Tanzania Wildlife

Serengeti National Park & Conservation Area

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Tanzania ranks extremely high among the world's great areas for large mammal photography—and its potential for bird photography is exceptional. With eleven shooting days, this exciting photo safari takes place entirely within the Greater Serengeti Conservation Area, which includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge and superlative Serengeti National Park.
"The tour exceeded our expectations due to the extremely well organized activities. Our ability to enjoy the scenic views as well as the closeness of the various animals and birds plus the variety of species made the trip."
- T. Gagnon

Even without its wildlife, Ngorongoro Crater would be one of the scenic wonders of the world. This giant crater of an ancient volcano, with its 100-square-mile floor, is packed with animals. In its grassy plains and sparse forests are impressive herds of buffalos, zebras, wildebeests and other plains gazelles, together with numerous lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and other smaller predators. The crater is also one of the world's most reliable places to see and photograph endangered black rhinoceros in the wild. From our comfortable lodge on the crater rim we descend about 2,000 feet into the world's largest, non-flooded and unbroken volcanic caldera—a virtual "lost world" that is home to more than 25,000 big and photogenic animals.

After exploring the crater, we continue westward toward the legendary land of the Serengeti Plains. Our route takes us to fascinating Olduvai Gorge located deep within the famous Great Rift Valley. Olduvai is considered the "cradle of humanity." Since the discovery of the earliest-known fossils of the "human genus"—Homo habilis and Homo erectus—by Mary and Louis Leakey at a location that was once the volcanic ash-covered shoreline of a vast primordial lake, it ranks as one of the most important archeological sites in the world.

Up close with elephantsSerengeti National Park! We spend a week in one of the world's most exciting destinations for wildlife photography. From atop its intermittent rock outcroppings, called kopjes, the Serengeti savannah rolls on as far as the eye can see—and beyond. It is quintessential Africa, the place of myth, legend and imagination—the Africa of the mind's eye.

At the time of our visit in February, the immense migrating zebra and wildebeest herds, now with young in tow, have moved southward with the rains to the central Serengeti. They've abandoned the drying and lifeless plains of northern Tanzania and Kenya's Masai Mara—both lush and green just a few months earlier. This is a time of plenty for Serengeti's big cats—lions, leopards and cheetahs. They play out a drama as old as the Pleistocene—their ancestors once pressured progenitors of today's sleek speedsters, such as Thompson's and Grant's gazelles and impalas, to develop an amazing level of athleticism.

We photograph the park's wildlife and wild places and watch the red sun rise over rolling grassland and set behind the silhouette of an artistically-shaped acacia. We see giraffes wandering the open plains as herds move from gallery forest to gallery forest. We watch hippos fight for dominance with water flying, mouths gaping and voices bellowing. And, of course, there are the kills!

Cheetah on savannah in TanzaniaWhile many companies advertise four photographers in each safari vehicle to cut costs, we place only three participants in each 9-passenger hatch-roofed Land Rover on this tour! You have exceptional room in the vehicle for unimpeded photo opportunities. We stay at prime locations to be at the most probable area to intercept the big herds. In addition, we fly to Arusha from the Serengeti at the end of our safari to reduce travel time and maximize our photography time in the field. These details can make all the difference in the quality of your Tanzania experience.

Don't miss this extraordinary opportunity to visit Tanzania, the heart of Africa's wildlife and the scene of humankind's earliest encounters with prehistoric species. It is a country that will capture your imagination for years to come. The thrill of viewing and photographing countless animals, up close and free in nature, is both a timeless and an unforgettable experience not to be missed.

Be sure to check out our most recent Tanzania trip report.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Depart from home.

Day 2 (Feb 25, 2023)
Arrive at Kilimanjaro Airport near Arusha, Tanzania, and transfer to our hotel.

Day 3
A three-four hour drive takes us to Tarangire National Park. The park is famous for its elephant herds (some of the largest in Africa), a plethora of baobab trees and two distinctive species of antelope: the fringed-eared oryx and the gerenuk. We arrive at our hotel in time for lunch and an afternoon game drive in the park. (BLD)

Male lion on savannah in TanzaniaDays 4–6
After a morning game drive in Tarangire, we will head toward one of Africa’s crown jewels, the Ngorongoro Crater. When viewed from atop its steep volcanic walls, the 100-square-mile crater floor presents a breathtaking patchwork of habitat—changing constantly with the interplay of light and shadow moving across it. Often called the eighth wonder of the world, the crater appears suddenly, in the midst of the forest, like a lost world. After settling into and having lunch at our beautiful hotel, we descend to the crater floor for our first game drive. Descending the steep crater wall each day, we find year-round herds of elephants, wildebeests and zebras, as well as Ngorongoro’s famous black-maned lion prides, hippos and incredible birdlife. We spend the maximum possible time in good light exploring the many habitats on the crater floor, staying to watch the interplay of individual animals and different species wherever we encounter them. We return to our hotel overlooking the crater each evening. (BLD)

Day 7
Our destination today is Ndutu in the southeastern Serengeti. Here, our comfortable lodge is well positioned to intercept the great herds of zebras and wildebeests as they wend their way across this vast savannah following the rains and the burst of fresh grass. We stop along the way at Olduvai Gorge. Located between Lake Natron and Lake Eyasi, the gorge is an archeological site of immense importance. In 1979 Dr. Mary Leakey discovered the 1.8-million-year-old fossil of Homo habilis in a wall of the gorge. Later finds included hominid footprints dated to around 3.5 million years of age. (BLD)

Gaping hippoDays 8-10
This is a glorious time of year to photograph in the southern grasslands of the Serengeti. Wildebeest and zebras usually congregate in massive herds near Ndutu. Thousands upon thousands of very young calves and foals are interspersed among the throng of adults. Large prides of lions stalk these herds while sleek cheetahs prey on the accompanying gazelles and impalas. We divide our time between two locations in the Serengeti to ensure good access to large herds and a diversity of other wildlife, habitats and photography opportunities. Since movement of the wildebeest and zebras is governed by changeable weather patterns, the largest herds are in the southern Serengeti if the weather is wet, and closer to the central Serengeti and its rivers if the south is dry. To ensure our attempts to encounter the large herds, we adjust our location during our stay in the Serengeti to see different habitats and cover more ground if the herds are away from Ndutu. (BLD)

Day 11
We drive north today to our lodge in the central Serengeti. Built in the Nyarboro Hills on the edge of an escarpment, it overlooks vast plains frequently covered with migrating wildlife during this time of year. (BLD)

Baby elephantDays 12–13
We photograph from sunrise following the daily movements of the herds in their search for fresh grazing. Predators abound and we search for those secretive species, like leopards, as well as the more visible species, like lions. We expect to see frequent kills and photograph the assemblage of peripheral animals such as vultures, jackals and hyenas who wait patiently to claim their share of this abundance. (BLD)

Day 14 (Mar 9)
A one-hour flight takes us to Arusha, where we have dayrooms at a quiet hotel outside the city. There is time to rest, shower and prepare for flights home this evening. (BLD)

Day 15
Arrive home.
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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Tanzania Wildlife

Feb 24, 2023 - Mar 10, 2023


A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place for you on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits only, we accept Visa or MasterCard. Final payment of the trip fee must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

A deposit of $2,000 per person is required. Full payment of the trip fee is due 150 days prior to departure date. We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time cancellation fees in the following amounts apply:

If Written Cancellation is Received:
122 days or prior:
121 to 91 days prior:
90 or fewer days:
Cancellation Fee:
100% of deposit
50% of entire trip fee
100% of entire trip fee

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

Protect your travel investment and purchase a trip insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. A trip insurance brochure will be sent with your enrollment confirmation. A CANCEL FOR ANY REASON policy is available.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. “Meatless” meals are normally available at most locations. Due to the remote nature of many photo locations, and the growing diversity of today’s dietary trends, participants requiring special food items are encouraged to bring their own.

Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, applicable health advisories and reading list. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or e-mail messages to info@photosafaris.com.

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific costs that are included in your trip fee. Generally these costs include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides abroad, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises, if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea are included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two persons traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger (trip participant) in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft or other conveyance, and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts, bankruptcy or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay, cancellations or changes in flights or other tour services, and by force majeure including sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine, epidemics and outbreaks, or other causes.  All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in flight schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure due to low enrollment, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 3) At the company’s sole discretion, suspend or postpone any trip due to force majeure in which case the trip may be rescheduled, or a refund issued less any non-refundable deposits paid to tour component providers on behalf of the passenger, or a travel credit given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 4) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 5) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A Registration Form including the Enrollment Conditions and Release and Assumption of Risk sections must be signed by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington. Certain ship owners require the use of pre-printed ticket forms that limit the ship owner's and operator's liability. When such tickets are used, the passenger is bound by the terms of these tickets with respect to the passenger's legal relationship to the owners and operators of the ship, their agents (Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc.), and the ship's crew.

Tanzania Wildlife: Easy Activity Level

Four-wheel-drive safari vehicles.  Virtually all wildlife photography is accomplished from the safari vehicles with three photographers per vehicle.  Easy walking on the lodge grounds from your accommodation to the vehicle parking lot or dining room.  There is no walking outside of the lodges within the national parks.  Toilet facilities are uncommon within the parks—often requiring toilet breaks "in the bush" when required.
Trip Details
Feb 24 - Mar 10, 2023
Fee: $14,695 from Arusha, Tanzania
Deposit: $2,000
Limit: 14 participants
Activity Level: EasyEasy
  • Eleven days of photography at Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park and Olduvai Gorge
  • Intercept the large herds of zebras, wildebeests and their attendant predators in the heart of the Serengeti wilderness
  • Only three photographers per 9-passenger 4x4 Land Rover
  • Return flight from the Serengeti to Arusha maximizes photography time and shortens drive time

Tanzania was incredible; beautiful, green and hardly any other people around, but our group. You felt for a while you had the world to yourself. The photography was amazing; the guides knowledgeable. If you should pay 100% more for a Van Os trip...you will come away with a 100% more memories and the photos of a lifetime just a click away.
—B. Hefner

I don't know how I would improve this trip...it was just wonderful.
—K. McCulloch