Ask just about anyone you know if doing a safari in Africa is on their bucket list, and they say YES.
The thing is, most of these people wait until they’re retired before they even think about going on a safari. Why? It’s primarily a cost thing. When people think of a safari, they think EXPENSIVE–upwards of $10,000 per person.
Yes, there are safari packages available for that much money (and considerably more)–but it doesn’t have to be that way.
That’s why I decided to hack the system, starting my own safari company in Tanzania in 2011–Pamoja Safaris. I wanted to introduce a younger demographic to the awesomeness of seeing some of the most majestic animals on earth in their natural habitats.
Sure, no matter how you slice it, it’s not an inexpensive trip. But, if you want to do a safari in Tanzania anytime in the near future–with an awesome group of people to boot–this will be your best bet.
This trip is scheduled for: November 4-11, 2017
It’s gonna be some FUN times. But hey–don’t just take my word for it!
I absolutely loved my Pamoja safari. The Serengeti is beautiful. The Pamoja team was incredible! Josh went above and beyond to ensure we enjoyed our time–even driving extra hours to show us the great wildebeest migration. Scott made the entire process smooth and easy-peasy. I’d recommend this trip a million times over!
Pamoja Safaris enabled me to fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing the African wildlife up close in its natural habitat. Our guide did everything possible to ensure our experience would stand out as one of the greatest of our lifetimes. Mission Accomplished!
Our safari was the trip of a lifetime! My dad and I both fell in love with Tanzania and our experience would never have been the same without our guide, Josh. He was so knowledgeable, kind and easy going, and we feel lucky to have gotten such a unique perspective of Tanzania, it’s people, the animals and life, in general!
Going Pamoja is first-rate–you’ll feel like family. A well-planned, well-executed, well-experienced adventure trip. THANK YOU for making it happen.
Table of Contents
Your mission is to spend an all-inclusive week in Tanzania with a curated group of amazing people, exploring the wildlife, nature, and inhabitants of this amazing country. We'll hit up all of the must-see spots that you've heard about before--the never-ending plains of the Serengeti, the caldera of Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, the great wildebeest migration, Kilimanjaro*--and a few that are totally off the radar.
And, the best part? We'll do it all in style.
That means premium accommodations from start to finish. We're talking mimosa super-buffet breakfasts, comfy beds, and elephants grazing just outside of your bedroom (please do not pet them).
EVERYTHING will be taken care of--from airport pick-up to drop-off. Three meals per day, guides, transportation via Land Cruisers, park fees, accommodation, tips, etc., etc.
You don't even need to bring any money with you at all if you don't mind skipping souvenirs and alcohol, because those are the only things not included in the package.
Make no mistake--this is some real epic Lion King-type adventure you're getting into. In fact, I challenge you to not have the theme song to the movie playing in your head as you see the sun rise over the Serengeti.
In a word? EPIC.
You'll be accompanied by yours truly, along with my friend and business partner Josh. Josh has 20 years of experience guiding visitors through his country, and is an absolute master of animal behavior and identification. We may also be joined by one or two additional drivers/guides, depending on how we split the group up.
We'll be traveling in two or three Land Cruisers, and will be with each other every day on a pretty fixed schedule. There won't be a ton of opportunity to go off and do your own thing, as we will be together most of the time--whether it be on safari in the parks, or at the lodges, relaxing or enjoying meals.
Accommodation will be in twin rooms, and you'll be paired with another participant of the same sex (single room supplements available--see Money Stuff for more information). This person may change throughout the trip, as we will be staying in four different lodges throughout our time together.
I'm primarily targeting friends of mine for this particular trip, and you know you're all cool humans, so half the fun will be making new friends and the time we spend together (but if you don't know me--but are a cool person--you are invited as well).
In the summer of 2010 I traveled to Africa for the very first time, alongside my father. It had always been a dream of his to go on a safari, and lucky for me, I invited me along. We were in a group of sixteen Americans, and we spent the next twelve days exploring everything there was to see and do in northern Tanzania.
Our group was assigned three guides, and I quickly became friends with one of them--Josh. Josh was by far the most outgoing, friendly, humorous one of the three. In fact, everyone wanted to ride in his Land Cruiser everyday, as his knowledge of the animals was unmatched. He would see a predator looking in a specific direction and know what was going to happen, circling around slowly to get us a better view of the action once the chase was on. It was an amazing time
I had elected to stay in Tanzania an entire month, solo, visiting Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro after the safari tour had ended and my father had gone back to the U.S. Throughout the rest of my time in the country Josh stayed in touch, and assisted me multiple times when it came to anything I was looking to do (bus bookings, etc.).
After I summited Kilimanjaro, on my last day in the country, Josh invited me over to his house to met his wife and kids. He picked me up at my hotel and we drove a while to his house, situated just a ways from Arusha city (the starting point for most of the safari trips in the country). It was during that car ride that the idea hit me: I was an entrepreneur that was used to starting up businesses, I loved animals and nature in general, and I was looking for a new venture after doing web development for much of the past decade. He was a proficient, personable guide with many years of experience. I wonder...
"Josh, have you ever thought about starting your own safari company?", I asked.
"I was thinking of maybe opening up a shop near my home..." he replied.
"Hmm...what if we opened our own safari company together? If we combine your strengths and mine, I think we could make something great...", I asked.
And with that short car-ride conversation, Pamoja Safaris was born (well, about a half-year later).
Just because you're on safari doesn't mean that you have to rough it! We'll be staying in some of the best lodges and luxury tented camps Tanzania has to offer, complete with comfy beds, buffet breakfasts, warm-water showers, and gorgeous views. You might even be able to see some of the animals from your lodge, as they feed on the grasses and trees outside of your balcony.
We will be securing a number of twin rooms for everybody to share at each of the locations we'll be visiting (Arusha city, Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, and Serengeti National Park). If you're traveling solo you'll be matched up with somebody of the same sex, or, you can pay a bit of additional money to grab a room all to yourself for the duration of the trip (see Money Stuff, below).
We use only the most comfortable, feature-equipped, custom Toyota Land Cruisers available. Some days we'll be spending upwards of eight hours inside of these steel beasts, so it's of utmost importance that you're comfortable the entire way.
Another way that we make sure that you're enjoying the safari to the max is not over-packing each vehicle! Many safari providers will put a person in every seat, but that doesn't allow much room for backpacks, camera equipment, etc. For our 7+1 seat configuration vehicles (seven passenger seats plus one driver seat), we never put more than five or six passengers inside, leaving enough room for your belongings and to easily move around when you want to grab that perfect shot.
While on game drives, much of the time you'll be standing on the seats with your head poking out the top of the vehicle (which allows a 360 degree view of what's around you). To allow this, the roof pops up if you push on it, and the covering stays above your head, shielding you from the sun.
We'll be together for ten days total, including an arrival day, a departure day, and eight full days of safari. The safari itself will encompass three separate parks (Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, and Serengeti National Park), and one conservation area (Ngorongoro Conservation Area).
Most days we will wake around 7:30am or 8:00am, have breakfast, then do a morning safari while the animals are still active. Around noon we will either head back to the lodge or have a picnic lunch, then rest for a couple hours afterward, as the animals are their least active during the midday sun. At around 3:30pm we will head out again on a late afternoon-till-dusk game drive, returning back to the lodge at sunset (it is not permitted to drive at night in the parks). You'll have a bit of time to wash up and change clothes, then it's time for dinner. After dinner you may hang around the bar for some drinks and conversation, or head to bed to relax, as you see fit.
For more information a detailed day-by-day itinerary can be found below.
Dates are set for November 4-11 (for the safari portion of the trip).
Day 00: Leave the U.S. (Friday, November 3)
If coming from the U.S. you'll be taking a flight the day before, as it's a bit of a long flight with at least one, but most likely two layovers.
Day 01: Arrival to Arusha (A) (Saturday, November 4)
Arrive into Arusha via air, where we will pick you up at the airport. After that you'll be dropped off at your hotel in/around the city. Enjoy some down time after the long flight, and then we'll reconvene for dinner in the hotel restaurant.After dinner, meet with your driver and guide Josh. We will go over the schedule for the next few days in general, focusing primarily on the itinerary for the next day. After dinner retire to your room and get a good rest, as we'll start early the next day.
Day 02: Arusha to Manyara/Tarangire National Park (B) (Sunday, November 5)
Wake up around 7:00am and head to the restaurant for breakfast. We will be trying to leave the city around 8:00am on our way to Tarangire National Park and Manyara National Park (approx. two hours driving).We will spend the late morning doing a game drive in one of the two parks (they are next to each other), meeting together for lunch at our next lodge in the afternoon. After lunch, we will have some time to digest (a siesta of sorts), as the animals are less active during this hottest time of the day. At around 3:30pm we will head out again and do a late afternoon game drive in the park, returning to the lodge at dusk in time for dinner.After dinner we will do a recap of the day, and a presentation over what to expect the next day. After that you're free to go back to your room and rest, or hang out with the other guests at the lodge bar.
Day 03: Manyara/Tarangire National Park to Serengeti National Park (via Ngorongoro) (D) (Monday, November 6)
After breakfast at the lodge we will make our way out of the park (with a game drive on the way), and head towards Ngorongoro Conservation Area around lunchtime. After receiving our entry permits and passing through the gates, we will stop at the top of the now extinct volcano to grab some photos from the top.We'll make our way out of the conservation area onward to Serengeti National Park, where we will need to grab additional entry passes. After receiving clearance, we will make our way to your lodge (game drive on the way), arriving just before nightfall. Dinner at the lodge, followed by the day's briefing. (Total driving time this day is about five to six hours, so we'll be sure to make as many stops as needed for restrooms and to stretch our legs on the way.)
Day 04: Serengeti National Park (D) (Tuesday, November 7)
Sleep in a bit, eat breakfast, then we head out for a game drive until lunchtime, which will be back at the lodge. We'll then spend a few more hours out on the plains, looking out for leopards, cheetahs, and lions that are all over the area. Dinner back at the lodge, after which we will talk about the schedule for the next few days in the Serengeti.
Day 05: Serengeti National Park (D) (Wednesday, November 8)
This is the day where we will try to catch up with the wildebeest herds. This time of year they are in the western part of the park, so not the easiest to get to. We'll make things easier by camping in the general area, allowing for shorter drive times.Depending on how the herds are moving, we may opt for a picnic lunch to be able to spend more time out on the plains in search of the wildebeest. Long day with plenty of driving, so we'll make sure to advance at a comfortable pace with as many breaks as needed. Dinner back at the lodge after returning around dusk.
Day 06: Serengeti National Park (West) to Ngorongoro Conservation Area (C) (Thursday, November 9)
After breakfast we will make a slow departure towards the east, heading towards Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area (while looking for animals on the way, of course). Right before entering the conservation area we will have the chance to stop by a local Maasai village, to see their traditional dances, handicrafts, and the way in which they live their lives. Arrive at our beautiful lodge overlooking the 12 mile wide crater at around dusk. We'll give you enough time to unpack and get settled before meeting at the restaurant for dinner, after which we will do the day's recap, as well as talk about plans the next day. After that you're free to go back to your room and rest, or hang out with the others at the lodge bar.
Day 07: Ngorongoro Conservation Area (C) (Friday, November 10)
The best time to see the animals down in the crater, including the rhinos, is early morning. Because of that, we may opt to skip breakfast in favor of a boxed breakfast on the road so that we can be first through the gates when the park opens at 6:30am.We will spend the entire morning driving through the crater, after which we will have a picnic lunch at a designated area within the park around noon. After lunch we will continue our game drive for a few more hours, heading back to Arusha in the late afternoon. Along the way we can stop at local craftsmen's workshops to see how the locals maintain their traditional art forms (this is a good time to buy any souvenirs you may want to purchase). That evening we will do our trip recap after a special farewell dinner.
Day 08: Arusha to Home (Departure) (Saturday, November 11)
Although exact timing depends on your departure schedule, generally we will wake up, have a leisurely breakfast, and then relax at the lodge until it's time to drive you to the airport for your flight.
THIS IS NOT A BUDGET TRIP. If you're looking to do the cheapest safari possible, you can find that in other countries with less expensive park fees (e.g. South Africa), or by joining a scheduled group tour. There are also many managed game reserves in places such as Kenya where they fence in a large area and carefully manage wildlife numbers--like an open-air zoo.
This, however, is not a game reserve--this is 100% natural as-nature-intended. Animals come and go as they please, there are no fences, and the land area is HUGE--nearly 5,800sq. mi (15,000sq. km) for Serengeti National Park by itself.
That being said, the trip is not prohibitively expensive, and is actually a great deal if compared to other all-inclusive, private Tanzanian safari packages. (Not even factoring in the huge bonus that you'll be with an amazing group of humans, along with yours truly.)
Please be aware that I am putting this together at near-cost pricing, as I'm looking to take photos and videos during the trip to use for promotional purposes. (If you don't want to be photographed and/or videotaped, this may not be the best tour for you to join.)
There will be 12 spots open for this trip. In order to secure your spot there will be a non-refundable $1,000 deposit required. First come, first served. (The deposit will be applied to the trip balance.)
The balance for the entire trip--one more payment of $2,190--will be due 60 days before the start date of the trip. If your payment is not received by that day you may lose your initial deposit/place on the trip (I will inform you when the date is approaching if I haven't heard from you).
Pricing will be raised to $3,490 at 12:00am ET on September 1, 2017.
What the $3,190 payment includes:
- 8 days/7 nights of accommodation in luxury lodges and tented camps (see Accommodation above)
- Double Occupancy in twin bed rooms. If you are not traveling with a companion you will be matched up according to gender. If you want your own room this can be arranged for an extra $800.
- Guide services the entire time
- Airport pick-up/drop-off
- 3 meals per day
- Unlimited bottled water
- Guide & staff gratuity
- All taxes and surcharges
- All park and vehicle fees
- Transport via Land Cruiser to/within parks, incl. petrol charges and driver meals and accommodation
What the $3,190 payment does NOT include:
- Flights to/from Tanzania (closest international airport: Kilimanjaro - JRO)
- Alcohol & beverages other than water
- $100 Tanzanian visa fee (see Visa, below)
Weather & Packing
Tanzania in November is quite temperate, partially owing to the fact that the spots we are going to visit are well above sea level. Daytime is generally in the high 70's fahrenheit (26C), and the evenings are cool enough that you'd want a hoodie or windbreaker with you just in case you get cold. Rain is practically non-existent, and the grasses that cover the plains are at the lowest growth point of the season, allowing for easy spotting of game.
We also have the added bonus of November being one of the least busy months when it comes to tourism, so we won't have much competition when it comes to jockeying for position with other groups to see that lion eat its kill.
In short, this is the perfect time of year to go on safari.
What to wear? Well, you'll want to bring muted colors, as animals can sometimes react aggressively towards bright colors (think of bulls and the color red). You'll also want to stay away from dark colors, such as dark blue or black, as flies can be attracted to you that way. So, the best thing to wear? Unsurprisingly, khaki.
As mentioned, a windbreaker jacket and hoodie or fleece is recommended for nighttime, but during the day jeans, khaki shorts/pants, T-shirts, etc. are all fair game. Dress comfortably, because there won't be any formal occasions during this trip.
Tanzania is one of the most stable, crime-free countries in Africa. In the rare event crime does happen, it is almost solely crimes of opportunity by the poor to make some extra money--e.g. grabbing your bag or camera when you're not looking. Violent crime is exceedingly rare, especially against tourists, making the country much safer than the U.S., for instance.
Because we will be on safari for most of the trip (and on the side of Kilimanjaro for those doing the post-trip), we really won't have to worry about theft at all. The employees at the lodges wouldn't risk their jobs stealing anything, and the other tourists usually aren't culprits. Sometimes have to watch out for baboons though... (Only half-joking.)
The only spot I would caution vigilance (although I've never had anything happen personally) would be the first and last days in Arusha. Even there though, we will be at the lodge most of the time, so there shouldn't be any issues.
Regardless, I do recommend you purchase travel health and trip protection insurance, just to be on the safe side (see Disclaimer, below).
No matter where you are coming from, getting to Arusha, Tanzania is a bit of a slog. If coming from Europe you can manage it with just one stopover (usually in Nairobi, Kenya; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; or UAE), but if you're coming from the U.S. be prepared for a long flight with two or three stopovers (although sometime you can find a single stopover journey, especially if you pay a bit more).
If paying for the flight (as opposed to using air miles), you can expect to pay around $1,000-$1,500, depending on the date, departure city, and number of stopovers. A great tool to check all of the options available is Google Flights.
If leaving the U.S. it will take you the better part of an entire day to arrive in Arusha, so I would look for flights leaving on November 3rd. (Just make sure to get in at the very latest the evening of November 4th.)
Visas for U.S. citizens cost USD$100 and can be purchased at the airport when landing at Kilimanjaro International Airport. I would bring $100 cash just for this purpose, even if you have no other cash on you when entering the country. Also, be sure to have a pen handy to fill out the arrival card and health form you'll receive on the flight prior to landing (and the visa form itself, downloadable here, if you'd like to print and fill it out ahead of time). More information on the Tanzanian visa-on-arrival for U.S. citizens can be found here.
If you are not a U.S. citizen then please check here for visa information regarding your nationality. (For most nationalities--Canadian, EU, etc.--you get a visa for only USD$50.)
Tanzania doesn't really have any more communicable diseases than many of the other spots you might travel.
There is a slight risk of malaria, however it is more along the coast of the country than inland where we will be ( 4,500ft+ above sea level for most of the journey). Please talk to your travel medical specialist if you would like to bring anti-malarial medication with you (there are a few different types, but they all have their side effects--I choose to go without and just use longer clothing at night along with some bug spray on exposed skin).
Zika prevalence is low (lower than the U.S.). Ebola is non-existent (there have never been cases of Ebola in Tanzania, even with the 2012 outbreak).
If you're coming straight to Tanzania from a yellow fever-endemic country (click here for a list), you will be required to show proof of vaccination upon arrival at the airport.
As far as immunizations go, just make sure you are up-to-date on your usual foreign travel stuff--tetanus, typhoid, diphtheria, meningitis, etc. (Most of us should have already gotten the Hepatitis A+B vaccine in childhood.)
This is travel, and unexpected things may happen. Although I will do everything in my power to assist if something goes wrong, you get sick, etc, I am in no way legally responsible for your well-being during the duration of the trip. By signing up for this trip you are acknowledging this fact. Medical facilities for routine visits, prescriptions, etc. are few and far between in Tanzania, so you may want to buy travel medical insurance (and think about the emergency evacuation option possibly) just in case something more serious befalls you.
This also goes for the itinerary as listed above. Although we are pretty set as far as the schedule because hotels are pre-booked, there may be things we may not get to see because of weather, migration patterns, bad luck--who knows.
This is a first-come, first served opportunity. We only have 12 spots, and once those are gone we are not planning on adding any additional seats.
Secure your spot by clicking the button below and then filling out the form, after which you need to send the initial payment of USD$1,000/person to me (payment details to be provided upon submitting the form).
Once we reach a maximum of 12 people the trip will be closed to new sign-ups, and I will refund any money sent my way (and you'll be added to a waiting list).
If you have any questions please send me an email through my Contact Page.
Some of the photos on this page (1, 2, 8, 9, 10, 11) were taken by the amazing John Russell, professional photographer. See more of his work here.