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Our Ultimate Safari Guide to Tanzania

Lauren Curd

With over 20 percent of Africa's large mammals and a quarter of its land protected, Tanzania's superb wilderness provides the ideal setting for game viewing. Spot black rhino in the Ngorongoro Crater, meet the famous tree-climbing lions in picturesque Lake Manyara, encounter huge herds of elephant in Tarangire and seek out the endangered African wild dog in the remote Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park. Tanzania is the amalgamation of former German East Africa state of Tanganyika and semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, both of which were controlled by the British Empire until their respective independence in the early 60s. Since then, Tanzania has become one of Africa’s prime destinations for safari holidays, with thousands of visitors flocking each year to enjoy a safari to view the fabulous wildlife that calls this country home. If you’re looking for a relaxing way to end your safari holiday in Tanzania, the exotic Zanzibar archipelago offers idyllic beaches, cultural encounters in Stone Town and incredible snorkelling and scuba diving, just a 20 minute flight away from Dar es Salaam.

What Makes Tanzania Unique?

Tanzania’s uniqueness comes down to its geographical extremes. The country hosts the highest peak in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, which has proven rather more accessible and ascendable than other peaks; a portion of the largest lake in Africa, Lake Victoria, which is shared with Uganda and Kenya; and Africa’s largest game reserve, the Selous Game Reserve. Add to this the 2 million wildebeest, gazelle, zebra and eland that migrate between the Serengeti and the Masai Mara National Park and you’re on a winning formula for an adventurer’s holiday.

Best Time to Travel?

Tanzania is a year-round safari destination and incredible game viewing is possible in any month, with each area having special highlights on the calendar. Short rains are to be expected in November/December and then the long rains arrive in April and May. The Great Migration can be witnessed on the vast Serengeti Plains between November and June, before they head up to the hills of the Masai Mara between July and October. In January the game can be seen grazing in the grassy south of the Serengeti, with new life arriving in February. Come April, the herds begin to head north, travelling up through the Western Corridor as the rains arrive. The journey continues throughout May, June and July, with the river crossings usually taking place between July and September.  After arriving in Kenya, the herds rest for a while before crossing back into Tanzania and heading south in October. As the timing of the migration is in the hands of nature, the movements may vary from month to month and year to year. Zanzibar’s seasons mirror that of the mainland, with the driest months between June and October.

Key Areas for Game Viewing

Tanzania offers world-class game viewing and you are sure to spot animals wherever you are at any time of year. The north of the country houses Serengeti National Park, Nogorongoro Crater, Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara National Park – together these areas offer some of the finest wildlife viewing in Africa, and are collectively referred to as the ‘Northern Circuit’. The very best way to combine these destinations is with a ‘fly-in’ safari, travelling on light aircraft between lodges, which will maximise your time in each area. The south of Tanzania offers a much more remote safari experience, where you can enjoy exclusive wildlife encounters in spectacular settings. In the Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park, you can enjoy safari walks and boat rides as well as the usual game drives. Each year, millions of wildebeest, zebras and gazelle make their way from the Serengeti, across the Grumeti and Mara Rivers into the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya – a truly magnificent event, you are able to ride alongside the animals either in a jeep or on horseback to fully immerse yourself in the experience. Elsewhere, on the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, you can spot rare Red Colobus Monkeys, servaline genets and the Pemba Flying Fox. If you’re feeling particular lucky, you could search for the Zanzibar leopard, which is believed to be extinct but has never been confirmed.

Suggested Places to Stay

Serengeti National Park – Serengeti Migration Camp, Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge, Sanctuary Kusini, Serengeti Bushtops

Ngorongoro Crater – andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, The Manor

Lake Manyara – Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, Kirurumu Manyara Lodge

Tarangire National Park – Tarangire Treetops, Oliver’s Camp, Sanctuary Swala

Selous Game Reserve – Azura Selous, Selous Serena Camp

Ruahu National Park – Jongomero Camp

Zanzibar - &Beyond Mnemba Island, Matemwe Lodge

Other Things to Do

Tanzania is most popular for safaris and game viewing but there’s still a fair few things to do when you want a day away from the wildlife. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an exhilarating experience, giving you unparalleled views of the surrounding landscapes, while retreating to the Zanzibar archipelago is a relaxing break away from the hustle and bustle. Stroll along the beaches of Mafia Island, Pemba, and Bongoyo, or take in the history of the area. Enjoy a coffee in the district of Arusha on the mainland, or explore the culture of Dar es Salaam – there’s something for everyone in Tanzania.

Our Top Tips

Climbing Kilimanjaro requires no real technical skills and most fit and healthy people can complete the trek. However it is highly recommended that you work with the best guides so you are in safe hands and take the very best route so you enjoy the experience to its fullest. We can arrange this for you.

For a truly unforgettable holiday of a lifetime, consider a mobile safari and follow the herds of the Great Migration.

A sky safari is the best way to maximise your time spent game viewing. Light aircraft transfers will mean you spend less time travelling between destinations and more time in the national parks and game reserves themselves.

If you’re particularly keen on viewing predators including lions and leopards during your safari, consider travelling between January and April when game are calving and the big cats are on the prowl for vulnerable prey.

 

**This blog post was previously published on Medway Leisure Travel, now trading as Pettitts Travel**

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