Planning an itinerary for a 10 days trip to Tanzania is not necessarily an easy task. So much to see, so little time. If you are anything like me, you might have heard of the Serengeti, the Great Migration and Zanzibar. But trust me, there is much more to see in this beautiful country.
For this 10 days itinerary, I tried to pack some of Tanzania’s absolute must-see, but without changing accommodation every day (it is supposed to be a holiday after all !). Hence, this ultimate 10 days itinerary includes 7 days in Tanzania Northern Parks (Serengeti, Tarangire, Ngorongoro) and 3 days in Zanzibar.
WHY VISITING TANZANIA?
Because it has it all! As simple as that.
If you are a nature lover, you can visit one or several of the 16 national parks and 14 wildlife reserves, that collectively cover about 30% of the country.
If you are an animals lover, Tanzania has one of the highest concentration of wildlife in the world: over 4 millions animals, including all the Big Fives: lions, leopards, rhinoceros, elephants, and buffalos. You will also get to see thousands of wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, as well as giraffes, cheetahs, warthog, baboons, hippos, etc … The whole deal.
If you are a beach lover, Zanzibar is the place to go, with kilometers of white sand and turquoise water beaches.
If you like hiking, challenge yourself to climb the Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain on the planet.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT TANZANIA?
The best season to visit North Tanzania is June to September. It is the dry season, the vegetation is not too dense which make animals easy to spot. It is also the best time to observe the Great Migration and the Mara river crossing in the Serengeti National Park. It is the most popular touristic season, so hotels can be full several months in advance. It is also one of the best time to visit Zanzibar as the weather is mostly cool and dry.
October to February is the shoulder season, with hot weather and some rainfalls. It is the best time for bird watching. In January the herds are in the southern part of the Serengeti for calving, so you can expect to see a lot of wildlife too. It is a less touristic season, so hotel prices can drop compare to the peak seasons. December to February is also a good time to visit Zanzibar, with a hot and dry weather
March to May should be avoided, as it is a period of heavy rains.
TANZANIA – THE PERFECT 10 DAYS ITINERARY
The Northern part of Tanzania has so much to offer that you could easily spend 7 days to 2 full weeks there. However, if you only have 10 days in Tanzania, and wish to squeeze Zanzibar into your itinerary, I suggest spending 7 days in safari and 3 days on the beach. The below itinerary is perfect to discover some of the iconic areas of Northern Tanzania in a week. Later in the article, I will also include some tips on additional places you should consider visiting should you have more time.
DAY 0 – ARRIVING IN TANZANIA
You can fly to Tanzania via 2 international airports: Julius Nyerere International Airport ( = Dar Es Salam airport) and Kilimanjaro Airport, which is the closest to the northern parks.
If you arrive in Dar Es Salam, you will have to take a second fight that will take you closer to the northern parks, most likely Kilimanjaro Airport or Arusha airport. Internal flights are operated by local or regional airline companies, including Air Tanzania. These propeller planes are pretty small (4 seats/row) , but the flights feel safe and comfortable.
Most of the parks close between 6 and 7 pm, so if you can’t make it to the park on time, you can spend the first night in Arusha or around.
If you have more time: Consider spending a day or two either in Dar Es Salam or Arusha to understand more about Tanzanian daily life.
DAY 1 – TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
Drive from Arusha to Tarangire National Park – 3h
Cost of Tarangire National Park : 490 USD (2 pax + driver / 2 days & 2 nights)
Leave Arusha early morning and drive to Tarangire National Park.
Pick up your permit at the park entrance, and then game drive the whole afternoon in the Lemiyo area, the northern part of the park, and the closest to the entrance. The landscape here is a mix of wide grasslands, and woodlands, impressive termites mounds, and the park’s trademark baobab trees! Tarangire National Park has the second-highest wildlife concentration of the country (after Serengeti National Park), and one of the largest population of elephants in the world (around 3,000 of these peaceful giants). You can also see hundreds of zebras, gazelles, wildebeest, giraffes, etc and there are good chances to spot lions and cheetas too.
Take a break at the Matete picnic area, that has an elevated view over the Tarangire River and the herds of animals coming there to drink.
Where to stay in Tarangire National Park?
- Kicchugu camp: Absolutely beautiful glamping camp! Each tent is comfortable and tastefully decorated. The bathroom is fully equipped with running cold water and amenities. Hot water is arranged for showers. This is a great glamping experience without unnecessary fuss. I also love it because it is very eco-friendly: the whole camp is solar-powered, drinking water is kept in tin bottles, and shower is limited to 20L.
READ MORE: 10 Tips to Be a More Eco Conscious Traveler
DAY 2 – TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
Spend the day game driving inside the park, especially in the Silale Swamp area for a completely different landscape. The Silale swamp is a vast green plateau, with mountains in the background. A really beautiful view, and a lot of animals to spot, as they come to drink at the swamp. Take a break at the Silale picnic area, that has a beautiful view over the swamp.
Whenever you are done, go back to the camp and relax for the rest of the afternoon.
Tips: 7 days of safari across 3 different parks involves a lot of driving, so when you have a chance to go back to your camp early, I recommend you to do so and take the time to relax.
DAY 3 – NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
Drive from Tarangire to Ngorongoro : Around 2 hours
Cost of Ngorongoro Conservation Area : 455 USD (2 pax + driver / 1 day)
Do one last game drive as you exit Tarangire National Park and head to Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
If you have more time: If you have more than 10 days, I recommend adding Lake Manyara to you Tanzania itinerary. It is a very wet area so except lush surroundings, and lots of birds, including plenty of flamingos.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978, Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a vast land of plains, woodlands, lakes, and volcanos. The crater of the volcano dropped itself is about 20kms across and 600 meters deep, surrounded by an almost perfect circular caldera. Stopping by the Ngorongoro crater is an absolute must-do in your 10 days Tanzania itinerary.
To get a beautiful view of the crater, you can stop at one of the viewpoints along the rim of the crater, but these viewpoints are very busy with tourists. Instead, I highly recommend spending the afternoon on a walking safari on the rim of the crater. The view of the crater, 600m below your feet is breathtaking.
As for all walking safaris, you need to be accompanied by an armed park ranger, which can be arranged for 20 USD per person. I can’t begin to describe how beautiful the crater looks like from the rim, and how good it felt to walk around this very green and refreshing landscape. During wintertime, the landscape is mostly dry and yellow, with Lake Magadi (a shallow alkaline lake) completely dried up, leaving behind a coat of salt, that shines brightly under the sun. An incredibly stunning view. During the rainy season, the contrasts between the blue lake and the green plains are stunning too!
Check into a lodge for the night, and enjoy the sunset over the crater.
Where to stay in Ngorongoro Conservation Area?
It is a good idea to stay on the edge of the crater, to enjoy the beautiful view. If you visit during a winter stay in a lodge rather than a camp as temperatures drop near to freezing at night (we are at 2400 m above sea level after all !)
- Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge: A very well located lodge of almost 100 rooms, with a pool facing the crater. The sunset view from the bar area is magical. The rooms are very plain, but the beds are comfortable. Breakfast and dinner is buffet style, nothing fancy but it does the job for a night or two.
- Ngorongoro Serena Lodge: Located close to the main descend route, this lodge offers nicely decorated rooms with balcony, facing the crater.
- Entamanu Ngorongoro: Gorgeous tented camp with an amazing view over the crater. A dream place if you visit in the summer.
DAY 4 – NGORONGORO CRATER AND DRIVE TO CENTRAL SERENGETI
Drive from Ngorongoro Crater to Central Serengeti: Around 4.5 hours
Start the day with a morning game drive in the crater. The Ngorongoro Crater can get really busy, so aim at entering the park as early as possible when it is quiet and animals are still roaming freely around. Ngorongoro crater has the largest concentration of predators in the country (including more than 50 lions) and around 40 of the endangered Black Rhinos.
Don’t miss the green lush Lereal forest to see some elephants, the Lake Magadi, and its flamingos, and finally the hippos at the Ngoitoktok Springs (my favorite place of the park, but also one of the busiest). This is also a nice location for a picnic, but beware of the black kites that dive right to you to steal your lunch
Around mid-day, start driving toward Serengeti National Park. The drive from Ngorongoro to Serengeti National Park is long and particularly uncomfortable (the road is very bumpy and rocky) but the surrounding views are amazing. The Endless plains on each side of the road are just that … endless! During the wet months, you could follow thousands of wildebeest, gazelles, and zebras migrating through the green plains, but during in winter it is almost completely empty of its wildlife.
From Ngorongoro Crater, it takes a bit more than 2.5 hours to reach the Serengeti National Park entrance, and then another 2 hours (with pictures stop) to reach Central Serengeti.
If you have more time : Consider spending a couple of days in Central Serengeti before heading to the North. This is the most popular area of the park too, with lots of cars coming for a day trip only, so arrange with your driver to find the quieter areas.
Where to stay in Central Serengeti?
- Kiota camp: Belonging to the same group as the Kicchugu Camp in Tarangire National Park, Kiota camp is equally stunning and comfortable, the food is good and the staff is very kind. I recommend it 100%.
DAY 5 & 6 – NORTHERN SERENGETI
Drive from Central Serengeti to Northern Serengeti: 10 hours
Cost of Serengeti National Park: 850 USD (2 pax + 1 driver – 3 days / 2 nights)
If you are visiting Serengeti National Park during the Great Migration, I definitely recommend making your way to the northern part of the park. The drive is really long but once you reach the Mara River, you will not regret it! After driving through woodlands and vast open savannah plains, all rather dry in August, North Serengeti is refreshingly green and lush.
Drive on the main road all the way to the Bologonya gate, then take the small seasonal paths toward the West and the Mara River. Make sure to leave very early from Central Serengeti to reach your lodge or camp end of the afternoon, and enjoy a beautiful sunset with a well-deserved beer!
Tips: If you want to save time or just drive less, it is possible to fly to the North Serengeti with a bush flight to Kogatende Airstrip.
The next day, leave the camp early and head towards the Mara River, to see the famous wildebeest crossing. There are around 11 known crossing points on the river, so you will have to rely on your guide (and him communicating with other guides) to find the right spot of the day. Once you reach, you might be lucky to see herds of wildebeest crossing the river, or you might have to be very patient … It is a lot about luck there. Spend the day game driving, all the way to the Kenyan / Masai Mara border and just admire the incredible view of tens of thousands of wildebeest roaming around the vast plains.
Return to your camp for one last evening in the bush!
DAY 7 – TRAVEL BACK TO ARUSHA / KILIMANJARO & FLY TO ZANZIBAR
Enjoy a last morning game drive in the park, before heading to one of the airstrips and fly back to Kilimanjaro / Arusha or your next local destination. Alternatively, if you are driving back to Arusha, expect to spend the full day in the car.
DAY 8 – 9 & 10 – ZANZIBAR
It is finally time to sleep in, take it slow and relax on the beautiful Spice Island. Some of the best things to do in Zanzibar: Explore the many idyllic beaches of the island, discover Stone Town, take a traditional dhow to go snorkeling or diving.
Where to stay in Zanzibar?
- Jambiani Villas : Beautiful villas with furnished kitchen, 1 to 2 bedrooms, straight on the peaceful Jambiani beach. Around 150 USD. / night, breakfast included.
- Mchanga Beach Resort : Simple and comfortable bungalows on Pwani Beach, with delicious Italian inspired food. Around 100 EUR / night, breakfast included.
- Sharazād Boutique Hotel : Lovely boutique hotel in Jambiani, with a private beach, 2 pools a bar and a nice restaurant, but no A/C. Around 200 USD / night.
Here you go, the perfect 10 days itinerary in Tanzania, tested and approved by yours truly. If you are planning a trip to Tanzania I hope you find this information useful, and I envy you… I would love to go back already!
If you have any questions, doubts or suggestions, please feel free to leave me a comment below and I will be happy to help out.