2024March 7 - 20, 2024
Biodiverse Bhutan: Birds, Mammals & Beyond FULL - Check out Indonesia 2024April 11 - 25, 2024, w/Manas National Park extension
NEW! Wild Japan: Summer In HokkaidoJune 18 - 29, 2024
Crossing the Zambezi: A Zambia & Zimbabwe SafariJuly 27 - August 16, 2024
Indonesia's Best BirdingSeptember 11 - 27, 2024, w/Komodo Dragons & Endemic Birds Flores Island extension
Southern India’s Western Ghats: Global Hotspot for BiodiversityNovember 9 - 22, 2024, w/Andaman Islands extension
- Uganda Highlights
Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of Your Tour
- Make sure your passport is valid for six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. Your passport should have the required number of blank pages per stamp. If you are from another country, please contact the Tanzania embassy website for guidelines.
- Obtain your VISA for Tanzania. For those on the Kenya extension, obtain your VISA for Kenya as well. See information on obtaining a VISA below.
- Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Tanzania and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health and Inoculations” section below.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
- Make your international flight reservations to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). Note: there is also a regional airport called Arusha Airport (ARK); you don’t want to confuse the two unless you are looking for flights within Africa. You can check fares, but normally international fares into JRO are considerably cheaper. Most will route through Amsterdam.
- Make sure you select a duffle bag or large tote to store some of your luggage in Arusha if you wish to do so while we are on safari. This is mainly for those traveling to other areas that have clothing or items not needed on safari (or for our avid shoppers!).
Arrival into Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Arusha, Tanzania
Preston Mutinda, your guide, or a local guide from 4 x 4 Adventures (our Arusha based company) will meet all incoming flights to the Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Arusha, Tanzania. Some of you may request to come in early and these flights will be met as well. You arrive to Kilimanjaro International Airport.
If you know you will be delayed and can email, text, or phone Preston or the office of 4 x 4 Adventures that is most helpful. Preston’s office and cell phone numbers are on your emergency contact list (sent to you closer to your departure), and 4 x 4 Adventures is named in your visa instructions. Their combined office staff can track flights for changes so do not worry if that is a hectic situation for you. Once we have flights for the group, we will send you a list so you can see if any other group members are on your flight.
When you arrive in Arusha you will first pass through immigration. You will be given forms on the plane to fill out. Have these and your current passport that holds your Visa form Tanzania ready.
You then collect your baggage at the carousel indicated as in any airport and pass through customs where your baggage is X-rayed as you depart. Once OUTSIDE of immigration and customs, look for Preston or the 4 x 4 Adventures representative who will be holding a sign with Naturalist Journeys Group or your name on it. If you do not see someone, wait a few minutes as traffic can cause delay around the airport, then phone the hotel or Preston’s cell or the 4 x 4 Adventures office. They are VERY RELIABLE and barring some unforeseen situation, they will be there! If your cell does not work in Tanzania, ask someone with a cell to help you, most are quite gracious, and if not so, ask for help in the airport.
There is an ATM in the airport to change money. It has a choice of US dollars or local currency and local ATM machines in Arusha give local currency. The airport ATM is the best location for changing money if you wish to do so (see MONEY section for more details).
Pre-Tour Extension ONLY: Arrival into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi, Kenya
If you are a participant in the exciting pre-tour extension in Kenya, please arrive in Nairobi, Kenya at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO). Preston Mutinda, your guide, or a local guide from 4 x 4 Adventures will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the accommodations.
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Departure from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Arusha, Tanzania
We return to Arusha by vehicle, typically in the late afternoon to make the most of the time afield before your evening flights home.
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Passports, Visas & Documents
Passport: You must have a passport that is in good condition and is valid for six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. Please check that expiration date! You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted. If you are from another country, please contact the Tanzanian embassy website for guidelines. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at: travel.state.gov for Tanzania.
You may also use an expedited service if you need your passport back more quickly than the standard turnaround time. Choose one of the many companies in Washington D.C. and they simply walk your passport over to complete the process. When mailing your passport to the expediter be sure to send it certified or in some trackable manner such as FedEx.
Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania
1232 22nd St. NW
Washington D.C 20037
Main Tel: (202) 939-6125
Visa Info: (202) 884-1085
Visa Processing Tel: (202) 884-1092
Emergency: (301) 879-8104
Fax: (202) 797-7408
Visa: An Ordinary/Tourist Visa is required for U.S. travelers to Tanzania. You may obtain this by using Tanzania's Electronic Visa Application System. While we do make recommendations, conditions and timing for a visa application can change frequently and compliance is the traveler's responsibility. Please check online at travel.state.gov for Tanzania for current regulations and to fully understand when to apply, as visas have a specific validity period. All visas and fees are subject to change.
As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep hard and digital backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a hard copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), the airline barcode on your luggage. This will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary – we hope everyone will always keep travel documents close so that losing them will not be an issue.
Pre-Tour Extension ONLY: Passport and Kenya Visa
Passport: You must have a passport that is in good condition and is valid for six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. The U.S. Department of State is reporting you should have 2 blank passport pages. If you are from another country, please contact the Kenyan embassy website for guidelines. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at: travel.state.gov for Kenya.
Visa: A single-entry Visa is required for U.S. travelers to Kenya. You may obtain this by using Kenya's Electronic Visa Application System. Simply follow the instructions to create an eVisa account, apply and pay with a MasterCard or VISA credit card, and download your application. It can take up to two days for your eVisa to be available on your eVisa account. You must provide your completed eVisa printout with your passport when you enter the country. While we make recommendations, conditions and timing for visa applications change frequently and compliance is the traveler's responsibility. Please check online at travel.state.gov for Kenya for current regulations and to fully understand when to apply, as visas have a specific validity period. All visas and fees are subject to change.
General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!
We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of a medical emergency.
Malaria: Going to Africa requires some medical cautions; You will need medication to prevent malaria.
Vaccinations/Certifications: Bring all vaccination certifications with you. They are required for entry into, or travel between, some African countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Several other vaccines are commonly recommended for travelers to Africa including those against Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Yellow fever, Malaria Rabies and Meningitis. The best choice of vaccines for your trip depends on many individual factors, including your precise travel plans.
Yellow Fever: At the time of writing, Tanzania does not require the yellow fever vaccination if traveling directly from the U.S. However (see next section on Kenya requirements), if you are participating in the Kenya Pre-Tour Extension, you will need EITHER proof of a yellow fever vaccination OR an official vaccination waiver to meet Tanzania’s entry requirements since Kenya is considered an endemic county. You might be asked for documentation on the vaccine when you cross the border from Kenya to Tanzania. Additional information is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/yellowfever/maps/index.html.
Yellow Fever Vaccination Waiver: If your doctor has recommended that you should not have the yellow fever vaccine due to a condition or having reached above 60 years of age, you can travel to Tanzania with your letter from the doctor and show it to the border immigration officer to waive the requirement.
Please check with your doctor for recommendations well in advance, at least 4-6 weeks if not more, before departing on your trip, as some vaccines require multiple doses or take time to become effective before you depart.
Helpful websites for planning:
Prescriptions and Allergies: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage. Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers. It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health. The roads can be very dusty which may trigger allergies or breathing difficulties. If this is your concern, please bring your allergy and/or asthma medication. If you have severe allergies talk to your doctor about carrying an EPIPEN and notify your guides.
Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for common ailments (such as upset stomach, headache, motion sickness, diahhrea, minor scrapes, bug bites, etc.).
Pre-Tour Extension ONLY: Kenya Health and Inoculations
At the time of writing, the U.S. Department of State is reporting for Kenya, “You should have proof of yellow fever immunizations, or you may be denied entry.” You should discuss the vaccine with your doctor to see what is recommended for you and if your health allows it. Your doctor might propose recommendations customized to your personal medical history. If you and your doctor determine the vaccine is right for you, then you will be given a Yellow Fever Card, also called an International Certificate of Vaccination. Keep this on you so it’s easy to find at arrival.
If you and your doctor agree that the vaccination is not right for you, then have your doctor provide you with an official vaccination waiver. The waiver should be on a business letterhead paper, signed and dated by your doctor, stamped using the doctor’s official yellow fever vaccination stamp, and clearly state the medical reason why you cannot get the vaccine. Also have this letter on you so you can provide to the local official at entry.
Helpful websites for planning:
Food & Drinks
A wide variety of food will be available, with choices to accommodate most dietary requirements. You will find good variety, often buffet-style at the larger lodges and family-style at our tented camps.
In general, the recommendation in Tanzania is to eat only cooked vegetables. However, after decades of serving tourists, all the lodges now purify their kitchen water, so you can have ice and filtered water with meals. And there should be several locations where you can enjoy carefully prepared salad greens. For your safari tents and rooms there should be bottled water, and we carry bottled water in the vans. We follow Preston’s advice if we need clarification at any location (or be more cautious if you wish, but not less so). For everyone, a round of antibiotics such as Cipro (or whatever your doctor recommends) is good to have with you to get right on it should you have stomach ailment or distress. When trying any fresh foods, go easy and see how it goes. If you start to have problems, medicate right away rather than wait for them to clear up – catching this early is key.
The CDC considers tap water in Tanzania and Kenya not safe to drink. Bottle water/drinks and hot drinks that’ve boiled are safe to drink. We urge you to use only bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. We will provide bottled water in the vehicles. We will also bring purification filters you can use to refill bottles when possible, to cut down on use of plastics. There are water bottles now with filters that are great for travel. Water-to-Go water purification filter bottle will remove 99.9% of contaminates, bacteria, and viruses and is sold on Amazon for about $40. Another option is a Steripen which uses UV to purify in seconds.
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Our larger lodges have a pool so do pack a bathing suit if you enjoy a swim. All lodges are fine with casual clothing at meals. A covered shoe with some tread should suffice for our shorter walks and around the lodges. Sandals are fine for the vehicles. If you get sunburned, sandals that can accommodate light socks are a smart choice. The lodges will do your laundry at a nominal charge. We usually do this when we have at least two nights somewhere.
Do Not Bring Single-Use Plastic Bags. Plastic bags are banned in Kenya and Tanzania. If you wish to bring a bag for laundry, shoes, etc., we advise a lightweight nylon bag, packing cube, or reusable cloth tote as a substitute. We suggest a reusable toiletry bag in place of a Ziploc-style bag. Violations of the ban could result in fines or even imprisonment, so please double-check your luggage before you leave!
On this trip, you will not need to exchange money since you can pay with U.S. dollars. We recommend that you bring enough cash to cover the majority of your spending needs. Bring crisp, unsoiled U.S. dollars in SMALL denominations ($1 - $20). Bills must be printed after 2006 and in good condition. Larger bills, like $50s and $100s, are hard to break. Bills in poor condition, dirty, torn, etc. might be rejected.
Credit cards are accepted (but not as widely as in the USA) at some hotels and your lodges should take them. Credit cards are not as commonly accepted in rural areas. In villages where you buy handicrafts, you will need cash. Even if you do not intend on using a credit card during your trip, we still recommend you bring one or two as backup. We suggest you have more than one card available. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (one Visa, and one MasterCard), if possible. Not every shop will accept every card. Please advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling to Tanzania to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges.
During the adventure, if you choose to get local currency, the easiest way is with a local ATM. For the current exchange rate, please refer to an online converter tool like www.xe.com or your bank. ATMs will give you a better rate on changing money. There are ATM machines readily available in large cities and become less available in rural areas. Also note that outside of larger cities, ATMs may only take local bank cards. The ATM will give you local money and your bank will convert that into U.S. dollars. Many banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey. ATMs may not always be reliable so you may want to keep a cash reserve on hand. Hotels, lodges, and camps can also change money.
Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted. They can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you that you bring them.
The Tanzanian Shilling (TZS) is the basic unit of currency in Tanzania. Notes are 200, 500, 1000, 5000, and 10000 shillings and coins are 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 senti. U.S. dollars are an accepted form of payment in most circumstances.
Pre-Tour Extension ONLY: Kenya
The Kenyan Shilling (KES) is the basic unit of currency in Kenya (not to be confused with the Tanzanian shilling). Notes are 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 shillings and coins are 50 cents and 1, 5, 10, 20, and 40 shillings. U.S. dollars are an accepted form of payment in most circumstances.
Many people ask how much money to plan to bring for spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, carvings, beads, textiles, artworks, drinks before or with dinner, maps, and natural history books. There are MANY temptations in Tanzania, available at the lodges and at all our “rest stops” (the only places to find clean bathrooms). Many will ship if you buy larger items. You may spend more than you think you might.
Tipping is optional and completely at your discretion. If you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, lodge and hotel staff or anyone associated with this tour, it is entirely appropriate. Know that they appreciate anything you care to give and of course you can do more if you wish! Lodges normally have a box for tips that the staff share, and hotels you would just tip the maids as you do at home. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services.
Here is a standard suggestion for tipping on birding trips:
- Birding tour guide: US $10.00 - $15.00 per day per guest
Note: If there is more than one guide, this can be split among them, so that is a total, per person, per day
- Tour driver if different from guide: US $5.00 - $7.00 per person/day
- Lodge staff: US $6.00 - $10.00 per day per guest
- Transfer (airport shuttle) driver: US $2.00 - $3.00 per person
- Hotel & international airport bellmen: US $1.00 per suitcase
Cell Phones & Internet Service
You can make international calls from most of our lodges, except the very remote tented camps. Preston also carries a cell phone and, if necessary, for a short call, will help you if you cannot call from the lodge. The country code for the USA is “1.”
Note that throughout Africa, reliable mobile service is mostly available in the larger cities or towns. If you want to use your cell phone in Africa, be sure to check your cell phone company’s coverage, roaming charges, how to turn on international service, or perhaps purchase a temporary international data/calling plan. If you need to make a lot of calls, you may wish to use an Internet service, consider texting, or purchase a SIM card for your type of phone once there. If Preston knows this ahead, he can find out where SIM cards are available.
Wi-Fi should be available at some of our hotels and lodges, at least in the public areas. However, signal maybe weak or inconsistent. It is not available in our more remote safari camps. There are free apps available for phones, computers, or tablets that can connect to the Wi-Fi, such as WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, that offer free international calls and texts, and you may want to research this ahead of time. If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.
If you bring the phone for Internet and an alarm, but do not want charges, make sure you know how to turn OFF your cellular data function on your cell phone. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi.
Electricity in Tanzania is 230 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you travel to Tanzania with a device that does not accept 230 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter. Most modern appliances now convert for you but check that your cord has a box on it to do so or is labeled to do so.
Outlets in Tanzania generally accept 2 types of plugs:
- Three round pins arranged in a triangle, Type D
- Two parallel flat pins with ground pin, Type G
If your appliance plug has a different shape, you may need a plug adapter. More information can be found at www.power-plugs-sockets.com.
Note, if you want to charge your laptop for the ride home, and have a layover in Europe, you will need that plug adapter as well. Same for South Africa. Just query the country name and plug adapter and a picture should appear in one of the selections.
At our remote lodges, there will be a generator to supply electricity. It may only run during limited hours. You might want to bring 2 batteries for items like your camera, so you can use one while the other is charging. Throughout the night, a continuous electricity supply is not always guaranteed.
Pre-Tour Extension ONLY: Kenya
For Kenya the associated plug type is G, which is the plug that has three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern. Kenya operates on a 240V supply voltage and 50Hz. More information can be found at www.power-plugs-sockets.com.
Preston Mutinda is one of East Africa’s leading naturalist guides. He is one of a handful of “Gold-certified” guides in Kenya. He has guided his entire career, and Peg Abbott, owner of Naturalist Journeys and Caligo Ventures, describes him as humble, kind, fun, and a walking encyclopedia of information. Peg has worked with Preston for over twenty-five years, first when he was with East African Ornithological Safaris (now Origins), and later as he built his own company. Preston is an expert at both birds and mammals and has a great staff. You will find that all of Preston’s drivers are keen spotters and know a great deal as well. In both Kenya and Tanzania, you will have local drivers who are also qualified guides.
Because we use our vehicles on both roads and in game parks, they are Land Cruisers with pop-tops. There is room for everyone to stand up at one time, and after a few days we all get pretty good at this. We can close the hatch when it looks like rain and we typically close it when doing highway travel. Please plan to rotate seating so that everyone gets to ride with various drivers.
Tanzania is ten hours ahead of California (and our Arizona office this time of year). That is nine hours ahead of Mountain Time zones, eight hours ahead of Central and seven ahead of Eastern. A useful resource for checking international time is www.timeanddate.com.
Donations – School Supplies and Donations
Tanzania is a poor country, and if it gives you pleasure, feel free to bring items to donate. School supplies are much appreciated. These can be pencils, colored markers, flash cards, number games, pencil sharpeners, erasers, soccer balls (flatten these), etc. Remember, everywhere we give things there are LOTS of kids, so number is important. Preston will help us distribute in the best way possible, so we do not get mobbed.
He has organized a wildlife club in his Kamba village, and in previous years we found out how much the students love any books or magazines on animals and birds. They share very well, and you can just give Preston these books or DVDs right away, so you do not have to carry them. It’s a great time to clean up your library and know they go to a good cause!
And finally, if you bring clothes, field guides, or medicines that you do not want to bring home, they will find a good home in Tanzania. Simple things like Ibuprofen and Imodium are highly valued, and the local guides will get these to a clinic. You can also leave unused antibiotics, a lifesaver in remote areas.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!
Pace & Protocols +
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role
Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global Rescue, World Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at email@example.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Packing List +
Please Pack Light!
Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.
The winter months (November to April) are the dry season; January and February are especially dry. However, rain still may occur, often in brief but intense storms. Remember that we like to stay out regardless of weather. A light raincoat or poncho is perfect. We are in the vehicle a lot, so if you bring an umbrella, it will be most useful for walking to and from your tent or hotel room to our eating area, etc. – it’s not an essential item on this trip. At night and on early morning game drives, you will appreciate a sweater, fleece, or light jacket – temperatures average 60-70°F. Daytime temperatures should range from 70-90°F depending on cloud cover and elevation. You can always layer your fleece and a wind jacket.
Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation. But if you like to wear them, by all means bring some shorts. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy. Dust is very common, so a bandana or loose-fitting scarf is great, and something to drape over your camera as you travel. On safari we SIT a lot, so bring pants that are comfortable for that – no reason you can’t wear loose-fitting LIGHTWEIGHT pants or sweatpants while in the vehicles, especially on those hot days.
Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors, though camouflage clothing is not recommended, and in some countries, not legal to wear. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.
Do Not Bring Single-Use Plastic Bags: Plastic bags are banned in Kenya and Tanzania. If you wish to bring a bag for laundry, shoes, etc., we advise a lightweight nylon bag, packing cube, or reusable cloth tote as a substitute. We suggest a reusable toiletry bag in place of a Ziploc-style bag. Violations of the ban could result in fines or even imprisonment, so please double-check your luggage before you leave!
Clothing & Gear
- Lightweight long pants, 2 pair
- Lightweight long sleeve shirts – 2 or 3
- Safari Shorts / Skirts or Sundress (optional)
- T-shirts or equivalent (1 per every other day recommended – remember you may buy some there!)
- Personal underclothing (consider what dries quickly if you plan to do some laundry)
- Socks – lightweight and easy to wash and dry
- Comfortable walking/hiking shoes with thorn-proof tread (such as tennis shoes) or, if you need the support, lightweight hiking boots. We are in the vehicles a lot on safari, so our walking is usually at a rest stop, near our camps, or by our tented camp. Teva-type sandals with socks work well for this (socks keep out sun and insects with spray applied). Typical safari wear was shorts and sandals for many years, and many prefer this still.
- Comfortable sandals or light shoes for evenings, travel days (optional)
- Lightweight raincoat or poncho
- Lightweight windbreaker and lightweight jacket; fleece fabric is ideal
- Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, sundress, etc.)
- Bathing suit (some of the lodges have pools)
- Hat with broad brim – a safari style hat with a tie-down is great for vehicle time
- Bandana (optional, great for cooling off when you are hot and sweaty, or camera dust cover
- Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets
- Comfortable clothes for evening/travel days (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, sundress and shawl, etc.)
- Belt, if needed, for pants
Equipment & Miscellaneous
- Airline tickets or e-ticket verification
- Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance info, money & credit cards.
- A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
- As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the ID and entry stamp pages.
- Binoculars (a hotel shower cap is great to cover these when it is raining or dusty). We suggest that you do not skimp on your binoculars or bring an old pair you have not used in a long time. Test them out at home. Binoculars are your window to seeing the wildlife you really want and came to see. If it’s time to upgrade, the trip is a great excuse!
- Camera and extra batteries, battery charger, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies, and your instruction manual (optional, but important if you have problems). Many people bring a second camera body or backup camera, consider this if photography is one of the activities you look forward to. THINK DUST, a lightweight camera “dry bag” helps. Perhaps an airbrush is important, and sensor cleaning tools such as a soft chamois cloth. VIDEO is a great option for Africa; you get the sound, animal behavior, wonderful!
- Toilet articles: In this land of thorns, tweezers may come in handy! Other items include but are not limited to: shampoo and conditioner, dental supplies, razor, emery boards, hairbrush/comb, hand lotion, feminine hygiene, deodorant, pain reliever. Note that power may be limited in camps, so a hair dryer is not always available. Larger hotels will have them, and several of the smaller ones have them to loan. If you MUST have one bring it but consider that it may be one item you can leave at home.
- Electrical converter and adapter plugs. If you have multiple items that need charging, a lightweight small power strip helps so you can plug in multiple items on the adapter. If you are a big user of a laptop and want to charge on an airline layover, consider the type of adapter you may need in that country as well.
- Walking stick (optional but recommended if you regularly use one or if you plan to hike)
- Umbrella – compact and not brightly colored (optional)
- Small daypack/tote bag to carry/organize gear while in the vehicles
- Flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries (important – cabins/tents may be a distance from where we eat)
- Alarm clock
- Sunscreen/Lip balm with SPF
- Sunglasses with neck strap – really important with long days of bright sun
- Insect repellent (something containing DEET)
- Water bottle – with built-in filter is ideal (can easily be bought in the airport and refilled daily)
- Small sewing kit
- Journal and pen or tablet/laptop (optional). If you bring a laptop, have a good way to carry it and to keep it safe from the dust.
- Field guides (optional) - A wildlife checklist will be supplied upon arrival for daily tally.
- Reading material (optional)
- Purell or other antibacterial hand-cleaning soap in small bottle; individually wrapped moist towelettes also come in handy.
- Earplugs (optional)
- Rechargeable power bank (optional)
- Steripen or other UV water treatment device to help cut down on the use of plastic bottles (optional)
Medical & First Aid Items
- Anti-malarial drugs
- Emergency prescriptions. We recommend you ask your doctor about carrying a prescription for stomach and respiratory illness, just in case. Cipro is often recommended and works quickly – it can mean saving several days of functioning on your vacation.
- Personal medication (and copy of vital prescriptions, including glasses (or have at easy reference to call home)
- Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van, drives, etc.
- Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments, cuts, and scrapes
- Heath insurance and vaccination information (kept in document pouch with other travel documents)
- Copy of eyeglass prescription, copy of medical prescriptions, vaccination records, and any medical alerts
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
- Band-aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
- Other: people often want anti-itch cream or perhaps talc for their feet – whatever keeps you comfortable. Such items can all be donated at the end to lighten your load if desired.
Donations and Gifts
If you wish to bring school supplies, children’s books, over-the-counter medicines, or clothing to donate, Preston will distribute to villages as we travel. He also has a birding and environmental education center in his community, and the children love ANY books on animals – animals from around the world interest them. So, it’s a good time to comb through your library and if you have some with pictures that you want to part with, it’s a good home for them. You can leave these at the hotel in Arusha, so they are not a part of your luggage weight during the tour.
You will get to know your driver well. If you would enjoy doing so, by all means bring a baseball cap, T-shirt or some memento from home you think they’d like. If you have clothing or shoes you do not wish to take home, we can put these in the donation pile. The same is true for unused toiletries, medicines, etc.
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for Tanzania; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
Also, there are SO MANY DVD’s on African wildlife, go browse and enjoy. It’s a really great way to prepare for your tour. Don’t miss David Attenborough’s Echo the Elephant, and the Nature Series various Africa titles, including Firebirds – the Flamingoes of the Great Rift Valley.
History & Culture
Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Useful Links +
Tanzania General (Kenya below)
Tanzania Country Profile – Nations Online.org
City of Arusha
Nice 11-minute video by Travelindex Network and Travel & Tourism Foundation
Tanzania's Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Birds of Tanzania
African Bird Club
Species of Tanzania – iNaturalist.org
“The Greatest Animal Migration” – 43-minute (wildebeest migration) video
Tanzania Conservation, Parks & Reserves
Tanzania Conservation Program – Lincoln Park Zoo
Wildlife Conservation in Tanzania – USAID
African Wildlife Foundation
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) – Tanzania
The Nature Conservancy – Tanzania
One Earth – Tanzania
Tarangire National Park
Lake Manyara National Park
Serengeti National Park
Tanzania Geology & Geography
Travels in Geology: Tanzania’s Natural Wonders – Article, Earth Magazine
Geology and mineral map of Tanzania
Geography of Tanzania
Tanzania History & Culture
Basic Swahili for Travelers
Online pronunciation of key words and phrases
History of Tanzania
Culture of Tanzania
Customs and Cuisine of Tanzania – Etiquette and Recipes
Tanzania Helpful Travel Websites
Arusha’s Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO)
National Passport Information Center
U.S. Department of State International Travel Information
Homeland Security Real ID Act
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC)
Canada Travel Advice and Advisories
Travel Health Pro (UK)
Foreign Exchange Rates
Electricity and Plugs
Date, Time, and Holidays
Kenya Overview & Quick Facts
City of Nairobi
Kenya Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Birds of Kenya
Virtual Museum for Africa
Endemics Species of Kenya
Mammals of Kenya
Kenya Conservation, Parks & Reserves
Nairobi National Park
Aberdare National Park
Kinangop Grasslands Nature Reserve
Mount Kenya (National Park included)
Samburu National Reserve
Buffalo Springs National Reserve
Kenya Geology & Geography
Kenya Lake System in the Rift Valley (UNESCO)
Kenya History & Culture
Brief History of Kenya
Culture of Kenya
Useful Swahili Phrases
Kenya Helpful Travel Websites
Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO)
U.S. Department of State International Travel Information
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Canada Travel Advice and Advisories
Travel Health Pro (UK)
Electricity and Plugs
Date, Time, and Holidays
Photo credits: Banners: Elephants by Peg Abbott; Saddle-billed by Greg Smith; Africa Pygmy Kingfisher, by Gisela Gerson Lohman-Braun; Wildebeest and Zebra by Peg Abbott; Giraffes under Baobab by Peg Abbott; Leopard by Greg Smith; African Fish Eagle, Crowned Crane, Elephant with Infant, Lion Cub, Yellow-billed Stork Rookery, Zebra Greeting, European Bee-eater, Wildebeest and Calf by Peg Abbott; Secretary Bird, Peg Abbott; African Hoopoe, Peg Abbott; Knob-billed Duck, Peg Abbott; Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Peg Abbott; Gazelle, Peg Abbott; Malachite Kingfisher, Peg Abbott; Red-billed Hornbill, Greg Smith; Arusha National Park, Peg Abbott; Striped Kingfisher, Peg Abbott; Black-and-white Colobus, Peg Abbott; Lilac-breasted Roller, Peg Abbott; Ndutu Sunrise, Peg Abbott; Zebra, Peg Abbott; Wildebeest, Peg Abbott; Kori Bustard, Peg Abbott; Tawny Eagle, Peg Abbott; Red-cheeked Cordon-blue, Peg Abbott; Fork-tailed Drongo, Peg Abbott; Rosy-breasted Longclaw, Peg Abbott; Bar-throated Apalis, George Bakken; Giraffe, Peg Abbott; African Fish Eagle, Peg Abbott; Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Washington Wachira; Saddle-billed Stork, Peg Abbott; Greater Flamingo, Bob Rodrigues; Chestnut-banded Plover, Bob Rodrigues; Bat-eared Fox, Peg Abbott; Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Peg Abbott; Brown-crowned Tchagra, Peg Abbott; Crowned Crane, Peg Abbott; Hammerkop, Peg Abbott; Helmeted Guineafowl, Peg Abbott; Ostrich, Peg Abbott; Red-billed Oxpecker, Peg Abbott; Sandgrouse, Peg Abbott; Yellow-billed Stork, Peg Abbott; Red-headed Barbet, Peg Abbott.