I’ve been itching for another safari since my introduction in South Africa two years ago. Tanzania has always been at the top of my bucket list for Serengeti National Park, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar. I have planned and booked this trip twice in the past and cancelled each time. Third time is a charm, so I finally made it happen. Safaris are expensive – especially for one person. In Tanzania, I cut costs by doing a budget, group, camping safari for five days and opted for a private, semi-luxury safari in Kenya for three days. After eight days of safari, I visited Zanzibar for five days of relaxation. At the last minute, a buddy working in Africa, decided to join me for the Kenya and Zanzibar portion of the trip.
I booked all of my international flights in business class using airline miles. I had a free stopover in Dubai on Emirates, so used the time to revisit Oman, my favorite country in the region.
Day 0: fly overnight from NYC to Rome
Day 1: fly Rome to Amsterdam, overnight in Amsterdam
Day 2: fly from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro/Arusha, pick up by safari company, overnight in Arusha
Day 3: start group safari, game drive in Tarangire National Park, visit Masai village, overnight in tented camp
Day 4: game drive in Lake Manyara National Park, overnight in tented camp
Day 5: game drive in Serengeti National Park, overnight in camp
Day 6: game drive in Serengeti National Park, overnight in camp
Day 7: game drive in Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, overnight in Arusha
Day 8: shuttle to Kenya border, meet up with travel buddy, game drive in Amboseli National Park, overnight in tented camp
Day 9: game drive in Amboseli National Park, safari walk with Masai, overnight in tented camp
Day 10: game drive in Amboseli National Park, drive to Nairobi, overnight in Nairobi
Day 11: fly from Nairobi to Zanzibar via Mombasa, relax on the beach, overnight in Nungwi, Zanzibar
Day 12: snorkeling trip to Mnemba Atoll, overnight in Nungwi, Zanzibar
Day 13: relax on beach, drive to Stone Town, overnight in Stone Town, Zanzibar
Day 14: snorkeling trip, explore Stone Town, overnight in Stone Town
Day 15: relax in Stone Town, fly to Dubai via Dar el Salaam, overnight in Dubai
Day 16: relax in Dubai, evening flight to Salalah, overnight in Salalah
Day 17: relax in Salalah, overnight in Salalah
Day 18: explore areas east of Salalah, overnight in Salalah
Day 19: explore areas west of Salalah, evening flight to Dubai, overnight in Dubai
Day 20: relax in Dubai, afternoon flight to NYC
Alitalia (business): JFK-FCO, FCO-AMS
KLM (business): AMS-JRO
The three Alitalia/KLM flights were covered using 70k Delta Skymiles.
Fly540 (economy): NBO-MOM-ZNZ
I was originally booked on Kenya Airways using miles, but the airline cancelled my 8am flight and rebooked me on an 11pm flight, which would force me to lose a day in Zanzibar, so I cancelled and rebooked on this low cost airline.
Coastal Aviation (economy): ZNZ-DAR
This was my third time flying in a small prop plane. I love the views from lower altitudes, but these small planes are terrifying. I paid $80 for the 20-minute flight.
Emirates (business): DAR-DXB, DXB-JFK
Emirates business class is one of the best in the world, so I was glad to find availability for 80k Alaskan miles from Africa to the US with a stopover in Dubai.
Oman Air (economy): DXB-SLL, SLL-DXB
I had 12k Etihad miles from a mistake fare to India from last year. The miles were expiring and conveniently, a roundtrip to Salalah, Oman from Dubai was only 12k miles roundtrip. Oman Air served hot meals and had individual entertainment on both of these short flights.
Hampton Inn, Amsterdam – moderate
I’ve always stayed in the very center of Amsterdam on recent trips. This time I found the Hampton Inn for a good price four tram stops away from Central Station. I think this will be my new place to stay whenever I’m in Amsterdam.
Mvuli Hotels, Arusha – moderate
Manyara Sunbright Tented Camp – basic
Green Mountain Hotel, Arusha – moderate
Kibo Luxury Tented Camp – moderate+
Hilton Nairobi – moderate+
Doubletree Nungwi – moderate+
Doubletree Stonetown – moderate+
Suba Hotel, Dubai – moderate+
Suba Hotel is located in the Deira neighborhood of Dubai, between Old Dubai and the airport. Dubai has lots of chain hotels and many opportunities to use points, but I was able to book this hotel for $80/night, so I saved a ton of points. I was even given a free upgrade to a very nice suite.
Hilton Salalah – moderate+
The Hilton Salalah is a beachfront resort with retail rates around $200/night. I was able to redeem 15k Hilton Hhonors points to cover three nights at the hotel. This is probably the best value I’ve ever gotten from Hilton points.
Grand Hyatt, Dubai – luxury
I used my annual free night certificate from my Hyatt credit card to cover one night at the Grand Hyatt.
Beaches of Zanzibar
Zanzibar is island and has tons of amazing beaches. I only visited the beaches along the Northern tip of the island. Due to the strong changes in tides, at low tide, you can walk 100 meters from the shore before reaching water deep enough to swim.
Stonetown is an interesting mix of Arab, Indian, and European influences. The city’s traditional wooden carved doors are fascinating. I could’ve spent an entire day just taking photos of doors.
Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Tarangire is not the most famous of Tanzania’s national parks, but it has a huge selection of wildlife and a very diverse landscape. The park is also full of incredible Baobab trees.
Amboseli National Park, Kenya
The location of the park at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro creates a dramatic backdrop for all the wildlife. Although, the park is not known for its big cats, we saw lions twice, as well as huge herds of elephants.
Mirbat and Taqa, Oman
These two fishing villages east of Salalah are surrounded by mountains and crystal clear water. Mirbat’s old town is mostly in ruins and abandoned.
+ climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
+ explore older areas of Dubai