Tanzania Spectacular Family Safari
100% School Break-Friendly
A 10 Day Holiday Event
Is it possible for kids to go on African safari without missing school? With Micato, absolutely!
Departs Sunday, March 18th 2018
One thing most adults and young people share: a fascination with Africa’s gloriously unique and plentiful animals, its vast landscapes, and its diverse and lively cultures. And so we planned this safari to showcase three major contributors to that East African mystique: the classic game lands of Tarangire, the astonishing Ngorongoro Crater, and the fabled Serengeti—all in a mere but marvelous 10 days. Direct flights from Europe take us to the sudden serenity of the Arusha Coffee Lodge, and then we’re off on a carefully choreographed safari, with two nights in each of the three camps and lodges we’ve chosen for their warmth of family-welcoming spirit, their strategic location, and their combination of serenity and high-spirited activity.
Day 1 En Route
We dream of safari while we soar through the skies, bound for Africa.
Day 2 Arrive Arusha
The Arusha Coffee Lodge, an old-fashioned island of quietude tucked away in a plantation, is a great place to unwind after the rigours of long flights. Arusha is only 3 degrees south of the equator, but its 4,500-foot elevation encourages floral luxuriance and gentle airs. So we’ll be more or less surrounded by enthusiastic greenery as we sit on our Plantation Suite’s veranda—perhaps after a relaxing swim—looking up at massive Mount Meru, the just-under 15,000-foot volcanic colossus that looms beneficently over this quintessentially African city.
Days 3 & 4 Tarangire
After a breakfast topped off by some of the freshest and best coffee we’ll ever imbibe, we’ll be briefed by our Safari Director, take a vitalizing ramble in the lodge’s plantation (where kids can pick coffee beans and learn how they’re transformed into one of the world’s most popular beverage/obsessions). We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch before flying to Tarangire and our home for the next couple of nights, Tarangire Treetops. Our first experience of luxury life in the bush couldn’t be more spectacular. Treetops’ main lodge, built around a thousand-year-old baobab, is only the beginning. The lodge’s 20 famous, lovingly crafted tree houses, elevated for sweeping views of the park, are extraordinarily large, airy, and utterly magical.
And from our tree house’s balcony, we look out at Tarangire’s wonderfully varied landscapes of rocky outcrops, rolling hills, and golden savannah generously strewn with acacias and baobabs, home to just about the entire cast of wild African characters, including 2,500 or so elephants and some rare stars, like kudu and oryx.
We’ll make early-morning and afternoon game drives, perhaps take a walking safari with a local Maasai guide, and we’ll visit a traditional Maasai village. Our Safari Director and local guide conduct these visits carefully and respectfully, with an eye for real and meaningful cultural interactions. Kids delight in spontaneous jumping contests with Maasai warriors (many of whom could dunk a basketball from a standing start), mothers compare notes, kids meet kids, and smiles abound.
In the evening, we’ll enjoy a lovely open-air family dinner under wise old baobab trees, followed by star gazing in the limitlessly clear African night. And, if we’re still keen to see more all-star creatures, we can go on a night drive, always a revelation.
Days 5 & 6 Ngorongoro Crater
The drive from Tarangire north to the Crater Highlands and the world-wondrous Ngorongoro Crater is a delight, a dazzlingly scenic game drive. We pass Lake Manyara and its tree climbing (and contentedly snoozing) lions, then begin our approach to the reposefully luxurious cabins of Exploreans Ngorongoro Lodge.
Driving up the crater’s lushly forested flanks is a great moment in a traveler’s life: we zag and zig to its very rim and—suddenly—a stunning, world-unique view of the great caldera, undiscovered until 1892. Then down 2,000 feet to the flat inner caldera’s 100 beautiful square miles for a morning game drive, spotting lions, elephants, black rhinos, just about all of East Africa’s faunal celebrities.
In addition to its plentiful, well-protected, but free-roaming wildlife, Ngorongoro is a kind of textbook of geologic drama. It’s been a gigantic peak, perhaps a rival of 19,000-foot Kilimanjaro, and, after it blew its snowy top in what must have been a rather impressive explosion— our forefathers over at the nearby Olduvai Gorge, busy getting their humanoid act together, probably saw it— Ngorongoro spent many millennia as an alternately quiet and occasionally bubbling lava lake before it gradually cooled completely and transformed into the serene refuge it is today.
After our visit to the Lost World, we’ll wend back up the crater’s wall for sundowners on the rim (with a beer tasting for the older folk, and biltong—game jerky— tasting for the younger). Or we may return to Exploreans for quiet, view-besotted sundowners on our cabin’s private terrace, followed by a lovely dinner overlooking a green sea of trees, down to sparkling Lake Manyara below.
Days 7 & 8 The Serengeti
We end this short, but undeniably spectacular, safari in the Serengeti. “There is a lightening of the spirit,” Cyril Connolly wrote about the vast plain. We’re invited to a rare, deep-rootedly serene idyll. The sky is huge and blue and as pure as the day the earth was born. (And on the southern horizon, over the Crater Highlands—“That’s Ngorongoro, just behind that big green mountain,” we’ll say knowledgeably, affectionately.
Game drives in the Serengeti are endlessly eventful. The Serengeti’s kopjes are the creation of a cosmic bonsai master, and on a flat brown rock atop one of them, a lion rolls over and warms its fluffy white belly in the sun. Elephants amble along as if they had “an appointment at the end of the world,” in the words of Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa, a book that has inspired more than one young person to fall in love with the continent. But we may ask our Safari Director and driver guide to focus on a particular animal, cheetah for instance, or we might concentrate on a peaceful search for one of the Big Five we’ve somehow missed at Tarangire or the Ngorongoro (the Big Five, as our family animal expert will attest, are: lion, Cape buffalo, elephant, leopard, and rhinoceros).
We’ll spend two idyllic Serengeti nights in Migration Camp, tucked away in kopje-esque rocks just above the Grumeti River. The main lodge has a split-level lounge, a swimming pool, and a dandy restaurant, and each of Migration Camp’s 20 tents is encircled by a deck, a private sanctuary from which to gaze out at the natural extravaganza below and beyond. Those of us who can’t quite believe that hippos really exist—that’s how otherworldly they sometimes seem—are delighted that rumbling pods of them disport on the Grumeti, along with many single-minded crocodiles; the great migration funnels into a crossing of this river, and the crocs bide their time like the pleistocenic beasts they are.
Days 9 & 10 Depart and fly homeward
After a final game drive, we’ll head back to Migration Camp for breakfast. If we’ve got a real naturalist in the family, she or he may be close to sighting the Little Five, and need just a little luck to complete the list: rhinoceros beetle, buffalo weaver, leopard tortoise (not so mini, really; they can weigh as much as three standard bowling balls), ant lion, and the extremely shy elephant shrew, which weighs not much more than an elephant’s tear.
In any case, it’s time to say good-bye to the Serengeti and Tanzania’s spectacular bush. We fly back to Arusha, relax in day rooms at the Coffee Lodge, maybe take a pre-flight swim, and board our homebound planes in the evening, arriving back home on Day 10.