A guide to Tanzania
A guide to Tanzania
Tanzania is known for its abundant wildlife and the annual wildebeest migration, one of the world’s most famous natural spectacles during which, every year, an estimated 2 million wildebeest, zebra and other wildlife move en masse through the Serengeti in search of green pastures. There are three main safari circuits to explore in Tanzania: the north, the south and the west.
This is where you’ll find some of the most impressive parks in Tanzania – the Serengeti, the Tarangire, Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater.
Although you can fly into these parks to save time, they are so close together that travelling with a private driver-guide in a 4x4 vehicle works well. Staying with the same guide for the whole safari allows you the continuity to build up your wildlife knowledge. In addition, you get the chance to see some of the towns and rural areas en route, giving you a deeper understanding of the country as a whole.
The Serengeti National Park is known for its huge savanna plains, excellent resident wildlife throughout the year and the great wildebeest migration (November to July), one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles. Staying in a mobile camp, which moves periodically to get as close as possible to the herds, offers one of the best ways to see the migration. Adjoined to the northeast side of the Serengeti, the Loliondo area opens up the chance to walk through the landscape, meet the local Masai and go on a night drive, not allowed in the Serengeti itself.
Tarangire National Park, with its ancient baobab trees, particularly comes to life in the dry season (January to February and July to October), with the Tarangire river acting as a magnet for large animals, especially elephants.
Lake Manyara National Park contains a beautiful soda lake and an excellent variety of wildlife, including elusive tree-climbing lions.
The Ngorongoro Crater contains one of the world’s greatest concentrations of wildlife.
Southern & Western Tanzania
Camps in the remote areas of southern and western Tanzania are usually visited via fly-in safaris, which use light aircraft to fly between the parks and camps. Once at the camps, guides will use 4x4 vehicles and boats to get you around the parks. In keeping with the raw nature of this environment, the properties mainly take the form of small, low-impact, permanent tented camps or lodges.
Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park are both areas with pristine wilderness and low visitor numbers.
Selous Game Reserve
The Selous Game Reserve is close to sea level and, with the Great Rufiji river flowing through it, has a tropical ambience. All lodges offer wildlife viewing in open 4x4 vehicles, on foot and by boat, where you are likely to drift past pods of hippos and huge numbers of crocodiles. The Selous is an excellent wildlife experience, with a healthy population of wild dogs and more than 450 bird species. Most of the safari camps offer fly-camping where you stay in a simple tent and, accompanied by your guide, spend your days walking through this remote landscape.
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park is higher and more mountainous than the Selous and the animals here are very relaxed, especially the elephants. Ruaha activites include 4x4 safari drives, guided walks and fishing trips. Wildlife highlights include elephants, lions, leopards and wild dogs. Southern Tanzania also combines well with the Quirimbas in northern Mozambique for a mix of wildlife and beaches.
A remote region, much less visited than the north or south, the two key parks here are Mahale Mountains and Katavi national parks.
Mahale Mountains National Park
Mahale Mountains National Park, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, combines stunning white beaches with a superb chimpanzee interaction experience. The park is also home to Tanzania’s densest population of primates, which includes red colobus monkeys, yellow baboons and vervet monkeys.
Katavi National Park
Incredibly remote and said to have the highest biodiversity of any park in Africa, Katavi National Park has good general wildlife, with many buffaloes and lions.
The Coast & Islands of Tanzania
Tanzania is blessed with some amazing beaches, many with swaying palms, magnificent marine life, historic Swahili ports and exotic culinary experiences. The mainland coast north and south of Dar es Salaam is dotted with quiet villages and turquoise seas.
Saadani National Park
Wildlife drives, river excursions and snorkelling trips are all activities which make this area an excellent soft safari or barefoot luxury beach experience.
The number one beach destination in east Africa, Zanzaibar is a heady combination of fabulous beaches and distinctive culture. Often described as ‘where the Middle East meets Africa’, Persian and Omani sultans made this the spice-trading capital of the world.
Combine a stay in historic Stone Town, amid the labyrinth of narrow alleys and intricately carved doors, with a beach retreat to get the most out of this fascinating island. There is a wide range of boutique hotels in Stone Town, which can act as a base for exploring the island; take a sunset dhow cruise, have cooking lessons using the Zanzibarian spices, or take a walk to see the endangered red colobus monkeys of Jozani forest.
Venture further off the beaten track to the low-lying coral atoll of Pemba island. Here, an authentic Swahili coastal experience combined with the tasteful Fundu lagoon will make for a memorable holiday. The other less visited but equally remote islands of Chumbe, Mnemba and Mafia are worth exploring if you want to get even further away from the crowds.