Mountain Gorilla Safari: Tanzania, Zanzibar & Rwanda (BBC Earth Journey)
13 days with Tauck Rating:
Day 1 Arrive Arusha, Tanzania
Your safari experience begins at Arusha Serena Hotel. A transfer from Kilimanjaro International Airport to Arusha Serena Hotel, is included. Welcome to Tanzania; your hotel overlooks Lake Duluti. Although most flights land at Kilimanjaro International Airport after the sun has set, thoughts of Ernest Hemingway's The Snows of Kilimanjaro will come to mind as you journey the short distance from the airport to your hotel.
Day 2 Lake Manyara & on to Ngorongoro
Depart your hotel in Arusha and make your way to Lake Manyara Serena Lodge for lunch overlooking Lake Manyara, a bird-lover's paradise. Enjoy your first game viewing opportunity as you continue on this afternoon to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, home to Ngorongoro Crater, a wildlife mecca; your lodge is built on the dormant volcano's rim, with stunning views of the "lost world" below. Please join us for a welcome reception followed by dinner at the lodge this evening. (B, L, D)
Day 3 Game drives & a picnic in Ngorongoro Crater
Explore Ngorongoro Crater, long regarded as Africa's "Garden of Eden." Within the crater lie grasslands, forests and a saltwater lake, inspiring a continual migration of animals. From the comfort of your four-wheel-drive vehicle, you'll have a chance to spot the "Big Five" - buffalo, elephant, leopard, the black-maned lion and the rare black rhinoceros. Today's picnic in the heart of the crater and local entertainment back at the lodge make this day one to fondly remember! (B, L, D)
Day 4 Visit Oldupai Gorge en route to the Serengeti
Set off this morning to explore Oldupai Gorge, where archaeologists Louis and Mary Leakey discovered the fossilized remains of some of the earliest known human species, an estimated 1.8 million years old; learn more about the site's significance on a docent-led tour. Continue wildlife viewing while driving the rough dirt roads across the plains and grasslands of the Serengeti. Arrive at your safari lodge in the Central Serengeti, which was inspired by Maasai tribal dwellings. Have dinner at your leisure at the lodge, and enjoy some local entertainment in the lounge this evening. (B, L, D)
Day 5 Ballooning over the Serengeti & game viewing
Lift off on an exciting hot air balloon flight* as dawn breaks over the vast Serengeti grasslands; from aloft, observe wildlife in the first light of day, an African safari thrill - and enjoy another thrill upon your return where a champagne breakfast in the bush waits for you. An afternoon game drive on the Serengeti plains may yield sightings of wildebeest, zebras, giraffes, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, rhinoceros, hippos, buffalo, jackals, and gazelles. This is also one of the best places on the African Continent to see prides of lions. Return to the lodge for lunch, then enjoy an afternoon at leisure (or a lecture by an expert), followed by a special sundowner with filmmaking gadgets this evening before dinner at the lodge. (B, L, D)
Day 6 On to the western Serengeti
Travel to the Western Serengeti for a two-night stay at the luxurious Kirawira Tented Camp. This afternoon's game drive with your experienced guide explores the open, undisturbed plains of the Serengeti for exclusive wildlife encounters. Be sure to capture the moment with your camera or sketchbook! (B, L, D)
Day 7 Wildlife wonders on the Serengeti plains
After awakening in the heart of the wilderness in your luxurious tent - surrounded by Edwardian-era accents that evoke the classic safari camps of a century ago - your safari guide shares fascinating insights about the African bush on your early morning game drive, as you observe the struggle of species to survive in the "circle of life" within Serengeti National Park. Later, after lunch and another game drive, relax by the pool at Kirawira as the setting sun streaks the Tanzanian sky - a classic African safari doesn't get any better than this! (B, L, D)
Day 8 To Zanzibar & a Stone Town "spice walk"
Rise early for your final Serengeti game drive this morning, then fly midday to intriguing Zanzibar, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean that was once a wealthy trading center for spices. Upon arrival, set off with your local guide on a walking "spice" tour of Stone Town, in the main port of Zanzibar City. Learn where some of your favorite spices come from as our guides reveal aromatic secrets hidden in nuts, roots and bark. Your home for the next two nights is a fabulous hotel created overlooking the turquoise sea and white sand beaches. (B, L)
Day 9 Cruise aboard a dhow on an Indian Ocean "safari" in Zanzibar
Sail out to sea aboard a traditional dhow this morning as the captain and crew help you spot dolphins frolicking in the ocean blue. Dhows have plied these waters for millennia, trading and fishing from one island port to the next. Cast anchor on a sandy beach for swimming and snorkeling near beautiful coral reefs. Spend the afternoon exploring the backstreet wonders of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (B, L, D)
Day 10 Fly to Kigali, Rwanda
Fly this morning to Kigali airport in Rwanda, home to Volcanoes National Park and the forested habitat of endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. A late afternoon arrival at your Serena Hotel is followed by dinner at leisure. (B, L, D)
Day 11 Kigali Coffee & Volcanoes National Park
Wake up and smell the coffee at a local cooperative that empowers Rwandan women to become coffee growers. Learn all about making coffee, from planting and harvesting to roasting and brewing with an opportunity to have a cup or two. Continue on a drive through the countryside to the city of Ruhengeri at the base of Volcanoes National Park, where eight ancient volcanoes watch over the wildlife that thrives here. Check into your grass-thatched traditional Rwandan lodge, nestled under the eucalyptus trees at the foothills of the Virunga Volcano range and have lunch before visiting the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Museum. There are only several hundred mountain gorillas remaining on Earth, and about half live in the forests of the Virunga mountains in Rwanda. Learn insights and observations about gorilla behavior in preparation for tomorrow's exciting trek, as well as hearing the fascinating story of Dian Fossey's unforgettable quest to save the Mountain Gorilla. (B, L, D)
Day 12 Gorilla Trek in Volcanoes National Park
Rise early for a once in a lifetime opportunity you'll not soon forget. Drive to the headquarters of Volcanoes National Park where a briefing by your expert mountain guides answers any questions you may have about your trek into the wilderness and a dance performance as you eat your boxed breakfast whets your appetite for today's gorilla adventure. Climb aboard a safari vehicle as you make your way to the trailhead where your gorilla trek begins. You will be assigned a porter who will help carry your provisions and cameras and lead you to the gorilla family you are here to meet. Once the gorillas are located, you will have the rare opportunity to watch them interact with each other, and you if they choose! When your hour-long visit is up, head back to the lodge for lunch and an afternoon at leisure. A local expert presents an informative lecture this afternoon about the endangered Mountain Gorillas you were privileged to see. Join us tonight for a farewell reception and dinner at the lodge. (B, L, D)
Day 13 Journey home
Tour ends: Kigali. Depart your hotel after breakfast for your journey back to Kigali, stopping en route to visit the Genocide Memorial Museum. Pay tribute to the 800,000 Rwandans who lost their lives during the atrocities of 1994 and discover how Rwanda was able to come together, heal and move forward into the future with hope and resilience. Continue to the Kigali Serena Hotel where Tauck has reserved day rooms for you until your flight home this evening. Airport transfers are included from Kigali Serena Hotel to Kigali International Airport. Allow a minimum of three hours for flight check in at the airport. (B, L)
All This Included
Earth Journeys... Created by Tauck and BBC Earth. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities abound on this 13-day small group Earth Journeys safari. Intimate game drives in wildlife-rich national parks promise up-close animal encounters. A private ocean safari and spice tour in Zanzibar reveal cultural treasures. And a gorilla trek in Rwanda is a true bucket list experience! Unique experiences include custom film vignettes created by BBC Earth exclusively for Tauck; all small group departures, limited to just 24 guests for more intimate exploration; a private lecture at Oldupai Gorge where the remains of early man were found; a hot air balloon ride at dawn over the Serengeti followed by breakfast; ocean safari on a private dhow boat with lunch on a secluded beach; and a one-hour interactive visit with a silverback gorilla family in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park accompanied by an expert guide and a personal porter in small groups of just 8 guests. Experience the following... in Tanzania, visits to a Maasai village and primary school, a picnic in a prehistoric crater, and a private lecture in Oldupai Gorge precede four nights in the heart of Serengeti National Park, with a hot air balloon ride and daily game drives... in Zanzibar, spend two nights at a beachfront hotel with ocean view rooms in Stone Town include a walking spice tour with a coconut harvester, a cruise aboard a traditional dhow with swimming and snorkeling, and free time for exploration; and in Rwanda, enjoy a Kigali tour, coffee experience, visits to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Museum and Kigali Genocide Memorial, and a trek into Volcanoes National Park with expert guides to spend time with a gorilla family in the wild. Accommodations feature Serena Safari Lodges in Ngorongoro, with views of the crater, and in the Serengeti, where a Maasai-village inspired lodge overlooks the vast grasslands; Kirawira Tented Camp, combining colonial elegance with modern-day amenities - ideally located to overlook the great migration in the Western Serengeti; Park Hyatt Zanzibar, beachfront setting in the heart of historic Stone Town; and three nights in boutique hotels in Rwanda. Please note: You should expect your gorilla trek to be strenuous. As the mountain gorillas' habitat can only be reached by hiking up into the mountains (there are no roads), your inbound trek may range from 40 minutes to 4 hours, at a beginning altitude of approx. 7,000 feet (approx. 2,130 meters) above sea level, and increasing from there. See the special notes in Pricing & Availability for further details.
Arusha: Arusha Serena Hotel
Ngorongoro Crater: Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge
Serengeti National Park: Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge and Kirawira Tented Camp
Stone Town, Zanzibar; Park Hyatt Zanzibar
Kigali: Kigali Serena Hotel
Virunga: One&Only Gorilla's Nest
Terms and Conditions
For Tauck terms and conditions, please click here.
* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.