Short safari from Mwanza to Serengeti
A dream safari vacation is at the top of most people’s bucket lists, however planning one can be overwhelming! I recently went on a 4-day safari with Trip Insight Tanzania through the Serengeti National Park and Nogorongoro Conservation area. This article provides you with the Serengeti safari itinerary I took, along with helpful tips to give you an idea of what to expect.
Day 1: Mwanza to Serengeti: Our guide Edward picked us up at 6:30 AM sharp in Mwanza to begin the drive to the Serengeti National Park. Along the way we picked up our cook Jonas from a nearby village and arrived at the park around 9:00AM. We briefly stopped for coffee and to pick up our catered lunch kits at a lodge just outside the park gates and finally entered to begin our 4-day adventure!
While driving through the park, Michael informed us Serengeti is the Masai name for ‘endless plain’. It is in fact, quite literally endless at 9,000 – 10,000 miles square. Not long after we entered through the gates, we had our first wildlife encounter; zebra are quite common throughout the park, so it was no surprise that we saw them first.
“We literally drove ALL day (apart from stopping for lunch) and were so fortunate to see a 4 of the 5 ‘big five’ in just the first day”
Drivers are not actually permitted to go off-roading in the park, but our guide was a low-key rebel and got us up close to this female lion resting under a tree. She must have just finished eating because you can see the flies all over her.
There was a minor traffic jam (the less glamorous part of safari that no one talks about) but soon enough we were on our way to one of the public camp grounds.
Just before sundown, we arrived at the Nyani campsite, a basic camp ground with cooking facilities, flush toilets and showers.
Pro tip: The water in the public showers is cold. If you are not comfortable with taking cold water showers, you will definitely want to pack baby wipes for the dust that is sure to settle all over your skin, and dry shampoo! Otherwise, be sure to pack shower flip-flops, a towel and your toiletries.
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Day 2: Serengeti Ngorongoro: We opted to do a 7:30 AM breakfast instead of a morning game drive, though some people opt to do a morning drive and return to the campsite for breakfast. We took off at 8:00 AM for our safari, where we would be heading towards Ngorongoro Conservation Park.
Pro tip: Powder/ instant coffee is extremely common in Tanzania. I am a straight up coffee diva so I brought my own coffee grounds and thermos, and our chef Joseph was kind enough to brew it for me in the kitchen. If you are a caffeine addict like me, you might want to bring some coffee with you.
This night we stayed at the Rhino lodge in Nogorongoro, where elephants and buffalo roam freely at night. Dinner was a spectacular buffet in a warm, fire-lit hall. Our room was cute and cozy with our own wood-burning fire and a back deck facing out into the bush. We were happy to just relax in the room after dinner with a glass of wine!
Pro tip: You can bring your own bottle of wine to dinner for an uncorking fee of 15,000 tsh OR you can get two glasses of wine for 14,000 tsh. We ended up buying a glass of wine each with dinner and drank a glass of our own wine we had brought in the room.
Day 3: Day 3 was another early start, though the excellent coffee and breakfast buffet at the Rhino lodge helped get us fuelled and ready Having yet to see the 5th and final member of the big five, we were eager to see if we could spot any rhinos. Sadly, there were none to be found but the plentiful wildebeest made up for it!
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Day 4: Day 4 is a longggg driving day (though to be honest, they all are while you are on safari).
Pro tip: If you are flexible to start and end in different locations, I suggest a Serengeti safari itinerary where you start in Mwanza and ending your safari in Arusha (or vice versa). This will save you time in back tracking the same way you came and give you more time in Ngorongoro to look for that rare rhino!
In my case, we finished back in Mwanza so this day was a lot of driving as we needed to begin making our way back to the same gates we entered. If you enter and exit from the same gate, don’t fret – you will still see amazing wildlife regardless. We saw these elephants and herds of buffalo on our way back to Mwanza, just before leaving the park gates.