Arrive Arusha, Tanzania
Tour begins: Arusha Serena Hotel. Transfers are included from Kilimanjaro International Airport to Arusha Serena Hotel, for an overnight stay.
Birds of Lake Manyara National Park
Set out for a four-night safari to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti plains, traveling through Lake Manyara National Park. Along with abundant giraffes, baboons and elephants, Lake Manyara is home to a multitude of birds, including great birds of prey. Continue on to Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, home to some 30,000 large mammals. Please join us for a welcome reception and dinner at your lodge overlooking the vast and wildlife-lush Ngorongoro Crater far below.
A Garden of Eden in Ngorongoro Crater
Experience the Africa of bygone days when you explore the "lost world" of Ngorongoro Crater, believed by many to have been Africa's original "Garden of Eden." Within this dormant volcano's walls lie short grasslands, swamps, forests, fresh and saltwater lakes, inspiring continuous animal migration. From aboard your four-wheel-drive vehicle, you'll have an opportunity to spot Africa's renowned Big Five - buffalo, elephant, leopard, the black-maned lion and the endangered, rare black rhinoceros - as well as herds of zebras, wildebeests and gazelles. Today's picnic lunch in the crater will be a highlight.
Ancient Man in Oldupai Gorge
Your day begins with a visit to Oldupai Gorge, the world-famous paleoanthropological site studied by anthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey for more than 40 years, finding exceptional stone tools, animal bones and fossilized evidence of some of the earliest known human species. Enjoy game viewing as you drive to your wilderness lodge in Serengeti National Park; be prepared for bumps and bounces along unpaved roads. No matter how rough the ride, wait until you see your safari lodge in the Serengeti - it's built for unprecedented pampering. Enjoy a special barbecue dinner in your lodge's Boma Grill tonight, enhanced by a Maasai traditional dance performance.
Endless Plains in Serengeti Nat'l Park
Morning and afternoon game drives take you into the golden Serengeti savanna today, one of the oldest ecosystems on Earth able to sustain an abundance of flora and fauna. You may spot numerous prides of lions, zebras, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, black rhinoceros, hippos, buffalo, jackals, gazelles and primates. Enjoy the evening under the sunset and savor a taste of Pan-African cuisine during a leisurely dinner.
Kenya's Amboseli National Park
Leave the Serengeti behind as you fly to Arusha, Tanzania en route to Kenya. Dominating the skyline, majestic Mt. Kilimanjaro peaks over surrounding landscapes from more than 15,000 feet up. Have lunch at the Cultural Heritage Center in Arusha prior to continuing into Kenya and begining a two-night stay at your safari lodge in Amboseli National Park, where herds of free-ranging elephants and other wildlife like to roam; enjoy a private lecture on the elephants of Amboseli before dinner tonight.
Private Game Drives in Amboseli
Tauck's private safari game drives in Amboseli National Park offer ample opportunity to view the elephants, hippos and buffaloes that seek out the park's natural watering holes and the graceful antelopes that graze in the flat grasslands. An early morning visit to a Maasai village precedes a morning game drive, after which you'll return to the lodge for breakfast. Spend some down time at your lodge prior to lunch, then another game drive, and time to spend as you please at the lodge in the afternoon. Enjoy an included dinner at your leisure at the lodge this evening.
Mt. Kenya's Animal Orphanage
A morning flight brings you to the world-famous Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, straddling the Equator and your luxurious home for the next two nights. The former retreat of actor William Holden, the Safari Club, founded in 1959, was once the playground of such illustrious members such as Winston Churchill and Bing Crosby. Following lunch and an Equatorial demonstration, pay a private visit to the nearby William Holden Wildlife Education Center and animal orphanage; this sanctuary for animals that have been orphaned or injured and need special care also teaches local children to cherish and appreciate the unique wildlife of their homeland.
Ol Pejeta & Village Weavers
An exciting day begins at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to the largest resident black rhino population in East Africa and other members of the Big Five. It is also home to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, founded by Jane Goodall, which gives lifelong homes to orphaned and abused chimpanzees, and which you'll visit this morning. While at Ol Pejeta, enjoy Tauck's special access to visit a compound where endangered black rhino are bred. After lunch at your hotel, take a look at local life on a private visit to a nearby village, where villagers spin colorful tales into their handmade wool rugs, sweaters and shawls right before your eyes. Return to your celebrity resort late afternoon. Tonight, attend our private barbecue dinner held under the stars on the lush manicured lawns of the Mount Kenya Safari Club.
Welcome to the Masai Mara
pack your Tauck duffle bag and fly to the Masai Mara National Reserve in southern Kenya, where you'll be welcomed by Maasai warriors. Have lunch upon your arrival at the luxurious Fairmont Mara Safari Club, where an elegant tented camp is your home for the next three nights. Spend the afternoon relaxing, swimming, taking in the views and otherwise becoming acquainted with the Safari Club and your luxury tented camp accommodations, evoking the classic safaris of yesteryear. Embark on an evening game drive across the plains of "the Mara" in search of animals that make their homes here; perhaps you'll see lions, antelopes, elephants and zebras in their daily rituals. Return to camp for a briefing on tomorrow's hot air balloon flight, followed by dinner.
Ballooning over the plains of the Masai Mara
Today will be one that you'll always remember as you arise before dawn to board a hot air balloon* and float over the Masai Mara's awakening plains below as the sun rises. When you land, a special champagne breakfast will be awaiting you right there in the bush! Spectacular isn't quite strong enough a word to describe such an experience, a Tauck Exclusive! Back on the ground, look for lions, impalas, cheetahs, giraffes, and the other animals you've come to love as you return overland to the camp for lunch and an afternoon at leisure - and later on an evening game drive with an opportunity to use special technology to enhance your safari experience. Have dinner back at your tented camp.
More Game Drives in the Masai Mara
Unparalleled wildlife viewing is the watchword on your final day in the spectacular Masai Marai - and the last full day of your safari adventure - as you set out on a morning game drive... return to your tented camp for lunch, and perhaps a bit of swimming and down time... and then head back out across the plains for a final afternoon game drive in the bush. After returning to your tented camp, enjoy dinner in the boma of the Fairmont Mara Safari Club.
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.
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 Fosse Gorilla Fund Museum. Learn insights and observations about gorilla behavior in preparation for tomorrow's trek, as well as hearing the fascinating story of Dian Fosse's unforgettable quest to save the mountain gorilla.
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.
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.