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NORTHERN TANZANIA GRAND SAFARI

Tour Description

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TANZANIA
BIRDING TOUR
ANY TIME*

Duration:17 days, 16 nights
Group Size:2-6
Anytime Price:$7675
Group Price:$7350
Single Suppl:$1200
Est #Species:475-525
Pace:Easy
Difficulty:Easy
* This tour is available for any dates of your choosing provided guide services and accommodations are available.

DAY 0 - OVERNIGHT FLIGHT FROM US OR CANADA

Travel day from the US/Canada to Arusha. With a 7-10 hour time difference between the US/Canada and Tanzania, flight will be overnight, arriving early the following morning in London or other connecting city in Europe.

DAY 1 - EUROPE TO ARUSHA

Travel day from connecting city in Europe. Flight duration from London to Kilimanjaro is over 9 hours with a 2-hour time difference. Everyone can expect to arrive in evening, where they'll be met at Kilimanjaro International Airport and transferred to the hotel in Arusha located about 40 min away. Night at Korona Guest House.

DAY 2 - ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK

Depart after early breakfast for all day birding and game drive in Arusha National Park. The park has three distinct areas, Mt Meru, Ngurdoto Crater, and the Momela Lakes. Mt Meru is a mix of montane forest and bare rocks, while Ngurdoto Crater is surrounded by forest and swampy on the crater floor. Some 400 species of birds have been recorded in the park. Particular target birds are the rare Madagascar Pond-Heron (present during Austral winter only), Retz's Helmetshrike (present November-March only), and Pangani Longclaw. Other birds of interest include Hartlaub's Turaco, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, White-fronted Bee-eater, Spot-flanked Barbet, and Trilling Cisticola. At nearby Momella Lakes interesting water birds include White-backed Duck, Southern Pochard (austral winter only), and African Jacana. Also present are occasional raptors, widely distributed large mammals, Mantled Guereza (Black-and-white Colobus) and the rather secretive Red Duiker and Suni antelope. Night at Korona Guest House.

DAY 3 - LARK PLAINS & TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK

Depart in early morning for a grassland area known as Lark Plains on the lower slopes of Mt Meru north of Arusha. This site is the only place to see the critically endangered Beesley's Lark, a stub-tailed bird that runs about in the short grass. Other interesting birds include four other lark species as well as Taita Fiscal, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Abyssinian (Schalow's) Wheatear, Fischer's Starling, and Southern Grosbeak-Canary. Raptors such as Dark Chanting-Goshawk and Lanner Falcon are also possible. Mid-day transfer, about 2½ hours, to Tarangire National Park for afternoon game drive. Night at Tarangire Safari Lodge.

DAY 4 - TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK

Tarangire National Park is covered by savanna dotted with giant Baobab trees and Acacia (fever tree) groves. Morning and afternoon will be spent on game drives through the park. Primary target birds are three endemic species, Yellow-collared Lovebird, Ashy Starling, and Rufous-tailed Weaver. Other interesting birds include Comb Duck, Crested Francolin, Red-necked Francolin, Hooded Vulture, with some good fortune Greater Painted-Snipe, White-bellied Go-away-bird, Red-chested Cuckoo, Southern Ground Hornbill, White-headed Barbet, Bearded Woodpecker, Black-crowned Tchagra, Northern Pied-Babbler, Red-winged Starling, Speckle-fronted Weaver, and Straw-tailed Whydah. Tarangire is especially noted for its large population of African Elephants. Also present are various antelope and other mammals. Night at Tarangire Safari Lodge.

DAY 5 - TARANGIRE, TRANSFER & NDUTU

Morning game drive through Tarangire. Mid-morning drive through the Malanja depression onto the southern plains within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, birding en route. The road goes up and over the highlands before descending to Ndutu. Resident populations of Blue Wildebeest, Plains Zebra, Grant's Gazelles, and Thomson's Gazelles can be seen on the savanna. White-necked Ravens are common in the highlands, while Kori Bustards are present on the dry plains. Along the road is the best place to find Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, the hardest sandgrouse species to locate. Night at Ndutu Safari Lodge (low season) or Ndutu Tented Camp (high season).

DAY 6 - NDUTU

Ndutu is the southern extent of the Serengeti. The area is a mix of open and riverine woodland, grassy plains, and the shores along alkaline Lake Ndutu and a nearby fresher water lake. Ndutu is the main calving ground of Blue Wildebeest, present January-March, when a million wildebeest can be present and dropping their foals within a 3-week period (February). During those months the area is visited by general tourists and everything is more expensive. Predators such as Cheetah and Lion are especially active while wildebeest calves are present but generally remain year-round, though some follow the migratory herds of wildebeest and zebra when they move north. Ndutu is the best place to see Cheetahs during the tour at any time of year. Birds of interest include Coqui Francolin, Secretary-bird, White-bellied Bustard, Collared Pratincole, Blue-naped Mousebird, Red-throated Tit, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Variable Sunbird, Long-billed Pipit, and Southern Red Bishop. The lodge waterhole attracts the beautiful and ever present Fischer's Lovebird. Night at Ndutu Safari Lodge (low season) or Ndutu Tented Camp (high season).

DAY 7 - WESTERN SERENGETI & SPEKE BAY

Early departure for long drive across the western Serengeti plains to Speke Bay on Lake Victoria, birding and game viewing en route. The most important target birds during the drive are Karamoja Apalis, an essentially Ugandan species found in a small area of the Serengeti, and Eastern Plantain-eater, found only around an oasis on the western plains. Other interesting possibilities include Senegal Lapwing, Black-winged Lapwing, Temminck's Courser, Wattled Starling, and Gray-headed Social-Weaver. Scattered mammals, mainly Impala and gazelles will be present, as will Hippopotamus at the oasis. Night at Speke Bay Lodge.

DAY 8 - SPEKE BAY

Speke Bay features a number of western specialties not found elsewhere on the tour. Birding is around the lodge grounds, including the gardens, along the shore of Lake Victoria including Papyrus beds, and dry savanna with scattered trees. Birds around the lakeshore include Arican Openbill, Swamp Flycatcher, Golden-backed Weaver, Black-winged Bishop, Black bishop, Red-billed Firefinch, and Bronze Mannikin. Birds around the lodge and nearby trees include Blue-headed Coucal, Blue-naped Mousebird, Usambiro Barbet, Black-headed Gonolek, Black Cuckooshrike, Silverbird, Red-chested Sunbird (a western specialty), Slender-billed Weaver, Lesser Masked-Weaver, Black-headed Weaver, Chestnut Weaver, and Eastern Paradise-Whydah. The striking African Paradise-Flycatcher is quite common. In drier open areas birds of special note are Water Thick-knee, Spotted Thick-knee, and Three-banded Courser. Night at Speke Bay Lodge.

DAY 9 - SPEKE BAY & CENTRAL SERENGETI

Morning birding around the lodge for any species missed the previous day. Then transfer across western and central Serengeti, birding and game viewing en route. It's about 100 miles and takes a half-day without stops. A late afternoon game drive in the central Serengeti will focus on mammals, especially looking for Leopard, which is most easily seen in this area. Night at Seronera Lodge.

DAY 10 - SERONERA & NGORONGORO

Morning bird the woodlands looking especially for Tanzanian Red-billed Hornbill, a recent split. A number of mammals should be evident, with Cheetah possible and Lion and Spotted Hyena quite common. Birds typical of savanna and open woodland include Helmeted Guineafowl, Marabou Stork, various raptors including several vultures, Meyer's Parrot, Long-tailed Fiscal, and Red-capped Lark. Transfer to Ngorongoro Crater stopping at the southern gate of the Serengeti where Hildebrandt's Starling is quite common. From there traverse across the arid Ngorongoro Conservation Area where Common Ostrich and Kori Bustard are especially common. The back road up to the Ngorongoro Crater rim is likely to produce Mountain Buzzard, Nyanza Swift, Eastern Mountain-Greenbul, Hunter's Cisticola, Bronze Sunbird, and Eastern Double-collard Sunbird. A side road toward a Masai village is the best place to find African Stonechat, Moorland Chat, and Red-collared Widowbird. Night at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.

DAY 11 - NGORONGORO CRATER

Morning bird the crater rim looking for specialties such as Hildebrandt's Francolin, Schalow's Turaco, Broad-ringed White-eye, Bar-throated Apalis, and Hunter's Cisticola. Then descend to Ngorongoro Crater, famed for its largely resident wildlife populations. It's often called the 'Garden of Eden of Africa' due to it's idyllic and unspoiled quality. Several prides of Lions live there year round and the game animals are largely resident, although they do move in and out of the crater along game trails onto the open plains on a regular basis. The crater floor is the best place to still find the highly endangered Black Rhinoceros. Also present are Blue Wildebeest as well as Plains Zebra and smaller numbers of Cape Buffalo, Eland, gazelles, Spotted Hyena, and jackals. Notable birds include Rufous-naped Lark, Pectoral-patch Cisticola, White-starred Robin, Northern Anteater-Chat, and Wattled Starling. Freshwater wetlands are home to Hottentot Teal, Purple Heron, Sacred Ibis, and other species. Alkaline Lake Magadi within the caldera is ringed by Lesser Flamingos and Greater Flamingos. Afternoon transfer out of the crater to Tloma Lodge.

DAY 12 - GIBB'S FARM

Gibb's Farm has become an expensive resort for the rich, but it can be visited by having lunch there. The farm features a variety of birds around cultivated areas, and trails behind the farm up the outside of the caldera walls offer good birding when it's not raining. On rainy days those trails aren't safe because game animals often descend into the woodland. A primary target bird is White-tailed Blue-Flycatcher, a Ugandan species typically found high in the trees in front of the lodge entrance. Other notable birds around the farm include Tambourine Dove, Moustached Tinkerbird, Green-backed Honeyguide, Chinspot Batis, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Brown-headed Apalis, Rueppell's Robin-Chat, Arrow-marked Babbler, Collared Sunbird, and Green-headed Sunbird. Birds of the forest interior above the farm include Schalow's Turaco, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Cardinal Woodpecker, Brown-headed Apalis, Sharpe's Starling, Golden-winged Sunbird, Yellow-crowned Canary, Gray-headed Negrita, Peters's Twinspot, and Jameson's Firefinch. Afternoon transfer back to Arusha, arriving before dark. Night at Korona Guest House

DAY 14 - RESERVOIR AREA & TRANSFER

Early morning depart toward the North Pare Mountains. A small wetland and creek area en route is the best place to find Taveta Golden-Weaver, a near endemic with very restricted range. The plateau south of the mountains is dry scrub featuring a variety of arid country specialties. A side road off the main highway leading to the reservoir provides access. The main target bird is Rosy-patched Bushshrike, found by walking through overgrazed scrub along the road. Other likely birds of interest include Black-throated Barbet, Pygmy Batis, Pringle's Puffback, Pink-breasted Lark, Mouse-colored Penduline-Tit, Tiny Cisticola, and Hunter's Sunbird. At the end of the road is a large reservoir behind a dam that supplies water to Arusha. There various wetland and shoreline birds such as Maccoa Duck, Long-tailed Lapwing, Spur-winged Lapwing, Lesser Swamp-Warbler, and various herons and egrets are generally present. Night at Elephant Motel in Same.

DAY 15 - MKOMAZI NATIONAL PARK & WEST USAMBARA MOUNTAINS

Morning bird Mkomazi National Park, an extension of Tsavo National Park in Kenya. The park features heavily bushed savanna. Depending on season, mammals may be abundant or sparse since they migrate north into Tsavo during the long rains of April. Target birds include Ashy Cisticola, Tsavo Sunbird, Pangani Longclaw, and Jameson's Firefinch. Other likely birds include African Goshawk, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Northern Red-billed Hornbill, which is at the southern extent of its range in Mkomazi, and Rattling Cisticola. After lunch transfer to the West Usambara Mountains, part of an ancient set of mountain ranges known as the Eastern Arc that is home to numerous endemic birds and plants. Possibilities during stops en route include Gray-headed Kingfisher, Little Bee-eater, Black-bellied Sunbird, African Golden-Weaver, White-winged Widowbird, and Broad-tailed Whydah. Night at Mueller's Resort outside Lesotho.

DAY 16 - WEST USAMBARA MOUNTAINS

All day birding mainly along the dirt roads near Mueller's Resort, which is located well up in the mountains beyond the village of Lushoto. Part of the forest has been logged, so birding will concentrate on remnant forest patches along the roads. The forest is quite dense with thick undergrowth, which makes the birding a bit challenging. Skulkers of special interest include Fuellborn's Boubou, Spot-throat, and Usambara Akalat, the latter an endangered species found only in small patches of forest in the West Usamabara Mountains. More easily seen are Hartlaub's Turaco, White-eared Barbet, Olive Woodpecker, Short-tailed Batis, Black-fronted Bushshrike (a species that comes in 5 very different color races), Usambara Drongo (sometimes split from Fork-tailed Drongo), Yellow-throated Wood-Warbler, Evergreen Forest-Warbler, African Tailorbird (quite common but rather shy), Bar-throated Apalis, Red-winged Starling, Usambara Double-collared Sunbird, Mountain Wagtail, and Yellow-bellied Waxbill. With luck a flock of Usambara Weaver may appear. This species moves about erratically and is not reliably seen. Also of interest is the Usambara race of Shelley's Greenbul, a possible future split. Among mammals we expect to see the endemic Lushoto Mountain Squirrel and Angola Black-and-white Colobus. Night at Mueller's Mountain Lodge.

DAY 17 - WEST USAMBARA MOUNTAINS & TRANSFER

Morning bird a different section of road around the resort looking for species missed the previous day. Afternoon transfer back to Arusha. Evening international flights home.

DAY 18 - INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS HOME

Overnight flights arrive back in the US or Canada.

 

TOUR NOTES

Expect 100 fewer species when Palearctic migrants absent. Prices higher during Jan-Mar (high season) - ask for quote.

 

ADDITIONAL INFO
(Not on Menu Above)

BIRDING LOCALES

 

Greater Painted-Snipe - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Collared Pratincole - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Karamoja Apalis - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Silverbird - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Eastern Double-collared Sunbird - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Wattled Starling - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Spotted Hyena - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Taveta Golden-Weaver - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Pangani Longclaw - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Gray-headed Kingfisher - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Angolan Colobus - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours