• Summary: Visit several different tribes in Tanzania and learn about their fascinating history and culture
  • Price: $20 per group
  • Duration: 1 - 2 hours
  • Location: Southern Serengeti, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Olduvai Gorge, Lake Victoria, Arusha and Karatu

Background

Few places in the world can match the Serengeti's long human history and this fact has earned this part of Africa the title of 'Cradle of Mankind'. The earliest record is of a day 3.6 million years ago when three early human-like creatures (or hominids) walked across the Serengeti Plains, at a place now called Laetoli. A volcano had just erupted, blanketing the plains with ash, which a light rain then dampened. The prehistoric people left a clear trail of footprints. In a few days, another ash fall buried all the tracks and over time the ash hardened and became rock, preserving the tracks. Thousands of years passed before the soil on top of the trails eroded and luckily, archaeologists discovered them. The footprints reveal that early hominids walked erect and represent the earliest direct traces of hominids ever found.

The human story goes on, recorded in the ancient walls of Olduvai Gorge where several skulls and related fossils of early hominids were found. Some date as far back as 1.75 million years ago, while others are more recent. Waves of people have moved through the Serengeti ever since. Recently, about 150 years ago, the Maasai people came to the Serengeti. They ousted the Datoga people who undoubtedly pushed earlier people off the plains. And so it goes, back in time. No one tribe can claim to be the original inhabitants of the Serengeti.

The optional excursions listed below provide a chance to meet these latest inhabitants of the Serengeti Plains, called the Maasai. Other cultural tours listed below focus on different tribes in neighboring areas as well as modern Tanzanian villages. Our most popular excursion is the Olduvai Gorge Museum tour, which provides the best way to learn about the archaeology, history, and culture of this area.

Maasai Village

Tour a traditional Maasai Boma and learn about the proud and fascinating Maasai culture. A village chief will provide a tour of the Boma and explain their beliefs and way of life. You may watch or take part in a traditional dance. A $20 fee is required and paid directly to the village chief to purchase supplemental grain. Pictures are welcome inside the Boma. There are several Maasai Bomas that our guides have relationships with that are located approximately twenty minutes from the main road at Olduvai Gorge. The location provides for convenient access but is still far enough off the beaten path to avoid the main tourist circuit. A Maasai village tour can be incorporated into any itinerary enroute from the Serengeti to Ngorongoro Crater.

The Maasai are pastoralists and they live off their herds of cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys. Traditionally, the Maasai move nomadically with their herds to find pasture and water; however, in recent years some of them have made more permanent settlements. It is becoming more and more common for Maasai to supplement their diet of milk, blood, and meat with grain. The Maasai live in peaceful coexistence with the surrounding wildlife. The Maasai are legendary for their independence, physical courage, and their ferocity as warriors.

Olduvai Gorge - Cradle of Mankind

Learn about archaeology, history and our ancient hominid ancestors at Olduvai Gorge. Olduvai Gorge is a world famous archaeological site and anyone with an interest in mankind's ancestors will be fascinated by the history of this extraordinary place. The gorge and the surrounding area are also extremely interesting from a wildlife perspective as the habitat supports many distinctive plants and animals.

Olduvai Gorge is a canyon carved by water through the southern part of the Serengeti Plain. Its chief claim to fame is the rich treasure-trove of human and animal fossils that it has yielded. The name of the gorge, properly spelled 'Oldupai', is a Maasai word that refers the wild sisal found here. Our Olduvai Gorge tour includes a visit to the museum and visitor's center as well as a lecture by a department of Antiquities guide. The museum has several displays including a cast of the infamous Laetoli footprints along with other fossil bones and stone tools. This excursion can be incorporated into any itinerary enroute from the Serengeti to Ngorongoro Crater.

Lake Victoria Fishing Village

Visit a traditional fishing village on the shore of Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile River, is located just outside the western border of the Serengeti. This excursion can only be conducted while staying in the Western Serengeti at Kirawira Tented Lodge, Grumeti River Tented Lodge, or Mbalageti Tented Lodge.

Poli Village

Visit a traditional village in Arusha and learn about the culture and life of most Tanzanians. Poli is a village within the Usa River district and close to the offices of Africa Dream Safaris. Clients who wish to visit a non-touristy village will enjoy this 2-hour excursion to the nearby village of Poli. Clients will meet with the Chairman (Mayor) of the village or a representative from his village council and learn how a village of this size is managed along with the day to day issues. Site visits will include the primary school, hospital, courthouse and the village offices. This tour is usually a highlight for clients seeking cultural interactions and insight into the life of most Tanzanians. We highly recommend this tour, as the experience is very rewarding and highly educational. This tour can be easily included into any itinerary by adding an extra day upon arrival or departure at the Arumeru River Lodge in Arusha. Please see the 'Arusha Layover' section under Safari Options for more information.

Iraqw Underground House

Conduct a guided walking safari culminating in a cultural tour of a traditional Iraqw village in the Ngorongoro Highland Forests above the Great Rift Valley. The Iraqw people (not to be confused with Iraq) settled the Ngorongoro area some two thousand years ago. These people speak a Cushitic language with its origins in Ethiopia. The Iraqw had livestock and probably cultivated millet when they settled Ngorongoro. Today they are primarily agriculturalists and live along the hills and valleys of the plateau that stretches from the Ngorongoro Highlands south towards Lake Manyara. The Iraqw people are known for their unique houses that were built completely underground. It is thought that great wars with the Datoga tribe to the west led the Iraqw people to adopt this method of house construction in an effort of self-defense. Today you can tour these underground houses and learn about their way of life. The Iraqw Underground House tour requires an overnight stay at Bougainvillea Lodge and can be conducted enroute from Ngorongoro Crater to Lake Manyara on any itinerary.

Hadzabe Cultural Excursion

Embark on a rugged adventure to the remote villages and camps of this unique and ancient Tanzanian tribe. It's about a 2-hour drive each way to Hadzabe territory (an itinerary with 2-nights in the Lake Manyara/Karatu is required to conduct this excursion). Some 300-400 Hadzabe live as hunter-gatherers, much as they have for thousands or even tens of thousands of years; they are the last functioning hunter-gatherers in Africa. The Hadzabe are not closely related to any other people. While traditionally considered an East African branch of the Khoisan peoples, primarily because their language has clicks, modern genetic research suggests that they may be more closely related to the Pygmies. The Hadzabe language appears to be an isolate, unrelated to any other.

School of St Jude

In addition to a range of other cultural and charitable outreach opportunities, we offer our guests a chance to visit The School of St Jude, a charity funded school that provides a free, high-quality primary and secondary education to over 1,600 of the poorest, brightest children of the Arusha region in Tanzania. Here they can meet students - who come from the poorest families in Arusha - and find out how one classroom in 2002 has grown into three campuses, two boarding houses and a centre of employment for over 450 local Tanzanians.

Overview

  • Summary: Sunrise balloon safari followed by a champagne toast and a bush breakfast
  • Price: $495 per person
  • Duration: 5 hours (5.00AM - 10.00AM)
  • Location: Central Serengeti / South Serengeti / West Serengeti

Logistics

Easily incorporated into any itinerary.

Seasons

Balloon safaris can be incorporated into your itinerary during any month of travel. The Central Serengeti launching site (available year round) is a great option any month with abundant resident animal sightings and spectacular scenery. The South Serengeti launching site offers the opportunity for an aerial view of the Great Migration on the open plains from mid December to early April and similarly at the West Serengeti launching site from roughly mid May to early July.

Itinerary

You will be picked up at 5.00am from your lodge and will be driven to your awaiting balloon at the specific launching site. If you have selected any of our private luxury camps, your driver will transfer you to the nearest lodge where you will meet up with the other guests. Keep an eye out for nocturnal predators as you may encounter them returning from their nightly hunting forays on your game drive to the launching site.Arrive at the balloon-launching site for a quick briefing from your pilot. As the blush of dawn glows to the east, you will take off and float above the vast Serengeti.

From a unique aerial perspective, watch in awe as the sun rises in molten splendor. Soar in the quiet hush of morning as the vast savannah below is washed in a rising crescendo of golden light, illuminating the details of the African landscape in vibrant colors. With a little luck you will have good game viewing opportunities while you glide peacefully above the Serengeti. Please keep in mind that every flight is different and wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed. However, you will undoubtedly enjoy the spectacular views and the serene quiet as you aimlessly drift along with the prevailing winds.

Your pilot can precisely control the altitude of your balloon while sometimes flying at treetop height and at other times ascending to 1000 feet. Flight time is about one hour depending upon conditions. Scout vehicles will track your location from the ground and will be waiting for you wherever the winds have carried the balloon.

Your balloon safari ends with a delightful champagne toast and an elegant breakfast at the landing site. A lavish breakfast is served in the bush with weighty silver, delicate china, and fine linen tablecloths. Breakfast consists of tropical fruits, freshly baked bread, eggs, sausage, bacon, mushroom and tomato.

Overview

  • Summary: Explore spectacular wilderness areas on foot in the company of a Maasai Warrior or Park Ranger Guide
  • Price: $0 - $50 per person
  • Duration: One-hour nature walks to longer half-day hikes
  • Location: Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Mara & Grumeti Rivers in the Northern Serengeti, Loliondo Game Reserve, Mbalageti River in the Western Serengeti, Tarangire National Park, Empakaai Crater and Lake Ndutu in the Southern Serengeti

Background

Experience the unique sights, smells, and sounds of Africa unconstrained by a vehicle. Immerse yourself into the subtle yet beautiful details of this wild place. Learn to recognize different animal footprints. See and touch the different plants that form the bottom level of an immense food chain. Watch curiously as a dung beetle recycles waste from the plains or take a minute to watch a butterfly or hummingbird move from flower to flower. Learn about ancient medicinal plants that have been used for thousands of years to cure various ailments. On foot you can really take notice of the little things that are passed quickly by while driving. Walking in the bush could prove to be one of the highlights of your safari as you track animal footprints, game view on foot, and learn about ecology and culture from your Maasai Warrior or Park Ranger Guide.

Mara River Nature Walk

View hippos and crocodiles on a 30-minute nature walk along the banks of the Mara River in the remote reaches of the Northern Serengeti. Short but sweet, this walk provides an opportunity for great game viewing on foot while surrounded by one of the most pristine wilderness areas in the Serengeti. With a little luck you might just witness the famous wildebeest crossing.

Wogakuria Walking Safaris

Explore the scenic and remote Wogakuria area of the North Serengeti on a proper walking safari from either Serengeti Buth Tops Camp or Lemua Kuria Hills Tented Lodge. These 2 - 3 hour walking safaris are led by naturalists along with armed park rangers and explore the varied habitats of Wogakuria. Either walking safari is highly recommended during the dry season is staying at Serengeti Buth Tops Camp or Lemua Kuria Hills Tented Lodge.

Grumeti River Nature Walk

View hippos and other resident wildlife on a 30-minute nature walk from Migration Tented Lodge to the banks of the Grumeti River in the Northern Serengeti. This walk make a great afternoon activity after a morning game driving the surrouding area. A stay at Migration Tented Lodge is required.

Loliondo Game Reserve Walking Safaris

Buffalo Tented Lodge located in the Loliondo Game Reserve just outside the Northern Serengeti offers some of the best walking safari options in and around the Serengeti. Each walking safari can be tailored to a guest's personal preferences for long or short, strenuous or leisurely. The hills of the Loliondo area are extremely scenic, and it is very rewarding to walk up and enjoy the gorgeous vistas. Bush walks allow guests to appreciate some of the more subtle details and see "the bush" from a unique perspective including plants, trees and the role of smaller animals on the land. Additionally, the walking safaris are led by Maasai warriors from the neighboring villages, which adds a unique cultural experience to the walking safari. A stay at Buffalo Tented Lodge is required.

Mbalageti River Nature Walk

Cross the Mbalageti River swing bridge on a 1.5-hour walking safari from Mbalageti Tented Lodge. The walk departs from the lodge and winds down the Mwamnevi Hill to the Dutwa Plains. It's a short crossing across the Dutwa plains to get to the Mbalageti River, which is enclosed in a thick canopy of gallery forest. Bird life is amazing by the river and it feels like being in a rain forest. After you cross the swing bridge, refreshments are offered before you embark on the return route back to Mbalageti Tented Lodge. This walk is a great experience year round and an overnight stay is required at Mbalageti Tented Lodge.

Olduvai Gorge & Maasai Boma

Walk through the Southern Serengeti Plains near Olduvai Gorge in the company of a Maasai Warrior. This special walking safari takes approximately one hour to complete and culminates with a tour of a local Maasai Boma (village) and an optional visit to the Olduvai Gorge Museum. Take your time on the walk tracking footprints and enjoying the scenery and wildlife. Your Maasai guide will explain many interesting things about the 'bush' and his culture. During the dry season, there is a good chance that you will encounter giraffes and Grant's gazelles. During the green season, the migratory animals may also be seen including wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson's gazelles.

Tarangire Walking Safaris

Encounter big game on foot including giraffes and elephants on one of many walking safaris throughout Tarangire National Park. One of the highlights of any Tarangire walking safari is the opportunity to see the rare and beautiful lesser kudu antelope. Kudus are notoriously shy and will quickly hide at the sound of an approaching vehicle. Walking safaris throughout Tarangire yield frequent sightings of this elegant antelope as one quietly traverses the thick bush habitat where they reside. Walking safaris in Tarangire may be conducted year round from Tarangire Treetops Lodge, Kikoti Tented Lodge or Swala Tented Lodge. Each respective lodge has in house guides that we can arrange to lead a walking safari should you be interested. The Tarangire walks are highly recommended and make a great way to conclude any safari.

Lake Ndutu Nature Walks

Explore the shorelines of Lake Ndutu in the South Serengeti on a scenic nature walk. This nature walk is highly recommended during the green season from December through April. Lake Ndutu plays host to not only thousands of flamingos during the green season but also the Great Migration.

Angata Kiti Adventure Hike

Walk through a beautiful valley in the remote reaches of the Eastern Serengeti Plains. Angata Kiti is a small valley that cuts through the ancient Gol Mountains. Nasera Rock, a huge granite monolith, marks the entrance to Angata Kiti and makes an ideal starting point for this two to four hour walking safari. The Angata Kiti walk is truly an amazing adventure off the beaten path and is perhaps our favorite walking safari. Wildlife viewing can be spectacular here during the green season and the goal of this walk is to witness the great wildebeest migration of foot. Please note that these remote eastern plains receive the least amount of rainfall in the entire ecosystem. This small amount of rainfall, combined with a shallow soil base which allows water to dry quickly, can make wildlife viewing unpredictable at times. Angata Kiti is only recommended during the green season.

Okarien Gorge Adventure Hike

Hike through a massive cliff gorge that is the primary nesting site of the Ruppell's Griffon Vulture. These vultures are cliff nesters and breed one chick a year every March when the great wildebeest migration is located in the immediate area. It is fascinating to watch the vultures soaring overhead as you walk through the surreal looking gorge. A walking safari at Olkarien Gorge also provides an opportunity for interactions with the Maasai, who typically bring their cattle to drink at the base of the gorge. Olkarien Gorge rests at the eastern edge of the Gol Mountains and is only recommended during the green season. Due to the remote location, an overnight stay at the nearby Nasera Rock Private Luxury Camp is required.

Empakaai Crater Adventure Hike

This adventurous walk is a full day's hike to the floor of Empakaai Crater, which is nearly 4 miles wide. The steep walls of the caldera soar above the crater floor approximately 1,000 feet. A trail into the crater leads from the eastern rim down through the forest to Empakaai's floor and the lake, which is sometimes home to flamingos. Be on the look out for buffalo, blue monkeys and the rare bushbuck as you descend down through the lush green forest. Beautiful and colorful birds such as turacos and sunbirds may also be seen in the forest. Two nights at any lodge or camp on the rim of the Crater are required in order to facilitate this full day hike.

Overview

  • Summary: Experience the thrilling adventure of a night game drive!
  • Price: $0 - $50 per person
  • Duration: 1 - 2 hours
  • Location: Buffalo Tented Lodge in the Northern Serengeti/Loliondo Game Reserve or Swala Tented Lodge and Tarangire Tree Tops Tented Lodge in Tarangire National Park

Background

Three properties in North Tanzania are permitted to conduct night game drives including Buffalo Tented Lodge, Swala Tented Lodge and Tarangire Tree Tops Tented Lodge. Each lodge employs a unique open-sided safari vehicle which can be used in the periphery of the park. The vehicle is equipped with a special "spotter" seat at the front of the vehicle as well as a spot light. Night here is another world altogether, an alien landscape waxed in silver moonlight. Ghosts of hippos emerge from the rivers, giant shapes of elephants melt into and out of clearings like silent battleships passing in the night, and the throb of lion roaring pierces the chilly black. Keep an eye out for eyes shining back at you from the spotlight, and watch for nocturnal creatures you won't likely find out during the day, like bush babies and porcupines.

Africa Dream Safaris is proud to offer the Junior Game Ranger Challenge to all our young guests. This program is full of exciting games and activities designed to enhance your child's safari experience - inspiring and educating them along the way!

Even before their trip begins, the Junior Game Ranger will receive a package in the mail loaded with information and equipment to prepare them for the adventure ahead. The kit includes: a backpack, flashlight, canteen, disposable camera, pencils and a 40-page fieldbook filled with fun challenges. With an interactive approach, each activity teaches the young explorer about the culture, language, wildlife, geography and ecology of the Serengeti. After finishing each task, your guide will stamp the fieldbook and award the young ranger with a patch and a certificate in celebration of their accomplishment!

Overview

  • Summary: Visit a hospital, school or orphanage
  • Price: Complimentary
  • Duration: 1 - 2 hours
  • Location: Arusha and Lake Manyara/Karatu Region

Background

On your safari trip with Africa Dream Safaris, you will witness for yourself the beauty of Tanzania, reflected not only in its natural resources but also in the graciousness of the local people. We are certain you will be moved by both.

In appreciation for all the beauty and inspiration this amazing country has given us, it is time to GIVE BACK. It is our privilege to support several humanitarian projects and conservation efforts that have a positive impact the lives of the local people and wildlife in real, tangible ways. As a direct result of our efforts, children have gotten the basic medical attention they needed to survive and a proper education to rise above otherwise hopeless circumstances; more precious animals, some critically endangered, now have a real chance at sustained survival in the wild where they belong.

Our main sponsorship projects to date including the Foundation for African Medicine and Education, Serengeti Lion Conservation, Serengeti Cheetah Conservation, Poli Village School, The Peace House Orphanage and The School of St Jude. Sustained focus on these projects has resulted in real, lasting success. In addition to continuing our support of these efforts, we also hope to participate in many more such projects in the future!

By choosing Africa Dream Safaris, you will partner with our front-line efforts to improve the lives of the local people and conserve the precious wildlife that make their home here. And it is WORKING! We will be so grateful to have you on our team moving forward. Together, we can continue to make a real difference!

Hospital Visit

Tour the Foundation for African Medicine and Education (FAME), a charitable organization that was founded to provide quality medical care to the local people living in rural Tanzania.

Monthly donations by Africa Dream Safaris help F.A.M.E. provide invaluable medical care to people living in the District of Karatu, a rural region between Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.

All guests traveling with Africa Dream Safaris are invited to stop by the FAME facility in Karatu for a brief tour and presentation. This excursion can be conducted on any safari itinerary as the FAME facility is located right off the main road between the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara. This brief tour is highly recommended and praised by returning guests.

Read more about FAME

Orphanage Visit

By 2010, an estimated 20 million children under the age of 15 will have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Without parents to support them, many children are often forced to abandon school. Without an education, orphans face a bleak future with little hope. A survey of over 400 households with orphans in Tanzania reported that almost 40% could not cover even basic expenses. The most common difficulty was covering school fees, including those for materials and uniforms.

Guests travelling with Africa Dream Safaris are welcome to tour the facilities at a local orphanage in Arusha. This excursion can be conducted with an Arusha layover or on the last day of your safari if departing on the late night KLM flight.

Read more about Peace House Orphanage

School Visit

In addition to a range of other cultural and charitable outreach opportunities, we offer our guests a chance to visit The School of St Jude, a charity funded school that provides a free, high-quality primary and secondary education to over 1,600 of the poorest, brightest children of the Arusha region in Tanzania. Here they can meet students - who come from the poorest families in Arusha - and find out how one classroom in 2002 has grown into three campuses, two boarding houses and a centre of employment for over 450 local Tanzanians.

This excursion can be conducted with an Arusha layover or on the last day of your safari if departing on the late night KLM flight.

Read more about The School of St Jude

Overview

  • Summary: Learn about the Serengeti's famous lions with a private field lecture at Seronera.
  • Price: $750 per group
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Location: At the lion house in Seronera, Central Serengeti

Background

Africa Dream Safaris is a proud sponsor of the Serengeti Lion Project. Our funding helps to protect lions against diseases such as canine distemper through programs aimed at vaccinating domestic dogs on the periphery of the Serengeti.

We are delighted to announce that Africa Dream Safaris was honored with the Tanzania Conservation Award specifically because of our work with the Serengeti Lion Project. This prestigious award is presented by the Minister of Tourism in conjunction with the Tanzania Tourist Board.

Twenty-six resident lion prides residing in and around the Central Serengeti have been continuously studied since 1966 when George Schaller began his groundbreaking field study. The Serengeti Lion Project was hence created, which is the longest continuous field study ever conducted on a large mammal. One female member from each of the 26 prides is radio collared so that they can be tracked and studied on a weekly basis.

Two field biologists are stationed in Seronera 365 days a year to monitor and continue this long-term study. For a $750 per group donation, we can arrange a field talk by the current field biologists at the Lion House in Seronera (Central Serengeti) where you can learn first-hand about the lions of the Serengeti.