Wildlife in abundance, idyllic islands, ancient tribes, warm hospitality, Serengeti starlight, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Zanzibar archipelago, Ngorongoro Crater. Tanzania is a strong contender for being our most popular safari destination overall.
Exploring the land of safaris
Tanzania is blessed with a diverse range of parks and reserves, each with a wealth of opportunities to enjoy a varied itinerary across different ecosystems. Wildebeest stampeding across the plains of Serengeti, the finest chimpanzee trekking experience in the west and enormous buffalo herds of Katavi National Park.
It’s the place where Mount Kilimanjaro looks over the flatlands of the Serengeti, and the home to one of nature’s most impressive spectacles: the annual Great Wildebeest Migration.
The Serengeti will find itself at the top of many peoples wish list, and with good reason. It is renowned for some of the most magnificent wildlife-watching in Africa, with grasslands stretching out for what feels like an eternity. Nearly two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelles set out across the savannah in pursuit of water and new grasslands every year.
Lesser frequented however are the wilder parks to the south and west of Tanzania. Due to the remote nature of parks, such as Ruaha and Katavi, visitor densities are much lower than the better-known parks, such as the Serengeti. For those willing to invest their time travelling further out to this region, the rewards are exceptional. We would encourage our clients to look beyond simply wildlife when travelling with us to Africa. The Yaeda Valley, allows for an experience that is among the most unique and pioneering to be found anywhere in the world. Far from the exploitative “tribal tourism” most safaris offer, this is the real deal – the opportunity to exist alongside East Africa’s last hunter-gatherers, the Hadza tribe. It’s here where you set up camp amongst the baobab trees and immerse yourself in a community who live the same as they did thousands of years ago.
In terms of accommodation, a safari to Tanzania is able to make use of almost every type of accommodation you could wish for. It is home to some of the finest lightweight mobile camps encouraging you to explore on foot and closeness to the wilderness that can be lost in larger lodges. For those wishing for luxury, you are well-catered for in all of Tanzania’s key wildlife areas, with sensitively designed luxury lodges to secluded private houses available.
Where to explore
The Serengeti is known as one of the greatest wildlife-watching locations on earth with its endless grasslands and cyclical migratory route for wildebeest, zebra, and gazelles, it is the quintessential safari experience. While many guests are drawn to the famous river crossings of the north, we would encourage our clients to consider travelling later in the year when the migration reaches the southern areas. In doing so, it is possible to enjoy a more private experience, during which the wildebeest will be calving, with the inevitable entourage of predators in tow.
The Ngorongoro conservation area has one of the largest calderas on the planet. The steep, ancient walls set the dramatic stage, as predators stalk their prey around the open savannah between the acacia trees and swamps on the crater floor. Early risers will be rewarded here, by being able to access the floor of the crater first. It is true that by later in the afternoon there can be a few too many vehicles. However, this can be mitigated by choosing the right camp and an early start. Species you may encounter when visiting the crater include spotted hyenas, lions and both golden and black-backed jackals, hippo and the rare black rhino.
Ruaha National Park
Located in the Southern Highlands, Ruaha National Park is the largest in Tanzania, covering more than 20,000km. This rugged terrain is home to the highest concentration of elephant and is notable for its rocky outcrops and stands of baobab. Its remote location ensures relatively few visitors, rewarding those who invest the time in getting here with an extremely private and exclusive safari experience.
Tarangire National Park
Apart from the abundance of wildlife, these savannah plains are dominated by the epic baobab – reason enough to add this destination to your larger northern-circuit itinerary. During the dry season, between June and October, herds of up to 300 elephants can be found. It’s also famed for its birdwatching with more than 450 species – weavers, starlings, and hornbills flock to this area.
Katavi National Park
Located in Western Tanzania, Katavi is one of the more untouched and isolated conservation areas with the most significant remaining buffalo herds in Africa. If you’re willing to make the effort of getting out here, you will realise the lodges and camps are just as luxurious as the rest but offer a more remote and exclusive experience. As is the case with many national parks, timing is key, avoiding the period from December to May as the longer grasses can make wildlife viewing more difficult.
White-sand beaches combined with lush mountains, Mahale Mountains Park is nothing short of paradise. Whilst challenging to reach, that is, in many ways, the point. It is situated alongside the staggeringly large Lake Taganyika, a lake which contains approximately 16% of Earth’s freshwater – making it the second largest body of freshwater on the planet.
But it is for the more famous residents of the chimpanzee that call the surrounding forests home that draws people to this remote corner of Africa. Arguably the best location for trekking with chimpanzees, Mahale Mountains is a special place indeed.
The best time to visit Tanzania
To witness the Great Migration in the northern Serengeti, visit during June and July. If your prime interest is sightings of larger mammals and big cats, visit during the dry season during late June to October. The southern and western circuit parks are best to visit during the dry season (June to October), unlike the more famous northern circuit parks that can you can visit all year-round.