Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa and almost one-third of its land is protected for wildlife conservation with 17 national parks spread across it making the safari experience here immensely rewarding. It’s not only home to world-famous safari destinations that attract no shortage of visitors, but also to lesser-known reserves that feel wild and remote. In fact, our Ultimate Tanzania Gay Safari Tour itinerary emphasizes these less-trodden reserves in the Southern Tanzania circuit.
Our carefully selected upscale safari camps are situated in the very best locations within prime game-viewing areas. Our safari experience is immersive, authentic, and engaging. Protecting wilderness areas and the surrounding communities is a key focus of the suppliers we work with in Tanzania. And their teams welcome us with warmth and make us feel at home with genuine African hospitality.
We begin in the north. Tarangire National Park is one of the most underrated of Tanzania’s attractions, receiving just a fraction of the Serengeti’s visitors, which means more space and exclusivity for those who do make it to Tarangire. The park’s grassy plains are home to colossal baobab trees and massive herds of elephant, but we’re also likely to find big groups of buffalo and healthy populations of lion and leopard. There are wild dog and rare antelope such as gerenuk, plus more than 550 species of birds to spot throughout the year.
Tarangire is also ideal for those who want to explore beyond classic game drives. Walk through the savannah to study the smallest creatures and learn about tracking animals. Soar through the sky in a hot-air balloon at dawn or head out on a night drive to find nocturnal wildlife.
We also do a couple of nights off the safari circuit by staying at a historic (1920s) coffee farm in an absolutely gorgeous setting with beautiful guest rooms and plenty of opportunity for non-safari activities. Take a guided walk through the immaculate orchards and scented herb gardens. Sit out on the creeper-clad terrace and enjoy home-made pastries and cakes at high tea. Get lulled by the sounds of everyday farm life – donkey carts creaking and rattling on uneven roads, accompanied by the whistling of a farmer making his way home.
See how many of the more than 200 bird species you can spot. Learn about the coffee-growing process. Take a long walk to the nearby Ngorongoro Forest to learn about indigenous medicinal plants. Cycle through the backroads of the nearby village. Explore ancient elephant caves. Chat with and view works by the artists-in-residence. Or simply indulge in a spa treatment inspired by traditional Maasai healing. All in all, we think this is a very special spot and a lovely way to break up the traditional safari routine.
Moving on to the southern circuit we’ll have the privilege of a more exclusive safari experience as most tourists favor the better-known northern parks.
One of the largest national parks in Africa, southern Tanzania’s Ruaha remains blissfully off the beaten track, despite being home to around 10% of the world’s lion population. It’s not uncommon to find prides of more than 20 lion in the park. The eponymous Great Ruaha River serves as a lifeline for the park’s wildlife. Although it’s the largest national park in the country at 58,000 square miles (the size of Illinois!) and rich in wildlife, Ruaha is one of the least busy places to visit in Tanzania, so safaris here feel remote.
Waterbuck, impala and gazelle come to the river to drink and predators are never far behind. We may spot lion prowling watchfully along the banks; leopard stalking in the thicker woodland areas; or cheetah scanning the plains. The wild dog is endangered, but Ruaha is home to almost a hundred of them. There are healthy populations of hyena and black-backed jackal too. The park also hosts vast herds of buffalo as well as plentiful zebra, giraffe, greater and lesser kudu, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, waterbuck, bushbuck, and impala.
Larger than Switzerland and with just a handful of small camps, Nyerere National Park (formerly called the Selous Game Reserve) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best places to visit in Tanzania. Expert guides will lead guests on a variety of safari activities to explore this wildlife-rich reserve with boat safaris, fishing, walking safaris, and game drives through woodlands, open plains, wetlands, and the Rufiji River. The Selous is home to the largest populations of wild dog in Africa, which are a real highlight if we’re lucky enough to encounter a pack. They share the reserve with plenty of crocodile, lion, leopard, hippo, elephant, black rhino, buffalo, and more than 400 bird species.
On game drives, we might follow wild dog as they dash through the bush hunting for warthog and antelope. Or cruise along the river, passing pods of hippo cooling off under water. Or head out on foot to study the landscape up close, learning about everything from termites to trees.
In the early mornings, the light is particularly beautiful in the Selous, making for some great photography opportunities as you look for tracks of wildlife that have come near camp overnight. The boat safaris are superb morning or afternoon, watching wildlife come to the water’s edge to drink and getting close to bird colonies, hippos and crocodiles.
Got a few extra days??? Then treat yourself to an optional finale on the palm-lined shores of Zanzibar!
If you’re in search of white-sand shores, coral reefs, and clear waters full of marine life you won’t be disappointed here. But you’ll also find mangrove forests where the trees are alive with monkeys, and sprawling spice plantations rich with the scent of cinnamon and cloves. If Zanzibar is a melting pot, this is epitomized by the capital, Stone Town, where you’ll find Swahili, Arabic, Persian, Indian and European influences. The languages, foods, and buildings all reflect the changing rulers the trading port has seen over the centuries.
Day 1 - Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Please arrange your international air schedule to take you into Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) where you’ll be met by our ground handlers and transferred
(around 40 minutes) to our charming hotel, part of a country estate that was once a coffee farm, on the outskirts of
Arusha with a view of Mt. Kilimanjaro. You might like a dip in the pool, or a massage and a rest before we gather for our welcome dinner.
Please Note: We recommend that you consider arriving at least a day early so that you have
some time to shake off jet lag and also to allow for a cushion just in case of travel disruptions
on the way over. There are some interesting activities available around Arusha, and we can set up additional nights for you at our lovely historic hotel.
Days 2 & 3 - Wednesday & Thursday, November 2 & 3, 2022
Today we begin our safari! On our first leg we’ll have a ground transfer from Arusha to our camp in Tarangire National Park. This will be on paved road at the outset (about 2 hours) and then dirt roads once we get inside the park. The total transfer time will be roughly 4–4½ hours, but it’s hard to say in advance because once we enter the park the transfer essentially becomes a game drive at that point and we never know what we’ll see along the way!
This is a protected area of colossal baobabs, grassy plains and huge herds of elephant. The
park is one of the most underrated of Tanzania’s attractions, receiving just a fraction of the Serengeti’s visitors, which means more space and exclusivity for those who do make it to Tarangire. As well as 300-strong herds of elephant, visitors will find big groups of buffalo and healthy populations of lion and leopard. During the dry season, Tarangire has the highest concentration of mammals in the country. There are also animals such as wild dogs, kudu, oryx and gerenuks that won’t be found in the north of Tanzania. And for birders, there are more than 550 species, many of which are attracted to the park’s swamps.
We’ll enjoy two nights in Tarangire.
Days 4 & 5 - Friday & Saturday, November 4 & 5, 2022
Leaving Tarangire today we’ll travel by road — approximately 3½ hours — into the cooler highlands near the village of Karatu.
Our base for two nights is a gorgeous and historic coffee plantation. There’s a variety of cultural activities on offer on and around the farm (some at extra cost) which provide a nice break from the safari routine, as well as rejuvenating spa treatments and various themed walks. Founded in the 1920s as a coffee plantation, the lodge embraces traditional East African hospitality with their roots extending deep into the land and their heritage here. The culinary team is renowned for creating rich, farm-totable organic cuisine, using fresh, local and seasonal foods whenever possible, served in a dining room with upscale, down-home décor and soaring windows that frame the coffee fields and majestic distant views.
Here are just some of the activities you can take advantage of during our stay:
Bread making; coffee roasting; guided bird-watching walks; relaxing with a drink on the pool
terrace overlooking the picturesque coffee fields and the Great Rift Valley; chatting with the
artists-in-residence in their studios; harvesting vegetables from the organic gardens or just
strolling them on your own. You can cycle at your leisure on the property or join a guided tour
of Thloma Village by bike or on foot. Or take pleasure in one of the many wellness treatments
they offer: massage, scrubs, facials, etc.
At an extra cost there are two guided walks directly from the farm into the Ngorongoro
Conservation Area: the Elephant Caves and Waterfall Walk (2 hours, conservation fee only,
about $20) and the Farm to Crater Rim walk (6-7 hours, about $260).
The onsite boutique offers an excellent selection of unique East African books, artwork,
carvings, textiles, decorative art, exotic jewelry — and of course, coffee!
Please Note: Our lodge is situated not too far (2 hours each way) from the famed Ngorongoro Crater and its wildlife. The crater is not on our itinerary, but a full-day excursion can be
arranged individually at an extra cost. This must be arranged in advance.
We’ll enjoy two nights at this beautiful and unique lodge, winner of numerous awards over
Days 6, 7 & 8 - Sunday - Tuesday, November 6 - 8, 2022
For the next week we’ll be in the more remote parks of Southern Tanzania.
Our first light-aircraft flight will transport us to one of the largest national parks in Africa.
Ruaha, larger than the state of Connecticut, remains blissfully off the beaten track despite
being home to around 10% of the world’s lion population (it’s not uncommon to find prides of
more than 20 lion in the park) and Tanzania’s largest elephant population. The park, in the
center of Tanzania, takes its name from the Hehe word for ‘river.’ The eponymous Great
Ruaha River serves as a lifeline for the park’s wildlife. Although it’s one of the largest
national parks in the country and rich in wildlife, Ruaha is one of the least busy places to visit
in Tanzania, so safaris here feel remote and exclusive.
We’ll see golden savannah studded with ancient
baobab trees and misty
hills stretching along the
horizon. Waterbuck, impala and gazelle come to
the river to drink and
predators are never far
behind. We may spot lion
or leopard prowling
watchfully along the banks,
or cheetah lying in wait on
the plains, while skulking
jackal and hyena are on the
lookout for an opportunity
to catch their next meal.
The wild dog is endangered, but Ruaha is home to almost a hundred of them. The park is also
home to buffalo, zebra, giraffe, greater and lesser kudu, sable and roan antelope,
Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, waterbuck, bushbuck, and bat-eared foxes. There are more than 570
species of birds, including the eponymous Ruaha red-billed hornbill.
Another way to feel part of the Ruaha landscape is by taking a walking safari with one of the
experienced guides and local trackers. This is a completely different way to experience the
bush. Your senses are much more engaged as you spot tiny but fascinating creatures you’d
never see from the vehicle, while getting a thrilling close-up view of kudu and elephants, or
spot hyena dens amid the kopjes (rocky hills that rise abruptly from the savannah).
A SPECIAL TOUCH!
While in Ruaha we’ve arranged to have a visit from the local Hehe Tribe who
will join us in camp one evening. Within the camp’s natural stone boma, the
Hehe’s traditional beat-filled dance and rhythmic melodies are intoxicating
and full of power and promise; a memory to take home and never be
The name Hehe derives from their chilling war cry, used to send shivers down
the spines of their enemies, including the German colonialists who they
successfully resisted, the only tribe in Tanzania to do so.
The cost of this unique experience is included in the tour price.
Days 9, 10 & 11 - Wednesday - Friday, November 9 - 11, 2022
Located in the south of
Tanzania, and until
recently known as the
Selous Game Reserve,
Nyerere National Park is a
vast, wild reserve — the
largest national park in
Tanzania, about the size of
Maryland — with just a
scattering of small camps.
This UNESCO World
Heritage Site is one of the
best places to visit in the
country. It comprises miombo woodlands, open plains, wetlands, and the Rufiji River. The
park has a higher density and diversity of species than any other miombo woodland area. It’s a
key African stronghold for the endangered wild dog, fearsome predators that can run for days
on end, wearing down their prey through exhaustion. They share the reserve with plenty of
crocodile, hippo, lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo. Among the rarer animals, we might spot
black rhino, Nyasa wildebeest, sable antelope, eland, and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest. There are
more than 400 recorded bird species in the reserve, including Pel’s fishing owl and the
African Fish Eagle.
Nyerere is a different type of environment to the grassy plains of northern Tanzania. This is a
marshy landscape of palm trees, lakes and rivers. With its network of lakes and rivers, this area is known for its water-based activities. And on drives, we can follow wild dog as they
dash through the bush hunting for warthog and antelope. Cruising along the river, we’ll pass
pods of hippo cooling off under water. Or head out on foot to study the landscape up close,
learning about everything from termites to trees and how to track animals with their prints and
Day 12 - Saturday, November 12, 2022
Our charter flight will bring us from camp to Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city. This is just a 45-minute flight. From here you will
connect to your onward international flight for the journey home. Or perhaps you’d like to
extend your stay with a few nights on Zanzibar island, just a 20-minute continuation from Dar.
• Emphasis on remote Southern Tanzania — more off the beaten track
• Extraordinary game viewing and bird life throughout
• Cultural encounters
• Lovely and intimate-sized, high-end safari camps serving up delicious meals with warm hospitality
• Two nights off the safari circuit at a historic highland coffee farm with many activities to choose from
• Optional extension to tropical Zanzibar
• Excellent value!
• All accommodations in small, high-end safari camps and lodges
• All meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 12
• Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (except for premium brands) at all accommodations
• All mandatory park fees, concession fees, and
conservation levies (nearly $1,000 per person for this itinerary – subject to change according to government policies)
• Fully guided wildlife safari activities as described in the itinerary including drinks and snacks on game drives
• Venture Out manager to accompany the group
• Laundry service at all accommodations (except the coffee farm)
• Hehe Tribe Cultural Experience in Ruaha
• Private transfer from Kilimanjaro International Airport to group hotel on Day 1
• Compulsory Emergency Support Coverage
• International airfare into Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) and out of Dar es Salaam
• 3 light-aircraft bush flights, approximately $1300-$1400 per person, arranged by us
• Costs for any pre- or post-tour days
• Visa for Tanzania, approximately $100 per person
• Gratuities to safari guides and staff at lodgings
• Medical immunizations prior to travel, if necessary for you
• Travel insurance (highly recommended for trip cancellation, emergency medical expenses,
evacuation, repatriation, etc.)
The following is a description of the superb lodgings we intend to use on this tour. We reserve
the right to make changes to these accommodations if necessary. Although they do come with a higher price tag we believe that these smaller, more intimate
upscale camps and lodges are far preferable to larger accommodations. In addition to the
beautiful places listed here we have our first night in an upmarket, small hotel near Arusha
before heading out to the bush.
Tarangire National Park – 2 nights
Located in the secluded southern reaches of Tarangire, our selected camp offers an exclusive
safari wilderness experience, away from crowds. The 10-tent camp is relaxed and comfy,
imitating the original classic African safari camps. The team here has worked together for
years, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It’s a low-key and comfortable kind of
place, reminiscent of the safari camps of old. Sink into one of the sofas in the lounge and
dining area with a good book or keep an eye out for passing zebras and elephants from your
own private deck. The tents, overlooking a floodplain, are decorated in earth tones to mirror
the landscape. Meals are served communally (and al fresco whenever possible) in the dining
room, after which guests might like to gather around the campfire for a nightcap and safari
tales. Tents have private bathrooms, indoor and outdoor showers, and complimentary laundry
Karatu Highlands – 2 nights
Our accommodation during this leg of the journey is one of those places where most guests
spend just a night passing through and then regret it the next morning. Not a safari camp but
more akin to an African version of a European Relais & Chateaux property, this is a luxury
inn situated on a historic, working coffee plantation with very close ties to the surrounding
communities. A stay here provides a unique experience based upon East African traditions
and hospitality. The tastefully refurbished 1929 original farmhouse has managed to retain its
old-fashioned charm with a wide veranda, intimate lounges, inviting reading nooks, and a bar
and dining room that look much as they must have done almost a hundred years ago. The
gardens are exquisitely verdant and fragrant, the views out onto the rolling hills outstanding.
The 17 guest rooms are actually very spacious richly appointed cottages with eucalyptus
floors, hand-crafted furniture, living area, a private veranda, wrap-around windows, a
fireplace, garden or valley view, indoor and outdoor showers, artwork commissioned from the
farm’s artist-in-residence program, yoga mats, and wifi.
Ruaha National Park – 3 nights
Our selected camp here is perhaps Ruaha's most sophisticated property — stylish and set on a
rocky outcrop overlooking the Mwagusi River and Ikuka escarpment. Granite boulders form
the rim of a spectacular natural ‘bowl’ in which the main area is hidden from view,
undetectable until you are almost upon it. Beyond the rim are the magnificent views of the
baobab-studded landscape stretching ahead. With just eight suites set among the giant granite
boulders, the camp feels blissfully exclusive and remote, blurring the lines between inside and out. The camp has been carefully designed to blend into its environment, making use of open
spaces and local sustainable wood. Even the boulders have been incorporated to provide
privacy and shade. The raised suites are expansive and airy with bird-nest thatched roofs and
wooden shutters that slide to open up the rooms. Out on the deck you can get comfy on one of
the large cushioned benches and relax with a cold drink, admiring the golden plains and
hundred-year-old baobabs. Cool off in the communal infinity pool, which overlooks the vast
plains, or head to the spa to smooth out any tensions with a hot-stone massage. After a day
spent walking through the bush or tracking game, pause for a refreshing G&T as the sun sets
over Ruaha. The suites have private bathrooms, a private outdoor lounge, wifi (variable
signal), and laundry service.
Nyerere National Park – 3 nights
Our camp sits in the very heart of Nyerere National Park on a small peninsula overlooking
Lake Nzerakera, a palm-fringed tributary of the Rufiji River. It’s a wildlife hotspot, with
giraffes and elephants regularly sauntering through camp during the day and the sounds of
nearby hippos and lions punctuating the night. During the day you can cool off in the pool or
spot wildlife making its way to the water from an armchair in the shaded open-sided, canvasroofed
dining tent or lounge area. Intimate in size like our other accommodations there are
just eight very generously sized, classic safari tents at this accommodation — more simple
than the previous two on our itinerary but certainly very comfortable. The canvas, bamboo
and stone walled tents with stretched-canvas roofs blend into their natural surroundings and
are kept private from one another by the forest vegetation with views through the trees. Each
tent has a private veranda, the bathrooms have indoor and outdoor showers, and the eveningbreeze
cooling systems above the beds keep temperatures comfortable.
Arrival on Day 1, November 1, 2022:
To fly from America to Kilimanjaro (airport code
JRO) you will connect through Europe or the Middle East. A private transfer from the airport
to the hotel is included.
You may wish to arrange your air so that you land at Kilimanjaro at least a day early so that
you have some time to shake off jet lag and also to allow for a cushion just in case of travel
disturbances on the way over. There are some interesting activities around Arusha, and we can
set up additional nights for you at our lovely hotel. If you have the time you may wish to
consider breaking your journey in Europe or the Middle East to allow for a more relaxed trip
to and/or from Africa.
Departure on Day 12, November 12, 2022:
The group will fly from the last camp on our
itinerary to Julius Nyerere International Airport (airport code DAR) in Dar es Salaam. From
here you will connect to your international flight or, should you choose, to your quick flight
over to Zanzibar.
There are two types of safari vehicles commonly used in East Africa, and we’ll have the
opportunity to experience both. In the north of Tanzania, which is host to the more popular
circuit, moving overland by road (as opposed to flying) is the typical mode of transport. The
vehicles are closed-sided, have windows that open, and a pop-up roof so that you can stand up
for photos once we’re inside the parks. We’ll have this type of vehicle on Days 2 to 4. The
other type of vehicle is open-sided, and this type is prevalent in the southern Tanzania parks,
into which most travelers will fly rather than arriving by an arduous road trip. We’ll use this
type on Days 6 to 11. Each type of vehicle typically has three rows of two seats behind the
We have three small-aircraft flights
("bush planes") on this itinerary with
very strict weight limitations on
baggage. The passenger capacity of
these flights usually ranges from 8 to
12. Each passenger’s total baggage
must not exceed 33 pounds (15 kg),
including hand luggage. Keep in mind
that the three safari camps include
laundry service so you can pack less
clothing than you might otherwise. Please travel with soft-sided luggage. The bush flights will
not accept hard cases. Duffel bags (with or without wheels) are ideal.
Approximate flight times range from 45 minutes (from our last camp to Dar es Salaam
airport) to a little over 3 hours (from Northern to Southern Tanzania on Day 6).
We can’t say exactly how every day is going to unfold on safari. Every camp has its own
rhythm and way of doing things, but it usually goes something more or less like this: a predawn
wake up call with tea/coffee, then a light breakfast, followed by a morning game drive
of perhaps three to four hours. Tea or coffee and muffins or cookies might be brought on the
drive. Return to camp after the morning game activity for a hearty brunch. Afternoon at
leisure (e.g., nap, pool, deck, library, massage). Mid-afternoon tea is usually served prior to
the day’s second game drive. Snacks and “sundowners” (pre-dinner drinks) are usually served on the drive. Return to camp for dinner and overnight. At the parks in Southern Tanzania
we’ll also have the possibility of doing walks, and in Nyerere specifically, a boat activity.
This tour occurs between the end of the dry season and the beginning of the “short rains”
season, so some rain is possible. If it does rain it typically lasts not more than an hour or so at
this time of year and can make for some gorgeous “skyscapes.” Temperatures will likely be in
the mid to upper 80s F during the day and get down to around 60-70° F at night. However, at
the coffee farm, which is at an altitude of about 4,500 feet, it’s likely to be 10° F cooler all