Following on from our family holiday in Rwanda in 2017 and our family holiday in Malawi in 2018, we continued our African Adventures with kids took a ten day family holiday to Tanzania at the end of the green season in May. We had an incredible time, read on to find out why.
On our family holiday in Tanzania we were kindly hosted by Ranger Safaris who arranged all
our ground transport and looked after us from the moment we arrived in Tanzania to the
moment we left.
We arrived into Tanzania after an overnight flight and a 5am landing into
Kilimangaro, so to say we were exhausted is understating it slightly. We were collected
from the airport by Martin from Ranger Safaris and off we went.
Martin made sure that we all had water when we got into the car, showed us where we
could get new bottles from throughout the week and then we set off on our drive to
Tarangire River Camp which was about 3 hours away.
We hadn’t really eaten breakfast properly on the flight so Martin suggested we stopped at
the Arusha Coffee Lodge for some coffee and toast before continuing our journey. It was the
perfect place to stop after the long flight. Really good coffee, great fires and a welcoming
team. We were to return here briefly on our way back to meet our airport transfer driver and I had
exactly the same experience then.
Arusha Serena Hotel (1 night)
Depending on your arrival time into Kilimangaro a night in Arusha might be on the cards before you set off on your safari. Whilst our trip worked well, it is fair to say that my kids are used to long haul flights and travelling and I don’t know many that would accept getting off a 16 hour flight and into a car journey that was going to take 3 hours. I’d advise for most a night to rest before setting off on the journey.
If you’re going to stay in Arusha then a night at Arusha Serena Hotel would be a great place to start. It’s only 40 minutes or so from Kilimajaro International airport and they have welcoming interconnecting rooms too.
Tarangire River Camp (2 nights)
The drive from Arusha/Kilimangaro Airport to Tarangire River Camp takes around 3 hours. The road from the main road up to Tarangire River Camp was in the usual way bumpy and uncomfortable but on it we saw elephants, giraffes, warthogs and gazelle. All be before we had even arrived at the camp.
Tarangire River Camp itself was a fabulous place to stay. If you’re planning a trip to Tarangire National Park I’d have no hesitation in recommending it. The food was fabulous, the service wonderful and it felt like a very relaxed place to be.
During our time in Tarangire National Park we saw an enormous family of elephants, around 40 I’d say which literally surrounded the car. It was incredible to see them so close up and see so many babies too. When we had stayed at Mvuu camp in Malawi last year we were lucky enough to see a similar number of elephants but this time they were a lot closer and we all managed to get some fantastic photos! I’ve included a link to my 8 year olds photos too as one of the best things you can do on a safari with kids is give them their own camera to use with a great zoom. It helps keep them engaged but also helps them to see things that are a little further away as binoculars are really hard for little ones to use.
You can read our full review of our time at Tarangire River Camp with kids here.
Can you do Tarangire to Serengeti in one day?
The simple answer is yes you can drive from Tarangire National Park to the Serengeti National Park in one day but I wouldn’t recommend it.
After Tarangire National Park we had what can only be described as an epic day’s driving all the way to Serengeti National Park. I would not advise anyone else to put this on their itinerary, especially with kids. I have to say mine were amazing that day, truly wonderful, but 9 hours (possibly 10 and a half by the time we had finished is not really ideal for anyone.
We did stop off for lunch during this journey at Olduvai Gorge one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world. We learnt about the incredibly old footprint discovery and took a wander round a cool and brand new museum. It was the perfect place for a picnic lunch. It also prompted more questions about Adam and Eve and creation!
If you are following this route I would suggest adding in and additional couple of nights (making it 12 nights, maybe even 14) and adding in a stop at Gibbs Farm.
Gibbs Farm (2 Nights)
According to Expert Africa “Gibb’s Farm is a peaceful and friendly retreat halfway between Lake Manyara National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. It has retained its charm and many original features, while renovating its rooms to a very high standard in recent years. Strong ties with the local community, high-quality food, a wide choice of activities for energetic travellers, as well as tranquility if you’re seeking rest and relaxation, make Gibbs Farm a brilliant option in this area.”
Gibbs Farm provides an option to take a couple of days off doing actual safari and whilst you might not initially think this is something you might want to consider, you need to remember that being on safari means being in the car all day. If you combine long journeys with long game drives you really do need something to break that up. If we were to do this again, or recommend the trip to others, I would definitely suggest a break, somewhere like this, in between Tarangire and Serengeti.
Serengeti Pioneer Camp (2 nights)
We finally arrived at Serengeti Pioneer Camp at around 6.30pm, over 10 hours after we had left Tarangire River Camp. I wouldn’t recommend this length of journey to anyone but full credit to the kids they did remarkably well. If however I was going to arrive anywhere again after an over 10 hour car journey I’d choose the Serengeti Pioneer Camp. It is possibly on the list now as one of my favourite places I’ve ever stayed.
We were treated so incredibly well by all the team at the Elewana Collection, saw a lion less than 10 metres from our tent, ate fabulous food and saw what can only be described as a brilliant amount of different animals, the kids couldn’t believe their eyes.
You can read our full review of the Serengeti Pioneer Camp here.
About an hour way from Serengeti Pioneer Camp on the way to the Serengeti Gate we stumbled across what we thought was a hyena and was in fact a pride of 13 lions (including lots of cubs) eating a kill at the side of the road. We watched as they ate and played and ate and played, before watching as they sensed a loan wildebeest, sent some of the pride off to track it, and then watched as a lioness stalked through the long grass and finally brought it down. There was a sense of amazement from most of us, before full on tears from Evie who hadn’t wanted to see the wildebeest die. We had to reassure her it wasn’t a baby one…
From Serengeti Pioneer Camp we journeyed onto The Manor at Ngornogoro, another wonderful place to stay and part of the Elewana Collection.
But before arriving at The Manor we spent a few hours in the Ngornogoro Crater. The Ngornogoro Crater is a UNESCO World Heritage site and due to its size (it’s only 14 miles wide, as opposed to the Serengeti which is the size of North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Staffordshire all combined – something like that anyway) the density of animals within a small space is incredible.
We managed to find the rhino which we hadn’t seen in the Serengeti and enjoy the stunning colours of the dramatic landscapes. We weren’t actually as lucky with animal sightings in the crater as we had been on our game drives in the Serengeti, but also I think that we had seen SO much in the Serengeti that it was difficult for the Crater to live up to expectations. Had we visited the Crater first then I think it would have been a different matter.
The Manor at Ngorongoro (2 nights)
On arrival at Elewana The Manor I felt like I’d stepped back in time. It was just like an old colonial English house and it was raining! We were led through reception into the main house and wandered through a large hallway into the piano bar. We were told about the snooker table, the cinema room, the pool and the croquet and then shown to our room. Well when I say room, what I in fact mean is our 3 bedroomed, 3 bathroom cottage.
Our time at Elewana The Manor was all about rest and relaxation and eating fine food. It’s also the perfect place from which to explore the Ngorogoro Crater and Manyara National Park.
You can read our full review about The Manor at Ngorongoro here.
After a day of rest at The Manor we set off first thing to Lake Natron. I’d been a little concerned about this part of the trip as the roads were rumored to be tricky yet we had already faced some challenging roads.
How bad could the roads to Lake Natron be?
It turns out that the roads can be really quite bad (and they were actually ok!) but it is totally worth going. Whilst Serengeti Pioneer Camp was my favourite place on the trip, Lake Natron was definitely my husbands and up there for me too.
Lake Natron Camp (2 nights)
Our base for the two days we spent at Lake Natron was Lake Natron Camp, a unique, ecological camp in one of the most visually dramatic locations I have ever been to. Volcanoes and craters of different ages are scattered around the valley in which the camp is located and Oldoinyo Lengai, the Mountain of God dominates the landscape. Lake Natron itself is home to hundreds of thousands of lesser flamingo who come to the area to breed. It amounts to 75% of the worlds lesser flamingo population apparently and it creates a fabulous sight.
It’s really difficult to explain just how fabulous the landscape is, so I’ll let the video below that we made, do the talking.
Lake Natron Camp was spectacular in so many ways and my full review of Lake Natron Camp will be linked shortly.
We had a truly brilliant trip in Tanzania but the travelling times should not be underestimated and you need to discuss these in detail with your travel company. Our driving times were more challenging due to us trying to fit a 14 day trip into 10 days but we utterly utterly loved it.
We all saw so much incredible wildlife and we will never forget all the lion sightings, not ever. It is definitely possible to have a wonderful holiday in Tanzania with Kids.
Why not PIN this post to remind you what we did on our 10 Days in Tanzania with Kids.
You can also Find out what TraveLynn thought about Tanzania and whether Tanzania was worth it!
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.