The Circle of Life in Tanzania
For the quintessential African experience, it doesn’t get much better than a Tanzania safari. The broad sweeping savannah, ancient heritage sites, incredible beaches, and coral reefs dominate this landscape. Indeed, Tanzania is an exciting destination featuring remote reserves and off-the-beaten-track encounters.
Arusha, the gateway to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro ecosystem, is for many the starting point to a Tanzania safari. Daily, small airplanes soar off into the wilderness, the purveyors of wildlife experiences unmatched anywhere else in the world. One of the highlights of a Tanzania safari is undoubtedly witnessing the Great Migration. This is when millions of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle make their way northwards into the Masai Mara to graze.
Your Tanzania safari doesn’t end with the Serengeti. The vast Ngorongoro Crater is a worthy addition to your itinerary. This ancient caldera, filled to the brim with a diverse array of wildlife, is also home to Tarangire, which boasts the largest elephant population in Tanzania. Many choose to include a beach holiday on exotic Zanzibar island, or delve into a more remote experience with chimp trekking in Gombe or fly camping in the Selous Game Reserve.
A trip to Tanzania is not measured in the miles covered, but in the moments enjoyed. A quiet morning in a private concession watching birds flutter above a pool; the sudden appearance of a manatee on an underwater dive; the flurried movements of a group of zebras as a tawny streak upsets their waterhole visit, the lion left empty-jawed as the black and white herd disperses into the sunset.
From north to south and east to west, a Tanzania safari never disappoints.
When to Go:
The best time to visit Tanzania for a safari is typically within the dry season (June through October). It is during this period that the Great Migration reaches the Grumeti River. However, game viewing is generally superb throughout the year, with calving season just after the summer rains between December and February. If you’re interested in a beach trip or diving off the coasts of Zanzibar, then the clearer waters between February and March or between July and August are recommended.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a wildlife sanctuary, an ancient caldera home to an abundance of animals.
The vast Serengeti stretches for thousands of miles in northern Tanzania, the scene of the wildebeest migration.
From red colobus monkeys to the scents of cinnamon and clove, Zanzibar brings with it a thousand delights.
Top Destinations in Tanzania Safari
“No one can return from the Serengeti unchanged, for tawny lions will forever prowl our memory and great herds throng our imagination.”- George Schaller
Like a great grass sea formed out of the imagination of a fantasy writer, the Serengeti rolls: expansive, raw, wild. Predators slip in and out of the tawny grasses, drop down from trees and stand atop ant hills scanning the landscape for prey. The Serengeti is Tanzania in its most natural state. This national reserve, which extends across thousands of kilometres, is home to the famous wildebeest migration. It’s a spectacle of nature, and certainly a definitive African safari experience. Plus, you can also expect to see an abundance and diversity of animals and the nomadic pastoralist Maasai tribe.
It’s difficult to take it all in. There is plenty of scope for unique experiences on a Serengeti safari. View the Green Season calving between January and April in the southern part of the reserve. Or, witness the thrilling Grumeti River crossings in the western Serengeti. One of the prime spots for safari goers has traditionally been the far north. Here, tens of thousands of desperate wildebeest take the plunge into the crocodile-thronged Mara River as their migration moves into Kenya’s Masai Mara for fresh grazing.
There are quieter, less dramatic scenes too. A delightful safari breakfast under an acacia tree, accompanied only by your Maasai guide, dressed in his traditional red garments. A guided walk through the woodlands looking for Fischer’s lovebird, a rufous-tailed weaver or a lone, stately kori bustard. Or even waking at dawn and peeping out of your canvas tent to watch the mist rise in unhurried tendrils over the dew-drenched grass.
This is the Serengeti. Wild, untamed and transient.
When to Go:
The Serengeti’s main attraction is the annual wildebeest migration. Notwithstanding the drama and thrills of the Great Migration, game viewing in the Serengeti is exceptional all year round. Typically, the Green Season (December through March) sees newborn calving across the southern plains. The herds move into the western Serengeti between May and July and assemble at the Grumeti River to cross over into the northern part of the reserve. If you’re wanting to visit during the dramatic Mara River crossings, then August through October is the best time to go.
A visit to the Ngorongoro Crater is a must on a Serengeti safari. Once described as the world’s largest ‘zoo,’ this incredible, naturally formed caldera is home to an abundance and diversity of wildlife to rival sanctuaries the world over. The Ngorongoro Crater, a three-million-year-old wonder, forms the central part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located west of Arusha.
Due to the natural bowl-like landscape, animals thrive here. Species include black rhino, buffalo, hippo, and lion, with a large variety of gazelle, antelope, and zebra in the mix. Since no large-scale migration occurs here, game-viewing is exceptional all year round; although the prevalence of vehicles on the crater floor does increase in the busy season.
The rim of the crater is a place of wonder; its breathtaking views rival the best in the world. Flamingoes dance in the waters of Lake Magadi, gazelle frolic through the grasslands, and buffalo congregate around mud pools. Just beyond the crater is Olduvai Gorge, an ancient and protected ravine. It’s considered to be the seat of humanity following early hominid discoveries.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a prehistoric, evergreen haven. Don’t leave your camera at home! After all, you’re on safari in an ancient volcano, and there’s not much more unique than this.
When to Go:
Since animals rarely leave the crater due to its natural bowl-like landscape, game-viewing here as part of a Serengeti safari is exceptional all year round. The dry season (May to October) sees an influx of safari vehicles onto the crater floor. Expect some view sites to be busy. However, the wet season sees animals like eland and buffalo congregate in larger numbers, birds flock and flourish, and the crowds disperse.
Combining cobbled streets, ancient stone houses and white-sand beaches, a Zanzibar holiday is truly unique.
Many travellers start their adventures in Stone Town. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the former, flourishing centre of both the slave trade and the spice trade in the early 19th century. Today it is a diverse melting pot of cultures: Swahili, Arab, Indian, Persian and European elements come together in a unique experience for locals and visitors alike. A traditional spice tour through Stone Town comes well recommended; the fragrances of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg linger in the air, bringing with them a sense of an earlier partially-forgotten era.
From Stone Town, head to the coast for beach delights that include sunbathing, sunset dhow cruises, snorkelling and diving. Indeed, the reefs off Pemba and Mafia island, in particular, offer some of the most spectacular diving in the world. Coral reefs shine, almost neon in the azure water, while immense whale sharks make their way along the sandy seabed.
There’s much to experience on Zanzibar island that makes this more than just a beach or dive destination. Jozani Forest is the only national park home to the endangered red colobus monkeys. And a tour of Prison Island will introduce to you the giant Aldabra tortoises – historic in their own right.
When to Go:
Like any island destination, Zanzibar also has prime times to visit, particularly when it comes to diving visibility. If you plan on donning your scuba gear, the best time to visit is between July and August and in February and March when the water is at its clearest. It is a warm destination all year round, so the traditional dry season (June to October) which is so popular for a safari in East Africa, sees a lovely cool dry climate on the island. It is particularly hot between December and February but keen beachgoers lap up the rays on the many white-sand beaches.
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Top Experiences in Tanzania Safari
Rustic luxury at its best: stylish canvas tents, hot bucket showers and dinners stoked over the fire. This is a night time experience at its very best!
Sail away into the setting sun on a traditional Zanzibar dhow cruise, one of the highlights of a trip to this exotic Indian Ocean island.
As your vehicle hits the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, you’ll catch your first glimpse of this ancient caldera: filled with wildlife and offering some of the best game viewing in Tanzania. In you go.
Discover underwater landscapes filled with exceptional coral gardens and tropical reefs; explore an ancient wreck and even swim alongside a manatee!
As one of the most spectacular wildlife wonders on the planet, the annual wildebeest migration enthralls visitors each year. Visit during the calving months to see thousands of newborn babies, or stake a place by the Grumeti River to watch thrilling crossings, while crocodiles lie in wait…