Going on safari in Tanzania is relatively straightforward. The country has a well developed tourist offering with easy and frequent access by plane, good internal flight options, a large variety of accommodation and English spoken as a second language by almost everyone. Bear in mind that if you’re planning to visit parks in the west of the country most roads are not tarmacced, making your safari weather dependent.
Tanzania’s geography is one of the most varied in Africa, and ranges from the Indian Ocean in the east to Africa’s highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro in the north, huge central plains and the great lakes to the east. All of this makes for multiple unique habitats, many of which are protected wildlife areas in the form of national parks and game reserves.
Tanzania is home to an estimated 4 million animals of over 430 species of classic African wildlife, and over 1,000 species of birds. Wildlife of note in Tanzania includes large elephant and lion populations, as well as huge herds of grazers in the northern plains.
The two most popular routes for overland safaris in Tanzania are the “northern circuit” and the “southern circuit”, and both take in a selection of Tanzanian national parks. The northern circuit is the more popular of the two – with dense, accessible wildlife and more crowds and higher prices – and takes in Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Arusha and Kilimanjaro National Parks, and the Ngorogoro Conservation Area. The southern circuit covers Ruaha, Mikumi, Udzungwa Mountains National Parks and the Selous Game Reserve, with the same breadth of wildlife but spread over a larger, more wild landscape, and sees a smaller number of tourists.
Tanzania Safari Highlights
- Get way out west at the Mahale National Park, a little visited park on the banks of Lake Tanganyika and home to several families of habituated chimpanzees.
- The great migration – one of natures greatest shows – takes place each year in northern Tanzania with 1.5 million wildebeest and 1 million other grazers and predators travelling the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.
- The Serengeti is one of the best balloon safari destinations in the world, with views of wildlife dotting the savannah as far as the horizon in all directions.
- A pre- or post-safari break on the beaches of Zanzibar to soak up the sun and take a dip in the idyllic Indian Ocean.
Best Time To Go On Safari In Tanzania
Tanzania has a year-round tropical climate, though there are some large regional variations. The coast is generally warmer and more humid than the interior, with the monsoon rains bringing two rain periods – the long rains from March to May and the short rains for November and December.
The best time to take a safari in Tanzania is from June to October when the rains have finished and the temperature is at it’s coolest. However, this is peak safari season with busy national parks and safari lodges in high demand. If you can put up with muddy – and occasionally impassable – roads, then the short rain season means decent discounts on safaris across Tanzania.
National Parks In Tanzania
Tanzania is about as good as it gets when it comes to national parks for safaris. Read our overview of national parks in Tanzania, or click on a specific Tanzanian national park in the below list to read more about that park:
- Arusha National Park
- Gombe Stream National Park
- Katavi National Park
- Lake Manyara National Park
- Mahala Mountains National Park
- Mikumi Nationanal Park
- Ngorogoro Crater National Park
- Ruaha National Park
- Rubondo National Park
- Saadani National Park
- Selous National Park
- Serengeti National Park
- Tarangire National Park
Safari Lodges In Tanzania
Tanzania has a wide choice of safari accommodation – from budget camping opportunities to luxury tented accommodation. As a rule prices at safari lodges in Tanzania tend to be on a full board basis, and also include game drives and park fees. Be sure to check with the accommodation before booking exactly what’s included. Beach accommodation in Tanzania is generally bed and breakfast.
Tanzania Safari Tours
There’s no shortage of companies offering safari tours in Tanzania, and budgets of all sizes are catered for. Check out our reviews of safari tour companies in Tanzania.
Tanzania Safari Resources
Have you been on safari in Tanzania? We’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions! Please get in touch.
Tanzania is about as good as it gets when it comes to national parks for safaris. From desert-island national parks in Lake Victoria in the north, to mountainous chimp-filled forests around Lake Tanganika in the west, to the world-reknown Serengeti and Ngorogoro parks in Tanzania, there’s plenty to see. And if it’s the big 5 you’re after, there are plenty of national parks to spot them when on safari in Tanzania.
Use the above map to locate national parks in South African. Click the safari icons to see more info about each national park and zoom and scroll the map for more details. Read overviews of each South African national park below.
Top National Parks in Tanzania
Arusha National Park
Containing the often overlooked Mount Meru, with lakes and a large wildlife filled crater.
Gombe Stream National Park
52 km sq. of pristine forests creeping down to a huge lake.
Katavi National Park
Woodland area with a lake and floodplains.
Lake Manyara National Park
Forest surrounding the eponymous lake.
Mahala Mountains National Park
Lushly forested mountains descending to the shores of Lake Tanganika.
Mikumi Nationanal Park
Ngorogoro Crater National Park
8,30 km sq. of highlands and plains surrounding a giant extinct volcano crater.
Ruaha National Park
40,000 km sq. of national park with Ruaha river along with several sandy rivers.
Rubondo National Park
Covering 450 km sq. in total area, much of Rubondo is the waters of Lake Victoria with one dense forest-covered island and a number of small islets. Read a full overview of Rubundo National Park >>
Saadani National Park
1,000 km sq. Costal wilderness with deserted beaches.
Selous National Park
45,000 km sq. Rufiji river and lakes surrounding woodland.
Serengeti National Park
14,763 km sq. Hilly scrub lands with endless plains.
Tarangire National Park
Boabab studded woodland aorund the Tarangire river.
Whilst self drive safaris are an option in many national parks in Tanzania, this can be complicated by the need for an official guide. Given this fact, you’ll no doubt need to do a little research into the most suitable safari tour companies in Tanzania before arrival in the country.
Have you been to a national park in Tanzania, or got some useful information you’d like to share on the topic? Please feel free to get involved in the comments section below.