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Serengeti Safari Itinerary: 4 Days in Tanzania’s largest National Park

A dream safari vacation is at the top of most people’s bucket lists, however planning one can be overwhelming!

I recently went on a 4-day safari through the Serengeti National Park and Nogorongoro Conservation area.

This article provides you with the exact safari itinerary I took, along with helpful tips to give you an idea of what to expect. You can also check out my article on 9 things to expect on a Serengeti safari.

Serengeti Safari Itinerary

Day 1

Our guide Michael picked us up at 6:30 AM sharp in Mwanza to begin the drive to the Serengeti National Park. Along the way we picked up our cook Joseph from a nearby village and arrived at the park around 9:00AM. We briefly stopped for coffee and to pick up our catered lunch kits at a lodge just outside the park gates and finally entered to begin our 4-day adventure!

serengeti safari itinerary

While driving through the park, Michael informed us Serengeti is the Masai name for ‘endless plain’. It is in fact, quite literally endless at 9,000 – 10,000 miles square. Not long after we entered through the gates, we had our first wildlife encounter. Zebra are quite common throughout the park, so it was no surprise that we saw them first.

serengeti safari itinerary

serengeti safari itinerary

I mean, come on! How cute is this?

We literally drove ALL day (apart from stopping for lunch) and were so fortunate to see a 4 of the 5 ‘big five’ in just the first day.

Drivers are not actually permitted to go off-roading in the park, but our guide was a low-key rebel and got us up close to this female lion resting under a tree. She must have just finished eating because you can see the flies all over her.

Just as we were ready to pack it in, we saw a crowd of trucks by the road and decided to see what all the fuss was about. It was the elusive leopard, who decided to cross the road and dart right by our truck!

There was a minor traffic jam (the less glamorous part of safari that no one talks about) but soon enough we were on our way to one of the public camp grounds.

Just before sundown, we arrived at the Nyani campsite, a basic camp ground with cooking facilities, flush toilets and showers.

Pro tip: The water in the public showers is cold. If you are not comfortable with taking cold water showers, you will definitely want to pack baby wipes for the dust that is sure to settle all over your skin, and dry shampoo! Otherwise, be sure to pack shower flip-flops, a towel and your toiletries.

While Michael and Joseph got to work setting up our tent and starting dinner, we got ourselves cleaned up and relaxed with a chilled Savannah cider. Dinner for me (veg) was a delicious vegetarian pasta dish. I’m not even exaggerating when I say we went to bed before 9:00PM. Day 1 is a long day of driving with an early start, so we were exhausted!

At some point during the night, I could hear the infamous hyena ‘laughing’ from outside our tent.

Day 2

We opted to do a 7:30 AM breakfast instead of a morning game drive, though some people opt to do a morning drive and return to the campsite for breakfast. We took off at 8:00 AM for our safari, where we would be heading towards Ngorongoro Conservation Park.

Pro tip: Powder/ instant coffee is extremely common in Tanzania. I am a straight up coffee diva so I brought my own coffee grounds and thermos, and our chef Joseph was kind enough to brew it for me in the kitchen. If you are a caffeine addict like me, you might want to bring some coffee with you.

Related | Browse Serengeti Safari Tours

After seeing some families of elephants we saw a serval. Michael says we are very, very lucky — serval cats are very rarely seen.

On our way to lunch, we saw two male lions and a female sun bathing, and it was so epic! Male lions are just so beautiful and elusive that it’s magical to see them so up close. I think these photos might be among my favourites ever taken!

After lunch we saw a leopard sleeping in a tree and slowly started making our way towards Ngorongoro.

View of the crater

This night we stayed at the Rhino lodge in Nogorongoro, where elephants and buffalo roam freely at night. Dinner was a spectacular buffet in a warm, fire-lit hall. Our room was cute and cozy with our own wood-burning fire and a back deck facing out into the bush. We were happy to just relax in the room after dinner with a glass of wine!

Pro tip: You can bring your own bottle of wine to dinner for an uncorking fee of 15,000 tsh OR you can get two glasses of wine for 14,000 tsh. We ended up buying a glass of wine each with dinner and drank a glass of our own wine we had brought in the room.

Day 3

Day 3 was another early start, though the excellent coffee and breakfast buffet at the Rhino lodge helped get us fuelled and ready!

Having yet to see the 5th and final member of the big five, we were eager to see if we could spot any rhinos. Sadly, there were none to be found but the plentiful wildebeest made up for it!

We even saw a jackal!

We had so much fun watching this family of hippos because the wee little bird was absolutely tormenting the big daddy hippo, pecking its back for ticks. I was secretly hoping it would get angry and make some movement, but the most we saw was him repositioning his front leg.

After lunch, we had another lucky experience to witness a male and female lion guarding their hunt from three jackals.


We capped off day 3 with a sunset drive, and then another evening at the Nyani campground.

To our delight and slight horror, lions were hunting just outside the campsite that evening. Michael came into the dining hall, out of breath with excitement on his face, to tell us there were lions spotted by the trucks! With the coast clear, we piled into the truck to find the lions, who happened to be less than a kilometre from the campsite. Later that evening as we nervously walked to the camp toilets, we could hear whatever they had hunted moaning.

Day 4

Day 4 is a longggg driving day (though to be honest, they all are while you are on safari).

Pro tip: If you are flexible to start and end in different locations, I suggest a Serengeti safari itinerary where you start in Mwanza and ending your safari in Arusha (or vice versa). This will save you time in back tracking the same way you came and give you more time in Ngorongoro to look for that rare rhino!

In my case, we finished back in Mwanza so this day was a lot of driving as we needed to begin making our way back to the same gates we entered. If you enter and exit from the same gate, don’t fret – you will still see amazing wildlife regardless. We saw these elephants and herds of buffalo on our way back to Mwanza, just before leaving the park gates.

serengeti safari itinerary

serengeti safari itinerary

Michael and Joseph also suggested a lake-side picnic before leaving the heart of the park!

serengeti safari intinerary

serengeti safari itinerary


This 4 day Serengeti safari itinerary was a dream trip! I personally travelled with Fortes Africa and can highly recommend them, but if you are looking for a budget option, there are a variety of vetted and reviewed tour operators running similar safari tours.

This post was sponsored by Fortes Africa .

As always, I only recommend experiences I have personally tried and loved.

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serengeti safari itinerary

Heading to Tanzania? You may also enjoy:

9 things to expect on a Serengeti safari

How to choose the best safari company in Tanzania

The Best beach in Dar es Salaam

Where to go scuba diving in Zanzibar

How to get to Gombe Stream National Park

Epic Wildlife Photos of Serengeti National Park Safari

Malaika Beach Resort in Mwanza, Tanzania

Beautiful Photos of Rock City: Mwanza, Tanzania

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Global travelers said:
Once in a greatest article. How to plan my next 2 weeks in Africa 🌍 in Amazing Tanzania. Thinking 🤔 to visit Serengeti National Park as you advice but starting in Arusha and ending the same destiny.
August 27, 2021 at 4:05 pm said:
Thanks so much for your kind feedback! I left and returned to Mwanza with the company Fortes Safaris. They are actually located in Mwanza, Dar and Arusha though so it is possible to start in Arusha and end in Mwanza or vice versa. I was based in Mwanza for a year so I did a lot of side trips from there :)
May 28, 2019 at 10:35 am
Asia said:
Hi! Great photos:D How did you come back from Mwanza? Where did you go next?
May 24, 2019 at 9:33 am said:
Thanks so much! I use a Canon Rebel DSLR :)
February 19, 2019 at 4:28 am
Kayla said:
Beautiful posts (and photographs!) I am planning a trip to Africa a year from now. Can I ask what camera you shot these photos on?
February 17, 2019 at 6:14 pm said:
Hi Ester! The cost all depends on your preferred style of travel (ie. whether you want to camp, or stay in lodges) and the amount of days you want to stay inside the park. Generally speaking, it costs 70.80 USD per day per person just to enter the national park, plus a crater fee if you want to go inside while in Nogorongoro, so this will be built into the cost of the safari package. I would recommend approaching companies based on your budget as they can suggest what is feasible given your certain price range.
November 4, 2018 at 8:39 am
Esther Waterschoot said:
Looks very nice!! What were the costs of this trip?
November 3, 2018 at 9:46 am