If you love traveling, you must have heard of Tanzania safari parks. Here we have arranged top 10 Tanzania safari parks that you can consider in your travel list.
Tanzania is the best safari destination in all of Africa. Reserves occupy a quarter of the picturesque territory of the country. The magnificent mountains of Kilimanjaro and Meru, unique for their picturesque views and scale of the Serengeti, Ruaha, Mikumi National Parks … the list is endless, but first, stop your attention only on the best.
The vast expanses of Tanzania are enormous, and road travel can be exhausting. Therefore, plan to stay longer in a maximum of two or three parks. You will get more experience and will not return home exhausted.
When visiting parks, there are certain parks that should be strictly observed for your own safety. For example, keep your distance from animals and be quiet so as not to frighten them away. Strictly follow all instructions from park rangers and guides.
Do not leave your car in the park unless a place is specifically designated for this. Follow the paved paths so as not to harm the vegetation. And do not forget at the end of the tour to thank the driver and the guide with a tip (maximum $ 10 per day, too generous tips can put the next client in a difficult position).
Best Tanzania safari parks
Due to the vast expanses and abundance of fauna in the floodplain of the Mkata River, the most popular section of the Mikumi National Park, it is often compared with the more famous Serengeti Park.
From the flat tops of termite mounds, lions survey their grassy kingdom – and herds of zebras, wildebeests, impala and buffaloes galloping through its territory. Giraffes graze in the acacia groves bordering the Mkata River.
These green shaded islands are also loved by the Mikum elephants.
Bisected by the main road from Dar es Salaam to Iringa, Mikumi National Park is the most accessible wilderness area of 75,000 square kilometers, also encompassing its largest African refuge, the immense Selous Game Reserve, which stretches across much of southeastern Tanzania …
The trail-cut Mkata floodplain is perhaps the best spot in Tanzania to watch the mighty cana, the largest antelope in the world. Five kilometers from the main gate is a pair of ponds in which hippos live.
Their neighbors are constantly changing water birds, which also attracts a lot of attention.
No less impressive sight is the herds of horned and black horse antelopes grazing in the foothills of the mountains overgrown with miombo, towering on the border of the park with the Selous reserve.
It is home to over 400 species of birds, among them such bright permanent residents as the lilac-breasted Roller, the yellow-tailed starling horse and the buffoon eagle, which are joined by migratory birds during the rainy season.
Area: 3230 sq. kilometers, the fourth largest park in Tanzania, part of a large ecosystem, the center of which is the Selous Nature Reserve.
Location: 283 km west of Dar es Salaam, north of Selous, on the road to Ruaha, Udzungwa and Kitulo.
How to get there: There is a good asphalt road between Mikumi and Dar es Salaam via Morogoro, approximately 4 hours by car. Road connections to Udzungwa, Ruaha and Selous (with the latter only in the dry season).
Charter flights from Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Selous. Local buses run from Dar es Salaam to the park administration, where you can arrange a field trip.
Things to do: Guided trips and walks. Visit the nearby Uzungwa Nature Reserve or go to Selous and Ruah.
Best time to visit: all year round
Where to live: The close proximity of the park area to Dar es Salaam makes it possible to do without spending the night in the park and make day trips to Mikumi. The best solution to visit Mikumi would be to stay in Dar es Salaam at the Movenpick Royal Palm Hotel (formerly Dar Es Salaam Serena Hotel)where you can organize a comfortable car trip to the park, as well as inside it.
On the ground floor of this hotel is the office of a car rental company with a driver, in case you decide to travel on your own. In addition, you can find an agency specializing in safari in all Tanzanian national parks. But one of the most optimal options, especially for a full day trip to Mikumi, is to contact the concierge in the hotel lobby and simply express your wishes.
A day before the trip, you will meet your driver, see the car you are going to travel in, and agree on the departure time. The best time to check out is 5 am. At this time, the roads from the commercial capital of Tanzania are not overloaded with heavy traffic and you will literally get to the nearest large city of Morogoro in two and a half hours.
In Morogoro, you can have breakfast in an authentic Tanzanian cafe, if you forgot to pre-order a box lunch at the hotel. In this case, for $ 700, an acceptable amount for a one-day safari (payment regardless of the number of people, but consider the maximum capacity of the car) you will be provided with a personal driver with a car.
They will also save you the hassle of acquiring a permit to enter the park (for non-residents of Tanzania, a visit to the park will cost $ 50), and throughout the day you will be accompanied by a professional guide who is well versed in the habits and habitats of representatives of the diverse fauna of Mikumi.
If this is your first time on a safari, then without a guide in the national park you can admire the exceptionally picturesque landscapes. You can see the largest number of animals inhabiting the vast African expanses only if accompanied by a specialist.
There is one lodge, two luxury campgrounds, three campgrounds and self-service bungalows on the territory of the Park administration. In the city of Mikumi, on the border with the park, you can stay in guesthouses.
Tanzania’s oldest and most popular park is known for its annual animal migration, when six million hooves – only wildebeests, but also zebras with gazelles – join in the search for fresh pasture. And even at a time when migration is dying down, the opportunities for observing wild animals in the Serengeti are the most fascinating: huge herds of buffalos, small groups of elephants and giraffes, thousands and thousands of Cannes, swamps, congondes, impalas and gazelles.
Of course, the main sight is the hunting of predators. Pride of golden-maned lions feasts on the pastures of the vast plain. Between the acacias growing along the Seronera River. single leopards roam, and cheetahs like greyhounds roam the open plains in search of prey. All three African jackal species are found here, along with spotted hyenas and less visible small predators, from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful serval.
Hikers are also drawn to the beauty of the wooded hills, tall termite mounds, dust-orange fig trees and acacia groves along the river banks. Throughout the park, you can observe chaotically scattered granite heights, near which you can see gray hyraxes and bright agamas.
The feeling of space on the plains scorched by the sun seems endless. extending to a golden horizon shimmering in all shades. After the rainy season, this golden grassy expanse turns into a lush green carpet covered with wildflowers. Despite the immense popularity of the Serengeti, the park is so vast that you may be the only spectators when the pride of lions starts chasing their prey, relentlessly pursuing a future lunch.
The route and time of migration of wildebeest are impossible to predict. Wait at least three days to be sure to see them on your visit – or longer if you want to observe the main predators.
Area : 14 763 sq. M. kilometers
Location: 335 kilometers from Arusha, north of Kenya and west of Lake Victoria.
How to get there: regular and charter flights from Arusha, Manyara, Ngorongoro, Mwanza and other cities in Tanzania. Driving from Arusha via Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater takes most of the day.
Things to do: Sightseeing tours, hot air balloon safaris, view Maasai rock paintings and listen to the sound of musical rocks.
When to go: Watching Wildebeest During Migration – December-July. Observation of predators – June – October.
Where to live: at least two dozen lodges, permanent or seasonal campgrounds throughout the park, numerous public and private campsites. Many luxury lodges and campgrounds and outside the park.
During the dry season, countless herds of elephants gather on the territory of Tarangire, digging up a dried-up river bed in search of underground streams, buffaloes, impalas, wildebeests, bubbles, Cannes, zebras and gazelles crowd in dry lagoons. Outside the Serengeti ecosystem, this is the largest concentration of wildlife. A feast for predators.
In addition to mammals, the Tarangire National Park is also famous for its bird populations. Local swamps constantly attract about 600 species of birds. Here you can observe the heaviest flying bird – the African great bustard, and the world’s largest bird – the African ostrich, horned ravens, yellow-cheeked lovebirds, red-tailed weavers and gray starlings.
In empty termite mounds, dwarf mongooses and red-yellow beards often inhabit, attracting attention with loud cries, similar to the ticking of a clock. And in the branches of sausage trees – crucibles, leopards, Tarangire pythons and lions are hiding.
Area: 2850 square kilometers
Location: 118 kilometers southwest of Arusha
How to get there: just drive from Arusha or Lake Manyara by car to the main gate of the park, about 7 kilometers. You can climb a little further, for example, to the Ngorongoro crater and the Serengeti. Charter flight from Arusha and Serengeti.
Things to do: Go on a guided safari, visit Maasai and Baraiga settlements, and admire ancient rock carvings in Dodoma Road and the Kolo area.
When to go: You can visit the park all year round, but the dry season (June-September) is considered the most successful when there are most animals.
Where to live: two large lodges and several luxury campgrounds in the park. There are also about a dozen exclusive lodges, campgrounds and campgrounds close to the park’s borders.
Tanzania’s third-largest national park traverses the country’s remote southwestern plains in majestic seclusion, at the edge of the East African Rift Valley, ending in the vastness of Lake Rukwa, overhanging cliffs. Most of the territory is covered with intricacies of dwarf trees, groomed far and wide by large herds of shy, eland antelopes, black horse antelopes, hiding from the view of man.
But the main observation point for animals in the park is the Katuma River and its floodplains – Katavi and Chada. In the rainy season, these wide lowlands, fed by seasonal swamps and lakes, become a haven for a myriad of waterfowl and the place where the largest number of hippos and crocodiles are found.
And in the dry season, when the floods leave, Katavi takes over. Katuma, shrunken to a shallow, dirty stream, becomes the only source of drinking water for many miles around, and an incredible number of animals accumulate on the floodplains surrounding it.
The territory can gather about four thousand elephants and several herds of over a thousand buffaloes. The abundance of giraffes, zebras, impala antelopes and swamp goats means easy prey for the numerous flocks of lions and clans of spotted hyenas whose territories converge on floodplains.
A unique, inimitable show of wildlife in Katavi is the hippos inhabiting the park. Towards the end of the dry period in any river body of sufficient depth, up to 200 individuals can splash at the same time. And the more hippos gather in one place, the more rivalry between males flares up. Bloody battles for territory are a daily occurrence, and defeated males are forced to retreat humbly to the open plains until they have the courage to try their luck again.
Area : 4,471 sq. kilometer
Location: southwestern part of Tanzania, east of Lake Tanganyika. The administration in Sitalik is located 40 km south of the city of Mpanda.
How to get there: charter flight from Dar es Salaam or Arusha. A challenging but spectacular day trip by car from Mbeya (550 kilometers) or (dry season only) from Kigoma (390 kilometers). Mpanda can be reached by rail from Dar es Salaam via Tabora, then by public transport to Sita like, where field trips are organized.
Things to do: Hiking, driving, and camping safari. At Lake Katavi, visit tamarind, which is home to the spirit of the legendary Katabi hunter (after whom the park is named). Local residents still leave offerings near the tree, hoping to gain mood.
When to go: dry period ( May-October ). The park’s roads are often flooded during the rainy season, but from mid-December to February visiting there can be passable.
Where to live: Four luxury private campgrounds. On the territory of the administration of the park, there are a rest house, six tourist bungalows and camping, with access to water and kitchen utensils. Mpanda and Sitalik have clean hotels with all amenities.
Observation of nature begins from the moment when the aircraft landing gear touches the landing strip. A giraffe rushes by. Only legs and a neck flicker, but all this awkwardness is not devoid of some amazing elegance. Following the giraffe through the runway, zebras march in a line. In the distance between the trees, you can see representatives of the 12 thousandth elephant population.
The severity of the climate is mitigated by the Big Ruaha River, which rushes its waters along the eastern border of the park during the height of the rainy season. and after it dries up to scattered small reservoirs with precious moisture. In the dry season, risking their lives for a gulp of water, impala and other antelopes come to the river.
And the risk is great: not only from the large pride of lions that reign supreme on the savanna, but also from cheetahs, leopards and other large predators such as striped and spotted hyenas, as well as several notable packs of wild African dogs.
The variety of antelopes in the Ruach is extraordinary, turning into the acacia savannah of East Africa and a strip of miombo forests in the southern part of the mainland: Grant’s gazelles and small kudu at the very edge of their habitat, stately black and horse antelopes, as well as powerful large kudu, which have become the emblem of the park. with remarkable screw horns.
A similar duality is noted among 450 species of birds: the barbart (a beautiful bird with yellow-black plumage, whose continuous trills are heard from all African shrubs) can be seen as easily in the Ruach as the yellow-cheeked lovebirds and gray starlings, characteristic of central Tanzania.
Area: 20300 sq. kilometers
Location: Central Tanzania, 128 kilometers west of Iringa.
How to get there: scheduled or charter flights from Dar es Salaam, Selous, Serengeti, Arusha, Iringa and Mbeya. Year-round access by road via Iringa from Dar es Salaam (approximately 10 hours by car) via Mikumi.
Things to do: Excursions and walks through unspoiled shrubs. Inspection of artifacts and fossils of the Stone Age near Iringa, in Isimil – one of the most important prehistoric places in Africa.
When to go: observing predators and large mammals is the dry period ( mid-May – December ), bird watching, contemplation of the landscape and wildflowers is the wet season ( January-April ). Large kudu males most often go to open areas for review in June, in the month when the mating period begins.
Where to live: three luxury campgrounds. one of the medium-sized lodges, self-catering bungalows and two campsites in the park. Outside the park: two good quality lodges near the main access road, several hotels and guest houses in Iringa.
The national park is one of the closest to the “safari capital” of northern Tanzania – the city of Arusha. The main landscape attraction of the park is Mount Meru, the fifth highest mountain in Africa (4566 meters above sea level). This small park is a multifaceted gem: it offers the opportunity to explore the alluring diversity of animal habitats in a matter of hours.
The shade of the mountain forest is home to curious blue monkeys, colored turaco and trogons. This is the only place on the northern safari territory where you can easily observe the funny behavior of the acrobatic monkey – the black and white colobus. In the middle of the forest rises the breathtaking Ngurdoto Crater, to the steep rocky slopes of which a wide swampy plain, dotted with herds of buffaloes and African boars, leads.
Further north, grassy hills surround the serene beauty of the Momela Lakes, each of which shimmers in shades of green and blue. The coastal waters reflect the plumage of the flamingos that live here, creating a fantastic pink water feel. At the far ends of water bodies, shaggy waterbuck displays their large lyre-shaped horns. Giraffes glide gracefully along the grassy hillsides between herds of grazing zebras, and dikdiki, similar to overgrown hares, with eyes wide from fear, hide in the thickets of shrubs.
There are no lions at all, and elephants are rare, but in the evening or early in the morning you can observe spotted hyenas and leopards creeping in search of prey. In the predawn hours and the short moments of sunset, the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, which are only 50 kilometers away, open to your eyes.
Area: 542 sq. M. meters
Location: Northern Tanzania, northeast of the city of Arusha
How to get there: 40 minutes comfortable drive from the city of Arusha. About 60 kilometers from Kilimanjaro International Airport. A visit to the lakes, forests and Ngurdoto Crater is part of a half-day excursion program in addition to the extensive Tanzania safari.
Things to do: trips, canoeing, walking safaris (with the opportunity to see diverse flora and fauna), climbing Mount Meru (in preparation for the conquest of Kilimanjaro), beautiful views and places for a picnic.
When to go: Climbing Mount Meru – from June to February (it can be rainy in November). The best views of Kilimanjaro are in December and February.
Where to live: in the park, there are two private lodges, two rest houses, three public and two special campsites, two centers for a stop in the mountains. Not far from the borders of the park and in the city of Arusha there are many private lodges.
Small in size, but significant in importance, the Gombe National Park protects a thin strip of lush forest vegetation and a river valley with steep banks that goes back to the East African rift valley above the sandy northeastern shore of Lake Tanganyika.
It is home to the world-famous great apes – an accustomed chimpanzee society that has gained popularity thanks to the selfless work of Dr. Jane Goodall, whose study of monkeys, begun in 1960, is the longest study of its kind in the world.
The reserve has strict rules protecting you and the chimpanzee. To see chimpanzees, wait at least two days – this is not a zoo, so there is no guarantee that they will be shown to the eye every day.
Other primates are richly represented here: Pacific Anubis baboons, Red-tailed and Red Anubis (the latter often chased by chimpanzees) prefer not to leave the forest cover.
There are more than 200 species of birds in the park, from the iconic screamer eagle to the jewel-like red astrilds that flutter around the central area at ease. After sunset, the dazzling night sky is illuminated by the lanterns of hundreds of small wooden boats swaying on the lake surface like a floating city.
Area: 52 sq. M. meters, the smallest park in Tanzania.
Location: 16 kilometers north of Kigoma on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania. How to get there: From Kigoma to Dar es Salaam and Arusha you can get regular flights of local airlines. To Dar es Salaam and Mwanzu by rail, to Mbeyo by uneven dirt road, to Mplungu (Zambia) by ferry that runs once a week. Taking a local lake taxi, you can get from Kigoma to Gomba in three hours, on a rented boat – in less than an hour.
Activities: watching chimpanzees, hiking, swimming, snorkeling, visiting the place where journalist Henry Stanley uttered his famous phrase: “Dr. Livingston, isn’t it?”, Observing the work of the builders of the famous Arab single-masted ships.
When to go: In the rainy season ( February — June, November – mid-December) chimpanzees do not wander far, so they are best spotted, the best opportunities to admire the scenery during the dry season ( July-October, late December )
Where to live: One luxury tent lodge, self-service hostel, boarding house and campgrounds on the lake.
The surrounding landscape is reminiscent of the beachside idyll of a lost island in the Indian Ocean. But Mahale, like his northern neighbor Gombe, is known mainly for endangered species of East African wild chimpanzees, whose population consists of approximately 800 individuals.
Observing the Mahal chimpanzees is fascinating for visitors to the park. The guide’s gaze discerns last night’s nesting – vague outlines high on trees covering the sky. Half-eaten fruit and fresh feces become an important trail that leads deeper into the forest.
Butterflies flutter in the scattered rays of the sun. And suddenly you find yourself right among the chimpanzees: scattered in groups, they comb each other’s shiny skins, loudly wrangle or jump through the trees, swaying easily on the branches.
Mahale is also known as Nkungwe, named after the largest mountain in the park (2460 meters above sea level), which is considered sacred by the Tongwe people. The park’s stars are undeniably chimpanzees, but the mountain slopes are home to many other forest fauna, including red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys, and a kaleidoscopic variety of variegated forest birds.
You can follow the path of the ancient Tongwe pilgrimage to the spirits of the mountain. This path runs through the mountain belt of the rainforest, in which Angolan colobus live, and leads to the high ridges of grass covered with bamboo.
After that, you will swim in the incredibly clear waters of the longest, the second deepest in the world and the least polluted freshwater lake Tanganyika, which has about a thousand species of fish, and return back the same way as you arrived – in a boat.
Area: 1613 sq. M. kilometers
Location: Western Tanzania, on the border with Lake Tanganyika.
How to get there: By charter flight from Arusha, Dar es Salaam or Kigom. Charter transportation by private or park motorboats from Kigoma (trip duration about four hours). Once a week, a steamer departs from Kigoma (travel time: seven hours), then you need to rent a boat from local fishermen or agree with the park administration to rent a park boat and sail for about two more hours.
Things to do: observe chimpanzees (take at least two days to do this), hiking, campsite safaris, scuba diving, fishing.
When to go: The dry season ( May-October) is best for walking in the woods, although occasional rains between October and November are not a problem.
Where to live: Two seasonal luxury campgrounds. Two small guest houses, large campsite.
Where did the name “Kilimanjaro” come from – a secret covered in clouds. It is called the mountain of caravans, the mountain of light and, of course, the mountain of greatness. But in the language of the Chagga tribe that inhabits the foothills of the former volcano, there is not even a single name for the entire mountain range, only Kipoo, which designates a snowy peak.
Kilimanjaro attracts travelers with its accessibility to climb the mountain peaks. For their conquest, only a cane and a certain determination will be enough. If you manage to reach the highest point of Ugur, the point of Stella or the Gillman point located on the edge of the crater, then in addition to unforgettable impressions you will receive a certificate of conquering the mountain.
Climbing the slope of Kilimanjaro is a kind of excursion through the climatic zones of the planet, from the tropics to the Arctic. As you cross the park’s borders, the cultivated slopes of the mountain’s foothills give way to lush mountain forest, which is home to elephants, leopards, buffaloes, Tanzanian duikers and primates. Above is a place overgrown with heather, a giant veil of which is dotted with mysterious huge lobelias.
At an altitude of over 4,000 meters, only a few hardy moss and lichen species survive in the surreal mountain desert. And finally, the last traces of vegetation give way to a winter fairy tale of ice and snow – the majestic beauty of the panorama, which opens from the highest point of the continent.
Climbing the mountain should be done slowly in order to increase the acclimatization time and get the maximum chance to reach the top. To avoid altitude sickness, climb the mountain for at least five days, perhaps even more. Take your time and you will have time to enjoy the beauty of Kilimanjaro.
Area: 1500 sq. kilometers
Location: Northern Tanzania, near the city of Moshi.
Getting there: 128 km from Arusha. about an hour by car from Kilimanjaro Airport.
What to do: six main climbing routes and other, more difficult climbing routes. Day hikes on the Shira plateau or overnight hikes. Walking along the roads in the lower reaches of the mountain. The beautiful Chala crater lake on the southeastern slope of Kilimanjaro.
When to Go: Clear and warm from December to February, dry (and colder) from July to September.
Where to live: huts and campsites on the mountain. Several hotels and campsites outside the park in the villages of Marangu and Machame, as well as in the city of Moshi.
Every day, thousands of people drive a few kilometers from Mkomazi along with one of Tanzania’s busiest highways. And only a few know about the existence of this wedge of hilly arid savannahs, not to mention the fact that on its acacia-covered slopes and grassy plains there are large herds of giraffes, cannons, bubals, zebras, buffaloes and elephants.
In addition, the Mkomazi is a vital haven for two endangered large mammals: the black rhino and the wild African dog. Mkomazi is home to some inhabitants of dry areas rarely found in other parts of Tanzania. These are spectacular basics with fringe on the ears and horns stretched back, as well as stately small horny Kudu. The most unusual species is the gerenuk – gazelle, which features a thin long neck, a strange head “a la alien” and the habit of standing up on its hind legs to reach the leaves of acacia, inaccessible to other lovers of greenery.
The name of the national park, which has been a hunting reserve since 1951, comes from the word in the language of the tribe Paré, meaning “a spoonful of water”, that is, a small amount of it. Mkomazi is the ultimate dream for fans of watching birds, which number more than 450 species. Among them are inhabitants of dry areas such as a vulture guinea fowl with a greenish-blue breast and other large land birds, for example, ostriches, African great bustard, secretary bird and horned crows.
Area: 3,245 sq. M. kilometers
Location: northeastern Tanzania, divided between the administrative regions of Kilimanjaro and Tanga. Zange’s water gate is 112 km from Moshi, 550 km from Dar es Salaam and 5 km from the city of Same.
How to get there: The road to Mkomazi is easily accessible via Same town, located on the paved highway connecting Arusha and Dar es Salaam. The five-kilometer driveway to the park is unpaved. Charter flights land at several airfields.
Things to do: field trips, camping, walking safaris and bird watching.
When to go: late June – early September is the best time to observe large mammals and birds. The park is most picturesque from March to June.
Where to live: a temporary campground near the park administration. Specialized campsites with everything you need in the park. There are several small hotels and guest houses in Sam.
I hope now you have a clear idea of where to go and how to enjoy your Tanzania tour by visiting the top 10 best Tanzania safari parks.