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.
Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti is Tanzania’s most iconic park, famed for the Big Five and the incredible wildebeest migration. With 1.5 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebra, their year-round journey showcases calving (Jan-Mar) and river crossings (Jul-Sep). Mobile tented camps provide prime migration experiences while resident wildlife offers great Big Five sightings. See the Great Migration on our Tanzania Migration Safari example itinerary
The Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro Crater, the largest inactive caldera globally, offers fertile land and abundant wildlife, including the Big Five. A unique absence is giraffes. Staying on the crater rim provides stunning views, while highland lodges like Plantation Lodge and The Highlands offer seclusion and tranquility in lush surroundings. See the Big Five in Ngorongoro Crater on our Classic Tanzania Safari & Beach example itinerary
Tarangire National Park
Tarangire, located in northern Tanzania, is known for its herds of elephants, best seen from July to October. The park offers diverse landscapes, from open plains to swamps, and rustic tented camps like Oliver’s Camp and Kuro Camp provide a wilderness experience. It’s suitable for short or longer safaris, easily accessible from Arusha, and often combined with Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and Serengeti National Park in a comprehensive northern itinerary. Meet the elephants of Tarangire on our Northern Tanzania & Zanzibar example itinerary
Selous Game Reserve
Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania has grown in popularity due to its accessibility. It’s a short flight from Dar es Salaam and offers easy connections to Zanzibar. The best game viewing is around the Rufiji River, and it’s one of the best places in Tanzania to spot African wild dogs. Selous is an excellent option for an off-the-beaten-track safari with wildlife-rich experiences, with safari camps often situated along the Rufiji River or lakeshores. Explore the quieter Selous Game Reserve on our Southern Tanzania & Zanzibar example itinerary
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park, the largest in Tanzania, offers an off-the-beaten-path safari experience. The Great Ruaha River is a hotspot for game viewing, including lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, kudu, and sometimes African wild dogs. Combine Ruaha with the Selous Game Reserve for a rewarding safari itinerary. It feels more authentic and “wild” than other parks, with most accommodations being tented camps. Notable options include Jabali Ridge and Ikuka. Experience a back to nature safari on our Tanzania: Off The Beaten Track example itinerary
Mahale Mountains National Park
Located in Tanzania’s west, Mahale Mountains National Park boasts a captivating landscape with lush forests against Lake Tanganyika’s azure waters. The park encompasses diverse habitats, including rainforests, grasslands, woodlands, and mountains, harboring around 900 chimpanzees, some of which are habituated. With only two luxury camps, Greystokes Mahale and Mbali Mbali, you can indulge in various activities like chimpanzee trekking, boat safaris on Lake Tanganyika, mountain hikes, village visits, and sunset kayaking. Despite potentially costly internal flights, Mahale offers an untouched and rewarding chimpanzee experience alongside your Tanzania safari.
Nestled on Tanzania’s western border, Mahale Mountains National Park showcases a stunning landscape, with lush forests against Lake Tanganyika’s azure waters. The park features various habitats, housing approximately 900 chimpanzees, some of which are habituated for trekking and observation. Accommodations like Greystokes Mahale and Mbali Mbali offer activities including chimpanzee trekking, boat safaris on Lake Tanganyika, mountain hiking, village visits, and sunset kayaking. While Mahale is relatively untouched and internal flights can be pricey, it’s an unparalleled destination for a chimpanzee experience alongside a Tanzanian safari.
Pemba and Mafia
Pemba and Mafia Islands, situated north and south of Zanzibar respectively, offer secluded tropical getaways with remote and tranquil surroundings. These islands are known for their vibrant mangrove forests and colorful archipelagos, making them ideal for a relaxed beach escape. Their underwater ecosystems teem with diverse marine life, including fish, dolphins, rays, turtles, and sharks. Notably, from December to November, you can witness the magnificent migration of whale sharks, an awe-inspiring spectacle. Accessible via small airstrips, these islands seamlessly connect to various Tanzanian destinations, particularly the southern parks. With only a few hotels and beach lodges, the islands provide an exclusive experience. Pemba Island boasts the remarkable underwater hotel, the Manta Resort.
Tanzania is home to Africa’s tallest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, standing at 5,895 meters above sea level. While the mountain is often best viewed from Amboseli National Park in Kenya, Arusha, in northern Tanzania, occasionally offers clear vistas of the peak. Various routes, including Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, and Rongai, provide diverse climbing experiences. The popular Machame route allows for better acclimatization. Although Mount Kilimanjaro can be spotted from Arusha on clear days, its peak is often obscured by clouds. Remarkably, Amboseli National Park in Kenya offers the best views, often featuring the iconic “Amboseli postcard” with elephants in the foreground and the mountain in the background.
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