Best of the Southern Circuit – Mountains, Savannah Beach 9 Day/8 night
You may have heard about the Northern Circuit but we doubt you have heard near as much about the Southern Circuit. Here at the Slow Leopard, we pride ourselves on designing unique itineraries that take you off the beaten track, far away from the hordes of fly in fly out safari goers. Our highlights of the Southern Circuit is an 8 night 9-day itinerary designed to uncover some of Tanzania’s best-kept secrets. Unlike other itineraries, you won’t be lumped in a bus and have to drive days to your destination. Instead, we aim to cram as much as possible into the 9 days all the while keeping group sizes small and personal (less than 8 people).
Over 9 days we will hike through the mountains of Uluguru, summiting Mt Bondwa and swimming in pristine waterfalls. From here we’ll drive through Mikumi and Selous NP, providing unrivalled game viewing and cruise up the Rufiji River in our slow boat spotting crocodiles and hippos from mere metres away. In Kilwa we’ll be snorkelling through some of Tanzania’s best reefs before exploring the ancient ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani before watching the sunset on your Southern Tanzanian adventure.
Today is arrival day, you can check into your accommodation at Slow Leopard Dar from 12pm onward. Grab a burger at the bar, mingle with some other travellers or get out and explore Dar es Salaam, the afternoon is yours.
At 5pm we will meet the rest of the group as well as your guide for a meal and a drink and some introductions. Your guide will go over what to expect and field any last minute questions before bidding you farewell. The evening you are free to kick back and enjoy the bar.
We will start out journey early to get the most out of the day, your guide will pick you up from your accommodation at 6am and start heading west to the Uluguru Mountains. We should arrive around 9.30 am at Morogoro and the base of the Uluguru Mountains.
Part of the Eastern Arc Mountains the Uluguru Mountains are a spectacular sight as they rise above the agricultural hub of Morogoro. They are home to an incredible concentration of biodiversity including a number of endemic species.
From here we have a 3-4 hour hike to get to Morningside an old German settlement. It is the perfect chance to stretch the legs after being cooped up in the vehicle for a few hours. This will be our campsite for the night so settle in and get comfortable.
Today is summit day, take a few deep breaths as you prepare to tackle Bondwa Peak! From Morningside it is a 4-hour climb to Bondwa peak where you can relax, have some lunch, take some photos and prepare for the descent to Bahati Camp. The views from Bondwa peak are incredible, with panoramic views down the valley to Morogoro. The descent usually takes around two hours and you will camp by a waterfall giving yourself a chance to strip off and freshen up before dinner!
Its game tracking time on day three as you head into Mikumi NP. First though, we will have breakfast before piling back into the vehicle and driving 92 kilometres to Mikumi. We should arrive at Mikumi around lunch time and have time for a spot of lunch before beginning an afternoon game drive in the park.
Mikumi NP is the fourth largest NP in Tanzania and is fast becoming one of the most popular. Home to the big five and with broad open spaces that lend itself to game viewing Mikumi is an incredible start to your game viewing experience.
Rise and shine! The animals are up early and so are you, today we head out on an early morning game drive with the intent of spotting some wildlife while they are their most active. We will have a light bite to eat and hit the road before returning for breakfast after the game drive.
This afternoon we are off to our next safari destination, one of the largest faunal protection areas in the world, the Selous Game Reserve. Although only 188km’s from Mikumi, it’s a bit of a bumpy old drive and will take most of the day to get there. We aim to arrive at Mbeya campsite just outside the Selous by late afternoon having eaten lunch en route.
Selous covers 50 000 square kilometres and is the largest reserve in East Africa, to give you a bit of perspective, it is twice as large as the Serengeti NP and three times the size of Kruger NP. It is one of the best locations in the world to see the elusive Wild Dogs or Painted Wolves as they are sometimes called. Today we spend a full day exploring the Selous game reserve, driving 90km north to south through the park and doing our best to spot as much wildlife as we can.
Our ultimate destination is Kiboko camp on the Rufiji river where we will make camp and prepare for another big day tomorrow.
Another early start as we hit the Rufiji today, one of Tanzania’s largest rivers and vital life source of the Selous. We hop on board a boat and head out on an early morning boat safari, plying our way up the Rufiji in search of Hippo’s and Crocodiles allowing us to view them from an entirely different perspective.
After our Boat Safari, we head back to Kiboko camp for a big wholesome brunch before gearing up for our transfer down to Kilwa. We will stop for lunch en route and aim to arrive in Kilwa by early evening, just in time for a big feed at Slow Leopard Kilwa.
Wake up slowly in Slow Leopard Kilwa, situated right on Jimbiza beach the Slow Leopard Kilwa is the perfect place to unwind after a hectic seven days! The morning is yours to enjoy the beach, read a book or go for a wander into the market. Lunch will be served at 1pm.
After lunch, it’s all aboard your private boat “Lala Salama” for a bit of snorkelling on the nearby reefs followed by a trip to the fabled ruins of Kisiwani, once the seat of a mighty sultan that ruled the East African coastline.
These ruins date from the 14th and 15th centuries and were the seat of power when Arabic slave traders created one of the most significant sultanates in the region’s history. They are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can only be visited with a permit and a local guide.
Your guide will explain the historical significance of these ruins and show you’re around the island before boarding the boat and heading back for a slow sunset cruise across the bay. Tip: Make sure you pack plenty of beer in the cool boxes!
There will be a buffet dinner waiting for you upon return!
Wake up in the Slow Leopard Kilwa to another beautiful day on the beach, breakfast is included once more. Sadly this is where the tour finishes. We can arrange transport back up to Dar today (either private or public) or you can choose to stay a few more days in Kilwa to unwind. Speak to our consultants to chat about your onward plans.