Tanzania is a country that can truly boast many of Africa’s greatest landmarks. Snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest mountain, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area are justifiably two of the most world-famous national parks, and the Selous in the south of the country is the largest reserve in Africa. The country has avoided mass tourism whilst protecting 25% of its wilderness, and these actions combined with its natural riches, mean that Tanzania safaris are some of the most outstanding wildlife experiences anywhere in the world. Add to this the vast expanse of Lake Victoria that lies within Tanzania’s borders, the exotic Zanzibar archipelago and the tropical, mainland Indian Ocean beaches, and it’s clear that this is quite a remarkable destination.
The country is home to 20% of the large mammals found only in Africa and game viewing on a Tanzania safari holiday is arguably unparalleled. It’s a country that can offer many unique experiences such as following the Great Migration as almost 2 million zebra and wildebeest seek the sweet fresh grasses, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro with professional guides or chimp trekking in the remote western Mahale Mountains. There are also over 1,000 recorded bird species in the untouched wilderness reserves, along the lake shores and in the coastal areas beside the pristine Indian Ocean coast. The northern salt lake, Lake Natron, is the only regular breeding ground for the Lesser flamingo in Africa, making there status ‘near threatened’ because of their reliance on this one breeding location.
Northern Tanzania Safaris
A safari in Northern Tanzania typically takes in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Park, with time on the beach in either Zanzibar or on the Swahili coast. Northern circuit safaris generally set off from the town of Arusha, located about 60 kms from the international Kilimanjaro airport. The best way to get around the country, and also the most economical, is usually with your own private guide and four-wheel drive vehicle, travelling overland between parks. These vehicles tend to have closed in sides but with big windows and a hatch that opens in the roof to give great views of the wildlife. An added advantage of travelling with your own private guide through out a Tanzania safari holiday is that there is more flexibility on timings.
Alternatively, the benefit of fly-in safaris is the time you save travelling and maximise your time on activities from the camp. Once in camp, game drives are usually shared with other guests and are in traditional open-sided safari vehicles. The camp guides will also have a greater level of local knowledge. This is of course a more expensive option but it’s a fun way to travel as the views from a light aircraft are wonderful.
For those not keen on relaxing on the beach after an active safari, a Kilimanjaro climb or gorilla trek combines well with Northern Tanzania safaris. Kili climbs are a challenge but you don’t need any specialist climbing experience.
Southern Tanzania Safaris
The lesser visited national parks in Southern Tanzania have far fewer visitors so game viewing can be much more personal here and you can really delight in the vast wilderness areas, knowing that you are very unlikely to see another vehicle. Whilst there is much game in both the Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park, it is harder work to find the animals and so sightings are extra rewarding.
As well as game drives, walking safaris and game-viewing by boat are offered, or fishing trips on the Rufiji River for Tiger and Cat fish. There are some delightful luxury boutique lodges in both these national parks and if you stay at lodges with the same owner, there are some very good savings. The Selous Game Reserve has good light aircraft connections with Zanzibar via Dar es Salaam, making a Tanzania safari holiday followed by a Zanzibar beach break, a great safari and beach option.
Safari and wildlife in Western Tanzania
The extraordinary beautiful jungle-clad mountains of Mahale and the pristine waters of Lake Tanganyika in Western Tanzania, remain one of most esteemed travel destinations in Africa. Inhabited by a wealth of primates, the Mahale Mountains are home to the habituated wild chimpanzees that were made famous in the 60s by the work of the primatologist Jane Goodall.
Most visitors combine a trip to Lake Tanganyika and Mahale with a safari in the Kativi National Park. Kativi’s flood plains support an impressive concentration of game in the dry season. In the wet season the conditions become marshy, which attracts flocks of water-birds as well as hippo.
Tanzania Safari & Beach holidays
For those wanting to relax by the ocean before or after their Tanzania safari, it's relatively easy to combine game viewing with a beach break. Tanzania’s own Indian Ocean coast is largely undiscovered and there are some lovely tranquilly beaches to the north and south or Dar. The irresistible beaches of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia Island can also be easily reached by light aircraft via Dar.
For ideas on where to go on safari in Tanzania ring our specialist East Africa team on 020 7666 1250 or you can email us to start planning your trip.