2023 November 5 to 14
Prices listed are per person:
Shared Room: $9298
Private Room: $10,798
“This trip achieved the reality of a place that had existed only in my imagination. I cried at the first sight of the Serengeti and its animals. Oldupai Gorge was a meditation on the dawn of man. The magnificent Serena chain of lodges were woven seamlessly into the landscape. Paths of a million migrations took shape viewed from a balloon.” – Tony R., Santa Cruz, CA
“Tanzania is the perfect combination of beautiful landscapes, amazing wildlife, and warm welcoming people.” – Keith D., New York, NY
“We just returned from the crater. The whole ecosystem is amazing and it was an incredible drive. We did get to see lions several times. The first time one of the lionesses walked over and laid down next to/under our vehicle. It was amazing, we could have reached down and petted her.” – R.A., Redondo Beach, CA
“A trip of a lifetime, everyone should see the Serengeti once in their lifetime.” – D. Lotufo, Centerville, MA
Experience wild Africa – Tanzania has more land devoted to wildlife than anywhere else in the world.
Sleep each night at upscale, remote lodges and luxury tented camps (with en suite, of course!)
Visit Lake Manyara, home to huge troops of baboons and vast flocks of flamingos.
Descend 1,800 feet to the floor of Ngorongoro crater, one of the world’s largest, and without doubt the one most jam-packed with almost all the various mammal types in East Africa, including the rare black rhino.
Walk in the path of ancient hominids at Olduvai Gorge where the Leakey’s made many of their great archaeological discoveries.
Gaze for days across the vast Serengeti savanna, seeing wildebeests, zebras and elephants graze and then gather around watering holes, all the while keeping a watch out for lions and other predators.
View pools of water filled with huge hippopotamus. And nearby giant crocodiles sunning on the sand.
Fly back to our starting place by light aircraft for a bird’s eye view of this unique wonderland.
Join our optional extension to the romantic and mysterious Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar.
A Safari in a Garden of Eden
Join us to see one of nature’s best shows, a safari through the greatest congregation of large mammals anywhere in the world.
We will first follow a path like that explored by Hemingway, including Lake Manyara National Park and the East African Rift. Our safari then climbs onto the Ngorongoro Highlands for visits with a local tribe and a coffee plantation, before dropping 1800 feet to the floor of the extinct Ngorongoro crater, which is filled with thousands of animals grazing, breeding and interacting—not always peacefully—in this unique paradise.
We will also visit with Maasai warriors and will visit one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world, Olduvai Gorge, from Louis and Mary Leakey’s fame. And then, for the best yet, our journey takes us to the wonders on the expansive savanna of Serengeti National Park, dotted with granite kopjes and dominated by large predators.
During our safari, we are likely to see leopards, lions, cheetahs, hyenas, cape buffalo, gazelles, ostrich, giraffe, baboons, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, wildebeest, and zebra, among dozens of others. And at night while on safari we will enjoy upscale, remote lodges and luxury tent camps. We promise you a remarkable experience.
Most North American travelers will depart home a day before the first day of the tour. See our FAQ about flights to see the variety of options available to Kilimanjaro and home from Kilimanjaro or Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam for those on the extension.
Day 1: Kilimanjaro and Arusha
Upon arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport, you will be met by our representative and transferred to our hotel in a boutique coffee plantation near Arusha, about 35 miles from Kilimanjaro Airport. You can enjoy the balance of the day at leisure at the resort.
Our first hotel and resort have all the modern conveniences you expect. It is the perfect place to relax before embarking on your safari experience. The lodge boasts magnificent views of the mighty Mount Meru and, just beyond it, possibly the snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro. Meet your other tour members for an early evening reception. Dinner is on your own tonight since some of the most convenient flights arrive later in the evening. Prepare to depart for your safari tomorrow.
Days 2-3: Toward the Great African Rift and Lake Manyara National Park
Today we depart Arusha and drive to one of several national parks abutting the lower section of the African rift. In Lake Manyara National Park, an ornithological paradise with over 350 species of birds, you may see Verreaux’s Eagle and a variety of vultures, storks, swifts, and swallows enjoying the updrafts near the lake, as well as the yellow-collared Lovebird and the Rufous-tailed Weaver. From the distance, the lake often has a pinkish hue due to the flamingos, pelicans, and storks shimmering in the distance.
Lake Manyara, at 3,150 feet in altitude, varies in salinity levels with wetter and drier climate cycles. Springs in the park’s northern end support a dense groundwater forest of magnificent giant fig and mahogany trees that shelter vervet monkeys and an abundance of baboons, bushbuck, waterbuck, and elephants. South of the groundwater forest, acacia woodland, and open grassland are frequented by cape buffalo, wildebeest, impala, giraffe, zebra, and the elusive tree-climbing lions – the signature of this park.
Perhaps the most recognizable tree found here is the baobab tree, which folklore says was uprooted and planted upside down. The hippo pool, where visitors may get out of their vehicles, is located on a freshwater stream that enters the lake at its northern tip.
Our accommodation is built high on the edge of the East African Rift escarpment, with magnificent views of the broad valley below and not far from Lake Manyara twinkling in the distance. Enjoy a beverage while lounging in the infinity-edge swimming pool while looking out on the landscape far below that was deeply loved by Ernest Hemingway. All rooms have en suite bathrooms and private balconies or verandahs overlooking the escarpment and the lake beyond. We will enjoy our welcome dinner on our first evening here.
Day 4-5: Local Culture and the Ngorongoro Highlands & Crater
Today we make our way further west, visiting a traditional home of an elder of the Iraqw tribe, where the elder shares tales of their Iraqw culture here on the rift. Then, after a lunch of traditional Tanzanian dishes at a stunning, award-winning coffee lodge, we start to climb onto the rim surrounding the Ngorongoro crater, arriving at our accommodation where we will stay for two nights. This stone lodge has spectacular views into the broad crater floor 1800 feet below, a view that is even more unique at night when moonlight reflects off the crater floor and thousands of stars dazzle overhead.
In the early morning, board your Land Rover for an amazing journey as you descend over the edge and down to the floor of this extinct volcano, It is claimed to be the largest unbroken caldera in the world that isn’t filled with water. The cone of this UNESCO World Heritage site is believed to have collapsed nearly two million years ago, and, while the cone was standing, it could have been as tall as, if not taller than, Mount Kilimanjaro.
The crater (1,800 feet deep and 102 square miles) is a microcosm of East African scenery with abundant wildlife including more than 15,000 larger animals, mostly zebra and wildebeest. This is the best place in Tanzania to see magnificent black-maned lions. And this is our best opportunity to see black rhinos, as they are protected around the clock.
Over the years, the floor of this crater has become mostly savanna (grassland), with a soda lake whose size changes depending on the rains that are the lifeline of this amazing land. On this lake, marvel at the colorful flamingos and a variety of other water birds – more than 100 species of birds found here that are not found in the Serengeti. Resident Ostriches, Crowned Cranes, and Kori Bustards are joined seasonally by migrant flocks of White and Abdim’s Storks. Patience may also reward you with glimpses of leopard, cheetah, hyena, jackal, elephant, warthog, buffalo, impala, buffalo, hartebeest, eland, and many other types of antelopes.
Your wildlife viewing will be dramatic, and the experience memorable. A recent HE Travel group had lions resting in the shadow of their vehicle during an interlude in mating between a lion and lioness. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the crater floor, then return over the rim of the crater six hours later (regulations now specify that no one can stay longer than six hours daily on the crater floor) and drive to your lodge
Day 6: Olduvai Gorge – The Origins of Man
As we drive to the Serengeti this morning, we have a few stops. First, we will visit a Maasai village and learn about this fascinating culture that has existed through the millennia in harmony with nature. Surprisingly, along the way, we may run into a small group of camels.
We then drive to the legendary Olduvai Gorge, passing through a spectacular mix of savanna and volcanic hills, where red-robed Maasai graze their cattle before the road drops steeply down into the gorge itself.
The name originated from the Maasai word “ole” meaning “the place of” and “dupai” meaning “wild sisal,” a local plant resembling aloe which grows abundantly in the area. This plant has yellow-green, succulent, spear-like leaves that form dense clumps, binding the loose soil of the gorge and sheltering many other plants and animals. Domesticated sisal is used to produce rope, rugs, and baskets which are sold at the local markets, and is one of the biggest exports of Tanzania.
The Olduvai Gorge is one of the world’s most important paleoanthropological locations. This is where, in 1959, Mary and Louis Leakey found fossil evidence of the 1.7-million-year-old Australopithecus Boisei (Zinjanthropus) and Homo Habilis (Handyman). Thousands of stone tools, some of which were used by Homo Habilis, have been found at Olduvai. The oldest style is easiest to remember because it is called Oldowan.
In addition to the remarkable hominid fossils, enormous fossils of prehistoric elephants, giant horned sheep, and ostriches have been found here and extinct species unearthed here include three-toed horses and giant antelope. Since the Leakey’s first began searching the area for clues to our distant past, more than sixty hominid remains have been excavated, belonging to four different hominids, showing the gradual increase in brain size and in the complexity of their stone tools.
The gorge itself is a very steep-sided ravine roughly 30 miles long and 295 feet deep, with exposed strata of different layers where the deposits of rich fauna fossils, hominid remains, and stone tools were found. The gray lines are volcanic tuffs and evidence of eruptions is used to estimate the age of the fossils.
You will want to visit the museum which contains a cast of the 3.7 million-year-old footsteps of Australopithecus Afarensis preserved in solidified volcanic ash, found at nearby Laetoli by Mary Leakey in 1979. Outside the museum, a Tanzanian guide will explain the geological features of the gorge and the work of the Leakey’s.
From the Gorge, we will resume our drive to Serengeti National Park (3,646,500 acres), the jewel in the crown of Tanzania’s protected areas with over 3 million large mammals roaming its plains. It lies between Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Victoria and adjoins Kenya’s Maasai Mara.
The Serengeti has come to symbolize paradise to all, including the local Maasai, who have grazed their cattle on the vast grassy plains for generations. To the Maasai, it is Siringitu – “the place where the land moves on forever.” Today, the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and the Maasai Mara Reserve across the border in Kenya together protect the greatest and most varied collection of terrestrial wildlife on earth, and one of the last great migratory systems still intact.
Our home for the next two nights will be in a permanent tent camp with spacious tents overlooking the vast wildlife preserve of the central Serengeti. Each tent has private bathrooms (including a fantastic, yet private, outdoor shower), mosquito nets, solar-powered electricity, and features a balcony with magnificent views of the Serengeti plains. The main lodge area has an inviting deck for relaxation, a lounge, and a swimming pool. Our daily game drives will give us the opportunity to experience and appreciate first-hand the harshness and beauty of this area.
Day 7: Searching the Serengeti
Today we begin our in-depth exploration of the Serengeti, including seasonal migrations that have made the Serengeti famous. Our twice-daily wildlife drives will allow ample viewing.
More than a million wildebeest, accompanied by hundreds of thousands of zebras and other herbivores, seem to be continually on move in search of green grass and safe environments for their young. In October and November, many are transitioning south from Kenya’s Maasai Mara as they descend upon the short-grass plains of the southeastern Serengeti at the start of the rainy season around December. After calving in January and February, they scatter over the southern and central plains. By May the rain ends, the grass has been reduced to stubble, and the animals begin their long march to dry-season grazing grounds near the permanent waters of the Serengeti’s northern woodlands and Kenya’s Maasai Mara. Reaching these destinations by July or so, they remain until October, when they head back to the southeastern Serengeti. This struggle for survival continues unaided and unaltered through the millennia!
The Serengeti is incredible to visit at any time of the year. In the Seronera Valley, towering yellow fever trees and palm thickets line the Seronera River and its hippo pools. This is a superb area for seeing predators such as lion, leopard, and cheetah, and their prey – giraffe, topi, Bohor reedbuck, Defassa waterbuck, buffalo, and impala. The kopjes (granite rock outcroppings) host hyraxes, dwarf mongooses, and red-headed agamas, while patience might reward you with a sleepy black-maned male lion or leopard.
The open grassland is home to large groups of Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, spotted hyenas, jackals, and such birds as the Double-banded Courser, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Red-capped Lark, Fischer’s Sparrow-lark, and Capped Wheatear.
As an optional excursion, you can take a dawn balloon safari for an exhilarating view across the savanna as the early sunrises and the animals are more active.
Days 8-9: Exploring another section of the Serengeti
We will enjoy our next wildlife drive as we traverse into a new section of the pristine Serengeti to our next accommodation for two nights. We will continue our search for leopards and leopard tortoises. For elephants and elephant shews. For a sable cat. And to spy a rock monitor. All the while hoping to encounter wildebeest on the move, towers of giraffes munching acacia trees, and see evidence of the nighttime wanderings of hippos that take them up to a dozen miles from their day-time, watery home.
Our accommodation is again set in a dramatic location to gain the most advantage of this vast land. Guests will be greeted with wet towels so that they can refreshen as they unload from their vehicles, as well as a fruit drink, while their bags are whisked away.
Our luxury tented camp harkens to Edwardian safari camps a century ago with all the usual luxuries carefully tucked away in your raised tent with spectacular views across the western Serengeti toward Lake Victoria. The restaurant and lounge allow us to discover the local cuisine and enjoy traditional recipes fused with the finest international cuisine in a spectacular setting.
Enjoy our last two nights here in the Serengeti, listen for the calls of the wildlife, and deeply connect to this land of the beast, nature, and the early history of mankind.
Day 10: Farewell or join the Optional Extension to see Zanzibar
This morning we’ll have a final chance to photograph the awesome sunrise and then enjoy our last breakfast in the bush. Over the past week, we’ve worked our way westward from Arusha to Lake Manyara to Ngorongoro Crater to Olduvai Gorge to the magnificent plains of the Serengeti. This morning we will retrace our steps, but this time from the unique vantage point of a light aircraft, giving aerial views of the landscape we have traversed on the ground.
Our aircraft will take us back to the Arusha airport. Time permitting, we’ll have an opportunity to shop at Arusha’s Cultural Heritage Center before relaxing at your dayroom back at our lodge where you can freshen up before evening flights. A transfer will be provided to Kilimanjaro Airport in time for flights back home.
Or if you have a few extra days to see a completely different side of Tanzania, please join our optional extension to the nearby Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar. We’ll fly from Arusha directly to Zanzibar. (see Extension).
Price includes: Arrival and departure transfers between Kilimanjaro Airport and our Arusha lodge; Deluxe Lodges and tented camps throughout the journey; American breakfast in Arusha starting on Day 2, then all meals while on safari in Tanzania, ending with lunch on Day 10; Transportation between lodges in comfortable land-rover vehicles; Light aircraft flight from the Serengeti to Arusha at end of tour; Numerous game drives in private 4×4 vehicles (window seat is guaranteed) driven by naturalist driver-guides; Complimentary bottled water in vehicles and during meals; Services of a knowledgeable HE Travel tour host (with a minimum number of participants); All applicable lodging taxes and gratuities for baggage handling; All park entry fees; Complimentary baggage tags. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Airfare between home and Kilimanjaro Airport; International departure taxes; Visa for Tanzania; Medication for malaria prevention and routine vaccinations as recommended by your physician; Meals not included in tour package (which start with breakfast Day 2); Personal items including alcoholic beverages, snacks, and telephone calls; Laundry charges. Any Covid testing that may be required before, during, or at the end of the tour; Gratuities for various Tanzanian guides & hotel staff, and for your HE Travel host.
Optional Tour Choices:
$625 Serengeti Ballooning
Zanzibar Extension – November 14 to 17, 2023
$1898 Shared room price per person
$2398 Private Room
Price includes: Flight from Arusha to Zanzibar; Airport transfers; Three (3) hotel nights with breakfast each morning, lunch on sailing excursion, and two dinners; Half-day Stone Town excursion; Full-day sailing excursion.
Not included: Meals not shown as included, personal items including alcoholic beverages, snacks, and telephone calls; laundry charges; gratuities for local guides and HE Travel host (the host will accompany the group pending minimum participation)
We strongly recommend the purchase of Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance to protect your vacation investment in case of unforeseen circumstances such as flight delay, illness, or injury. Click Here to learn more about our Insurance partner.
Exploring Zanzibar Nov 14 to 17, 2023
We will fly from Arusha to Zanzibar, then spend three nights in a restored Swahili merchant’s home (now a boutique hotel) in Stone Town, the main town on the island of Zanzibar. Being an off-shore island in the middle of the most important sea lanes on the African coast of the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar is home to descendants from several of the cultures surrounding this region, including black Africans, Omani Arabs, Jewish traders from the Red Sea, Indians, and Europeans.
Our lodging on Zanzibar is called Emerson Spice, and it has been lovingly restored by its American owner and his partners on the project. Each room is unique and features an open floor plan (sometimes with huge curtains rather than walls around the grand en-suite bathroom facilities). On the rooftop is one of the finest restaurants in Stone Town. Here we will dine during one of our evenings, watching the sunset over the African continent to the west.
During our stay on the island, we will tour with a local guide to see the unique influence Indian and Oman culture had on the local architecture, and also hear the tales of the people who have lived here over the centuries, including the Arabian princess Salme, who fled Africa in 1867, and Freddie Mercury, who split his childhood between India and Stone Town. We will also have a day trip in the beautiful, warm, peaceful waters of the Indian Ocean sailing on a traditional wooden vessel, the dhow, where we’ll enjoy relaxation while we sail, snorkeling for those interested, and, on the beach of a small island, a freshly prepared seafood lunch.
Airport transfers will be provided on the last day based on flight times via Dar Es Salaam or Addis Ababa.
In 2023, stay longer to visit Egypt!
Egypt has enchanted visitors throughout history and our gay Egypt tour is no exception. The riches of antiquity are our destination and our backdrop as we cruise through the land of the pharaohs.
When you take two tours Back-to-Back, you are eligible for a discount. Contact us for details about visiting Tanzania plus Namibia or Egypt!
- What if I am traveling alone?
- Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself. For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
- What is the physical activity level of this tour?
Physical Activity Level
If you've always wanted to take an amazing safari, here's your chance. Our Tanzania Safari shows you much of this country's unique variety. To fully enjoy the trip you should be comfortable sleeping in remote lodges and luxury tents, and be able to walk on uneven surfaces.
- Where does the tour start and end and how do I get there?
- This tour starts and ends in Arusha, Tanzania. You should plan your flights to arrive at Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO), near Arusha, Tanzania on our official first tour day or earlier. (There is also an airport in Arusha itself, but mostly for light aircraft flights.) Most visitors to the region fly in on KLM (partner of Delta and Air France in Sky Team) from Amsterdam on a flight that stops in both Kilimanjaro and Dar es Salaam before returning to Amsterdam. Other options include Ethiopian Airways via Addis Ababa or Turkish via Istanbul (both Star Alliance partners of United, Air Canada, etc.). Also Qatar Airlines via Doha (new member of OneWorld Alliance with American, British, etc.). Emirates has flights from Dubai to Nairobi (connecting to Kilimanjaro) and Dar es Salaam and is a mileage partner with Alaska Airlines. Numerous North American cities have flights to Amsterdam that connect with the Kilimanjaro flight, and Ethiopian has a daily Washington Dulles to Addis Ababa flight that connects with their Kili flight. There are also numerous connections from Dar es Salaam and Nairobi to Kilimanjaro each day. We advise arriving at our lodge on Day 1 with enough time for dinner and a good night’s sleep before we depart for safari shortly after breakfast the next day. While we do not have any activities scheduled for Day 1, we may schedule an evening reception for those guests already on site. If you would like to arrive a day or two early, let us know and we can extend your hotel stay and give you time to recover from jet lag.
- What are the accommodations like?
- On this tour, we stay in some of the finest lodges and tented camps in Tanzania. Each is large enough to accommodate our groups, yet small enough to keep our game drives an intimate experience. Our lodges and tented camp are designed to fit into their surroundings, providing a rustic sense of being in the bush, while relaxing in a very comfortable room. All our accommodations offer private bathrooms. They provide Wi-Fi, but it may be slow and not always reliable, and it may only be available in the reception area. We have a variety of accommodations: one coffee plantation lodge, two ridge-top lodges designed to pay homage to their locale, one on the edge of the East African Rift and another perched on the rim of an ancient caldera, 1800 feet above the crater floor, and two luxury tent camps, one a contemporary tented camp with Maasai warriors as hosts and escorts, and one a replica of an Edwardian luxury hunting camp hearkening back to the early 1900's and the camps of big-game hunters such as Denys Finch Hatton and Baron Bror Blixen
- Tell me more about the hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti!
- Our safari partners off an exhilarating balloon safari over the Serengeti that offers an unmatched panoramic view of the plains and the wildlife below. You will start around dawn, then usually have up to an hour of uninterrupted views of wildlife from the air - the best way to see masses of wildebeest and zebra, many antelopes, great towers to giraffe, and the incessant movement of animals in the Serengeti. Upon landing, enjoy an exclusive champagne brunch served in the wilderness by waiters impeccably dressed in their fine Arabian robes. Zebra and wildebeest may be grazing nearby as your dining guests, and Africa's colorful birds may vie for a crumb of your bread.
- Additional Questions
- For answers to your additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-294-8174