Tanzania is a beautiful, untamed country of diverse landscapes ranging from majestic mountain peaks, to sugar white sand beaches and endless stretches of open plains, famously inhabited by the herds of the great migration. In this spectacle of nature, vast numbers of wildebeest and zebra traverse the Serengeti following an ancient route across still pristine open savannah. They are closely shadowed by predators, ensuring a journey laden with danger and drama. The Great Migration is a sight that draws safari enthusiasts year after year for its affirmation of life and timelessness. This is Tanzania.
But Tanzania has more to offer than the Great Migration: Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa, Mahale Mountains National Park on Lake Tanganyika is home to one of the largest chimpanzee population in the world, the Southern Parks offer a low density of visitors and great game viewing and Zanzibar boasts some of the continents best beaches.
Tanzania offers something for everyone who seeks a true, authentic African safari experience. While some of the more famed regions, like Ngorongoro Crater, can be crowded, there are certainly more remote safari circuits that are equally as majestic. For this reason, Tanzania can be a great destination for either first-time or repeat safari-goers. A safari to Tanzania requires careful planning in terms of timing, weather and locations. Game populations vary throughout the year and following the Great Migration is a natural phenomena that can change from season to season. We will be able to guide you to the best areas so that all of your own unique interests can be included in your Tanzania safari itinerary.
Tanzania offers the iconic landscapes of the Serengeti, with herds of nomadic animals taking part in the Great Migration every year. Experience an authentic safari under canvas and take in the majestic views of the Ngorongoro Crater.
Typically a Tanzanian itinerary focuses on either the north or south of the country. The north is geared toward those wanting to view the animal migration, whereas the south offers the more remote reserves, ideal for travelers who have already seen the large herds and are looking for something a little more “wild.”
We love the Northern Serengeti, even in the off-season. The scenery is simply spectacular with sweeping views of the savannah beautifully strewn with kopjes. We find this to be a real gem because the off-season draws far fewer crowds, but it is still incredibly gorgeous, with good game viewing and lower cost. For something a bit more remote and off the beaten path, we love Ruaha in the south and Rubondo Island in Lake Victoria for a real untouched, Robinson Crusoe-style experience. In our opinion, the Grumeti Reserve is the cream of the crop, one of the most unbelievable places in all of Africa and one of the few places in the Serengeti where you can walk extensively and horseback ride.
Tanzania is perfect if you are looking for an authentic safari away from the crowds. With the exception of the Ngorongoro Crater, most of the safari locations can be planned in a way that is quieter than those you would find in other safari spots such as Kenya or South Africa. Particularly in the southern parts of Tanzania, reserves like Katavi and Selous are very remote, wild, and it's easy to feel like you are alone on safari.
For the true adventurer seeking bragging rights, Tanzania is home to Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and climbing it is one of the most exciting activities available. If you enjoy beach time, then a pre or post safari add-on to Zanzibar or Mafia Island offers some terrific beach activities such as diving, snorkeling, kite- surfing and fishing; perfect for the most active of people or for just relaxing with a cool drink under a palm tree.
Tanzania is also a good fit for people who love tented camps and want that authentic Hemingway or Out of Africa feel to their safari. Tented camps are part of the quintessential East African safari experience and Tanzania has an amazing selection from more modest mobile tented camps that move with the migration to elaborate permanent camps with spas and swimming pools.
If you wish to avoid flying, Tanzania works well, as many of Tanzania’s parks are only a 2-3 hour distance apart so it is entirely possible to do a driving safari with a private guide and vehicle.
Finally, Tanzania is a safe, stable country and you will never feel too far out of your comfort zone.
Tanzania is all about the animals – you won’t find large cities conveniently placed near a reserve for a quick shopping spree. Arusha, one of the most common destinations from which to set off on safari, is a small town with little to do. It is not for travelers looking for cosmopolitan glitz and glamour. Dar es Salaam is probably the closest you will get to a big city and it cannot compete with a city like Cape Town.
Properties in Tanzania are usually owned by larger groups, and though you may come across smaller, family-owned lodges, these are not the norm. Those looking for personal, intimate properties may be disappointed and would have better luck in Kenya.
Northern Tanzania can be a little frustrating for active travelers as walking is limited by the park authorities. However, there are some options such as Manyara Ranch, Chem Chem, Grumeti Reserves and of course Southern Tanzania where walking safaris are viable options.
The high season in Tanzania is between July and September, and then December to February. This is the dry season, when game is easier to spot - and it’s simultaneously holiday season. We think that some of the best months are when the crowds have cleared, including November, early December, and then from January through March.
If you are traveling to Northern Tanzania to see the migration, we recommend visiting from October to mid-December, January to March, and then again in June. If you are traveling to Southern Tanzania, May through October is best, as it can be very hot the rest of the year.
April and May endure long rains in Tanzania. If you are looking to travel during this period, be prepared for un-drivable roads and it can be very unpleasant staying in a tent in the mud. The rains also bring out the bugs which can be quite irritating.
As August is peak season, the Ngorongoro Crater gets very busy at this time and game-viewing can be frustrating. However, most other areas are fine.
Weather patterns are changing across the world and Tanzania is no exception. In 2014 the Migration herds were months off schedule at times and the rains arrived two months early in the Northern Serengeti.
A Tanzanian safari can accommodate for an array of budgets. Luxury lodges, tented camps, rustic camping, and mobile camping each cater to different budgets and tastes. There is a lot of flexibility here in finding the perfect match for you.
In April or May, a safari using the Serena hotels can be as low as $300 per person per night while Sasakwa, which is the ultimate luxury safari experience, can be closer to $2000 per person per night. Most of the luxury tented camps such as Dunia Camp, Serian Camp, and Pioneer camp vary between $500 and $1000 per person per night.
In general, Tanzania isn’t big on activities (compared to Kenya, for example), and most lodges use game drives as their primary mode for game-viewing. However, there are properties that offer walking safaris (Serian South, Lamai, and Oliver’s Camp), horseback riding (Manyara Ranch and Sasakwa), boating (Selous Safari Camp), and fishing (Rubundo Island).
Zanzibar offers an array of beach activities such as diving, snorkeling, dhow trips and fishing. When in Zanzibar you can explore Stone Town (a small city of great historical import), go on the Spice Tour, or visit Jozani Forest for the colobus monkeys.
One of the most active ways to experience Tanzania is to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. How much more active can you get than scaling Africa’s highest mountain?
Viewing the Serengeti from a hot air balloon is an amazing way to experience Tanzania, but this of course comes at an additional cost.
If you want the ultimate off-the-beaten-path experience, stay at Greystoke Mahale or Rubunbo Island where you can go boating, fishing, visit chimpanzees, and enjoy nature walks.
In Tanzania you will have an opportunity to see all of the classic big game animals throughout the country and if you’re lucky you may even spot the highly endangered black rhino or wild dogs. During the right times and in the right areas, you will be able to view the annual migration where the massive herds of wildebeest, zebra, and buck move through the Serengeti, trailed by predators waiting for an opportunity. One of Africa's most amazing sites is witnessing a massive river crossing, complete with gargantuan crocs!
The birding is incredible in the Tanzanian parks and Lake Manyara is famous for its prolific water birds.
Mahale Mountain at Lake Tanganyika is home to the largest remaining chimpanzee population in the world. Viewing these chimps is a truly amazing and humbling experience.
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