To say that Tanzania, in East Africa’s Great Lakes region, is home to some heavy hitters is something of an understatement. It’s home to the continent’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro, as well as its largest lake, Victoria. There’s also the Zanzibar Archipelago, one of the planet’s most idyllic set of islands. But even more worthy of superlatives is the Serengeti, perhaps the world’s premier safari destination. So much to do, so little time, right? Well, we’re here to help with the planning part, with these; our 5 IDEAL places to plan your safari in Tanzania around.
THE SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
Tanzania has 16 National Parks and more than 5 game reserves and other protected areas, all boasting wildlife, flora and fauna unrivalled pretty much anywhere on earth. The big one, though, is without doubt the Serengeti, acknowledged as one of the ten travel wonders of the world.
Located in Northern Tanzania and spanning over 12’000 square miles, if it’s safari you’re after, this place has got you covered. Because it’s all about catching a glimpse of those Big Five right? And in the Serengeti, lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and buffalo all prowl the savannah. But all of that pales into insignificance compared to – cue David Attenborough voiceover – ‘the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth’; that is, the enormous migration of wildebeest and zebra.
The good news is that Tanzania’s best tours and packages for safari in the Serengeti aren’t quite as prohibitively expensive as you might expect; you’ll find prices starting at around £300 a night for accommodation and activities combined.
Close to Tanzania’s other premier safari destination, Arusha National Park, is Lake Manyara, a national park in itself and home to wildebeest, zebra and gazelles, as well as the odd tree-climbing lion and African elephants, too. But it’s not just the animals here which make Lake Manyara a headlining act; during the wet season (November to May) especially, the lake boasts plenty of action. Keep an eye out for flamingos, stalks, herons and cohabiting hippos especially!
For those looking to take on a challenge this new decade, scaling the ‘the roof of Africa’ would certainly represent an achievement. Don’t let the summit of 4000 feet, altitude of 18000 feet and a five to nine day climb put you off; there’s some sense of accomplishment up there at the peak waiting for you.
Less than half of climbers actually make it, which makes the adventure all the more exciting. And if you view such excursion as torture rather than challenge, then don’t worry, the Kilimanjaro National Park has plenty to offer even at ground level. Elephant, buffalo and antelope roam in the Forest Reserve area of the park, meaning you’ll see action even if the ascent isn’t for you.
Known as “Africa’s Garden of Eden’ and one of the seven natural wonders of Africa, the Ngorongoro Crater is a site to behold. A 12-mile-wide ecosystem within an ecosystem that was created by a volcanic eruption, this crater has some of the most fertile and rich grazing grounds in Africa, attracting wildlife galore. Tanzania’s northern safari circuit often combines the Serengeti with the Ngorongoro Crater, which increases your chances of seeing the big five. If you can, stay in a hotel on the crater’s rim for the most phenomenal views.
The largest tropical lake and the second largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Victoria needs little more in the way of introduction. It’s also the source and mouth of the River Nile, its starting point, and the lifeblood of not only Tanzania but its neighbouring countries, too, extending into Uganda and Kenya. The lake offers plenty of opportunity for tourists to explore; there are several resorts housed on the lake’s islands, and fishing excursions a particular highlight.
The Rubondo National Park, at the south-west shores of the lake, is where you’ll satisfy your wildlife watching cravings. Here, wild chimpanzees call the island home (originally introduced from West Africa), as well as rhinos, hippos (whose dung is essential to the biodiversity of the lake), giraffes and plenty of water birds.
And if you’re looking for your next stop after all the wildlife watching, then Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous archipelago off Tanzania’s coast will offer something very different indeed. Check out our IDEAL reasons to visit Zanzibar for more!