Exploring Tanzania’s Northern Safari Circuit

Tanzania’s Northern Safari Circuit offers a classic East Africa safari with a wide choice of excellent lodges and famously good big game viewing. Starting in Arusha, the circuit takes in the reserves of Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti – with the game viewing getting better and better as you go.

Giltedge Senior Consultant, Monique Dean, recently spent an incredible week exploring this safari region with Takims Holidays. These are her highlights and lodge reviews.

Setting off on a Serengeti game drive

Arusha – Rivertrees Country Inn

My plane touched down at Kilimanjaro International (KIA), where I was met at the airport and driven to Rivertrees Country Inn. This lush country estate lies about a 40-minute drive from KIA – and about an hour from Arusha Airport (depending on traffic) – making Rivertrees a convenient choice for those later arrivals and early-morning airport runs.

After grabbing a quick bite to eat in the restaurant, I headed straight to my room where I had an excellent night’s sleep.

Rivertrees Country Inn

Why we love it: comfortable rooms and large, peaceful grounds. A great start- or endpoint for your Tanzania safari.

Tarangire National Park – Kichuguu Camp

My first safari stop was Tarangire National Park. I travelled in March, which is the start of the short rains. Still, there was plenty to see including loads of elephants and a leopard in a tree. If you travel during the dry season (June to October) you’re in for a real treat, as the game viewing gears up from good to excellent with spectacular elephant numbers, and plenty of zebra and wildebeest too.

From the moment I arrived at Kichuguu Camp, I felt instantly at home. The staff here are really welcoming, and the whole camp has a relaxed, put-your-feet-up feel. Kichuguu is unfenced, and has just 9 tents centred around a lovely lounge area with modern but understated décor.

Kichuguu Camp

Tented lounge at Kichuguu Camp

Why we love it: small tented camp at the heart of Tarangire, a park known for its large herds of elephants and towering baobab trees (which you won’t find in the Serengeti).

Lake Manyara – Gibb’s Farm (Outside Park)

After a long, hot day on the road, arriving at Gibb’s Farm was a welcome relief! I absolutely loved my stay here: lush tropical gardens, great hospitality, farm-to-table fine dining and awesome cosmopolitan cocktails. In the evening the temperature dropped, and when I got back to my room a fire had been lit in my fireplace – a lovely touch!

Gibb’s Farm lies about a 40-minute drive from Lake Manyara National Park. This small but diverse park protects dense woodlands, grassy floodplains and a large soda lake. Although best known for its tree-climbing lions we, unfortunately, didn’t see any of these famous big cats and our sightings were mostly zebra, wildebeest and a colourful collection of birds. Travel from June to August and you’ll see large flocks of pink flamingos too.

The beautiful grounds at Gibb's Farm

A guest cottage at Gibb's Farm

Why we love it: a lush oasis where you can join in with daily farm life: help bake bread, roast coffee or try your hand at milking a cow. Both Lake Manyara National Park and Ngorongoro Crater lie within easy reach.

Ngorongoro Crater – Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge blew me away! You can’t help but feel special when your drinks are served in crystal glasses, your room has a selection of handmade chocolates and Turkish delight, and you get back from your game drive to find a drawn bubble bath sprinkled with rose petals. I just wish my husband was there to experience it with me!

There is no accommodation in Ngorongoro Crater itself. but the rim-side setting of this lodge is hard to beat. Down on the crater floor, the game viewing is nothing short of phenomenal. All of the Big 5 are there, and the grassy hills makes for easy sightings. At one stage we saw about 50 hyenas at a wildebeest kill, and I loved our sighting of a Kori Bustard (Africa’s largest flying bird) all puffed up and hoping to attract a mate.

Ngorongoro Crater and a Kori Bustard

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and a romantic bubble bath

Why we love it: the wow factor! Incredible attention to detail and top-notch butler service. Then there are those big windows letting in the crater views – spectacular!

Central Serengeti / Seronera

Driving through the gates of the Serengeti we were treated to an incredible sight: grassy plains dotted with animals as far as the eye could see! When we visited, in March, the wildebeest and zebra herds were in the Central Serengeti – a region known for excellent year-round game viewing with a good chance of seeing big cats.

Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti

Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti is a large property with 77 guest rooms including suites and private villas with butler service. The lodge has the feel of a large luxury hotel with three restaurants, a spa and a lovely infinity pool overlooking the Serengeti plains. Service and amenities are all of the high standard you’d expect from Four Seasons.

Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti

Why we love it: perfect for big groups. That said, there are private dining options for honeymooners such as alongside the pool, on your private deck or even a romantic bush dinner for two!

Siringit Serengeti Camp

This beautiful property opened less than a year ago (August 2017). Siringit Serengeti is a small, unfenced camp in the Central Serengeti – elephants are known to wander through camp. There are just 8 tents, including a family tent with two en-suite bedrooms. The location puts you less than a 10-minute drive from Seronera Airstrip and close to the launch site for hot air balloon safaris.

Siringit Serengeti Camp

Why we love it: small, unfenced tented camp. A luxury under-canvas safari experience in the heart of Central Serengeti. 

To find out more about these properties – or to create your own incredible Northern Safari Circuit – simply get in touch.