Tanzania Safaris Overview
Tanzania contains Africa’s largest populations of many species and delivers what most people envision for a safari with luxury seasonal camps set up on the flat expansive Serengeti plains. The majority of tourism takes place on the northern circuit, which includes the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater as the highlights. The best locations to be in the Serengeti change throughout the year in accordance with the movement of the great migration of more than a million and a half wildebeest, zebra and gazelles. We recommend traveling during the calving season when the migration is at it’s most concentrated (mid-January to early March) although there are other dramatic times as well. Southern and western Tanzania are very different from the typical northern circuit area and can provide a contrasting experience as well as a great escape from mass tourism (see our Wild Places section). Along Lake Tanganyika you can experience beach and jungle and trek with chimpanzees. Accommodation on a northern circuit safari is usually mixed with mobile or seasonal tented camps in the Serengeti and a couple nights in hotelish type lodges by major parks like the Ngorongoro Crater. There are some luxury permanent camps but it depends on the seasonal timing with the migration if they are in a good location or not. Typically on safari in this area you have your own vehicles with local guides and drive to each location on the safari. We are able to arrange flights from camp to camp using local guides and camp vehicles to more closely mirror a Southern Africa style safari. We like this method because local guides usually know their area best and the vehicles are open sided. For the more remote southern and western locations it is necessary to fly from camp to camp and the style is very much like a typical Southern Africa country safari.
- Tanzania Safari Regions
- Tanzania Safari Camps
- Tanzania Safari Related Activities
- Tanzania Seasons for Safari
- Cost of Tanzania Safaris
- Additional Tanzania Safari Information
Tanzania Safari Regions
Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park is perhaps the most famous park on earth and is known for the enormous migration of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelles as well as the lions, spotted hyenas and cheetah that hunt the great herds. This is the quintessential image of safari and Africa for most people. In most areas of the park you must stay on roads and no night drives are allowed. During the calving season the action is in an area where off road driving is allowed making it a great location to visit. Vehicle crowding can be a small issue and it is definitely not as exclusive as low tourism destinations, however, the mass of animals seen cannot be matched.
Ngorongoro Crater is one of the wonders of the world. A huge intact caldera (sunken volcano) that houses huge concentrations of animals within the Crater.
Lake Manyara is a nice little park that is typically visited on the northern circuit. Good for highly habituated animals and birds.
Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park is a spectacular park between July and September known for it’s elephants but outside of that season it often left off of the itinerary despite it’s dramatic scenery.
Mahale National Park
Mahale National Park is intense jungle on the edge of Lake Tanganyika. This park is the best location in the world to observe chimpanzees. The lake is crystal clear with excellent snorkeling and pristine beaches too.
Gombe Stream National Park
Gombe Stream National Park is the site of Jane Goodall’s chimp research and this is also a very good place to view chimps. Trekking tends to be more difficult than Mahale.
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park is an incredible park that lays at the crossroads of the northern acacia savanna biome and the southern miombo woodlands biome. The result is a diverse mixing of animal species from East Africa and Southern Africa. The terrain is rugged and people few.
Selous Game Reserve
Selous Game Reserve is a protected area in Southern Tanzania and is the largest in all of Africa, however, photo tourism only takes place in the northern area. Game here is less habituated than other parks so provides a more wild view but not as many diverse intimate sightings. It is an outstanding area for powerboating on a magnificent river with hippos, crocs, and elephants. It is also a very good area for walking. Lodging here can be quite upscale and amongst the more luxurious offerings in Tanzania.
Katavi National Park
Katavi National Park is an immense park that only receives around 200 visitors a year making it a very exclusive wilderness area that teems with huge herds of buffalo and other plains game. Very out of the way but highly recommended for those looking for an explorers view of safari. Due to the low visitation, off road driving and walking is allowed and excellent in this National Park.
Many tourists combine a beach stay by going onto Zanzibar. For a combination of culture and beach it is an interesting place, however, for a pristine beach and marine experience we recommend flying a little further to Mozambique.
Tanzania Safari Camps
I am always gathering information for more camps from my travels, but I haven’t had enough time to do full writeups for many camps. More camps will be added in the future.
Tanzania Safari Activities
Focus is strongly on game driving. Due to National Park rules there are no walks inside most of the parks or night drives. There are some concession areas outside of the national parks where walking and night drives can occur.
Cultural interaction is possible, typically with the Maasai tribal people. We look for experiences that are not over-commercialized.
Diverse Activities of Mahale
Visiting the Mahale area adds jungle treks to find chimpanzees, snorkeling, boating, fishing, and kayaking as options.
Selous and Katavi
Selous and Katavi offer great walking options and fly-camping, remote under the stars experiences
Tanzania Seasons for Safari
The best time to visit the Northern Circuit is during the calving season when the migration has it’s highest concentrations, mid-January to early March, however the northern circuit can be great at anytime. Most choose to skip the rainy seasons from mid-March through May and October/November although it is a unique chance to have the Serengeti without all the tourists.
Southern and Western parks are best during the long dry season from July into October.
Cost for a Safari in Tanzania
Utilizing top flight mobile camps or permanent luxury lodges is quite expensive and approaches the costs of other high end safari destinations. It is possible to stay mostly at hotel style properties and keep a very reasonable budget while still driving in the same parks, although losing the advantage of seasonally placed camps it usually requires much more driving time to reach prime viewing areas.
Additional Tanzania Safari Information
A Tanzania safari can be combined with Rwanda or Uganda for gorillas, chimps, or other safari options in those countries as well as Kenya.