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If you’re looking to tick an African safari off your bucket list, it doesn’t get much better than Tanzania. Tanzania safaris offer unspoilt national parks and game reserves where you can discover the ‘Big Five’ and be dazzled by the beauty of flocks of flamingos. Essentially, there are three distinct safari circuits to explore, but how do you decide which one to travel to? In this article, we will delve into what each park has to offer and the best times of the year to go, so that you don’t miss out on all the action!
Tanzania is an East African country which is well known for its wilderness and natural landscapes. Not only does it boast the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro, the incredible Ngorongoro Crater and white sandy beaches, but it is also the perfect hot spot for any wildlife lover. Here is why it makes one of the best African safari destinations:
As we’ve mentioned, there are three main safari circuits, each one different to the last for you to choose from. To find out which one might be best for you and what you’re hoping to see, we have put together the highlights of each safari circuit along with the best times of the year to visit.
The most popular safari circuit in Tanzania, the Northern parks are perfect for first-time safari-goers and its landscapes will captivate you. Home to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Lake Manyara, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to observing wildlife. So, what’s in store?
One of the oldest and most popular safari destinations, the Serengeti is home to a wealth of wildlife and is famous for its annual migration of wildebeest and zebra. If you’re going to spot the ‘Big Five’...it will be here, although it can be challenging to find a rhino (only the black rhinos are found here) as sightings of them are pretty rare.
The scenic views of the Serengeti are also stunning. With impressive valleys and forests in the Western parts, grassland plains in South East and hills in the North, you could easily spend hours basking in the glory of nature.
The best time of year to visit the Serengeti will depend on what you’re hoping to see. Generally speaking, the best time to go to the Serengeti park is in the drier months (between June and October), but if you want to catch the great wildebeest migration, June and July are the months to aim for! On the other hand, if you are hoping to spot predators such as lions in action, January and February are perfect times to go.
Lake Manyara is the place to go if you want to catch lions climbing trees, lots of elephants and flocks of pink flamingos. Despite being one of Tanzania’s smallest parks, it has incredibly diverse vegetations and is the perfect place to observe herds of elephants on the move.
You can enjoy the beauty of Lake Manyara’s wildlife all year round but the best time to visit is between June and October. That said, if you visit during the wetter months, between November and May, you will be rewarded with the breathtaking scenery of its waterfalls and vegetation.
Tarangire is also well-known for its large herds of elephants and you can even catch small wildlife migrations if you get your timing right! This large park is a real crowd-pleaser as, during the dry season, there are approximately 250,000 animals to observe...which will certainly keep you busy!
The dryer months of June-October are the best times to visit as this is when you can get a glimpse of the wildlife migration.
An incredibly beautiful setting, Ngorongoro is another great place to try and spot the ‘Big Five’. Although it can be busy at certain times of the year, stunning views still await. Moreover, it is also a fantastic place to interact with the locals belonging to the Masaai tribe.
Any time of the year is good for experiencing the beauty of the Ngorongoro Crater, however, it may be best to avoid busy times of the year and go during the low season (April and May).
The quietest of the three safari circuits, Western parks are the ideal location for any experienced safari enthusiasts as there aren’t many tourists there, which is mainly due to the difficulty in reaching the area and the cost of flights. That said, if you are able to make it, you will not be disappointed. The best places to explore in the Western circuit are:
Many experienced safari enthusiasts would argue that Katavi is a quintessential park to visit. Although the park lacks tourists, it does not fall short of wildlife and action. Here you can see lions chase after herds of buffalo and study crocodiles and huge populations of hippos in all their splendour. Katavi is also unique in that crocodiles hibernate in dens here like nowhere else in Africa...it truly is a one of a kind park to experience!
The best time to go to Katavi National Park is between July and October for game viewing as, towards the end of the year, rivers and waterholes will dry up and force animals to travel down to the remaining river - giving safari-goers a remarkable view!
Now Mahale really is special. Home to the best place to observe chimpanzees, this is the ideal park if you are willing to trek! Of course, Mahale has more to offer than chimpanzees, such as crocodiles and hippos, but the chimpanzees are certainly at the heart of what makes Mahale a fantastic safari location.
Similar to Katavi, the best time to visit the Mahale National Park is from July to October. Although you will still be able to spot the chimpanzees during other times of the year, this will save you having to trek too far.
The Southern circuit in Tanzania is great for returning safari-goers and the Selous Game Reserve offers fantastic river and walking experiences. It is also possible to extend your trip and get a taste of the Northern parks if you have the time and budget. Here are our favourite Southern parks:
With low numbers of visitors, Ruaha is one of the best national parks if you’re looking to avoid busy safari areas. Not only does Ruaha boast incredible wildlife viewing and impressive scenery, but it is also possible to join a walking safari here where you can track wildlife with an experienced safari guide.
Like many of the other national parks, the best time to go on a safari in Ruaha is during the dry season (between June and October).
Similar to Ruaha, the Selous Game Reserve is also quieter than the Northern parks which is ideal for returning safari enthusiasts and those looking for a more remote and peaceful experience. Aside from the glorious game drives and walking safaris, there are plenty of opportunities to take your adventures to Selous’s lakes, streams and rivers.
The wildlife of the Selous Game Reserve is easier to observe in the dryer months of June- October where animals will cluster around the remaining water points.
Whether you’re looking for your first safari adventure or itching to return to the wild, we are here to give you the best safari experience. Learn more about our Tanzania safaris or take a look at our other safari destinations.
Also feel free to call our office on +44 1932 361807 (UK & Rest of the world) / 1 844 390 1798 (USA toll free) or pop us an email at [email protected], and we can help you to plan your bespoke Tanzania safari holiday with us – and by doing so, help us to support those most in need on the ground.