10 Days Tanzania Budget Safari and Mount Meru Trekking in Lake Manyara, Serengeti, and Ngorongoro crater are the most famous national parks and conservation areas in Tanzania and hiking Mount Meru.
Budget but comfortable lodge accommodation in Arusha is included on the night before and a night after the safari, during the Mount Meru hike, accommodation will be in mountain huts along the hiking trails.
A hike to the summit of Mount Meru at 4562 meters over Tanzania highlands with spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro from a distance. The hiking trails follow the northern route, through game lands, rain forests, and open bush, though you will have to cover the challenging rocky terrains near the summit
Our 10 days Tanzania budget safari and Mount Meru trekking is a better idea as Mount Meru is an ideal add-on to wildlife safaris in Tanzania, especially to the famous Northern Tanzania safari circuit.
Arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport anytime and transfer to Arusha City. The rest of the day is free to relax and recover from your flight, laze by the pool or explore the town.
Today we drive to Lake Manyara National Park for a full day of game drives. This is one of Tanzania’s smaller parks but still offers a rewarding and diverse safari experience. The lakeshore at Manyara teems with birdlife, and while you are looking for the birds, you might spot one of the elusive tree-climbing lions. There are a surprising number of other large mammals and the striking cliffs on the Rift escarpment form a dramatic backdrop. In the late afternoon, we make a short journey from the park to our special tented camp. (Nsya Tented Camp FB) or similar
We head towards the Serengeti National Park. En route, there is an opportunity to visit Olduvai Gorge. It is within this steep-sided ravine that Louis and Mary Leakey made some of the world’s most important archaeological discoveries in the 1950s. Here is a small museum we can see evidence of our ancestors that have been dated back 2.5 million years. After lunch, we drive into the Serengeti itself and the rest of the afternoon is spent game viewing in the vast plains that are broken only by stands of acacia trees and the occasional kopje. In December, January and February we will normally meet the migration with large herds of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle. There are always plenty of resident animals, such as giraffes, buffalo, and elephants, and many large predators such as lions, cheetah, and leopards. We return to our special tented camp for the night. (Kananga Special Tented Camp FB)
We have another full day in this wonderful park, rising early to make the most of our time. Our guides will choose the best spotting locations for the time of year; we can spend time at the Hippo pool watching these majestic animals laze about in the cool water happily living alongside the crocodiles, watch a big pride of lions, be in the middle of the migration, sometimes surrounded by wildebeest, sometimes by zebras, which travel with the wildebeest. We will hopefully see all of the plain games; elephants, giraffe, zebra, lions, and if you are lucky the elusive leopard and cheetah, as well as huge amounts of the interesting birdlife, from the elegant secretary birds to the flightless ostrich. We return to our special tented camp for the night. (Kananga Special Tented Camp FB)
We start the day with an early morning game drive Serengeti before heading to Ngorongoro Area. Ngorongoro is a special place in that it is a Conservation Area, not a National Park; this means that the whole area is managed for both the animals and the local Masai people who graze their cattle alongside the indigenous wildlife. Finally, we descend into the crater. The crater walls provide a natural sanctuary for the animals, which means there is plenty to see: lions, elephants, buffalo, rhino, and leopards (if you are lucky). The only animal you won’t see here is a giraffe, whose long legs are unable to cope with the steeps sides of the crater. In the late afternoon, we travel just outside of Ngorongoro Conservation Area to Mto Wa Mbu (Nsya Tented Camp FB) or similar
After breakfast, we will have a short at Mto wa-Mbu Village and visit Maasai boma, before head back to your hotel in Arusha for preparation of Mount Meru climbing (Ilboru Safari Lodge HB) or similar.
We start from Momella Gate (1,500 m) in the late morning. The track soon passes some open grassland, with a good chance of seeing buffaloes and warthogs, and then continues as a steady climb through montane forest. We take lunch at, or near, the Fig Tree Arch, which is big enough to drive a car through! After lunch, the route continues through a less dense forest, where birds and monkeys are abundant. The black and white colobus monkeys are particularly fascinating to watch. By mid-afternoon, there are the first closer views of the towering cliffs and the Ash Cone. We reach Miriakamba Hut (2,514 m), situated in an idyllic grassy glade, in time to enjoy the last of the afternoon sun and beautiful views over the surrounding plains towards Kilimanjaro. [5-6 hours walking]
The walk from Miriakamba Hut to the saddle below Little Meru is a short day but a steep and sustained climb all the way. We walk through the attractive, open, and lush montane forest to reach the halfway point of Elephant Ridge. This has excellent views of the summit ridge and across most of the crater floor. Whilst resting, you might spot elephants or other animals from here. The path continues uphill through giant heather and other moorland vegetation to reach Saddle Hut (3,570 m), where lunch is waiting for us. The afternoon is free to rest and enjoy the views. The more energetic can make the short climb to the nearby summit of Little Meru (3,820 m) for superb views just before sunset. [3-6 hours walking]
An early start at around 2 a.m. to climb steeply to Rhino Point (3,800 m), and then continue along an undulating ridge of ash and rock to reach Cobra Point (4,350 m) around sunrise. The views are stunning: the cliffs of the Crater rim, the Ash Cone rising from the Crater floor, Kilimanjaro floating on the morning clouds, and west towards the Rift Valley if the weather is clear. The summit of Socialist Peak (4,566 m) is an hour more on a superb but often steep path. The route back to Rhino Point in the sharp morning light on a narrow ridge between the sloping outer wall of the crater and the sheer cliffs of the inner wall is one of the most dramatic and exhilarating walks in Africa. We rest and have brunch at Saddle Hut before continuing the descent to Miriakamba Hut (2,514 m). [10-12 hours walking]
Note: The ridge between the summit and Rhino Point is not suitable for those suffering from vertigo. In icy conditions or strong winds, it may be impossible for anyone to progress beyond Rhino Point.
We take the direct route down towards Momella through open grassland and mixed forest, with good chances of seeing wildlife. This trail has excellent views back towards the crater and over the plains of the National Park. We should reach Momella Gate by late morning. Transfer back to Safari Lodge (Arusha), where the trip concludes. (2-3 hours walking)