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Tanzania is one of the most iconic safari destinations in Africa. It is famous for many things, but the annual Great Wildebeest Migration tops the list! During the migration, a herd of two million wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle make an epic journey from the Serengeti in the southern part of the country to the Ngorongoro Conservation area and then clockwise to the Masai Mara in Kenya before returning to the grasslands of Tanzania. The Great Migration Tours of Africa draw tens of thousands of tourists each year, but there is so much more to see on a safari to Tanzania! If you’re curious to learn more about your safari options, keep reading – we have the scoop for you.
Visiting Tanzania’s Three Regions
Region #1: Northern Tanzania
Tanzania has three main safari regions that attract countless tourists each year – the North, the South, and the West. Each region is special, with different topography and wildlife as well as activities. The most popular safari region is Northern Tanzania which is easily accessible from Kilimanjaro International Airport. This region is home to the famed Serengeti, Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lake Manyara. Together, these four parks make up one of the most popular safari circuits offered by Tanzania’s top safari tour operators.
As mentioned before, each park is home to a diversity of wildlife and different landscapes. Here is a quick breakdown of what each park has to offer and why you should visit them all on a safari to Tanzania!
- Serengeti National Park – by far the most popular safari location in the North, the Serengeti is home to Tanzania’s annual Great Wildebeest Migration. During this annual event, safari-goers can watch the wildebeest (and the wildlife that migrates along with them) on their circuit through the country in search of food. Zebra, gazelle, and even predators can be seen during a safari in the Serengeti.
- Ngorongoro Crater – this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the world’s largest intact, volcanic depression that isn’t filled with water. Visitors flock to this park to see the incredible views of the crater, as well as the estimated 25,000 large animals (including elephants, giraffes, lions, and black rhinos) that call it home!
- Lake Manyara National Park – located west of Arusha Town, Lake Manyara is home to one of Tanzania’s biggest elephant populations, as well as tree-climbing lions! The lake itself is a soda ash lake that attracts thousands of birds as well as pink flamingos, making the park a huge draw for birdwatchers.
- Tarangire National Park – top safari tour operators will always suggest a stop at this park during the Northern Circuit of Tanzania. Tarangire is located just south of Lake Manyara but is just enough off the beaten path that it is far less crowded than other parks. The park is a lovely respite for weary safari goers, who can take in the beauty of the baobab trees and watch lions, elephants, and even wild dogs without fighting crowds.
Region #2: Southern Tanzania
Since many visitors are mainly interested in Great Migration Tours of Africa in the northern part of the country, the southern region of Tanzania has fewer visitors. However, top safari tour operators recommend a trip to Southern Tanzania for those who’ve already been to the Serengeti or witnessed parts of the annual Great Migration. Tanzania’s southern region has two major destinations: the Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park.
- Selous Game Reserve – Selous is one of the largest protected areas in Africa. It encompasses 19,000 square miles but only hosts a few safari camps. Its sheer size and remote location make it feel much more remote and rugged than the camps in the northern parks! There are many species of wildlife to see in the Selous, including elephants, lions, leopards, black rhinos, hippos, buffalos, and endangered wild dogs. One of the park’s greatest draws is its photo safari camps, which offer visitors a unique way to experience the reserve’s wildlife.
- Ruaha National Park – this large park features baobab trees, grasslands, and rolling hills that lions, leopards, and wild dogs call home. Still, its remote location means that relatively few tourists visit each year. However, the park does boast luxury lodges as well as basic camping operations for those who are on safari to Tanzania. It is also the only park in the country that allows walking safaris, due to the lack of predators in the park.
Region #3: Western Tanzania
Western Tanzania is the least visited of the three main safari regions. The parks in this region are not easily accessible, which makes them extremely expensive to visit! To get to the two parks in this region, it will take four hours by light aircraft from the main hubs of Arusha or Dar Es Salaam. Flights are few and far between, but if cost is not a concern you will be rewarded with a safari experience unlike any other!
- Katavi National Park – This park is a park for the safari enthusiast! Katavi is famous for its enormous crocodile and hippo populations, as well as elephants, zebra, giraffe, topi, leopard, waterbuck, hyena, and wild dog. Daytime game safaris are popular in the park, but some camps offer walking safaris and campouts under the stars. This park is the one to visit if you want to experience a crowd-free safari.
- Mahale Mountains National Park – located on the sandy banks of Lake Tanganyia, this mountainous park is known for its chimpanzees! You can also see vervets and red colobus monkeys in the park’s dense forest. Although many visitors flock to Mahale for the primate viewing, the park also offers opportunities for kayaking, snorkeling, or fishing on the lake as well as forest treks to discover hidden waterfalls.
Whether you are interested in a Great Migration Tour of Africa or another safari to Tanzania, the country’s experienced guides know the ropes and can offer an experience you will never forget. So, get packing – Africa is calling!