Where to visit in Tanzania
Where to visit in Tanzania
Our Guide on Where to Visit in Tanzania
Tanzania is home to over 50 national parks and reserves combined, each offering a unique experience. Tanzania itself is approximately 945,000 km² and as a result, landscapes vary dramatically across the country. In northern Tanzania, Africa’s tallest mountain – Mount Kilimanjaro – dominates the landscapes and rightly so. Other destinations taking the limelight in northern Tanzania include the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.
The Serengeti is one of the most famous parks in all of Africa, and with so much dense wildlife and resident species, it’s obvious why it is one of the most visited in Africa too. The park itself shares the same ecosystem as Kenya’s Masai Mara and is home to the great migration – an annual pilgrimage of over 1.5 million wildebeest and zebra.
The southern parks of the Selous and Ruaha are definitely worth visiting if you want to experience a varied safari off the beaten track. The Selous is very accessible to both Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar island, making it a great option for a shorter 3-night or so safari. Flying over to Ruaha, the contrast is stunning. Whereas the Selous is focused on the Rufiji River (boat safaris are a must-do here), Ruaha is dry and vast. It homes rare species like the lesser kudu.
For beach destinations in Tanzania, the islands off the east coast are simply breathtaking. Surrounded by white sands and sparkling waters, Zanzibar is one of the favourites. Located north and south of Zanzibar are Pemba and Mafia Islands which are less visited and more secluded. All of the beach destinations in Tanzania are easy to combine with a safari experience and we will organise all light aircraft flights and transfers. Image: Jabali Ridge, Ruaha
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Best places to go in Tanzania
Tanzania is home to 15 national parks, each offering unique game viewing experiences and exceptional accommodation and guiding. Whether its northern, southern or western Tanzania, we have included a summary of where to go in Tanzania.
Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti is the most iconic park in Tanzania, if not, all of Africa! Although the Serengeti is home to the Big Five (elephant, cape buffalo, leopard, lion and rhino), the biggest attraction to this incredible park is the wildebeest migration. Approximately 1.5 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebra set out on an annual pilgrimage in search of fresh rains and green pasture. They move in a clockwise direction and can be seen throughout the year in different locations of the Serengeti. Arguably, the most exciting times of their journey are January to March when their calves are born, and the July to September window where the famous river crossings take place, but you are able to see the herds all year round. Mobile tented camps are great options for those who want the best wildebeest migration experience – these camps pack up and move every few months, in conjunction with the herds’ movement. Along with the wildebeest migration, the resident wildlife in the Serengeti is fantastic, with Big Five sightings on offer.
See the Great Migration on our Tanzania Migration Safari example itinerary
The Ngorongoro Crater
The Ngorongoro Crater is the largest inactive caldera in the world and was created by the collapse of a volcano over two million years ago. As a result, the area around Ngorongoro is rich and fertile, providing a haven for wildlife. The crater floor homes the Big Five and is one of the best opportunities in Tanzania to see black rhino and large tusker elephants. Interestingly, the crater floor is missing some animals – there are no giraffe. While the views are spectacular, it is the drive from crater rim down to floor that is an unforgettable experience in itself. For accommodation, you can stay on the crater rim in places like Entamanu, the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and the Ngorongoro Serena Hotel, which all offer exceptional views over the crater. The other option is to stay in accommodation in the Ngorongoro highlands which, although is a little further back, offers seclusion and tranquility as you are surrounded by the forests. These include Plantation Lodge, the Manor and The Highlands. For more information, please get in touch and we can run through various options with you. Image: Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
See the Big Five in Ngorongoro Crater on our Classic Tanzania Safari & Beach example itinerary
Tarangire National Park
Located in northern Tanzania, Tarangire is a national park often combined with the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. The park itself is known for its congregating herds of elephant, seen best between the months of July and October. The landscape is diverse – you can drive from one area of vast, open plains to another area where dense scrubs and a network of swamps dominate the land. Tarangire homes some more rustic tented camps which offer that “wilderness” experience, such as Oliver’s Camp and Kuro Camp. Tarangire is a great option for those who want to do a shorter safari, as you can drive from Arusha to Tarangire easily. On the other hand, it’s also a good option for those who are looking to do a longer safari and combine multiple safari parks and reserves. Tarangire, Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park are often combined in a northern itinerary which works very well as they each offer unique landscapes and wildlife sightings. Image: Olivers Camp, Tarangire
Meet the elephants of Tarangire on our Northern Tanzania & Zanzibar example itinerary
Selous Game Reserve
The Selous Game Reserve is located in the southern part of Tanzania and has certainly become more popular over the last few years. This is because of its relatively good access into and out of the park. From Dar es Salaam, it is a short 30-minute flight into the park, and after your safari, it is very easy to fly over to Zanzibar for some relaxation. The best area for game viewing is around the Rufiji River where you can do a safari from a boat, vehicle, or on foot. The Selous is a great place to see African wild dog – one of the best opportunities in all of Tanzania. The Selous is a great option for those looking for a safari off the beaten track but still with exceptional wildlife sightings. The safari camps here are often situated along the banks of the Rufiji River or the lakes, so the sound of hippo will become normal to you after a stay here!
Explore the quieter Selous Game Reserve on our Southern Tanzania & Zanzibar example itinerary
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park is definitely more “off the beaten track” than other national parks in Tanzania, but it offers such a fantastic safari experience. Ruaha is the largest national park in Tanzania and its name takes after the Great Ruaha River that flows through. This is the best area for game viewing, where lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, kudu and sometimes African wild dog can be seen. Ruaha combines well in a safari itinerary with the Selous Game Reserve and is definitely one to consider for safari enthusiasts. This park is arguably one of our favourites, because it feels a lot more authentic and ‘wild’ than other parks. Although there are some luxurious properties, like Jabali Ridge and Ikuka, most of the accommodation in Ruaha is tented camps, which makes it feel very authentic. Image: Jabali Ridge
Experience a back to nature safari on our Tanzania: Off The Beaten Track example itinerary
Mahale Mountains National Park
Situated on the western border of Tanzania is Mahale Mountains National Park. The landscape is truly breath-taking – the lush forests contrast against the blue azure waters of Lake Tanganyika. The park’s habitats include rainforest, grasslands, woodlands, and mountains, which homes around 900 chimpanzees. Some of these are habituated which means you can trek to see and spend time with to watch them play, eat and interact with one another. There are only two luxury camps in the Mahale Mountains National Park – Gresystokes Mahale and Mbali Mbali. Both of these camps offer a range of activities. Of course, chimpanzee trekking is top of the list, but you can also do boat safari on Lake Tanganyika, hike the winding forest trails in the mountains, visit local villages and enjoy kayaking during sunset. Mahale is one of the most untouched destinations in Tanzania and internal flights can be quite expensive, but if you want a chimpanzee experience alongside a Tanzania safari, it is definitely worth it. Image: Greystoke Mahale
Zanzibar (although the official name is Unguja) is an island located off the eastern shores of Tanzania’s mainland. The capital, named Stonetown, is filled with colonial history and winding alleyways to explore. The southern shores have some of the best diving spots to explore coral reefs including potential dolphin sightings. The northern and eastern beaches are white-sand havens, and this is where most of the luxury hotels are located. Spend a week or so waking up to the sound of gentle waves and island bliss. Zanzibar also homes Jozani forest and organic spice farms, hence its nickname “Spice Island”. There is a wealth of accommodation to choose from on Zanzibar Island – from small, boutique properties to much larger hotels. Generally, the northern and eastern coasts offer the best beaches, so hotels like Baraza, the Palms, the Z Hotel and the Residence are all good options.
Pemba and Mafia
Pemba and Mafia islands are located north and south of Zanzibar island respectively. These islands are much more remote and less visited compared to Zanzibar and as a result, it’s a perfect beach add-on for those looking for a low-key tropical retreat. The islands are famous for their mangrove forests and colourful archipelagos. The underwater world around the islands are a divers paradise, with thousands of fish, dolphin, ray, turtle and shark species nearby. During the months of December and November, you can see the migrating whale sharks which are a spectacular and awe-inspiring sight. Both islands have small airstrips to fly into from any of the destinations in Tanzania (Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, Serengeti, Selous and many more). This makes them very connectable with safaris, especially the southern parks as they are much closer than the northern parks. Both islands only have a handful of hotels and beach lodges, which gives it an exclusive feel. Pemba island has the underwater hotel named the Manta Resort which is definitely a ‘wow-factor’. Image: Manta Resort
Tanzania is proud to home Africa’s tallest mountain, named Mount Kilimanjaro, which stands at a height of 5,895 meters above sea level. Interestingly, some of the best views of the mountain are in Amboseli National Park in Kenya, but on a clear day, the mountain peak can be seen from Tanzania’s northern city, Arusha. There are several routes you can take to climb the mountain including Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira and Rongai. They all vary in length and time to ascend, but for first-time climbers, the Machame route is the most popular as you have a longer time to acclimatize. On clear days, you can see the mountain from Arusha, but often the tip is behind the clouds. Interestingly, the best views of Mount Kilimanjaro are actually from Amboseli National Park which is located in Kenya. The famous ‘Amboseli postcard’ is the mountain in the background, and a herd of elephants in the foreground.
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