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A Tanzania safari will be one of the most memorable vacations you will ever take. The Serengeti National Park is the undoubtedly one the most famous game reserves in Africa. Almost one third of Tanzania's land comprises national parks, game and forest reserves, and other protected area.
Tanzania also has stunning beaches and Indian Ocean islands, not least of which is Zanzibar. Zanzibar, with its beautiful beaches, rich culture and history, is a perfect compliment to start or end an African safari.
Tanzania game reserves are generally divided into the popular Northern Safari Circuit or the rugged Southern Safari Circuit. Most first time visitors to Tanzania will opt to visit the Northern Circuit that includes the incredible Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire; however, travellers wishing to avoid large groups of tourists will find the reserves in the southern part of Tanzania remote, rugged and vast.
The reserves in this region are individually amongst the most impressive safari destinations in Africa. Combined they form an incredible safari experience.
The Serengeti National Park is arguably the most outstanding game park in Africa. Besides hosting the annual wildebeest migration, its endless rolling hills and untouched landscape has some of the best game- viewing to be seen anywhere. The open savannah plains make game spotting a fun and rewarding experience. The Serengeti's unfenced borders with the surrounding reserves and the Masai Mara in Kenya make this vast eco-system a wildlife paradise.
The other reserves in the Northern Circuit are:
The best time to go to Tanzania will depend on whether you want to witness the famous Wildebeest Migration, prefer more solitude or just want to relax in Zanzibar and enjoy its tranquil beaches.
The southern part of Tanzania is not as popular or famous as the northern safari circuit, but it boasts the largest reserve in Africa, namely Selous Game Reserve, and has rugged unspoilt reserves with a fraction of the visitors that travel to the Serengeti. It also offers the opportunity of visiting the chimpanzees in Mahale.
The reserves in the Southern safari circuit are:
Less than an hour by light aircraft from Dar es Salaam, remote and wild; Selous offers a variety of exclusive and professionally run safari options, by foot, boat or vehicle.
The best time to visit Tarangire National Park is towards the end of the dry season (September to November), when animals from the surrounding ecosystem concentrate in large numbers near the Tarangire River, which is the only permanent water source in the area.
Saadani National Park is situated on the north coast of Tanzania, a place where the bush meets the ocean. It is easily accessible from Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar.
Located beneath the cliffs of the Manyara Escarpment, on the edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park offers varied ecosystems, incredible bird life, and breathtaking views.
Rubondo Island, in the southwest of Lake Victoria, is one of Tanzania’s smallest National Parks. It has the breathtaking natural beauty of a forest refuge with the relaxing tranquility of sandy lake-shore beaches. Rubondo is a paradise for bird-lovers, with nearly 430 species documented on the island. Only here can the visitor be sure of seeing Sitatunga and have the chance of observing small gangs of chimpanzees. It is also the natural sanctuary for African Grey Parrots.
Mikumi is surrounded by an arc of mountains and protected land, with the Uluguru Mountains to the east, the Mbesera, Madzini and Mazunyungu hills to the north and west.
Arusha National Park is on the slopes of Mount Meru and a short drive from Arusha. It can be used as an alternative overnight destination to Arusha on arrival or departure into Tanzania (Kilimanjaro Airport). Worth a short visit.
Serengeti National Park is one of the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world, and symbolises the classic African safari. With more than 2 million wildebeest, half a million Thomson's gazelle, and a quarter of a million zebra, it has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa. The Serengeti is also synonymous with the annual wildebeest and zebra migration.
Mahale Mountains National Park is only accessible via fly-in safari. The remoteness of this park is the very reason the chimpanzee population is still so untouched by human contact.
Ngorongoro Crater is a large and unbroken volcanic caldera. It is one of the most spectacular safari destinations in Africa, with incredible scenery and game viewing. The crater is 610m deep and the floor is 260km squared.
Gombe Stream National Park is located in western Kigoma Region, Tanzania, 20 km north of Kigoma. Established in 1968, Gombe is the smallest national park in Tanzania, with only 52 sq. km of forest running along the hills of the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika; it is accessible only by boat. Gombe Stream is best known as the place where Jane Goodall did her pioneering studies on chimpanzees, beginning in the 1960s and continuing until this day.
Katavi National Park is the third largest national park in Tanzania, yet it gets a fraction of the visitors of the Serengeti or even Selous. The reserve is predominantly high plains grassland, which becomes swampy wetland during the rains.