Tanzania Safari: A Smithsonian Family Adventure

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Come join us on this special itinerary for families who are fascinated by wildlife and interested in exploring some of the planet's most remarkable landscapes.  This special safari provides a wonderful opportunity to get your family into the wilds safely and comfortably. With knowledgeable local guides at the helm, adults and kids of all ages can explore far and wide in the scenic parks of northern Tanzania, the only place on earth where you can see the "Big Five"—lion, leopard, African elephant, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros. 

Take advantage of incredible wildlife viewing in Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti, and a private nature refuge that Thomson guests have exclusive rights to visit. Enjoy unforgettable cultural encounters on a visit to a local school and during village visits to a local Maasai boma

Included in this exceptional itinerary are several special opportunities for behind-the-scenes access and exclusive tours and activities, such as:

Visit a private nature refuge, part of the Serengeti ecosystem, where Thomson guests have exclusive visiting rights and things such as walks and night drives are permitted.

Experience the best wildlife viewing. One third of the country is set aside for conservation, so it's no wonder Tanzania has the highest concentration of wild animals in the world. 

Stay two nights at Gibb's Farm. Explore the verdant grounds and winding forest pathways of Gibb's Farm, a gorgeous working organic farm.  Take a farm tour, various nature and cultural walks, games, biking; it's all at your disposal. 

Authentic meetings and interactions with the Maasai. Experience exclusive off-the-beaten path opportunities to meet and interact with Maasai, both in their boma and at our camp.

Unmatched variety. The variety of experiences offered by this adventure puts other family safaris to shame; it hits on so much of what makes Tanzania such a precious destination, from the vast Serengeti, to Ngorongoro, to the exclusivity and unique cultural encounters offered by the private nature refuge. 

Final payment can be made by credit card. Exclusively on our Smithsonian Family Adventures, families are able to make their final payment by credit card.  

 

2014 Dates
Dates Adult Price Teen Price (12-15) Child Price
12/20 - 12/31 $7,090 $6,790 $6,090
2015 Dates
Dates Adult Price Child Price
03/15 - 03/26 $6,290 $5,290
06/17 - 06/28 $6,990 $5,990
07/24 - 08/04 $6,990 $5,990
12/22 - 01/01 $7,190 $6,190
Call for Availability

Single Supplement: $700

 *Minimum of six participants required.  

Days 1-2 – Depart Home / Arrive Tanzania

Upon arrival in Arusha, you and your family will be met and transferred to your lodge.  Rest and relax after your long journey—the real adventure begins tomorrow!

Days 3-4 –Eastern Serengeti Ecosystem
Northern Tanzania is a relatively small area, so it only takes a brief scenic flight to bring you to a whole new world of cultural interest and natural beauty. Take in breathtaking views of Lake Natron and the Maasai "mountain of god", Ol Doinyo Lengai, which is an active volcano.
 
This region is the very definition of “off-the-beaten-path,” and of some 800,000 Maasai who live in Tanzania and Kenya, the Maasai in the northern parts of Tanzania have maintained their traditional culture perhaps more than any other group. Here it is possible for Thomson guests to take part in unique cultural visits that are not possible in other parts of the world. Travelers return home impressed by the authenticity of their visits and touched by the personal connections they made with local Maasai people.
 
  • Fly from Arusha to the Eastern Serengeti Ecosystem 
  • Afternoon wildlife viewing
  • Late afternoon walk
  • Welcome Dinner
  • Morning hike
  • Enjipai women's group visit
  • Maasai storyteller
  • Night wildlife viewing drive
Days 5-6 – Serengeti National Park
Head west toward the Serengeti on a rugged road that cuts through a landscape riddled with craggy hills and thickly wooded gullies. Maasai bomas appear seemingly out of nowhere. The rough road to Klein’s Gate takes you along the Grumeti River, which serves as one of the Serengeti’s two main water sources as it flows from one end of the park to the other before emptying into Lake Victoria. At the gate, you enter the Serengeti along its northeast border; the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and Kenyan border are less than 15 miles to the north. From there, traverse over the Serengeti’s acacia covered northern corridor with wildlife viewing along the way.
 
  • Visit a Maasai school
  • Meet your Pen Pals to play soccer
  • Afternoon wildlife viewing 
  • Relax at camp
  • Optional hot air balloon excursion
  • Full day of wildlife viewing
Days 7-8 – Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Drive from the Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. You will pass one of the greatest prehistoric sites in Olduvai Gorge, where archeologists have been making thrilling fossil discoveries for nearly a century. After cutting across the desert-like bush country, you will arrive at a range of hills that lead to Ngorongoro. You will pass Maasai herding their cattle alongside the road. The Maasai are allowed to live in boma settlements throughout the conservation area. The famed Ngorongoro Crater has one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in the world.
 
  • Morning wildlife viewing drive
  • Visit Olduvai Gorge
  • Full day on the Ngorongoro Crater floor
Day 9 – Ngorongoro Highlands
For over 80 years, Gibb’s Farm has been an important part of the history of the Ngorongoro Highlands. What began in the 1920s as a German colonial coffee plantation became the residence of a British World War II veteran, James Gibb, in 1948. He married in Tanzania and lived on the property with his wife, Margaret, an avid gardener who planted numerous vegetable and flower gardens on the property. As a productive farm, Gibb’s began to attract more tourists after the establishment of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the 1960s. The estate soon became among the first guesthouses in northern Tanzania when they constructed guest cottages near the farm in 1972. Over 35 years later,  Gibb’s has been passed on to new investors, who had themselves been longtime users of the lodge.  Still a working coffee estate and farm, Gibb’s resonates with the perfect harmony of nature and culture,  luxury and sustainability, magnificent accommodation and historic preservation.
 
  • Gibb's Farm guided bike tour to Tloma village
  • Lunch at Gibb's Farm
  • Forest walk 
  • Tembo Fire
  • Farewell Dinner
Day 10-11 – Depart Arusha / Arrive Amsterdam
Depart the highlands for Arusha, where, after a day of leisurely activities, you will catch your departing flight. As you bid farewell to Tanzania, think of all the fabulous stories and photos of your adventure, which you will share with friends and family when you arrive home and for years to come.
 
  • Breakfast at Gibb's Farm
  • Morning walk
  • Visit Cultural Heritage Center
  • Farewell lunch at River House
  • Day rooms in Arusha
  • Transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport
Day 12 – Depart Amsterdam / Arrive Home

 

* Note that this is our 2014 itinerary. Please call for our December 2013 itinerary.  
Mount Meru Game Lodge
Welcome to Mount Meru Game Lodge, where you will find a charming atmosphere together with every comfort: an ideal spot to enjoy the impressive flora and fauna of East Africa. The lodge is comprised of 15 picturesque rooms, each individually decorated. All rooms feature a verandah and private garden. Facilities include a lounge, boutique, internet facilities, and—most notably—a wildlife sanctuary that provides haven and rehabilitation for orphaned or injured animals.
Nyumba Camps (Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park, Eastern Serengeti Ecosystem Private Nature Reserve)

Swahili for “home,” the Nyumbas are eco-friendly, mobile, tented camps, well-located for the best wildlife viewing in northern Tanzania.  These seasonal camps allow you direct access to the wildlife while keeping your family comfortable during your safari. Private, en suite bathroom facilities include self-contained, pump-flush toilets that do not require fixed plumbing. You will have all you need with plenty of washing water at any time, safari-style hot showers, a private dressing area, water basins, soft bath towels and hand-made soaps. These eco-friendly camps feature superior service, delicious gourmet and kid-friendly cuisine, fine bedding, and the luxury of peaceful and sustainable co-existence with the surrounding landscape and wildlife.  

Gibb's Farm

Gibb’s Farm is a small and intimate lodge nestled on the outer slopes of the Ngorongoro Highlands, four kilometers from the small town of Karatu.  Surrounded by coffee plantations and a vegetable farm, it offers expansive views over lush and verdant agricultural country.  The main facilities—a lounge, dining room, and shop—are situated in the old farmhouse, graced with locally crafted furniture and African hospitality. The sleeping accommodations are cozy bungalows set amidst the colorful gardens. The cuisine is among the best you'll have on safari, prepared from produce from their own organic garden. 

Mount Meru Hotel

An Arusha mainstay near the busy downtown area, the Mount Meru Hotel sits on a 15-acre garden and provides comfortable, modern  accommodations.  Amenities include cable TV in all rooms, internet access, currency exchange facilities, concierge, massage services, babysitting on request, playground for children, outdoor swimming pool, sun bed, a volleyball court, and a nearby golf course. The Themi Grill serves both international and African cuisine. 

Why Tanzania?

Unbelievable wildlife viewing
There is no greater wildlife experience in the world than Tanzania — a nation that devotes 33% of its land to conservation and boasts the highest concentration of animals anywhere on the planet. From the vast Serengeti to the lust rain forests of the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania is home to wildebeest, chimpanzee, zebra, hippopotamus, giraffe, hyena and cheetah — just to name of few! Imagine seeing a hundred Thomson gazelle springing across a dirt road or majestic elephants leading their babies to a watering hole. Tanzania is the only place on earth where the “big five” — buffalo, elephant, leopard, the black-maned lion and the endangered, rare black rhinoceros — all live in one place.
Peaceful, safe and stable
Tanzania is a peaceful, safe country. A democracy since gaining independence in 1961, Tanzania is led by a president and national assembly elected by popular vote. While not a wealthy country, Tanzania is quite stable, and its people are committed to preserving its natural and cultural resources. Tanzania is referred to as the “Switzerland of Africa,” peacefully sustaining more than 120 different ethnic groups and free of the political upheaval present in some other African countries.
Serengeti National Park
Protected since 1921, the Serengeti became Tanzania’s first National Park 30 years later. The Serengeti is almost as large as the US state of Connecticut, and features grassland plains and savanna as well as riverine forest and woodlands. Wooded knolls mark the official entrance, called Naabi Hill Gate, which then drops into the park’s signature wide-open expansive plains. Like no other, this stretch embodies the meaning of the word “Serengeti,” which derives from the Maasai word Siringet, and has been translated as “the land that flows on forever.” Covering over 6,000 square miles of pristine land, the Serengeti offers not only sprawling landscapes but the largest migration of mammals on earth, including 1.5 million wildebeest.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Designated a World Heritage Site in 1979, Ngorongoro Crater is part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a wildlife and cultural preserve covering 3,200 square miles. Ten miles in diameter, the crater is the largest unbroken caldera, or ancient colapsed volcano, in the world. All of the Big Five can be found here: buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and the endangered, rare black rhinoceros. Members of the Maasai tribe, the only people permitted to live within the preserve’s boundaries, are quite visible in their bright red and royal blue cloths as they tend to their goat and cattle herds.
Maasai
You’ll be warmly welcomed by the Maasai, a semi-nomadic people who live in northern Tanzania. The Maasai, who speak Maa, originated from the lower Nile valley and began migrating south around the fifteenth century, arriving in central Tanzania between the seventeenth and late eighteenth century. Your family will visit a Maasai boma (traditional village), where you will gain a glimpse into traditional Maasai culture and arts.

Why Tanzania with Thomson and Smithsonian?

Friends Across Borders
School visits and pen pal meetings are two of this trip’s greatest highlights. You and your kids will meet teachers and students at a school near the town of Karatu and learn more about education in Tanzania. Children who have signed up for our Friends Across Borders Pen Pal program will enjoy meeting their pen pal and sharing with one another.
Tanzania-based for over 30 years
Thomson is the first U.S. tour company licensed to operate safaris in Tanzania. Through 30+ years of experience, Thomson has created a one-of-a-kind experience for families. Nearly 70 staff are employed in Thomson's Arusha operation year-round, driving and maintaining safari vehicles, cooking, serving as expert guides, etc. Thomson's personal attention to detail and first-hand knowledge of Tanzania’s culture and natural resources ensure your family will have an unforgettable adventure. Your family will encounter new surprises every day traveling the back roads in custom four-wheel drive Land Rover safari vehicles. You’ll discover vast, ruggedly beautiful landscapes, stretching from the volcanic cone of Mount Meru to the Great Rift Valley, from the dramatic, tree-strewn landscape of Tarangire to the endless plains of the Serengeti. You'll meet local villagers, school children, artisans, the Maasai and your Tanzanian guides – who share their thoughts, traditions, language and everyday lives with you.
Private, custom-designed accommodations
Swahili for “home,” the Nyumbas are the culmination of over 30 years of safari expertise and are Thomson’s signature style of accommodation. Nyumbas are canvas structures luxuriously appointed with handcrafted furnishings, sisal rugs, Maasai beading, fine linens and antique textiles. The spacious layout offers plenty of room and each Thomson Nyumba includes a spacious private verandah with comfortable seating and a writing table. Oversized, fine-mesh windows look out over beautiful African vistas while allowing the fresh breeze in off the savannah. Private and comfortable en-suite bathrooms feature flush toilets and safari showers with plenty of hot water day or night. While at Thomson's Nyumbas, your family will enjoy unparalleled yet unobtrusive access to the wildlife. Unlike conventional lodges, the Nyumbas put you in the wild, up close to the animals. Imagine unhindered views of the star-filled night sky, gourmet meals prepared from fresh local ingredients in coal-fired ovens, and a sincere welcome from friendly, reliable staff at each camp. In short, it is the perfect balance of luxury, sustainability and immersion, a world away from civilization.
Tanzanian-born guides
The guide is the key to a great safari! A guide's knowledge, sensitivity, and good humor are some of the most essential elements of a great safari. And quite simply, Thomson guides are the best. We don't say so. Thomson's guests do! They rave about every one of them, from Abraham to Charles to Willie. Thomson's guides were born and raised in Tanzania, and love to introduce visitors to the natural beauty and wildlife of their country. Most of them have been with Thomson for years, often starting as drivers or mechanics, and working their way up to senior safari guide. The guides all take naturalist courses or have degrees in natural history and wildlife. They maintain mental maps of Tanzania's back roads and hiding places and keep up-to-date on animal migrations—and they have super-sharp wildlife spotting abilities! The bottom line is, Thomson's guides are happy with their jobs, love to interact with people from different cultures, and work hard to make sure each guest is satisfied. You’ll appreciate their passion and enthusiasm as you experience Tanzania through their insightful eyes.
Small groups and personal attention
Small group size gives Thomson the ability to respond to each guest as an individual, with unique needs, wants and desires. When you call, any member of our staff will answer your questions with authority and patience. After you book a trip, we'll stay in contact, providing you with thorough information about your trip. This level of personal interaction continues in Tanzania, where Thomson's staff is as curious about you as you are about them. To thank the Tanzanian staff, we bring each employee who has been with us five years or more (mechanics, cooks, drivers, guides) to the US to enjoy a cultural adventure of their own.
Unlimited exploration
Most safari operators restrict the number of miles their drivers can drive per day. Thomson wants you to have the most rewarding wildlife experience so there is no mileage restriction for guides and drivers.
There is something for everyone
Since our knowledge of Tanzania is so intimate and thorough, we really know how to cater to every type of traveler. We get it – not everyone has the same time availability, the same budget, or the same interests. Some people have more physical limitations than others, and some people like to live on the edge for a full-fledged family adventure. Whether you’re looking to spot lions and wildebeest in the Serengeti, leave the tropical temperatures behind on a trek to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, learn from members of the Maasai tribe and connect with local Tanzanians, or unwind on the beach in Zanzibar, Thomson has something for you.
Visit to a private nature refuge
Adjacent to the Serengeti and part of that ecosystem, your family will enjoy two nights at a private nature refuge that Thomson guests have exclusive rights to visit, where activities such as night drives and walks are permitted.
Meet and interact with the Maasai 
 Experience exclusive off-the-beaten path opportunities to meet and interact with Maasai, both in their boma and at our camp.
Final payment can be made by credit card 
 Exclusively on our Smithsonian Family Adventures, families are able to make their final payment by credit card.