Best Tanzania wildlife safari Parks : One of the best ways to explore Africa’s wildlife is on a safari, and Tanzania is one of the best places to do it. The Great Migration, known as the greatest spectacle on earth, as well as all of Africa’s “Big Five” may be found there. It is a famous safari location.
Tanzania provides a wide variety of national parks and game reserves, all created for different interests and travel preferences, with 38% of its territory conserved as protected wildlife areas.
You’ll need to know which parks and reserves are suitable for you before you leave on your luxury safari vacation in Tanzania. There are two main “safari circuits”: the quieter Southern Circuit offers a pristine wilderness experience away from the tourists, while the busier Northern Circuit boasts Tanzania’s stars, including the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.
- Serengeti National Park
- Ngorongoro Crater
- Tarangire National Park
- Lake Manyara National Park
- Arusha National Park
- Selous Game Reserve
- Ruaha National Park
- Serengeti National Park.
One of the best areas in Africa for animal viewing is Serengeti National Park, which is also Tanzania’s biggest and most recognizable national park. Many tourists and safari aficionados have it on their bucket lists because it is one of Africa’s Seven Natural Wonders.
Serengeti, which lies in northern Tanzania, is one of the planet’s most intricate ecosystems. It connects to the Masai Mara in Kenya to form the powerful Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. One of the oldest and least disturbed ecosystems on the planet, this area’s temperature, flora, and animals haven’t undergone much alteration in the last million years.
The Great Migration, the largest wildlife show on earth, takes place in the Serengeti National Park. Over 1.5 million wildebeest, zebra, and antelope move in a thundering herd from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara each year, starting around July, in pursuit of healthier pastures.
The enormous herd travels 1,000 kilometres back to Tanzania as the rains begin to fall, usually in October or November. More than two million wildebeest remain in the Serengeti from December to April. Serengeti, which is home to all five of Africa’s Big Five animals, is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise. Here, visitors may witness giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, and other characters from The Lion King in addition to elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, and rhinoceroses. With more than 500 different bird species, it is a sanctuary for bird enthusiasts.
Serengeti, known for its breathtaking landscape, is also a wildlife photographer’s heaven. In the southeast, you can wander over grassy plains; in the west, you can cross valleys, rivers, and forests; and in the north, you can climb the park’s rocky hills.
When to visit Serengeti National Park is best.
The finest and busiest time to visit the Serengeti is during the dry season (June to October), when the foliage is sparser and wildlife congregates around waterholes to make themselves easier to see. The Great Migration’s herds can be seen entering the Western Corridor from May to July, but the Mara River crossing’s main event takes place in July and August, and then again in October or November when the rainy season starts.
Visit the Serengeti from November to March, when young animals are born and the plains are illuminated by rich, green vegetation, if you’d prefer to travel during a more sedate season. The best time of year for bird viewing is also when it is most difficult to see large game because of the thick cover of vegetation, and it frequently rains in the afternoons.
- Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the most remarkable places on the continent and was named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. The conservation area, which is one of Tanzania’s most well-known safari destinations and is situated in the Crater Highlands, is home to a great variety and richness of species. It is called after the enormous Ngorongoro Crater, a 600-meter-high crater wall enclosing a 260-square-kilometer old volcanic crater. It is the biggest complete and empty caldera in the world, and it is home to more than 25,000 big game animals.
The conservation area safeguards Tanzania’s final remaining population of the critically endangered black rhino, making it one of the few spots in Africa where you may see all five of the Big Five in a single day. Large herds of buffalo and gazelle, spotted hyenas, slinking cheetahs, the elusive leopard, and even the critically endangered African wild dog may all be seen. Hippos and enormous pink flocks of flamingos can be seen if you head to the sparkling soda lakes.
You may see nearly two million wildebeest, zebra, and antelope making their thunderous mass migration to the Masai Mara in Kenya if you arrive during the Great Migration. The reserve region has been inhabited by pastoralist tribes, including the Maasai, for the past 2,000 years. Human ancestors have lived there for about three million years.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a wildlife sanctuary since 1979, making it the only conservation area in the nation that permits coexistence of people and protected species. You can go to the Maasai cultural community as well as the Olduvai Gorge, where fossilized footprints were discovered, demonstrating that people were standing upright on two legs at least million years ago. You may view casts of the footprints at the Olduvai Gorge Museum, which houses one of the most significant historical discoveries that altered our understanding of human evolution.
Best time to visit Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is open all year round, and each of its two distinct seasons has its own special riches to be discovered.
While the rainy summer season (November to April) is less tourist-heavy and the best time for bird watching, the dry winter season (June to August) is the finest time to see animals. When the water levels of the soda lakes are higher, you’ll witness larger populations of the well-known pink flamingos.
- Tarangire National Park.
Get off the beaten path and visit the more sedate Tarangire National Park, which is famed for its incredible species densities and breathtaking natural beauty. Less than two hours from Arusha in northern Tanzania’s Manyara region, Tarangire National Park is a surprisingly popular destination for tourists. In order to fully enjoy Tarangire, we advise staying for at least two days. Many people either avoid the park entirely or only arrive for a quick morning or afternoon game drive.
Numerous animals depend solely on the Tarangire River for water from June to October, pulling enormous herds of elephants (sometimes numbering up to 300), zebra, giraffe, impala, eland, and warthogs to drink there. Predators like lions and spotted hyena congregate along the river to prepare for attack, and the park also has leopards, cheetahs, and even lions that can climb trees. Despite their rarity, African wild dogs have been seen in the park.
You may see around 550 kinds of birds in one of Tanzania’s top birding locations, including the ashy starling, northern pied babbler, bushveld pipit, and yellow-collared lovebird. Tarangire is renowned for its stunning landscapes, which include gigantic termite mounds that are home to dwarf mongooses, ancient baobab trees, and acacia woodlands.
Best time to visit Tarangire National Park.
The dry season, which lasts from June to October, is the ideal time to explore Tarangire National Park because that is when the wildlife is most crowded. You’ll have fantastic possibilities to see wildlife as the surrounding vegetation dwindles and animals congregate around the Tarangire River, the last remaining water source.
- Lake Manyara National Park.
Lake Manyara National Park is a simple addition to a Northern Circuit safari because it is situated halfway between Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. However, it’s recognized for its distinct ecosystems teeming with a variety of wildlife, making it well worth a trip on its own. There are at least 11 different ecosystems in this miniature Serengeti, including groundwater forests, floodplains, hot springs, and open savannahs.
Lake Manyara, a stunning soda lake that is home to pink flamingos, hippos, and more than 300 other migratory birds, covers the majority of the park. The highest population of large mammals can be found in Lake Manyara National Park. Large herds of elephants, the fabled tree-climbing lions, as well as abundant populations of wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, giraffe, warthog, impala, and waterbuck are among the wildlife you may see.
Keep a watch out for the local baboon, vervet monkey, common monkey, and nocturnal bush babies if you’re eager to see some primates. Leopards and hyenas can also be found in the park, though they are more elusive.
One of Tanzania’s best protected sites for wildlife, Lake Manyara is surrounded on three sides by the Great Rift Valley and is situated beneath the Manyara Escarpment’s towering cliffs. Lake Manyara is a member of the Lake Manyara Biosphere Reserve.
Best time to visit Lake Manyara National Park.
Lake Manyara National Park is open all year long, and each season offers something unique to behold. Visit the park between June and October, when animal watching is at its peak and you can also observe the Great Migration in the nearby northern parks, if you want to see the park’s abundant large game.
Visit the park between November and April to observe the park’s birdlife and pink flamingos, when migrant species arrive and resident birds show off their vibrant breeding plumage. The lake is also at its best at this time of year, with vibrant pink flamingos dotting the lush green greenery.
- Arusha National Park.
Most visitors pass through Arusha en route to the more well-known national parks of the Northern Circuit, but we advise staying a few extra days to take in the amazing scenery in the area. Arusha National Park, which is nearby and is tiny but abundant in wildlife, is easily reachable on a day excursion from the city core.
One of the most thrilling parks in the nation, it offers a variety of activities like wildlife drives, canoe safaris, and bush camping. It’s also one of the rare locations where you can go on a walking safari due to the absence of predators in the park.
Visitors will be treated to one of the greatest giraffe populations in the country, along with populations of buffalo, zebra, waterbuck, bushbuck, and other types of antelope. There are no lions or rhinos, and cheetah, leopard, and hyena are rarely observed.
If you’re fortunate, you might see some of the few elephants, hippos, reticent dik-dik, or red forest duikers that wander the area. The Ngurdoto Forest is home to a variety of primates, such as blue monkeys and black-and-white colobus monkeys.
With over 400 distinct bird species present in the park, including the vivid pink flocks of flamingos that blanket the Momella Lakes, birdwatchers will be kept busy. Arusha National Park boasts broad grassland, thick woodland, sparkling lakes, and the Ngurdoto Crater (sometimes called Little Ngorongoro).
Consider climbing nearby Mount Meru, Tanzania’s second-highest mountain, or ascending Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, if you’re searching for more excitement.
A family of elephants near Tanzania’s Arusha National Park with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background.
Best time to visit Arusha National Park.
The best time to visit Arusha National Park is during the dry winter season from July to October, just like the other parks in Tanzania. Wildlife is easier to see because there is less vegetation and because animals congregate around receding water sources.
- Selous Game Reserve.
Although it is the largest game reserve in Africa, the Selous Game Reserve is largely unknown to tourists despite being home to all of Africa’s Big Five and an astonishing variety of species. Visitors to the Selous will discover a more quieter, though just as stunning, safari experience there because it is situated in southern Tanzania, far from the crowds of the more well-known parks in the Northern Circuit.
During the dry season, a game drive in the reserve will likely allow you to see some of the 120,000 buffaloes that call it home, as well as the 4,000 lions that make up one of the world’s largest populations. Elephants, cheetahs, leopards, crocodiles, giraffes, zebras, impalas, wildebeest, elands, and hyenas can all be spotted there. The African wild dog and the extremely endangered black rhino, both of which have about 50% of their remaining populations in the Selous, may even be seen there.
With a vast network of canals acting as the main water source for hundreds of species, the Rufiji River is the lifeblood of the Selous. Visit the marshes and rivers on a boat safari to see some of the 40,000 resident hippos and the enormous number of crocodiles. You can go on an adventurous walking safari through the Selous or take your guided safari vehicle off road in search of the incredible wildlife.
Best time to visit Selous Game Reserve.
The dry season, which runs from July to October, is the ideal time to explore the Selous Game Reserve. Even though it is high season, you won’t see the typical crowds that frequent the more well-known northern parks. You’ll have the best chances to see wildlife because of the diminishing vegetation and receding water supplies.
The greatest time to go birdwatching, look for baby animals, and take pictures of the lush, green surroundings is during the wet season, which lasts from October to May. But from March to May, when the rains are the greatest, many lodges and roads are closed.
- Ruaha National Park.
Usangu Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park merged in 2008, making Ruaha the largest national park in Tanzania and home to a vast array of animals. Despite this, Ruaha is still one of the best-kept safari secrets in the nation.
The park, which is in southern Tanzania, is only reachable by air. This is the ultimate getaway from the well-traveled safari path because it is so secluded and teeming with animals.
Large wide plains, undulating hills, century-old baobab trees, and the Great Ruaha River, which flows through the centre of the national park, make up its lovely scenery. The park is home to a staggering amount of diverse species, and a big number of animals are drawn to this great river to drink and go on hunting expeditions.
In just a few days, you can find cheetah, leopard, spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, large prides of lions, great populations of giraffe, zebra, buffalo, waterbuck, hartebeest, kudu, impala, bushbuck, roan, gazelle, and other species of antelope, in addition to some of the 12,000 elephants, one of Tanzania’s largest populations.
With only about 100 wild dogs left in the park, you might also get lucky and sight a critically endangered African wild dog or a rare striped hyena. We advise staying in Ruaha for at least three or four nights due to its size and distant location. There aren’t many camps here, but the ones we like best are worth a longer stay.
Best time to visit Ruaha National Park.
The ideal time to explore Ruaha National Park is from June to October, when it’s dry. You’ll get several excellent opportunities for ideal wildlife viewing as the vegetation thins out and wildlife congregates around the few surviving water sources.
The wet season, which lasts from November to April, is the best time to go birdwatching since migrant birds come and the terrain is covered in gorgeous green foliage. However, you will have to deal with frequent downpours throughout this time. The wettest months are April and May, when many lodge close because of impassable roads.