MANYARA: The cleavage, known as the Great Rift Valley, can be identified from space as the most distinctive feature of the continent. The seam of this cleavage has developed a series of fascinating and beautiful lakes. Manyara is a fantastic big game park. The variety of habitats parallels its exceptional scenery. Every imaginable East African animal is found here in abundance. There are great herds of buffalo, zebra, wildebeest and several varieties of gazelle. Mahogany, sausage tree and croton are alive with blue monkeys and vervet monkeys. Some of the most amazingly large pods of hippos congregate at the rivers emerging into the lake, and the birdlife is plentiful. Lake Manyara is also known for its “tree climbing” lions.
NGORONGORO CRATER: Ngorongoro is quite unique as its physical protection from man natural beauty ranks it among the most pristine wildernesses on earth. It is regarded as a natural wonder of the world and has been declared a World Heritage Site. It is the largest intact crater in the world, being 610 meters deep, 16 kilometers across and covering an area of 540 square kilometers. On the crater floor, grassland blends into swamps, lakes, rivers, woodland and mountains – all a haven for wildlife, including the greatest predator population in Africa. The volcanic crater is jam packed with wildlife, including all the big game. Its pride and joy, however, is that it remains the last great wild refuge for black rhino.
SERENGETI: The name ‘Serengeti’ comes from the Maasai language and appropriately means an ‘endless plains’. The National Park is as big as Northern Ireland, but its ecosystem, which includes the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Maswa Game Reserve and the Maasai Mara Game reserve (in Kenya). It lies between the shores of Lake Victoria in the west, Lake Eyasi in the south, and the Great Rift Valley to the east. As such, it offers the most complex and least disturbed ecosystem on earth. A unique combination of diverse habitats enables it to support more than 30 species of large herbivores and nearly 500 species of birds. Its landscape, originally formed by volcanic activity, has been sculpted by the concerted action of wind, rain and sun.
It now varies from open grass plains in the south, savanna with scattered acacia trees in the center, hilly, wooded grassland in the north, to extensive woodland and black clay plains to the west. Small rivers, lakes and swamps are scattered throughout. Rising in the southeast are the great volcanic massifs and craters of the Ngorongoro Highlands.
TARANGIRE: Tarangire National Park covers 2,600 square kilometers and is on the traditional migration route of several species of the wildlife. At dry times, the concentration of animals in Tarangire rivals that of the much better known Serengeti. Herds of migratory wildebeest, gazelle, zebra and buffalo gather along the marshy shores of Lake Natron. These pools are shared by flocks of birds: green wood hoopoes, fisher lovebirds, tallish herons, white bellied go away birds and giant kingfishers.
Resident lion, giraffe, elephant, and black rhino are common at any season; Tarangire is noted for its baobab trees and splendid vistas of rolling savannah and acacia woodland. The strange-looking, centuries old baobab trees are believed by the Maasai to be the first tree in creation.
HOT AIR BALLOONING: On certain safaris which include night-stays in Serengeti, hot air balloon rides are available upon prior notice and at an extra cost. For the adventure of a lifetime we can offer the group the unique experience of a Balloon Safari over the Serengeti plains. If you choose ballooning, plan to depart early in the morning to the launch site for the hot air balloons – you must depart early to enjoy the calm morning sky. Your balloon pilot will guide the balloon low over the Serengeti plains, providing you with the chance to see the different wildlife at their early morning activities: hippos returning to the water after wandering for food in the dark, elephants coming out for their morning feeding, lions returning from the hunt. If there is a special activity going on, the pilot will bring the balloon down close to the treetops for a better view. Skimming over the treetops, you will have a chance to see the game in action and up close. The flight lasts about an hour with ample opportunity for photography. After landing, there is a traditional champagne toast, followed by breakfast cooked on the balloon burners in the middle of the Serengeti plains.