The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, six nights' accommodations, and safaris from $2,695 per person—plus taxes of $300.
When: Mar. 28-May 31; add $200 for Mar. 1-19; $280 for Jan. 11-Feb. 28, Nov. 1-30; $300 for Sept. 16-Oct. 31; $700 for Mar. 20-27, Dec. 1-21; $790 for June 1-Sept. 15, 2008.
Gateways: Boston, D.C., Newark, New York City; add $170 from Miami, Orlando; $190 from L.A., San Francisco; $210 from Chicago.
The fine print: Six breakfasts, lunches, and dinners; all government taxes and levies; arrival and departure transfers; local transportation; game-viewing drives; park entrance fees; and the services of an English-speaking tour guide are included. Airport taxes and charges are an additional $300. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $300. Tips and gratuities are an additional $10 per person per day (suggested amount). Visas can be obtained upon arrival for $100 per person. Optional Flying Doctor coverage within East Africa is available for $50 per person for a period of 14 days. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: Masai Travel Inc, 800/587-1644, masaitravel.com.
Why it's a deal: In comparison, according to a recent Kayak search, the lowest round-trip multicity fare (New York City-London-Nairobi-Kilimanjaro-New York City), departing on March 1 and returning on March 9 is $1,815 (multiple airlines). For an additional $880, or about $147 a day, Masai Travel provides accommodations, most meals, guided safari tours, park entrance fees, and transportation—plus the time-saving convenience of one-stop shopping.
Trip details: The 10-Day Tanzania Trail Safari-2008 package includes round-trip airfare to Kilimanjaro International Airport, Tanzania, on a Virgin Atlantic Airways carrier and six nights' accommodations.
The tour staff will meet you upon arrival in Kilimanjaro and take you to Lake Manyara National Park to begin your wildlife expedition with an afternoon drive through the park. You'll stay overnight at the Lake Manyara Hotel, a lodge that overlooks the lake.
Then you'll board a four-wheel-drive vehicle (with guaranteed window seats for all) and travel across Serengeti Plain to visit Olduvai Gorge, home to ancient fossils, followed by a drive across the short-grass plains of the 5,000-square-mile Serengeti National Park, the largest in the country. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, such as zebras, wildebeests, hippos, giraffes, and lions. The Seronera Wildlife Lodge will be your base for two nights.
Next stop: The Ngorongoro Crater. Sometimes called Africa's Eden, the 12-mile-wide collapsed volcano is home to a diverse animal kingdom, from herds of zebra and wildebeest to the endangered black rhino. Get ready for exciting game drives and a trek around the Crater's rim. You'll stay two nights at the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge.
For the final stretch of your trip, you'll drive to the Tarangire National Park, where you'll see examples of rare wildlife species, including gerenuk (a long-necked gazelle), oryx, eland, the greater and lesser kudu, and "the big five" animals of Africa—buffalos, elephants, leopards, lions, and rhinos. You'll stay overnight at the Tarangire Sopa Lodge.
You'll be dropped off at the Kilimanjaro International Airport in time for your flight back home, with stopovers in Nairobi and London. Hankering for more? You can add a three-night stay in Zanzibar with airfare (Kilimanjaro-Zanzibar-Nairobi) for about $975 per person.
The travel dates for the starting rate of the package fall in the long rainy season, which lasts from late March through late May. The temperature highs are in the 80s at this time of year. Before you go, check the weather forecast.