POPULAR NORTHERN TANZANIA ITINERARY
AT A GLANCE:
HIGHLIGHTS: WILDEBEEST MIGRATION, BIG CATS, BIRDING & PHOTOGRAPHY
Featuring: Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Eastern Arc Mountains of West Usambara`s endemics
DEPARTURE DATES :
14-28 APRIL 2023
02-16 MAY 2023
14-28 NOVEMBER 2023
14-28 APRIL 2024
02-16 MAY 2024
14-28 NOVEMBER 2024
OPTIONAL: EAST USAMBARA MOUNTAINS & PEMBA ISLAND ENDEMICS
GUIDE: ANTHONY RAPHAEL
Day 1: ARRIVE KILIMANJARO/ARUSHA TANZANIA (B)
Meet and Transfer to your overnight Hotel.
Night at Korona House.
Day 2: ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK
Arusha is a real gem of a park that encompasses just 552 sq km (212 sq miles), a relatively small area compared to many of Tanzania’s better-known reserves. Nevertheless Arusha NP is the perfect place to begin our safari as it hosts an easily accessible, impressive diversity of habitats with an associated diverse bird and mammal fauna. After an early breakfast we will drive into Arusha NP and begin to get to grips with Tanzania’s wonderfully rich and exciting birds. In addition to crater lakes, extensive grasslands and woodlands Arusha NP also hosts some very interesting montane forests characterized by mahogany, fig, cedar and wild mango, which we will make a point of investigating.
However, we may begin by birding some low elevation bush and grassland habitats, which can be thronged with birds including: Rufous-naped Lark, Fan-tailed Grassbird, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Singing, Red-faced, Winding and Trilling cisticolas, Tropical Boubous with their amazing song, Black-backed Puffback, Collared, Variable and Bronze sunbirds, Spot-flanked Barbets, Yellow Bishop, Speke’s and Baglafecht weavers and African Moustached Warbler. Later we will head for those cool, montane forested slopes of Mount Meru, where possibilities include: Hartlaub’s Turaco, with luck a displaying African Crowned Eagle, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, perhaps Red-fronted Parrot, Black-headed Mountain and the near-endemic Stripe-faced greenbuls, White-starred Robin, African Hill Babbler, Brown Woodland Warbler, several Cinnamon Bracken Warblers and also Evergreen Forest Warbler – a notorious skulker that most likely we will only hear; the numerous Montane White-eye, African Dusky and White-eyed Slaty flycatchers, Mountain Yellow Warbler and Black Cuckoo-Shrike. Later in the afternoon, if time permits we should visit Big Mamello lake where we may find Little and White-fronted bee-eaters, Shiffling Cisticola, thousands of Lesser Flamingos with a few Greater Flamingos, the magnificent Spotted Eagle Owl and the rather localised Pangani Longclaw. Some of the other birds we may encounter today include: the striking Augur Buzzard, African Goshawk, Ayres’s Hawk-Eagle, Scaly Francolin, Grey-crowned Crane, Scarce Swift, the spectacular Hartlaub’s Turaco, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, White-headed Barbet, Black-fronted Bush-shrike, Common House Martin, Black Saw-wing, Cabanis’s Greenbul (sometimes split as Placid), African Dusky Flycatcher, with luck, one or two of the less common residents of the montane forest such as the lovely Narina’s and Bar-tailed trogons. Large mammals are not as conspicuous here as they are further west, nevertheless we are likely to encounter good numbers of such species as African Buffalo, Common Zebra, Common Warthog, Common Giraffe, Bushbuck and Waterbuck. Within the forest we are sure to come across shaggy GuerezaColobus monkeys with their long and shaggy tails; perhaps Sykes’ Monkey, Kirk’s DikDik or perhaps disturb the rarely seen Harvey’s Duiker.
Day 3: ARUSHA/TARANGIRE PARK/ LAKE MANYARA AREA (B,B)
After breakfast you will head out for birding and wildlife viewing in Tarangire National Park. Tarangire is the home of Tanzania’s oldest elephants and bird life is prolific too. The endemic Ashy Starling and the rare Yellow colored Lovebird are numerous in Tarangire. You will spend the entire day exploring the bushes in Tarangire. Night at Tarangire Safari Lodge.
Day 4: LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK (B,B)
The day will be spent exploring Lake Manyara National Park. This is where florists, botanists and big game lovers meet their world. A variety of vegetation species occur, ranging from monotone forest vegetation to plain savannah grassland. Here the natural world is for you; spot tree climbing lions, zebras, Maasai giraffe and the breathe taking view of the spectacular Lake Manyara. Bird life is prolific as you approach the lake shore, a variety of Gulls may be spotted and may be the Vulturerine Guinea fowl, Blue napped mouse bird. Lake Manyara has the highest density of elephants in East Africa (at least seven elephants per sq kilometre). A profusion of colourful birds awaits your discovery in the ground water forest as you spot pelicans and cormorants swimming among walloping hippos and flamingos in their pink on the lake. You will be able to update your bird check list while in Lake Manyara, do not miss a visit the Hippo pool.
Day 5: LAKE MANYARA / SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK (B,L,D)
This morning you will be transferred to the Serengeti, which is actually a continuation of the Masai Mara Eco System. The Serengeti National Park is arguably the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world. “Serengeti” means “endless plains” in the Masai language, and within its boundaries are more than three million large mammals. About 35 species of plains animals can be seen here including the so called “big five” – elephant, rhino, lion (more than 2,000 of them), leopard and buffalo. During the wet season, November to May, most of the plains game congregates in Southern Serengeti, followed by their attendant predators. Some time in May or June the herds migrate North and West in search of water. They remain in North Serengeti and the western corridor during the dry season, July-October, returning South again as the November rains approach. The Wildebeest calving takes place on the short grass plains during late December to early February. In their wake follow the predators; lion cheetah and hunting dogs with vultures circling overhead. Other common species found here include hippo, giraffe, eland, impala and other antelope types, baboons, monkeys and a profusion of almost 500 bird species.
We will stay 2 nights in the middle of the Serengeti plains at the Seronera Wildlife Lodge. Seronera Wildlife Lodge is situated in the heart of the Serengeti, world famous for its large amount of grazing mammals, this includes 1.5 million wildebeest. The lodge has been built on the wildebeest migratory route, which occurs twice annually. The Seronera Valley is an important transition zone between the southern plains and northern woodlands. It provides a rich mosaic of habitats, crisscrossed by rivers, the most permanent of which is Seronera River. The lodge takes it name from this river which surrounds it in a u-shape. With year-round water, this is the most reliable part of the park to view wildlife. The elusive Leopard is also common here but less easily spotted. The river tracks offer the best possibilities to view leopard, which usually rest in the branches of the acacia trees.
Day 6 & 7: SERENGETI (B,L,D)
A full day on the Serengeti Plains exploring the expanse of the park. Overnight Seronera Wildlife Lodge.
Day 8: SERERNGETI/ NGORONGORO (B,L,D)
Morning in the Serengeti and then drive to the Crater Rim, 2 nights at the Rhino Lodge.
Day 9: NGORONGORO CRATER (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we will drive to Ngorongoro Crater for a full day Crater Tour. Listed by Unesco as a world heritage site, the incomparable Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest caldera. A caldera is the broad, crater-like basin of a volcano formed by the collapse of the central cone. Dominated by cliffs standing some 600 meters high and presenting a sheer drop down to a wide open space of some 264 square km, the crater is one of the most amazing sights seen anywhere. The Crater is home to 25,000 larger mammals, almost half of them zebra and wildebeest. There are also gazelle, buffalo, eland, hartebeest and wart hog. Such vast numbers attract predators a plenty, mainly lion and hyena but also cheetah and leopard. More than 100 species of birds not found in the Serengeti have been spotted here. Countless flamingos form a pink blanket over the soda lakes. Return at the Rhino Lodge for dinner and over night.
Day 10: NGORONGORO HIGHLANDS/ ARUSHA (B)
Morning drive to the Ngorongoro Highlands, birding the Ngorongoro Highlands and Gibbs Farm Grounds, and lunch at the Gibbs Farm. After lunch drive to Arusha. Night at Korona House.
Day 11: WEST USAMBARA MOUNTAINS
We will transfer to the west Usambara mountains. Our base tonight is located near the old German township of Lushoto. Thus during the mid-afternoon will descend to the Mkomazi River Valley admiring the spectacular views that the road affords. During our descent we should be especially alert to such species as: the highly desirable Brown-breasted Barbet along with Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Spot-flanked Barbet and Lesser Honeyguide. Other possibilities include: Little Swift, Crowned Hornbill, Baglafecht Weaver and Common Waxbill. Back on the plains we will turn southeastwards passing through a twenty-kilometer wide corridor of arid Acaciaand Commiphora woodland that separates the South Pare Mountains from the West Usambara’s.
Lushoto was formerly known as Wilhelmstal (William’s Valley) and named after Emperor Wilhelm II. During the German colonial period from the 1890s to 1918 the area was popular with settlers, hence the German place name of Wilhelmstal. The lush, rich volcanic soils coupled with its pleasant mountain climate gave rise to large farms and plantations. Consequently much of the area now surrounding this old German settlement has been extensively converted to cultivation and plantations. Perhaps not surprisingly our accommodations for the next two nights are a lovely guesthouse, situated in a delightful valley somewhat reminiscent of alpine Europe. With luck we should arrive in time for tea, coffee and cakes followed by a fine meal in this delightful cosy place.
NIGHT: Muller’s Mountain Lodge
Day 12 & 13: BIRDING WEST USAMBARAS
During our stay at this lovely locale we will visit some very productive montane forest above Lushoto. Here, at around 1750m, we will find that the temperature is pleasantly mild compared with the hot plains below. We shall need plenty of time in order to find all six of the very special birds that live here. The notoriously shy Spot-throat, although numerous, prefers to stay inside the forest, under the cover of tangled vegetation, and thus requires much patience in order to see it well. A bird of ‘uncertain affinities’ as the taxonomists say, it has alternatively been classed as a thrush and a babbler! These forests are also home to a plain, but nonetheless charismatic, West Usambara endemic, the Usambara Ground Robin (also a bit of a skulker, but one that has a rather sweet song), and the endemic Usambara Thrush. We shall also be looking through the treetops and scouring the mixed bird parties in the hope of encountering the rare endemic Usambara Weaver, a species that only occurs at low densities and sadly appears to be heading for extinction. The secretive, restricted-range White-chested Alethe lives here too, but again will demand much patience if we are to see it well. At least one special bird is definitely easier to see here, and this is the Red-capped Forest Warbler– now considered to be an African species of tailorbird! Other birds to look for here include: Great Sparrowhawk, Mountain Buzzard, Ayres’s Hawk Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Eastern Bronze-naped and Olive pigeons, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Tambourine and Lemon doves, Dusky Turtle Dove, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Red-chested, Barred Long- tailed and Klaas’s cuckoos, Common and Scarce swifts, Bar-tailed Trogon, Moustached Green Tinkerbird, Olive Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, Shelley’s, Placid and Stripe-cheeked greenbuls, White-starred Robin, African Dusky and Ashy flycatchers, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Bar-throated and Black-headed Apalises, Yellow White-eye, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, African Paradise Flycatcher,Forest Batis, Common Fiscal, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Fülleborn’s Black Boubou, Black-backed Puffback, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike, Kenrick’s, Waller’s and Sharpe’s Starlings, Eastern Olive Sunbird, Baglafecht and Dark-backed Weavers, Red- faced Crimsonwing, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Southern Citril, Streaky Seedeater and Oriole-Finch. An endangered endemic mammal the Lushoto Mountain Squirrel, may also be seen here. At night we may find Usambara Nightjar (split from Montane) around the lodge.
NIGHT: Muller’s Mountain Lodge
Day 14 & 15: SOUTH PARE MOUNTAINS & MKOMAZI NP
This morning we will head to explore the dry, hot, bush country of the Pare Plains. Here the avifauna is more akin to that of Tsavo West National Park in Kenya, although, as we happily face no restrictions here on having to stay in our vehicles, looking for some species is distinctly easier. In particular we shall be hoping to find the furtive Scaly Chatterer and Pringle’s Puffback, as well as the amazing-looking but localized White-headed Mousebird and Tsavo Purple-banded Sunbird. The thick acacia scrub should be alive with birds this morning. Comical-looking White-bellied Go- away Birds and Northern Red-billed, Von Der Decken’s and African Grey hornbills perch up prominently. Glittering Eastern Violet-backed, Hunter’s, Variable and Beautiful sunbirds should be easy to find as they flit from one flowering bush to another. Pink-breasted Larks, Zanzibar Sombre Greenbuls, White-browed Scrub Robins and Northern White-crowned Shrikes may also be found perched in the larger bushes and small trees, while roving Abyssinian Scimitarbills regularly inspects the branches of the larger acacias. Spotted Morning Thrushes sing joyfully and the loud calls of Slate-coloured Boubous sound from the depths of the thickets, while Red-fronted Tinkerbirds ‘poop’ away through the heat of the day whilst Beautiful Blue-capped Cordon-bleus and Purple Grenadiers search for food beneath these same bushes. If we are fortunate we may also find such desirable species as the striking African Bare-eyed Thrush, Pygmy Batis, the distinctive cathemagmena form of the Rosy-patched Shrike, the incredible Golden- breasted Starling, Southern Grosbeak-Canary and Somali Golden-breasted Bunting. If conditions are right we may also see Straw-tailed and Steel-blue whydahs in breeding plumage. We should also keep an eye open for Fire-fronted Bishop, an irruptive and irregularly seen species that is occasionally found here.
Today we shall explore the rarely visited South Pare Mountains & the mkomazi NP. A long, winding dirt road takes us up through, initially, dry bush country. Some of the birds we might see along the way include: Common Scimitarbill, African Stonechat, Abyssinian White-eye, Northern (split from Common) Fiscal, Black-headed Oriole and Red-winged Starling.As we climb ever higher the vegetation gradually changes into moister, cooler habitat and ultimately a remnant area of Montane Forest encompassed within the Chome Forest Reserve. From here the forest continues to Shengena peak at 2,462 metres. With luck the road will be open all the way to the forest. Once there, we should be able to find the endemic South Pare White-eye (winifredae) a distinctive population of the Broad-ringed White-eye and often split as a separate species. Unfortunately this pretty little bird is rather poorly illustrated in the literature. In addition we may encounter: Mountain Buzzard, Woolly-necked Stork, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Speckled Mousebird, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Moustached Green Tinkerbird, Red-rumped Swallow, Black Saw-wing, Black-headed Mountain and Placid greenbuls, Cape Robin Chat, the attractive White-starred Robin, African Dusky Flycatcher, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, Usambara Thrush, African Stonechat, Evergreen Forest Warbler, the charming Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Black-headed Apalis and the polymorphic Bar-throated Apalis here of the endemic race pareensisBlack- fronted Bush-shrikes, White-bellied Tit, African Hill Babbler, Waller’s and Red-winged starlings, Black-headed (or Village) Weaver, Usambara Double-collared Sunbird – also split by some authorities and perhaps the dazzling Malachite and Golden-winged sunbirds, and Southern Citril.
Day 16: Nyumba ya Mungu dam, and Evening Flight Home
We will drive through the dry country into Nyumbayamungu Dam where we can often see a large number of species including: Pink-backed Pelican, Long-tailed and White-breasted cormorants, Cattle, Little and Great egrets, Black, Squacco, Striated (or Green-backed) and Grey herons, Marabou and Yellow-billed storks, Sacred and Glossy ibis, African Spoonbill, White-faced and Fulvous Whistling ducks, Egyptian Goose, Red-billed Teal, Osprey, Eastern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Common and Augur buzzards, African Fish Eagle, Tawny and Long-crested eagles, Lanner Falcon, African Jacana, Water Thick-knee, Black-winged Stilt, Blacksmith and Spur-winged lapwings, Kittlitz’s Plover, Grey-headed Gull, Gull-billed, White-winged and Whiskered terns, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Namaqua, Red-eyed, Ring-necked and Laughing doves, African Orange-bellied Parrot, White-browed Coucal, African Palm and Little swifts, Blue-naped Mousebird, Grey-headed and Pied kingfishers, European and Blue-cheeked bee-eaters, European and Rufous-crowned rollers, Green Wood Hoopoe, Black-throated, D’Arnaud’s and Red-and-yellow barbets, Nubian Woodpecker, African Pied and Blue-headed Wagtails, Grassland Pipit, Lesser Striped Swallow, Dark-capped Bulbul, Northern Brownbul, Isabelline Wheatear, Rufous- tailed Rock Thrush, Spotted and African Grey flycatchers, Winding, Rattling and Ashy cisticolas, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Grey Wren Warbler, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Red-fronted Warbler, Northern and Red-faced crombecs, Abyssinian White-eye, Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, Isabelline Shrike, Long-tailed Fiscal, Sulphur-breasted Bush-Shrike, Common Drongo, Pied Crow, Superb and Wattled starlings, Swahili Sparrow, Yellow-spotted Petronia, White-headed Buffalo Weaver, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Vitelline, Chestnut, Lesser Masked and Black-necked weavers, Red-billed Quelea, Red-billed Firefinch, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Black-faced Waxbill, Green-winged Pytilia, African Silverbill, Village Indigobird, Pin-tailed Whydah, Reichenow’s (or Yellow-rumped) Seedeater and White-bellied Canary.
Catch Evening Intl Flight OUT END