One of the best game-viewing areas in Africa lies between:
And includes the:
You will find Volcanic highlands in the north, semi-desert in the center and highlands in the south. The coast is hot and humid and lush with greenery. One part of the Rift Valley cuts through Lakes Manyara and Natron in the northern circuit while another branch passes as far west as Lake Tanganyika.
Here is where in 1979 Dr. Mary Leakey discovered the earliest known humanoid footprints, estimated to be 3.5 million years old, at Laetoli. In 1957, at Olduvai Gorge, Dr. Leakey discovered the estimated 1.7 million year old skull of Zinjathropus boisei.
Reserves cover over 95,000 sq. miles (25% of the country) thus making Tanzania one of the best wildlife countries in Africa for mobile tented camp safaris. Though walking is not permitted in most of the National Parks, the exceptions are Katavi, Mahale Mountains and The Selous, when accompanied by guides.
Known as German East Africa, when controlled by Germany from 1891 until World War I, it was mandated to Britain by the League of Nations as Tanganyika. Gaining its independence in 1961, Zanzibar soon followed with independence in 1963. And in 1964 both countries formed the United Republic of Tanzania.
With over 120 tribes, Bantu languages and dialects are spoken by 95% of the population, with Kiswahili the official and national language… English is also widely spoken.
Though it can be rough, and it is dusty, options for your Tanzania safari are infinite and will, most definitely, be an adventure.
… and SOME OF OUR FAVORITE NATIONAL PARKS and RESERVES,
THE NORTHERN CIRCUIT
TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK – This park is about 80-miles from Arusha and is an easy drive. During June – October the park is particularly dense with wildlife populations. This park is home to thousands of elephant and in the dry season game congregates along the river having migrated from the Masai Mara. You will also find large herds of antelope, as well as zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, leopard, rhino and lots of smaller mammals. The park is symbolized by the Baobab tree. Tarangire is rich in birds of prey making it an ornithologist’s paradise.
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK – This beautiful park is at the base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment and comprises forest, woodland, grassland and swamps. Here you will find gazelle, impala, buffalo, wildebeest, hyena, baboon, giraffe, hippo, and the famous tree climbing lions. Located about 90-miles from Arusha, this can be included in a full itinerary or arranged as a day-trip.
OLDUVAI GORGE – Archeologists will find this area, located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, of interest. Here it is possible to see the famous discoveries of remains of early man by Mary and Louis Leakey at a small museum that details their findings. Olduvai is a short drive from The Crater.
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK – From the Masai word “Siringet” referring to an “endless
THE SOUTHERN CIRCUIT
THE SELOUS GAME RESERVE – This is the largest game reserve in all of Africa (21,000 miles) making it four-times the size of the Serengeti (and even larger than the country of Switzerland!) and important enough to be a World Heritage Site. The Selous possesses a diverse landscape from hot volcanic springs, sporadic lakes, channels from the Great Ruaha and Rufiji rivers. Walking is permitted (with an armed ranger) which with over 350 species of bird and 2,000 species of plants to see, makes this the most heavenly sanctuary to explore. The Selous is famous for its elephants, hippos and rhinos (though few remain), and the largest population of buffalo in Africa. Also, Nyasaland gnu, brindle gnu, hartebeest; greater Kudu, sable antelope, eland, reedbuck, bushbuck and waterbuck, warthog, zebra, giraffe and wildebeest. Lion, leopard, spotted hyena and hunting dog are in abundance. There are reptiles such as crocodile and lizards. In The Selous you can experience walking safaris and boat game viewing. Limited accommodations are mainly found in the north of the reserve. Road access is only possible during the dry season and it is highly recommended that visitors fly from Dar-es-Salaam. The few camps have airstrips for light aircraft.
RUAHA NATIONAL PARK – One of Tanzania’s least accessible parks. Ruaha is totally untouched and remains one of the most exciting game reserves. Almost as large as the Serengeti. the scenery here is especially appealing to photographers. It is a birdwatcher’s paradise with 350 species of bird that are not found in northern Tanzania. You will also find elephant, buffalo, hippo, crocodiles, lion, cheetah, leopard, wild dog and lots of antelope; greater and lesser kudu, roan and sable antelope and Grant’s gazelle. The best months to visit here are between July – November. We recommend arranging flights from Dar-es-Salaam, or from Arusha in the Northern Circuit.
THE WESTERN CURCUIT
KATAVI NATIONAL PARK – Katavi belongs to the animals! In this untouched wilderness, there are no humans for hundreds of miles and apart from one lodge and its’ staff, you will encounter no other people. The park is the perfect place to witness an abundance of animals in the wildest possible setting. Great clouds of dust rise from the feet of over 3,000 buffalo moving across the short grass plains and woodlands of Katavi. These comprise some of the largest herds of buffalo on earth and where there are buffaloes, there are predators. The dry seasons (May – October and mid-December – February) are the best times to visit. It is definitely advisable to fly here from Dar-es-Salaam.
MAHALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK – This park is half way up Lake Tanganyika and below Gombe Stream National Park. It was created to protect thousands of chimpanzees and is set in the Mahale mountains, which are stunning. Some of the chimpanzees have been habituated and you can sit amongst them and watch their daily life go on. It is renowned for fantastic sunsets over Lake Tanganyika, which makes it an essential stop for the keen photographer. The habitat combines rain forest, grasslands, alpine bamboo and woodland. Fifty-species of animal have been noted in the park, predominately from the monkey family – chimpanzee, yellow baboon, Sykes monkey, red tailed monkey, savannah monkey and colobus monkeys (both red and black & white). This is a destination for the traveler with a sense of adventure as there are no roads to drive to Mahale. Private charters can be arranged from Dar-es-Salaam or Arusha. Accommodation here is limited. While the dry seasons (May – October and mid-December – February) are the best times to visit, the light rains of October and November are also fine.
ZANZIBAR – Is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, located about 25-miles from the coast and characterized by sandy beaches fringed by coral reefs and historic Stone Town. Once the world’s largest producer of cloves along with other spices, tourism is now the primary earner, although spices are still exported. There are many beaches in Zanzibar with a matching number of accommodations and restaurants to meet every budget. Flights are available from Arusha/Kilimanjaro, Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam.
PEMBA ISLAND – Situated about 55-miles north, Pemba Island is Zanzibar’s sister island. It is smaller, hillier and greener, with access via air or ferry. Even with a population of 300,000, it has only recently started to receive a small number of visitors. Villagers are eager to talk with passers-by and market vendors gladly invite visitors to join in sharing their products. Beaches are lovely and diving is excellent. Accommodations are few, guesthouses are rather basic with limited facilities, though a luxury resort has recently opened (but closed between mid-April – mid-June).
MNEMBA ISLAND – Is 15-minutes by boat from the northeast coast of Zanzibar. Mnemba is protected by a lagoon with over 10-miles of reefs rich in colorful fish and corals. This private island resort offers “barefoot luxury” in 10-self-contained cottages, positioned discretely amid the lush tropical vegetation and is Malaria-free. Closed April – May.
DAR-ES-SALAAM – While Dodoma has recently been appointed the new capital of Tanzania, “Dar” (as it is affectionately called) is the real capital, straddling some of the most important sea routes on earth. The city is an eclectic mix of Swahili, German, Asian and British architecture, reflecting its’ colonial past. Though a major port, there are botanical gardens and a national museum, but wandering the streets is most rewarding.
MAFIA ISLAND – In the truest sense, a perfect island retreat for adventure divers, game fisherman and those seeking simple free-up relaxation. Chole Bay, Mafia’s protected deep-water anchorage, is part of a protected marine park and is studded with lovely beaches. The diving here is amongst the most spectacular in the world and includes colorful coral gardens, walls of various levels and many shelves and coral heads. The climate here is mild tropical. October is hot and dry; June – September are cool; July often windy from southwest monsoons; November is sometimes wet; and December – March, the humid months. Closed from after Easter to June 1. Flights to Mafia are available from Dar-es-Salaam.