Day 1 - Arusha - Karama Lodge / BB
Day 2 - Car delivery, drive to Mto Wa Mbu (2h). Afternoon game drive - Manyara Green Camp / FB incl drinks
Day 3 - Option of morning activity, Wayo. Drive to Karatu (1h) - Ngorongoro Farm House / FB
Day 4 - Ngorongoro Crater (2h). Full day game drive - Ngorongoro Farm House / FB
Day 5 - Drive to USA Mt Meru (3h). Relax at lodge or explore surroundings - Rivertrees Country Inn/ BB
Day 6 - Drive to Western Usambaras (5.5h) - Swiss Farm Cottages / BB
Day 7 - Explore Usambaras (driving, walking, cycling) - Swiss Farm Cottages / BB
Day 8 - Drive to Ushongo (4-5h) - Emanyani Beach Lodge / BB
Day 9 - Enjoy the Ushongo beaches - Emanyani Beach Lodge / BB
Day 10 - Enjoy the Ushongo beaches - Emanyani Beach Lodge / BB
Day 11 - Drive to Pangani (1h) - Peponi Holiday Resort / BB
Day 12 - Enjoy the Pangani beaches - Peponi Holiday Resort / BB
Day 13 - Drive to Northern Usambaras (6h) - Mambo View Point / BB
Day 14 - Explore Northern Usambaras - Mambo View Point / BB
Day 15 - Drive to Mt. Meru ( full day 7-8h) - Rivertrees Country Inn / BB
Day 16 - Relax at lodge or explore surroundings - Rivertrees Country Inn / BB
Day 17 - Depart or spend extra day. Day hike Meru, coffee farm & waterfall tour, pool
Day 1: Welcome to Arusha, Tanzania!
Today you’ll arrive in Arusha. Whether you come by bus, plane, bike or train, we’ll make sure you’ll get a transfer to your lodge in Arusha. For first time visitors to Africa, Arusha is an agreeable introduction to urban Africa. It is an organized, green town, with a skyline dominated by the imposing Mount Meru. Depending on the hour of your arrival, you may be able to explore the sites in and around Arusha.
You will be welcomed at Karama Lodge & Spa, a lovely eco-friendly lodge located just southeast of Arusha town. Your accommodation is in a wooden bungalow on poles on a mountain slope surrounded by peaceful forest. Your room has a private balcony with a great view of Kilimanjaro and Meru on the clearer days. The restaurant serves tasty food and is open all day. The lodge has a lovely garden and a small saltwater swimming pool. Your stay at Karama Lodge will be on the basis of Bed & Breakfast.
Day 2: Start of your road trip: Arusha - Lake Manyara National Park
Today you’ll start your road trip through Tanzania. You’ll receive the car and a brief explanation in the morning and after breakfast you’ll be ready to hit the road towards Lake Manyara National Park. The road is tarred and in perfect condition and the journey takes around 3 hours. The main entrance gate to Lake Manyara National Park is at the outskirts of the village Mto wa Mbu. You can lunch at camp and go for an afternoon game drive before having sundowners with the elephants.
Your accommodation will be at Wayo Green Camp. Situated in the park and set up at the river bank, you are sure to see plenty of elephants in search of water during the dry season. As with all Wayo green camps, the quality of the food & service is of the highest standard. Proof that sustainability and luxury can be combined in the bush. Your stay at Wayo Green Camp will be on the basis of full board including all drinks.
Day 3: Lake Manyara National Park & Drive to Karatu
In the morning you have plenty of time to do a game drive. The shallow soda lake is set at the base of the Western Rift Valley Escarpment. The Northwestern lake shore and its hinterland are protected in a scenic national park. Manyara is one of Tanzania’s smallest parks, yet boosting a very diverse flora & fauna - savannah, acacia woodland, rocks, grassy floodplains and tropical rainforest. An exciting aspect of the Lake Manyara area is the opportunity to stretch your legs. The park offers suburb birding and guided walking safaris along the shore to the hot springs and flamingo lookout point. Best to go early in the morning. Make sure to leave the park within 24 hours to avoid paying extra park fees!
In the afternoon you'll drive to Karatu, a convenient base for visiting Ngorongoro and the Crater Highlands (Lodware gate is 14 km ahead). Karatu town lies about 30 km from Mto wa Mbu on a smooth asphalt road.
The next two days you will stay at Ngorongoro Farm House, situated on a large coffee farm about halfway between Karatu and the Ngorongoro Crater.
This stylish lodge evokes the ambience of an old English farmhouse. You'll sleep in a spacious, luxurious cottage. Make sure you arrive early, so you can enjoy their beautiful garden and other facilities of the estate. Your stay at Ngorongoro Farm House will be on basis of full board.
Day 4: Ngorongoro Crater self drive safari
Today you will visit the Ngorongoro Crater. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the flagship of Tanzania's tourism industry and is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The crater is the world's largest intact volcanic caldera and is the only place in the world where you have a very high chance of seeing the 'Big 5' in one day. Read more about the Ngorongoro Crater and how to organize and pay for your crater permits.
The Ngorongoro Crater is the main focal point of tourist attraction in the NCA, but the highlands boast other, less visited extinct volcanoes and calderas, such as Empakaai crater and Oldupai Gorge. Trekking in the crater highlands is an adventurous, off the beaten track activity. Read more here.
Day 5: Drive to Arusha
After breakfast it’s time to drive to Usa River. Allow 3 hours for the drive to your accommodation, a stone's throw away from the Arusha National Park. In the afternoon you can visit the park or relax at the pool.
You will stay at the Rivertrees Country Inn nestled in the foothills of Mt Meru and commanding a great view of Kilimanjaro. The luxurious country estate combines old-world ambience, rustic African elegance, excellent farm cooking. The lodge has a beautiful peaceful garden of no less than ten acres with the most amazing trees attracting many birds. You will sleep in one of the tastefully furnished cottages. The lodge has a lovely country style restaurant, a great swimming pool, a luxurious spa and offers several fun activities. Your stay at Rivertrees Country Inn will be on basis of Bed & Breakfast.
Day 6: Drive to the Western Usambara's
It’s a very scenic 6 hour drive from Meru View Lodge to Lushoto, the principal town of the Westerm Usambaras. Roads are in good condition, with hardly any traffic, but be alert for the many speedbumps. You will pass through extensive sisal plantations with the Pare Mountains towering on the left. From Mombo, the road starts climbing to Lushoto.
The next two nights you will stay at Swiss Farm Cottage, a peaceful retreat set on a working farm in Magamba Forest area. The family house is especially lovely, with wooden furniture, kitchen and very Swiss design. Your accommodation is in a self contained cottage with an amazing view over the green rocky hills and the bright gardens. Your stay at Swiss Cottages Farm will be on the basis of Bed & Breakfast.
Day 7: Explore the Usambara's
Lushoto resembles a Swiss Alpine village, yet set in an African context that is. The town peaked during colonial times and many of the buildings on the main street date back to the early 20th century when Lushoto, then known as Wilhelmstal, provided weekend relief for German settlers farming the dry, dusty Masaai Steppes below. The area is fantastic for (multiple) day hikes and biking, passing through villages, colourful markets, farmland and some scenic lookout points. Some farms, mostly still run by Germans and Swiss, cater to day visitors and provide delicious, home grown food.
Day 8: Drive to the Indian Ocean - Uchongo
We are going to the Indian Ocean! From African Alpine villages to Swahili coastal towns, what a change. It’s around a 4 hour drive from Lushoto to Ushongo. The road from Lushoto to the tiny village of Pongwe is tarred and in good condition. From there, you turn off the main road onto a minor road which is dusty and rocky, so drive carefully.
The next three nights you will stay at the Emanyani Beach Lodge located on the beautiful wide sandy beach of Ushongo.
Situated amongst the coconut trees, the lodge blends in perfectly with its tropical surroundings. You will sleep in a spacious and airy beach bungalow made entirely from local materials. There is a small swimming pool and good seafood restaurant and lounge. There are also plenty of activities on offer, like wind surfing, diving, snorkeling or safari trips to Sadaani National Park. Your stay at Emanyani Beach Lodge will be on the basis of half board (Breakfast & Dinner).
Days 9 + 10: Enjoy the Uchongo Beaches
Plenty of things to do on the beach besides sipping on cocktails and relaxing.
- Dhow cruise
- Diving & Snorkel trips
- Game fishing
- Windsurfing, kite surfing and kayaking
- Sunset cruise up the Pangani River
- Community run walking tours
- Safari to Sadaani National Park
- More details on our Pangani/Ushongo page
Day 11: Drive to Pangani
In the morning you will drive in one hour to your next destination on the Indian Ocean coastline.
The next two nights you will stay at the Peponi Holiday Resort nestled in a tropical garden overlooking the Indian Ocean. Peponi Holiday Resort is a very friendly, owner managed place, right on the beach. Peponi has a good seafood restaurant, beach bar and small swimming pool. You will sleep in a banda with en suite bathroom and veranda. Your stay at Peponi will be on basis of half board (Breakfast & Dinner). Tip: Get the best pizza in Tanzania for lunch at the neighbours (Capricorn).
Day 12: Enjoy the beaches of Pangani
Pangani used to be an important trading port during the days of slavery, noticeable from a number of crumbling colonial buildings, and it has a profound traditional Swahili culture. Whilst the town itself remains little developed, the surrounding coast has witnessed a strong growth in beach resorts in recent years. Zanzibar becomes overcrowded, so people are increasingly looking at the unspoiled mainland coastline, with its endless white beaches, coconut palm trees and blue waters.
Day 13: Drive to the Northern Usambara Mountains
Be prepared for a full day of driving, so wake up and leave very early. You’ll be heading back to the mountains, but this time the Northern Usambaras.
The far North is undoubtedly the most scenic part of the Usambara’s, where the high escarpment offer breathtaking views over the Mkomazi Plains deep down (1.3 km!) below. There is hardly any tourism and chances are slim you'll find a local person who speaks English.
The next two nights you'll stay in Mambo Viewpoint Eco Lodge, situated on a cliff at an altitude of 1,900m on the outskirts of Mambo village.
Day 14: Explore the Northern Usambara Mountains
The Dutch owners of Mambo Viewpoint Eco Lodge are a great source of information on culture, birding, hiking and biking possibilities in the region. They have developed a number of itineraries, which can be undertaken on your own with a GPS or with a guide. Also the grassroots organization Friends of the Usumbaras, and the Bradt Travel Guide that comes with the Roadtrip car, provide detailed information about the region.
Day 15: Return to Rivertrees Country Inn
Today you’ll return to Arusha. Keep in mind that it’s a full day's drive to Meru View Lodge. Make sure you depart early and go prepared (packed lunch). The drive will take 7-8 hours.
You will stay two nights at the Rivertrees Country Inn nestled in the foothills of Mt. Meru and commanding a great view of Kilimanjaro. The luxurious country estate combines old-world ambience, rustic African elegance, and excellent farm cooking. The lodge has a beautiful peaceful garden of no less than ten acres, with the most amazing trees attracting many birds. You will sleep in one of the tastefully furnished cottages. The lodge has a lovely country style restaurant, a great swimming pool, a luxurious spa, and offers several fun activities. Your stay at Rivertrees Country Inn will be on the basis of Bed & Breakfast.
The lodge is conveniently located just off the main road, 40 minutes from Kilimanjaro International Airport, halfway to Arusha, and only 15 minutes from the Arusha National Park gate.
Day 16: Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park the most accessible park of Tanzania’s Northern Circuit, yet the most neglected by the safari industry, largely because it does not contain much big game like elephants or predators like lions. What a pity to skip Arusha National Park, we think here at Roadtrip Tanzania, as the park offers plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs and get out of that car!
Arusha National Park is a perfect park for outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to game drives, there is also the option to do hikes, canoeing, mountain biking and of course climbing Mount Meru. A highlight of any visit to Arusha National Park is the Mount Meru Crater Drive and Hike. The first part up to Kitoto at 2,500m is a scenic road trip, a climb through a beautiful stretch of forest. From the car park at Kitoto, it’s a 2 to 3 hour hike through the crater. You need to take an armed ranger from the entrance gate if you want to hike. Wayo organizes cycling trips and canoeing at Lake Duluti.
Day 17: Arusha & Departure
Today will be the last day of your tour. Depending on the hour of your departure, you may be able to explore other sites in and around Arusha. There are plenty of trendy cafes, restaurants and gift shops catering to expatriates, tourists and wealthier locals, which can be a welcome relief after spending a few days in the bush. Check our Arusha & Surroundings page for recommendations on what to do and where to eat here. If necessary we will transfer you to the airport.
Get inspired and read more about the Bush to Beach Circuit