Tailormade Safaris - Northern Tanzania

Arusha, Tanzania

An excellent Arusha-based company specialising in top-end northern Tanzania safaris, including mobile camps in Serengeti
By building brilliant bespoke itineraries and avoiding standard tour circuits, the guys at Asilia - who we have been using and recommending wholeheartedly since 2005 - are experts at creating the perfect safari experience in the world-famous parks of northern Tanzania, particularly Serengeti. They know their accommodation, their transport and their wildlife faultlessly, and their driver-guides are second to none (we've travelled with them several times, just to make sure).

They also happen to co-own some of the best camps in the country, including Olivers in Tarangire, Sayari and Dunia in the Serengeti, all of which helps with getting availability and tip-top service. But perhaps their trump card, and the thing which allows you to escape the safari crowds in authentic bush fashion, is their luxury mobile camp Olakira in the Serengeti. This moves with the season, giving you the flexibility to follow the wildlife action in complete comfort, and with minimal driving. Of course they can book other lodges to fit your itinerary, including Plantation Lodge in the Ngorongoro and Onsea House outside Arusha, both of which we love.

And it's not just about game-viewing. Fancy your chances spotting lion from a great height? Brilliant balloon safaris can be arranged over the Serengeti, followed by a champagne breakfast. If you're an adventurous sort, then you might want to 'star camp' - literally sleep under the stars. You can also walk, canoe, climb Kilimanjaro - just ask. Round it all off with some post-safari beach bliss on Zanzibar, staying at the gorgeous Matemwe Lodge, which is another of our favourites.

Why we chose this partner

  • An emphasis on getting away from the well-beaten safari trail, with a private guide/driver for maximum flexibility
  • We love their mobile and semi-permanent tented camps, but they're happy to book lodges and hotels too
  • They use customised Toyota Landcruisers with spacious seating (only 5-7 per vehicle), extra large windows and pop-up roofs for optimum game viewing and photography
  • Their ground-breaking Dunia Camp is run entirely by women - and it now frequently tops the Tripadvisor listings for service
  • Although they're based in Arusha and specialise in the northerly parks, they can also arrange excellent safaris in the south and west

Please be aware

  • The focus on small luxury camps and top quality guides/vehicles makes this a premium safari product, with commensurate pricing (typically USD800-1000 pppn) - though this does include all meals, drinks, game drives, private transfers (including internal flights) and the often hefty park fees: pretty much everything, in fact
  • Naturally, we can only personally endorse the lodges featured on our website; if the proposed itinerary includes other accommodation, please make sure that you are happy with it before confirming

Best time to go

Tanzania has a tropical climate with hot temperatures and high humidity, especially nearer the coast. The higher you are - and much of the interior is at altitude - the lower the temperature, particularly at night. On the coast be prepared for showers at any time.

From June to September (dry season), the weather is less hot and less humid, but still warm. It's a good time for game viewing and ideal for walking safaris, as animals start to congregate around shrinking water sources. Temperatures become increasingly hot through October, with heavy concentrations of game around lakes and rivers.

From November to May (rainy season), things get increasingly wet and sticky, with April and May having the heaviest rainfall. This is the 'green season' with lush vegetation, full rivers and lakes, and abundant birdlife and wild flowers, as well as baby animals.

Our top tips

One of the things we love about Asilia is their genuine eco- and social commitment; through their US$5 conservation charge, they support long-term sustainable projects, including reforestation, local sports/school facilities, and training women guides and camp managers.

Pack light, especially if your itinerary includes light aircraft transfers - some of which have a weight limit of 15kg in a soft bag. Bring layers (a mixture of long and short sleeves, in neutral colours), a thick fleece/jumper and light waterproof jacket (it is cold on the early morning game drives), sturdy shoes for game walks, flipflops for round the camp, a wide brimmed hat to protect you from the sun, good sunglasses (the African sun is bright!), a head torch, plug adaptors and charging equipment (camps and vehicles usually have one or two charging points), a good pair of binoculars, and a kikoy or kanga (can be bought locally) to be used as a scarf, towel etc.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Room:

Lodging

Chances are that you'll be staying in at least one of their lovely tented camps which they co-own (if not, you're missing a trick). Our favourites are Olivers, Sayari and Dunia - click to read our detailed reviews. Or, to get away from the crowds, book a couple of nights in one of their luxury mobile camps - we love Olakira in the Serengeti.

Other than that, you can be safely led by their suggestions - they always choose the best-run boutique lodges where possible; or if you have your own accommodation wishlist, request that they include them in your itinerary.

In terms of food, most camps offer upscale communal dining at one large table, often around a fire under the stars. Buffet breakfasts start early - from 6 or 6.30 - to slot in with early morning game drives. Lunches might be a ‘boxed lunch’ to allow more time for your game drive, or a light buffet back at camp. Dinners tend to be 3-course affairs with astonishingly good food, certainly at all the camps we've visited. Think steaks with red wine jus and dauphinoise potatoes, chicken curries, spicy soups with daily-baked bread, and chocolate fondant with your coffee. Drinks are included in the rate.

Activities

Besides getting up close and personal with elephants, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, cheetahs, lions and so on, we also loved:

  • Taking a guided walk around the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater
  • Spotting stunning birdlife under the eagle-eyed tutelage of our guide
  • Swopping stories with guests and lodge staff around the campfire
  • Fly camping under starry skies in the Tarangire
  • The excitement of a nocturnal game drive at Dunia
  • Learning to identify animal tracks during a walking safari
  • Blowing the budget on a brilliant early morning balloon ride
  • Cooling off in the blissful swimming pool at Sayari

Activities include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking
  • Wildlife
Activity:
Kid Friendly:

With Kids

Children are welcome on safari, but this is highly dependent on the camps and lodges you wish to stay in and the activities you wish to do. Tailormade Safaris can advise you when you make your booking enquiry. Bear in mind that you will travel long distances by road so will need to be well prepared. As a guide, children are usually charged 50% of the adult rate for an extra bed in parents' room.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Transport

The game drives and most camp-to-camp transfers are in comfy 4WD Toyota Landcruisers, with either 5 or 7 seats. All seats are by the window, with extra large windows for photography and driving comfort. They also have a pop-up roof for enhanced game-viewing in the parks, as well as a coolbox stocked with soft drinks, wildlife- and bird reference books, Maasai blankets, and a camera/phone charging point (with UK adapter).

The transfer back to Kilimanjaro Airport is normally in a light aircraft - typically a 12-seater Cessna caravan.

Transport:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
9/10
Food
9/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

Asilia made our honeymoon trip extremely enjoyable. We had a nice private 4x4 and the driver took care of us from beginning to end. The lodges/ camps where we stayed were fine but try to stay at Asilia camps if you can. The private lounge at Arusha airport is an especially nice touch! Even during the trip I needed to request some changes / additions to our itinerary and Asilia were more than happy to accommodate us. Very happy with the service and would highly recommend.

9/10,

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Itineraries

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