Big 5 African Safaris

A Big Five Safari focuses on the rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard. The Big 5 Safari is intended for short 7-8 day vacations in the Serengeti, including 7 nights and flying out on day 8. There is a tremendous demand to see the Big 5 as they are rare and difficult to locate. When you see them, you will be startled by their beauty and majesty in the wild. They are such a prize to find that hunters would often hunt them to near extinction as they are considered unique trophies. Because of their unusual behaviors and hunting habits, they are fascinating to watch as they survive in their natural habitats.

Lions

Lions live in the open bush, as opposed to the forest. They hunt primarily at night when their prey cannot see them due to a crystal substance located behind their retinas that processes light so they see with just 16% of the light other animals need to see. As a result, they have advantages other animals do not have to hunt which possibly led them to be called the “king of the jungle.” Lions hunt either individually or collectively. Females, called lionesses, do most of the hunting. Their hunting activity, which also takes place during the day, is one of the most fascinating activities visitors enjoy watching as it combines strategy with power, speed, and agility. Lions are gregarious animals and can often be seen playing with their pride (a lion-lioness group) which can comprise up to 30-40 members. They feed based on a hierarchy in which after the lioness kills their prey, it is brought to the lion who distributes the food. Baby lions are fed last and often starve. Though lions are carnivores, they are often found eating grasses which they use to eliminate fur swallowed while consuming other animals.

Leopards

Leopards are carnivores that usually hunt at night. An interesting physical feature is they have flexible claws that can retract. They are agile animals that can climb into trees after a kill to consume it without concern about other animals taking it from them. During the daytime they often are resting in trees. They feed on almost everything from birds to large antelopes and domestic livestock. Leopards have distinctive skins, are very secretive making them difficult to locate, and are solitary animals that are only rarely found in groups.

Cape Buffalo

Africa has 2 types of buffalos. One type are Water buffalos and the other type are Cape Buffalos. Tanzanian buffalo are Cape Buffalos. Cape Buffalo are extremely dangerous animals that process a lot of adrenalin enzymes which causes them to become angry quickly. Male buffalos have big horns that make them especially threatening. They are herbivores that normally feed on tall grasses and are usually the first to enter areas after it rains to nibble on new grasses. They spend most of their time resting in the shade and have a poor metabolic system. They normally stay in groups of around 6,000 and grazing in a vast feeding zone. Old buffalos stay together in their own bachelor group.

Their skins and horns are very valuable which makes them a target of poachers.

Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros are herbivores. There are 2 major categories of rhinos in Africa referred to as white rhinos and black rhinos. Interestingly, what differentiates these rhinos is not their color, as all rhinos are grey. What differentiates them is the shape of their mouths. White rhinos have broad flat lips to facilitate grazing and black rhinos have long pointed lips to help them browse for food in foliage. The term “white” rhinos resulted from a corruption of the term Germans used when pronouncing “wide,” referring to their wide and broad upper lips. Another difference between these 2 types of rhino is that white rhino are more aggressive than black rhinos. When white rhinos walk with their babies, the baby rhino walks ahead of the mother, making her very dangerous when approached. In contrast, the black rhino babies walk behind their mother and she is less dangerous when approached. The rare black rhinos that are an endangered species are located primarily in the Ngorongoro Conservation area. More specifically, they can be found in the Moru Kopjes area of the Serengeti, and the Mkomazi National Park and Selous Game Reserve. Because rhino horns are believed to have a variety of natural powers, this has inflated the value of their horns and, as a result, threatened all rhinos with extinction due to poachers.

Elephants

Elephants are the largest mammals on earth. They weight between 12,000-22,000 lbs. Their gestation period is 22 months and can only give birth to one baby at a time. They live approximately 65 years. Their eating habits enable them to eat almost anything in the bush, consuming up to 770 lbs of food a day while feeding 22 hours daily. They can uproot vegetables using their tusks and dig trenches to locate water under the earth during the dry season with their trunks. They have large brains and excellent hearing but poor sight, teeth that can replace themselves 6 times during their lifetime, and can make infrasonic sounds humans cannot hear and trumpet-like sounds when they feel threatened. Prior to mating, males are forced out of the family group into another group so they don’t mate with a sibling which helps to preserve their health but are allowed back into their family group after 30 years. Because the ivory of their tusks are valuable, poachers have reduced their populations all over the world.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1

Upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), you will be met by a Tanzania Roadside Expeditions representative who will brief and transfer you to your hotel in Arusha.

Accommodations are booked on half board basis which includes dinner and breakfast.

Accommodations will be:

Budget: Meru View Lodge
Classic: Moivaro Lodge
Luxury: Arumeru river Lodge

Day 2

You will be picked by your guide after breakfast who will drive you to Tarangire National Park. On the way to Tarangire, you will have the opportunity to visit a Maasai Market (if interested). It will take about 3 hours to arrive at Tarangire Gate. Tarangire is famous for its large population of elephants, many species of birds, baobab trees and many other animals. It is also known for having tree climbing pythons.

After a long day, you will stay overnight at one of the following accommodations:

Budget: Roika Lodge
Classic:Tarangire Safari Lodge
Luxury: Tarangire Treetop

Day 3

After breakfast we will have a full day game drive in Tarangire National Park. Apart from having an opportunity to see over 200 elephants in just one herd (one of the Big Five), wildebeest, zebras, Cape buffalo and gazelle mixing with eland and Oryx. In the dry season, Tarangire has the the greatest congregation of wildlife outside the Serengeti.

After a long day, you will stay overnight at one of the following accommodations:

Budget: Roika Lodge
Classic: Tarangire Safari Lodge
Luxury: Tarangire Treetop

Day 4

After breakfast, your Tanzania Roadside Expeditions guide will drive you to Manyara National Park which will take about 1.5 hours. On the way, you will have the opportunity to visit a Maasai Market. Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s bird life. More than 400 species have been recorded. Even a first time visitor to Africa can expect to see 100 species on their first day. This includes thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration and other water birds such as pelicans, cormorants, and storks.

If you are lucky you will have opportunity to see tree climbing lions.

After your full day of wildlife viewing, your accommodations will be as follows:

Budget: Kudu
Classic: Ngorongoro Farm House
Luxury: Gibbs Farm

Day 5

After breakfast, you will have a full day of game viewing on the Serengeti Plains. The Serengeti is famous for its wildebeest migration crossing Grumeti and Mara rivers (June-August). 2.5 million wildebeest, driven by the same ancient rhythms, follow their instincts on the inescapable cycle of life which includes a frenzied territorial conquest, mating, and survival of the fittest. They form a 25 mile (40 km) long column, plunge through crocodile infested waters on their annual exodus north and replenish their species during a brief population explosion that produce more than 250,000 calves over a 3 week period during the months of October-December, following their 600 mile pilgrimage. You will also have the opportunity to explore the Serengeti’s endless plain and the “Big Seven” : lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, cheetah, rhino and African hunting dog.

After a long day you will be accommodated in the following properties:

Budget: Moivaro Lodge
Classic Katikati Lodge
Luxury: Serengeti Serena Lodge

Day 6

After breakfast, we drive to the Serengeti Plains for a full day of game viewing while our focus is on the “Big Five”. You will also have the opportunity to explore the Serengeti’s endless plain and see the “Big Seven” (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, cheetah, rhino and African hunting dog).

After a long day you will be accommodated in the following properties:

Budget: Moivaro Lodge
Classic Katikati Lodge
Luxury: Serengeti Serena Lodge

Day 7

After breakfast, we drive to Ngorongoro Conservation area and descend into it for a full day of game viewing inside the crater. Ngorongoro Crater is one of the greatest natural spectacles on earth. Its magical setting and abundant wildlife never fails to enthrall visitors. The crater is just a small part of the Ngorongoro Conservation area which offers a whole range of attractions for adventurous travelers. Ngorongoro Crater is a place where a balance maintains itself between people and nature in a way that does not occur in other parts of Africa.

Accommodations will be as follows:

Budget: Kudu Lodge
Standard: Ngorongoro Farm House
Luxury: Gibbs Farm

Day 8

After breakfast, we drive to Arusha for day use room and early dinner prior to your transfer to the airports ready to fly back home.

Accommodation will be as follows:

Budget: Meru view Lodge
Standard: Kia Lodge
Luxury: Arumeru River Camp

Included:

Full board bases accommodations at the lodges during your safari. Private transport (with no mile / kilometer restriction) in a 4×4 vehicle with roof hatches will be provided along with VHF radio, a GSM contact with our base in Arusha, an English speaking driver/guide, park entry fees, crater fee and the mineral water.

Note: We do not have control over government taxes (park fees and airport taxes). We will try our best to keep the accommodation as mentioned but in case of over booking, we will provide a different accommodation of the same quality.

Not Included:

Tips, drinks, personal expenses, travel insurance, airport taxes, visas and international airline ticket.