Tanzania Short Family Safari

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Not every family has an abundance of time to take out of their hectic lives for an extended vacation; that’s why Thomson created this itinerary – the Short Family Safari – so you can give your family a one-of-a-kind travel experience that still fits into your busy schedule.

There’s a reason Tanzania was the country that first motivated us at Thomson to make a living out of world travel: there honestly is no more majestic destination on the planet. Inspiring the common image of the quintessential African landscape, this country’s natural beauty is unrivaled and almost unfathomable – you truly won’t believe such a place really exists!

Explore Tanzania’s vast plains, dotted with unique baobab trees and brimming with spectacular concentrations of protected wildlife. You’ll become quickly infatuated with the largely uncorrupted ecosystem and rugged terrain of Tarangire National Park, the fertile Ngorongoro Crater Highlands and Conservation Area, and the golden Serengeti.

Thomson's dedicated and expertly trained local guides will lead you through a land of grassy plains, winding, life-giving rivers, and dense woodlands, where you’ll have the opportunity to see lions, elephants, leopards, giraffes, wildebeest, gazelles, spotted hyenas, and countless other fascinating creatures in their precious natural habitat. After your visit to the bountiful paradise that is Tanzania, you’ll understand the love the Maasai people have for their magnificent homeland.

2015 Dates
Dates Adult Price Teen Price (12-15) Child Price
06/11 - 06/21 $5,290 $4,990 $4,290
06/26 - 07/06 $6,290 $5,990 $5,290
06/30 - 07/10 $6,290 $5,990 $5,290
07/15 - 07/25 $6,290 $5,990 $5,290
08/01 - 08/11 $6,290 $5,990 $5,290
08/07 - 08/17 $6,290 $5,990 $5,290
11/19 - 11/29 $5,290 $4,990 $4,290
12/17 - 12/27 $6,290 $5,990 $5,290
12/23 - 01/02 $6,290 $5,990 $5,290
2016 Dates
Dates Adult Price Teen Price (12-15) Child Price
02/12 - 02/22 $6,290 $5,990 $5,290
03/11 - 03/21 $5,290 $4,990 $4,290
06/14 - 06/24 $5,990 $5,690 $4,990
06/28 - 07/08 $6,590 $6,290 $5,590
07/03 - 07/13 $6,590 $6,290 $5,590
07/19 - 07/29 $6,590 $6,290 $5,590
08/04 - 08/14 $6,590 $6,290 $5,590
12/20 - 12/30 $6,590 $6,290 $5,590
12/23 - 01/02 $6,590 $6,290 $5,590
12/27 - 01/06 $6,590 $6,290 $5,590
2017 Dates
Dates Adult Price Teen Price (12-15) Child Price
02/10 - 02/20 $6,590 $6,290 $5,590
02/10 - 02/27 $6,590 $6,290 $5,590

Alumni Discount: if you are a returning Thomson guest, please subtract $500 per family from these prices


Price includes: All entrance and game park fees, accommodations based on two to a room, land transportation; private bi-lingual guide throughout, area specialists, all meals, bottled water & snacks in the vehicle, Comprehensive Travel Insurance.

Prices are based on the number of people in your party.

Don't see your travel dates?

Call us, we can personalize any trip to meet your travel needs! 

Days 1-2 – Depart U.S. / Arrive Tanzania

Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your lodge, where your Short Family Safari begins.

Days 3-4 – Tarangire National Park

This is Tanzania’s fourth-largest national park. Spend two full days with your family in Tarangire, exploring its rugged landscapes by safari vehicle. This park, often overlooked, astonishes many with its massive herds of elephant and distinctive winding riverine landscapes and swampy floodplains. It is also known for its large numbers of bizarre baobab trees, famous for their enormous trunks and root-like branches.


Wildlife safari
Game drives in Tarangire weave back and forth over the Tarangire River and around its banks and shores, where it is possible to see lion, leopard, giraffe, gerenuk, reedbuck and even the rare fringe-eared oryx. This river is a major water source for the wildlife of northern Tanzania, especially in the drier months of July through November, when it attracts large concentrations of elephant and zebra. If anyone in your family is a birder, get those binoculars ready: avian species number over 550 here, from lilac-breasted roller and bee-eater to kori bustard and raptor.
After being out on the dusty park trails, take a dip in the pool at a nearby lodge.
Day 5 – Ngorongoro Highlands and Conservation Area

As you travel to the Ngorongoro Highlands en route to the Crater, you and your kids will head up a steep, winding road near the edge of the Great Rift Valley. Make sure to keep your cameras ready on the drive – you will be rewarded with expansive vistas of Lake Manyara and the exquisite surrounding plains. At the top of this slope lie the lush Ngorongoro Highlands, where the region's rich volcanic soil makes for some of the most fertile land in Tanzania.


Friends Across Borders meeting (pen pals)
School visits and pen pal meetings often end up being some of this trip’s greatest highlights. Meet with teachers and students at a school near the town of Karatu and learn more about education in Tanzania. Children traveling with us can choose to exchange letters with a local child of similar age before leaving on their adventure, and meet face to face! It’s amazing how such interaction can be a real eye-opener for everyone involved.
Lunch at Gibb’s Farm
Have lunch at historic Gibb’s Farm in the Ngorongoro Highlands. A working coffee estate and organic farm, Gibb’s has a history that stretches back to the 1920s, and you’ll enjoy its lovely gardens and hillside setting as you have a delicious, farm-fresh lunch.
Maasai boma visit
Visit a nearby Maasai boma, and watch as they perform their impressive traditional dance, leaping high in the air in synchronization with the beat of their deep, rhythmic chanting.
Day 6 – Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area

After breakfast, take a short drive from your Nyumba down to the Crater floor for a day filled with exceptional wildlife viewing. The Crater's 102 square miles are situated within the 3,200 square miles that make up the Conservation Area. Many Maasai people live within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, although they are not allowed to live on the Crater floor itself, and you may see them in their vibrant red robes as they tend sheep, goats, and cattle during the day. While they cannot live in the Ngorongoro Crater, the Maasai do have exclusive rights to bring their herds to the Crater floor during the day, where the animals drink the mineral-rich waters. If you look closely along the inside of the crater's rim, you may see the winding, serpentine trails designated for the Maasai to lead their herds in and out. 


Wildlife safari
The Crater floor is reserved only for wildlife. At some ten miles in diameter, this Crater is the largest caldera, or ancient sunken volcano, in the world, and it abounds with one of the highest concentrations of diverse animals imaginable. Adults and children alike find this self-contained environment fascinating, especially because here you will have the opportunity to spot Africa’s renowned Big Five here – buffalo, elephant, leopard, the black-maned lion and the endangered, rare black rhinoceros.
Special Tanzanian dinner
Your camp chefs will prepare a traditional Tanzanian meal for you this evening. (Please note that this does not include game meat.)
Days 7-9 – Serengeti National Park

Protected since 1921, the Serengeti became Tanzania’s first National Park thirty years later. It contains almost as much land as the US state of Connecticut, and features grassland plains and savanna as well as riverine forest and woodlands. You will see wooded knolls around 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.” Serengeti National Park covers 6,000 square miles of pristine land, and offers not only sprawling landscapes but the largest migration of mammals on earth, including 1.5 million wildebeest. Your family will stay in one of Thomson's signature Nyumba camps.


Brief stop at Olduvai Gorge
Olduvai Gorge is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world and has been instrumental in furthering understanding of early human evolution. It was here that the Kenyan-born archeologist of British parentage Louis Leakey uncovered many finds that would forever change the way we think about our early ancestors.
Wildlife safari in the Serengeti
Morning and afternoon wildlife drives take your family into the heart of the golden Serengeti. You may spot numerous prides of lions, zebra, hyena, leopards, cheetah, elephant, hippo, buffalo, jackal, gazelle and various primates.
Optional balloon safari 
You'll have the option to float high over the vast plains of the Serengeti in a hot air balloon, taking in a bird's eye view of nature in action.
Day 10 –  Serengeti National Park / Arusha / Depart

This park is just one example of how Tanzania has been a magnificent inspiration for the world in terms of wildlife and environmental conservation. There is time for one last wildlife viewing drive before returning to Arusha on a short flight. Rest, repack, and shower before your departing KLM flight. 


Stop at Cultural Heritage Center
A shopping mainstay in Arusha, the Cultural Heritage Center attracts many travelers each year with its abundance of wooden carvings, artifacts, apparel, and crafts. The center also has Tanzanite and other gemstones for sale. While the center caters mostly to tourists, they also have wonderful cultural displays and a separate wing that displays some of the finest African art in Tanzania.
Day 11 – Depart Amsterdam / Arrive U.S.
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.  

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.
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?

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. Teen trips feature age-appropriate cultural immersion experiences in place of pen pals.
Tanzania-based for over 30 years
Thomson is the first US tour company licensed to operate safaris in Tanzania. Through 30+ years of experience, Thomson has created a one-of-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 ever y 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.
a map of Tanzania Short Family Safari