hot air balloon

Balloon Ride

Tanzanian culture








Click on an image above to see a short video clip.


Tanzania (Serengeti National Park, Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Arusha National Park, Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, Lake Natron, Gibb's Farm).

Dates of Departure and Return

May 6-26, 2007

Group Leader

Dr. Marlin E. Rice, Professor of Entomology. Dr. Rice has twice led the international field trip to East Africa--May, 2002 (Kenya and Tanzania, 20 students) and June, 2005 (Tanzania, 17 students). He has lived in Ghana (1974) and Zimbabwe (1998) and has traveled to Kenya or Tanzania on four occasions related to the international field trip experience.

Purpose of the Program

The program is designed to provide students with a field trip experience that focuses on the natural history of the Serengeti and surrounding ecosystems, plus it blends in exposure to the local culture and agriculture. The program will include in-depth lectures and readings during the pre-trip seminar that will prepare students for the field trip. During the field trip, students will develop an appreciation of the biodiversity and ecology of wildlife in northern Tanzania, understand how people, agriculture and wildlife are influenced by the ecological regions of northern Tanzania, develop an understanding of the Maasai culture, and interact with the local people by visiting a school and working farm.

Course Numbers and Credits

Biology 394A, Section TZ (pre-trip seminar, 1 credit); and Biology 394B, Section TZ (field trip, 3 credits). Students that are selected to participate in the field trip must enroll in both classes. Both classes (4 credits) count toward the 18 advanced credits needed in the Biology major. This course also fulfills the international perspectives requirement of the university.

Course Requirements

Students must possess an exceptionally strong desire to learn about the natural history of Tanzania, particularly the fauna of the Serengeti and surrounding ecosystems. Students must have at least one year of college-level biology and be currently enrolled at Iowa State University. Students must show a high level of responsibility, possess a cooperative and collegial spirit, and be willing to accept unexpected challenges while in country.


Biology 394A and 394B will be graded S/F. Grading will be based upon completion of reading assignments, seminar participation, seminar quizzes, completion of a field trip journal, writing assignments during the field trip and completion of a field trip survey.

Class Size

The class is limited to seventeen (17) students. Students ranging from freshmen to graduate students with a range of GPA's will be chosen through a competitive process based on completion of the course requirements (see above) and a three-part application (see below).

2005 class photo

Field trip class of 2005.

Pre-Departure Seminar

All students will enroll in a one-credit seminar (Biol 394A) for spring semester 2007. The seminar will meet once weekly during the late afternoon. There students will receive orientation on trip preparation, health and medicine, people and cultures, introductory Swahili, the ecological zones of northern Tanzania, and natural history background on the behavior and ecology of the fauna (insects, birds, mammals, reptiles). Students will be expected to do extensive readings of articles in Natural History and other assigned sources. These reading materials will be provided.

Field Trip

The proposed itinerary will include morning and evening field trips in Serengeti National Park, Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Arusha National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, the flamingo nesting area at the southern end of Lake Natron, and Gibb's Farm. Most wildlife is typically inactive during the heat of the day; therefore noontime hours are often spent back at the camp relaxing, making journal entries, watching birds or interacting with the camp staff. The one exception is Ngorongoro Crater which is a full-day trip drive down onto the crater floor. Bushwalks will be scheduled under the guidance of armed park rangers or Maasai warriors. The last field trip included a nighttime drive through the bush with spotlights for locating animals and a hot air balloon ride at sunrise across the Serengeti plains. Students will be expected to complete critical thinking exercises during the field trip and to take notes on the birds and mammals observed. Side trips to a local elementary school, a traditional Maasai village and a working farm are planned.

Estimated Cost

The cost of the 2005 field trip was $4,089. The exact cost for the 2007 field trip will not be determined until January of the same year when a final price is received from the safari operator in Tanzania. Airline tickets will be reserved for the class at a guaranteed price. The cost will include round-trip airfare from Des Moines to Amsterdam and Arusha (Kilimanjaro International Airport), ground transportation while in Tanzania, lodging, flying-doctor insurance (or similar), Tanzania visa, three meals daily while in Tanzania, game park entry fees and tips for drivers. This cost does not include bottled water or beverages while on safari, passport, student tuition (which is reduced 90% for the field trip), medications or personal expenses.

Iowa State University will charge a study abroad fee and reduced tuition for three credits in summer school. Because you are taking a course, the cost of the trip is eligible for student financial aid support. Some scholarship funds are available through the Study Abroad Office and through the Colleges of Agriculture and Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Lodging will mostly be in guest lodges and tented camps. Lodges have electricity and hot water during the evening and early morning hours. Tented camps typically use kerosene lanterns and have no electricity while hot water for showers may come from water heated by solar panels or firewood. Meals are prepared by the lodge or camp staff. Both lodges and tented camps are in the "parks" so any nighttime walking (like to a classmate's tent to play cards) requires the use of a flashlight and caution as elephants and hyenas sometimes enter the camps.

Travel In-Country

Our safari operator in Tanzania has used four-wheel drive Land Rovers or safari vans during past trips. The roof pops up and students can stand while viewing wildlife or during the drive. Each type of vehicle can easily accommodate six students.


Click here for a preview of what you might see on safari (12.6 MB QuickTime movie). ). This movie was taken by Dr. Rice in Tanzania and Kenya during October, 2001 and May, 2002. Check out some photos from past field trips (below).


For More Information

Students interested in the field trip should send an e-mail immediately to Your name will then be put on a mailing list for more information. Or you may contact Ms. Shelley Taylor, Ag Study Abroad,


The application for this field trip consists of three parts:

Part 1. Complete the study abroad application, available as a PDF file. In the 'Program Planning to Attend' box on the application write: Natural History of the Serengeti. Applications are due November 1, 2006. Send the completed application to Ms. Shelley Taylor, Ag Study Abroad, 111 Curtiss Hall, 294-5393.

Part 2. Write a one-page statement as to (a) why you want to participate in this field trip, (b) how you can contribute to its success, and (c) what goals you hope to accomplish while in Tanzania. Send the written statement by November 1, 2006 to Dr. Marlin E. Rice at

Part 3. Submit the names and e-mail addresses of two faculty members or employers that are familiar with you and your potential to be a collegial and cooperative member of a class exposed to the challenges of Africa. Send these names and e-mail addresses by November 1, 2006 to Dr. Marlin E. Rice at

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Last updated August 28, 2006