Parks and Places

Tanzania is probably the most diverse safari holiday option in Africa. From big primates along Lake Tanganyika, The Great Migration on the Serengeti, The historic and beautiful tropical coastline and islands, incredible human history, huge national parks with amazing diversity of wildlife and birdlife, it really does have a lot to offer the seasoned traveller or the first time safari adventurer.

The Serengeti

Most people think of the Serengeti as a vast flat plain teaming with millions of wildebeest and prides of lions, and you would be right in thinking that, as that is how the South of the park is during the calving season from January through to April. However there is a lot more to the Serengeti than this. These plains become rolling countryside interspersed with valleys, forests and hills as you move further North and some of the well known rivers of the migration are in the centre of the park – The Grumeti, and the Mara River is further North, its these rivers where visitors try and time their safari to watch one of these big herds of animals often mixed with Wildebeest and Zebra crossing the river and the expectant crocodiles and lions lying in wait for easy meals. It is always difficult to predict when the herds are actually going to start moving and their exact routes so we often try and combine two different areas into a Serengeti safari so that you give yourself the best possible chance. It is also possible to combine the Masaai Mara which joins the Serengeti into one safari with some relatively easy transfers. Being able to see the magnitude of the moving herds is certainly one of the best wildlife spectacles that you will see anywhere on earth.

Arusha National Park

This is a small National Park that packs a big punch as it has so many different habitats within a small area, as far as African Parks go. If you are arriving from a very different time zone then it is well worth spending a couple of nights at the beginning of your safari in Arusha and then go and have a day trip into Arusha National Park. In here you have Mt. Meru which forms an impressive background and you have Mt. Kilimanjaro not far away as well. There is a range of habitat here that includes Highland Rain Forest, Crater Lakes and Acacia Woodlands which is all great for species diversity of animals and birds. A good place to whet your appetite for the rest of your safari.

Tarangire National Park

For many Tanzanian safari goers this is often rated as one of the favourites for quality of wildlife, beautiful scenery and generally has far less safari vehicles if you move away from the Northern areas of the Park. It is also possible to do bush walks and night drives here at certain of the safari camps inside the park which you will not be able to do in the Serengeti. Highlights here are the tremendous amount of ancient Baobab trees and looking for some of the more unusual species such as Fringe Eared Oryx, Gerenuk and Lesser Kudu. Apart from these there is an excellent population of elephant wandering around here along with the other plains species such as zebra, wildebeest, Savannah Buffalo and giraffe along with all the big cats that are commonly seen here.

Lake Manyara

This is park is often used as a short stop off point on safari itineraries for guests travelling between the Ngorongoro Crater and either Arusha or Tarangire. As a result of this the Eastern side of the park has a large concentration of safari vehicles which can dilute the experience some what. However if you get to stay in the Park and venture further West then you can have an excellent safari experience with all the animals that you hope to see on safari occurring here. Unfortunately the Lake itself used to host large populations of Flamingoes but the lake is becoming more and more silted and shallow however this has created a big increase in Pelican populations.

Lake Eyasi

This is Tanzania’s largest soda lake and mostly off the main tourist routes for people visiting Tanzania. This area is home to two of the last hunter gatherer tribes of Tanzania – The Hadzabe and Mang’ati. It is possible to visit these people through special arrangements and this is a very genuine cultural experience being able to spend time and follow these amazing people as they hunt and extract their daily requirements from the bush.

The Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation area

This is a very large area primarily created as an area to conserve the environment and where the Maasai herdsmen could live there traditional lifestyles up in these beautiful highlands. However most visitors to Tanzania know this area for the incredible wildlife and geographic spectacle of Ngorongoro Crater. This the Worlds largest unflooded caldera and an absolute garden of Eden for the large numbers of animals that live in this crater. The crater is also a great place to look for black rhino who are resident in here and there is a big population of lions in here as well along with the big herds of buffalo, eland, gazelles, hippos, elephants and zebra. It’s an excellent birding destination as well with such a variety of habitats that are all represented in the bottom of the crater. There are other calderas in this area as well Olmoti and Empekai and all though nice to see and have few visitors Ngorongoro is the main focus for visitors so it can be very busy when inside the crater with other vehicles. Near here is also the famous Oldupai Gorge where the Leakeys did much of their early work, there is still archaeological digs going on here and there is a small museum which is well worth a stop off at if driving from the crater out on to the Serengeti.

Lake Natron and Ol Doinyo Lengayi

This is a shallow soda lake in the Gregory Rift, East of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area which is overshadowed by the active Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano – the worlds only active carbonatite volcano. The volcano is of much religious significance to the Maasai – the name translates as the “Mountain of God”. It is possible with special permit to climb this Volcano, I do however give warning that it must not be taken lightly, it’s a very difficult climb and especially the climb down in the heat of the day can be very strenuous. The Lake itself is a great place to see Flamingoes and there is a reasonable population of plains animals here as well like Zebra and Wildebeest, There is also the recently uncovered human footprints that are tens of thousands of years old along with various animal footprints. A really nice way to experience this area is to walk into it from Empekai Crater – it’s a fantastic walk down the edge of the rift and you spend one night out in a small fly camp. You can overnight at Lake Natron and then continue on to the North Serengeti from here.

Zanzibar and The Coast

Tanzania has a beautiful coastline and is in many areas its exactly as you imagine a tropical coastline to be, with palm fringed white sand beaches and nearby reefs, so an excellent place to either start or end a safari experience in Africa. Zanzibar is the most popular of these Island destinations along this coast and it is an interesting place to visit. The Island is the largest of the East African coastal Islands and has a long historical past that goes back many centuries as a center of trade between Africa and the East. So in Zanzibar town you can visit the old palaces and see where the trade in slaves happened along with the fascinating twisty narrow streets of the old Stone Town. Move away from here and you the coast line which has a continuous ring of villages and beach resorts of varying standards and a big range of activities on offer as well – snorkelling, diving, visit a spice farm, look for red colobus in the small forest area in the South, and diving with whale sharks or just feet up and relax.

Katavi National Park

A remote National Park that has a big reputation for quality game viewing. There are two large open marsh like grasslands that when they start to dry out attract large herds of buffalo, elephants, and a range of antelope species and of course all the big predators looking for a meal. These two areas are linked by a narrow river which is absolutely jam packed with hippos which is amazing to see them all piled in on top of each other in the muddy pools. There are few lodges and camps here so you can have an excellent remote safari experience with quality game viewing.

Mahale and Gombe Steam

These are two areas that sit on the edge of Rift Valley and overlook the beautiful Lake Tanganyika. These are essentially forested National Parks, with the main focus of searching for the habituated families of Chimpanzees and is very famous for the research done in these areas by Jane Goodall on Chimpanzees which mostly happened inside Gombe Stream. Instead of going to the sea coast you can enjoy the beautiful lake side beaches, snorkelling to look at the colourful array of cichlid fish and trekking into the hills to see the Chimpanzees in the morning.