I’m not sure I can even find the right words to describe just how amazing our recent trip to Tanzania was. It completely exceeded our expectations and has left us longing to return. Deciding where to go and what to do is never easy. That is why I wanted to share with you what our 10-day Tanzania itinerary looked like. I’ve included what worked well and what we would change if we were to return.
So, without further ado, let me share with you what we got up to during our 10-day Tanzania trip.
Tanzania 10-Day Itinerary
We landed at Kilimanjaro airport after 24 hours of travel to be greeted by our guide, Malaki. We had met Malaki on Instagram and decided to trust him to plan our entire trip! Going direct to the guide rather than through a travel agency was the only way we could afford to go on such a trip.
As you will see from the itinerary I’m about to share, Malaki managed to pull all the stops out of the bag to create a truly memorable trip that will forever be etched as one of the best we have been on. In fact, the only one that possibly beats it for me is Sierra Leone, and that’s for very different reasons!
Before we left the airport, Malaki sat us down outside the truck with a welcome drink and some snacks, and we started the enjoyable process of getting to know each other.
Day 1 – Embracing the Maasai culture
Once fed and watered (and toasted with champagne!), we made our hour-long journey to Osiligiliai Maasai Lodge, where we received the warmest welcome we have had anywhere in our 12 years of travels together.
All the staff were lined up in bright red checked Shuka outfits waiting for us. As soon as we were in sight, they started performing their traditional Adumu dance. Bouncing on the spot, they sang a deep guttural base call that left us captivated. Men take it in turn to jump high into the sky like straight-legged bean polls in unison with the chanting until they break the low-toned chant with a high-pitched shriek.
The chief welcomed us and offered us a traditional glass of cow’s blood. In their culture, they rarely slaughter the cattle, instead choosing to drain a little bit of blood from them daily to drink. I accepted it, not wanting to be rude, even though I was not looking forward to drinking blood. Instant relief washed over me when I realised they had just given us berry juice (much appreciated!).
We spent the rest of the evening learning about the Maasai culture, throwing spears with them, watching the sunset over Mount Meru, and enjoying BBQ’d goat while listening to stories around the campfire. It was the perfect initiation to our Tanzania adventure and one I will never forget.
Accommodation: Osiligiliai Maasai Lodge
Immerse yourself in Maasai culture by staying in a traditional dung hut with some added modern comforts. The circular huts are made of timber poles interlaced with smaller branches before then being covered with mud, cow dung, and water. Sometimes they may even use human urine, but fear not, there were no bad smells!
The roof is also plastered with cow dung and then covered in grass. If you are wondering whether they are waterproof, yes, they are! It is the cow dung that makes them waterproof!
Although what I’m describing might sound very basic, I have to say that the amenities far exceeded our expectations. It boasted a large and comfortable double bed, a warm shower, and a flushing toilet, which, if I am honest, was everything we needed. Unfortunately, there was no Wi-Fi in the rooms, but that didn’t matter since there was WI-Fi in the communal area. In addition, there was a bar and a swimming pool, although it was a little cold to take a dip when we were visiting. The best part of it all, aside from the warm welcome of course, was the majestic views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Every hut is positioned so that when you open the door in the morning, the first thing you see is the sunrise over Mount Kilimanjaro. Personally, I can’t think of a better stay!
When booking direct, you can expect a night at Osiligiliai to cost you £227.
Day 2 – Tarangire National Park – Elephant Paradise
As we drove the two hours to the park entrance, Malaki asked: “What animal do you most want to see?”. Without hesitation, I shouted, “elephants!”. Let’s just say my wish came true!
Whether you are planning a 10-day Tanzania itinerary or a shorter stay, if elephants are what you want to see, then Tarangire is the park to visit! In fact, Tarangire is often overlooked for the more popular northern parks, which means you will see more animals and fewer people. And let’s be honest, the reason we go on safari is to see wildlife, we can leave people watching for our next city break!
During the dry season, the Tarangire river is the only water source, so large herds of animals congregate in the area, making it ideal for wildlife spotting. One of the things I found incredible was that all the animals appeared at the watering hole simultaneously. It was like they had an appointment to be there at 1pm. Malaki got us there early and insisted that they would come. At this point, it was early in our relationship, so I wasn’t aware of just how knowledgeable he actually was.
He was right! 5 minutes or so after parking up, we started to see large herds of elephants, zebras, wildebeest, antelope, baboons, warthogs, giraffes, and a single ostrich all making their way slowly to the watering hole. What was previously completely deserted now looked like Oxford Street on the run-up to Christmas! But just as quickly as they all arrived, they were all gone! Incredible!
Tarangire is the park where we were able to get the closest to elephants. Malaki had an uncanny ability to read animal behaviour. He would park away from the animals, yet the animals would always end up right next to us. This happened to be the case with a family of elephants in Tarangire. The mum decided that the yummiest bush was next to our truck. So as she happily munched her way through the bush the baby waited within a metre of us. Without a doubt one of the most magical moments of our entire 10-day trip through Tanzania!
The landscape of Tarangire is also pretty unique as it is dotted with big fat baobab trees, which until this trip, I thought were only found in Madagascar!
Accommodation – Eileen’s Tree Inn
I really enjoyed our stay at Eileen’s Tree Inn. Focused on safari guests, it offers excellent value for money. The large rooms are all set within beautiful tropical gardens and feature a four-poster bed, a powerful hot shower, a large bathroom with two sinks, and plenty of space to spread out. The real gem however, is the communal area with a large lounge featuring comfortable sofas, a bar, and a delicious buffet meal.
It also has a swimming pool which would be great for relaxing after a long day on safari! We didn’t see or use it though, since we arrived late and left early (plus we were there in winter).
Unfortunately, they never replied to my requests for a price per night.
Day 3 – Ngorongoro Crater National Park – The most beautiful park?
We set off early on Day 3, drizzle covering the windscreen as we climbed the steep hill that would eventually topple us into the Ngorongoro caldera. Thick mist obstructed all views as we bumped our way up the dirt track. Eventually, we stopped climbing, and as if a curtain had been pulled back, I looked in awe at the magnificent vista in front of me. It was like the moment in the cartoon “The Land Before Time”, when the dinosaurs finally come upon the most magnificent land, just as they were about to give up all hope. I have no doubt that the Ngorongoro Crater is what they were looking at!
Once an active volcano believed to have been larger than Mount Kilimanjaro, the largest mountain in Africa, it is now the largest intact caldera in the world. It is home to one of the most beautiful wildlife havens.
This tiny 100-mile square national park is thought to be home to over 25,000 large mammals, including the endangered black rhino. In fact, the Ngorongoro crater is believed to be the best place to see black rhinos in East Africa.
I could not believe the sheer volume of animals we saw in such a short period. We were only in Ngorongoro for half a day, yet the basin was packed with everything from elephants and zebras to lions and hyenas. A serval cat walked right in front of us moments after we entered the park, as did a jackal later that day.
At the centre of the caldera lies a large alkaline lake where we found large flocks of flamingos feeding. Also lazing in the lake were hippos, although the real hippo treat was at lunch, when we stopped to eat right next to a large family. Luckily far enough away that we couldn’t smell them!
I talk more about all the animals we saw in my “What animals can you see in Tanzania” post, including where the best place to see them is.
No matter how long your Tanzania itinerary is, make sure Ngorongoro is on it!
After lunch, we set off on a 3-hour drive to the most famous of all the national parks in Tanzania: the Serengeti! We bumped along the road between the two parks at speed, “enjoying” what we termed a Tanzanian massage. Finally, we arrived at 4:30 in time for a final game drive en route to our camp.
Accommodation – Matawi Serengeti Camp
I will start off by saying that I have NEVER ever stayed in anything as luxurious as the Matawi Serengeti Camp. Located in Seronera, in Central Serengeti, right at the heart of the magnificent Serengeti ecosystem, you can’t get a better spot from which to enjoy your safari.
Please don’t be misled by the fact you will be staying in tents. These are not tents like you or I might refer to them! I don’t think even glamping would do it justice. These are basically canvas hotel rooms! Elevated on a wooden platform, our tent had a sofa set, a large four-poster king-size bed, electricity, a free-standing claw-foot bathtub, a double sink, a hot shower, and a flushing toilet! Please remember, all of this is in the middle of the Serengeti, miles from any civilisation!
Throughout the rest of the trip, we enjoyed buffet-style dining. Not at Matawi. Here we were served a gourmet 3-course meal to rival some of the poshest restaurants back in the UK.
By far the most luxurious stay of our trip! Our only complaint would be that it was costly for the short amount of time that we spent there. We were late arriving and were gone by 6 am in the morning. I think if you are spending £650 a night, you want to be able to have the time to appreciate it a little more.
Day 4 – Central Serengeti – The best place to spot lions in Africa!
Serengeti means “endless plains” in the Maasai language, which is precisely what the Serengeti is! A vast expanse of grassland, and one of the last remaining savannas that is entirely untouched. It is home to one of the oldest ecosystems and is often synonymous for many with the great wildebeest migration. However, Central Serengeti is also the best national park in Africa to spot lions. In fact, we saw so many lions that by the end of the day we were like, “oh, just another lion pride, let’s keep going and see what else we see!”.
Of course, we saw no end of other animals too, but lions dominated the day. The highlight of these encounters was the pride that walked down the track within metres of our truck en route to a hunt. 3 females, 2 teenage males, and 2 cubs passed us as if we weren’t even there. One of the adolescent males even walked within touching distance of the truck. I won’t lie; we were a bit too close for comfort, considering all the windows were open! But, we did get some cracking shots!
We also saw lions on their honeymoon, lions feasting on a recent kill, and lions sleeping. We certainly were not denied any lion sightings! As well as lions, we also saw a leopard in a tree, a cheetah hiding in the grass, and a very large group of incredibly smelly hippos chilling in the cool water. The animals are much more spread out in the Serengeti than somewhere like Ngorongoro. However, with Malaki as our guide, we managed to see a lot!
Accommodation – Heritage Mara Camp
This was possibly our favourite stay of our trip. Located in Northern Serengeti, close to the Mara River, it had the right balance of friendliness, comfort, and value for money. We were greeted by a dancing man and given a welcome drink. Once again, we had a tent with all the amenities we needed: a big 4-poster bed, a hot shower, and a flushing toilet. The only difference in this camp was that there was no electricity in the rooms, only in the communal area.
We had a delicious buffet dinner which included the most amazing banana stew! And to finish off what had already been a great day there was a cultural dance display followed by acrobatics. Hands down the most enjoyable stay of our trip.
Day 5 – Northern Serengeti – Hot Air Balloon Safari
I am not often happy if my alarm goes off at 4 in the morning, but it is absolutely fine when it involves a hot air balloon safari. It was a complete surprise to us that Malaki had arranged a balloon safari over the Mara river. It has always been a bucket list of mine to do a hot air balloon ride, but I never imagined I would be able to make it happen while on safari!
The crew from Miracle Experiences picked us up from the camp and drove us to the launch pad, where we were greeted with hot drinks, free Wi-Fi (in the middle of a field!), and a toilet. Once all the guests had arrived, we piled into the basket, ready for our pilot, Captain Pradeep, to take us on the flight of our life!
As soon as we were in the air we spotted a large herd of wildebeest crossing the Mara river like something out of National Geographic. It was so peaceful up here, watching the animals go about their day uninterrupted. Once back on firm ground, we were treated to a lavish breakfast before it was time to wave goodbye and continue our ground safari. I speak more about my hot air balloon experience on Instagram, and I will also write a review of the experience in due course.
Mara river crossing
Once back with Malaki, we headed back to the river to try and spot another crossing. And we did! Some people camp out for days without seeing anything, and we were lucky enough to see two in the space of just a few hours. David Attenborough would have been proud! We very nearly saw a third one too, but unfortunately, another safari company became too impatient and in trying to get his guests closer to the action, managed to scare them all before they had surfaced from the river, turning them around in their tracks. The subject of ethical safaris is crucial, and I discuss it at length in my article “How ethical are safaris really?”.
It was finally time to head South again, so we made the 3-hour trip back down to Central Serengeti for our final night on safari. Unlike on the drive North when I slept, this time I was awake to take in all the wonderful sights along the way. The red dirt road reminded me a lot of my time in Sierra Leone and as always, seeing locals going about their day filled me with curiosity. If there is one thing I would have liked to have done more of on this trip would be to get under the skin of the “real” Tanzania, not the perfectly curated tourist side, which is mainly what you get to witness while on safari.
What was incredible though, was the leopard sighting we saw while driving back. I have no idea how Malaki can spot animals the way he does, but regardless of the fact we were speeding along, he managed to see a leopard sleeping in a tree. He slammed the brakes on and reversed back just in time for us to capture the best photo of the trip!
Probably his most impressive sighting though, was a chameleon. Not because chameleons are more impressive than leopards, but because he was camouflaged! Even when we were out of the car trying to see it, we still couldn’t spot it. Yet he had managed to see while driving at 50 km/h?!
Accommodation – Central Serengeti Luxury Camp
Also part of the Heritage Camps company, I didn’t feel the welcome was anywhere near as good as we had experienced in the North. Maybe it has something to do with adding the word “luxury” to a place. Don’t get me wrong, it was perfectly OK, but I think the vibes of their northern camp were definitely better. They did, however, still have the same delicious banana stew!
The only difference between the rooms was that at the Central Serengeti Camp, they had electrical outlets within the tent, which was admittedly more convenient.
Unfortunately, they did not return my messages when requesting a quote for a room.
Day 6 – Central Serengeti – The final drive
Day 6 marked the last of our safari days as part of our 10-day Tanzania itinerary. Of course, it wasn’t home time yet, but we were definitely sad to be waving goodbye to the wildlife. And our final drive did not disappoint! Not only did we get to see a cheetah up close, but we managed to get some epic photos of a male lion (not lying down!). Being on safari for the last 5 days had been such an incredible experience, and I am so glad we found Malaki as he was undoubtedly the best guide we could have had. Not only did he align with all our values, but we also laughed so much that we cried! He organised everything without input from us and ensured we were always in the best spot without ever harassing the animals.
After our final drive, we drove the three hours or so back to Karatu, where we got our first chance to relax before the last dinner of the trip!
Accommodation – Peak Hotel, Karatu
We spent our final night in the centre of town, at Peak Hotel. It hadn’t been Malaki’s first choice, but a problem with our other booking meant we diverted to here. It was perfect. Nice room, big bed, warm shower, fastest Wi-Fi of the trip, and the friendliest of staff! They did, however, not approve of the amount of dust we were carrying since they took all our belongings outside and gave them a good clean before letting us in!
We were provided damp towels to wash our hands and faces upon arrival and a refreshing glass of fruit juice. A 4-course dinner was also included, so we sat, drank, ate, and laughed as we toasted our final night together.
When booked directly, a night at Peak Hotel during August will cost you £122.
Day 7 – Hunting with the Hadzabe Tribe
As a final treat for us, before we boarded our flight to Zanzibar, Malaki arranged a morning with the Hadzabe tribe. The Hadzabe tribe are hunter-gatherers and still live very much in line with how our ancestors lived thousands of years ago. Nomadic by nature, they live entirely off the ground. The women gather fruit and firewood while the men hunt wildlife.
It was incredible to see. Not because I enjoy watching animals be hunted, but because we were watching them play by the rules of the natural ecosystem. They wore the skins of previous kills and ate only what they were capable of catching with their hand-made spears. Unlike modern society, they didn’t engineer systems to give them the upper hand. Witnessing that was truly special.
I am dedicating an entire post to our experience with the Hadzabe tribe, which I highly recommend you read once published. It was a genuinely enlightening and thoroughly interesting experience. Please subscribe to my newsletter if you want to get an alert once it is published. I promise, no spam! I don’t have time to create it 😉
Days 8, 9 and 10 – Zanzibar
It was time to say goodbye and get on our flight to Zanzibar. Malaki dropped us off at the tiny Arusha airport, from where we would fly to our final destination: Zanzibar.
Zanzibar is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean just off the coast of Tanzania. The main island, Unguka, is what most people refer to informally as Zanzibar. Known for its white sand beaches and turquoise water, we spent the last 3 days of our trip relaxing at Paradise Beach Resort. All-inclusive hotels are not really our thing. However, it was perfect, considering how tired we were! We spent 2 of the three days lazing by the pool and taking strolls along the beach.
On the third day, we ventured into Stone Town, the historic quarter of Zanzibar Town. Our aim was to learn about the East African Slave trade and to buy souvenirs from its lively market. We managed both, so mission accomplished! I feel three days in Zanzibar was the perfect amount of time, and definitely worth adding to the end of any safari trip. Believe me, if you have made the most of your time on safari, you will be tired! You can read more about Zanzibar, including top things to do, in my upcoming Zanzibar guide.
Accommodation – Paradise Beach Resort
Please read this with the understanding that I do not like all-inclusive hotels. It just isn’t my style. Travel, for me, is about exploring local culture and cuisine, not eating delicious Thai food while in Tanzania! But, if it is your scene, there was plenty going on, from aqua aerobics to volleyball, stretching, and even cultural performances such as Maasai tribal dances. The staff were all lovely, and the food was good too. Of course, there were typical Tanzanian dishes alongside the rest of the international cuisine, but it just wasn’t all that authentic!
My biggest problem with the resort was more so the fact that there was no life outside of it. It was in the middle of nowhere, so it was not like you could escape and mingle with locals. There was one little shack run by a lovely chap called Sahid who barely got any business since nobody ventures out beyond the hotel walls. If we were to return, we would look for a hotel in a different area of Zanzibar where the beaches were better and there was more local life.
The good news though, is that an all-inclusive stay at Paradise Beach Resort will only cost you £107 a night.
Beyond a 10-day Tanzania Itinerary
I hope this 10-day itinerary has provided you with some inspiration. Personally, I wouldn’t change anything about the safari other than perhaps adding an extra day to the itinerary. I wouldn’t necessarily add anything extra to it, but instead, I’d use that time to have some chill periods between drives, as it was very full on! But if I am honest, I’d probably still fill that time anyway!
I would change the location of where we stayed in Zanzibar and potentially add an extra day or two to our stay too, just so that we could do more exploring, as I am sure there is much more to the island than we had time (or energy) to see!
The time of year will also dictate what national parks you see, as animals move around, and what was great in August for us might not be great if you visit at a different time of year. That is why I would definitely put your trust in a good guide, as they will know where the best spots are. And talking of good guides, I can’t recommend Malaki from Migration Tanzania Safaris enough. The itinerary was perfect, his knowledge of the animals and the area was superb, and I feel that although we arrived as strangers, we left not as friends but as a family!
What was the cost of the 10-day Tanzania itinerary?
Let’s be honest, you want to know the cost! Despite the luxury accommodation and expensive hot air balloon ride, our trip only cost us £3,500 each. That included all food, all transfers, internal flights, and everything I have described above. It does pay to book directly with a local guide if you want the best value for money. I have actually written an article covering this: “Is it possible to go on a budget safari?”. The answer is YES, and in that article, I explain how!
Get in touch
If you are planning a safari, or have always dreamt of going on one, then please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am always more than happy to talk about travel, and I’d be delighted to answer any questions you might have.
My email is email@example.com
If you are looking for a guide, I urge you to contact Malaki. The best way to contact him is on WhatsApp: +255753247856
Whether you go on a 10-day safari or a 5-day trip, I know your time in Tanzania will be extraordinary! Enjoy!