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Zanzibar is an archipelago of historic Indian Ocean islands, awash with atmosphere, intrigue, and idyllic beach experiences. There is masses of choice for accommodation, with rates across the spectrum, and plenty to see, do and discover. As the birthplace of the Swahili, site of Sultans' Palaces and renowned for its spice plantations, the little island republic of Zanzibar features larger than life on the world map.
The capital of Zanzibar, Stone Town, is a fascinating mix of culture, an extraordinary place to explore. The ancient maze of narrow streets is a hotchpotch of historic old stone buildings shaded by elegantly carved balconies, loggias and verandas that cling precipitously overhead.
With miles of palm-fringed shores, powder soft coral sands and gin-clear seas, Zanzibar lives up to the Indian Ocean island idyll. The atmosphere is compounded by a colourful Swahili culture where traditional wooden dhows sail beneath billowing lanteen sails on each far horizon. A great location for exploring, diving and snorkelling and with a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets
Located slightly off the main safari route, Tarangire National Park is a lovely quiet park in Northern Tanzania that is most famous for its elephant migration, birding and quiet authentic safari atmosphere. The majority of travellers to the region either miss out Tarangire altogether or venture into the park for a matter of hours leaving parts of Tarangire virtually untouched.
With a game viewing area that is roughly ten times the size of nearby Manyara and a concentration of game that is exceptional from July through to October, this seasonal park is a little gem on the Northern safari circuit, especially if you love elephants!
The South of Tarangire, is especially quiet, and lodges such as Swala and Olivers Camp are the perfect place to explore this remote area, and to really get away from any other travellers.
The Serengeti is Africa's most famous park. Renowned for the two million strong wildebeest 'Great Migration' and incredible concentrations of predators, the Serengeti is a park that guarantees an exceptional safari. The vast endless grass plains (Serengeti in Maasai) are the richest grazing grounds on the continent; home to the largest herds on the planet, and the highest concentrations of predators in Africa. Just focussing on the Great Migration however would not be doing the park justice for it is widely believed that if you took the Great Migration out of the park, the Serengeti is still the finest park in Africa.
Vast herds, huge predator concentrations, uninterrupted views, river crossings, huge lion prides, great leopard sightings, high concentration of cheetah, some of the best camps in Africa. What more do you want! The Serengeti is one of those very rare places that receives so many accolades yet manages to live up to all the hype.
Located in southern Tanzania, the Selous Game Reserve is Africa's largest game reserve and one of our favourite game viewing areas in Africa. It really is a hidden gem! It’s much quieter than the Northern parks, the rivers and lakes of the Selous are the lifeblood to a park that hosts phenomenal volumes of game including Africa's largest elephant and wild dog populations and probably it's largest buffalo, hippo, crocodile and lion prides.
Home to some of Africa's best boat safaris, walking and fly camping trips makes the Selous the park in Tanzania with the greatest diversity of safari activities. It is not only a great place for the safari enthusiast but also an amazing introduction to unspoilt Africa. Not only is the game viewing superb, especially in the peak season months, but the wilderness on offer is some of the most untouched in Africa and the sheer diversity of activities on offer makes for a superb safari experience
Located in the heart of the country, Ruaha is the 'other park' on the Southern circuit. Ruaha's relative inaccessibility has resulted in a park that takes far fewer tourists than the Selous and far fewer than any park in the Northern circuit. The rewards of travelling this far are a wild landscape with baobab studded hills and rocky escarpments, playing host to excellent levels of game including superb predator concentrations, huge elephant and buffalo herds and a cross over of game from southern and Eastern Africa.
Ruaha is certainly a wilder park than its neighbour the Selous, and ultimately has the better game viewing, albeit at the lack of any boating safaris. A huge plus of Ruaha is that there are very few lodges and yet the park is Tanzania's largest National Park. Overall an incredibly rewarding place to be on safari and although we consider Katavi to be Tanzania's best kept secret, Ruaha is certainly a more affordable contender.
PembaIsland lies 40km north of the 'main' island of Zanzibar, (Unguja). Pemba slightly smaller, but is much more rural than Zanzibar. Where Zanzibar (Unguja) is relatively flat, Pemba's hills and escarpments are green and picturesque; coloured by the rich greens of ten types of mangoes, and many hundreds of clove trees that have traditionally supported the fortunes of this island of spice. Although Pemba is surrounded by a fine coral reef and pristine seas, its shores are also flanked with dense mangrove forests, and the best beaches take a bit of finding and getting to.
Generally, however, the beaches here are nowhere near as good as Zanzibar's. Pemba has remained virtually unknown to the hordes of beach-bound tourists, with just a couple of luxury lodges, and the island is mainly visited by those who come to dive and snorkel its coral reefs and channels.
The Ngorongoro Crater is the best place in Tanzania to see the 'Big Five' and is an absolutely beautiful place to be on safari. Unavoidably, the Ngorongoro Crater is busy, at times very busy, but given it is one of the worlds most amazing natural wonders, it is going to be busy.
The Ngorongoro Crater and surrounding highlands are one of Africa's most beautiful regions. Volcanic craters form stunning backdrops to some of the richest grazing grounds in Africa. The most famous is without question the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera; home to the highest density of big game in Africa. With 600 metre high walls and a rich volcanic floor that plays host to the big five, the Ngorongoro is one of the continent's most famous safari destinations.
Mahale really is one of the most unique safari destinations in Africa. Located in the far west of the country Mahale lies on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and would stake its claim as one of the most exceptional destinations on the continent. Mahale is home to the best chimpanzee viewing in Africa and a host of activities that make this a destination in it own right. This remote national park also has one of the most beautiful camps anywhere in Africa and a safari experience to take your breath away.
Mahale has an absurdly good beach with gin clear waters; and the park itself would stake its claim as one of the most interesting destinations in Africa. What is certain is that there is nowhere else like Mahale, and that Greystoke is a truly magical lodge.
The Mafia archipelago is just 45 minutes flight south of Zanzibar; one remote, sleepy main island with even more remote and sleepy satellite islands to explore on boat trips and excursions. Wild and unkempt, the islands offer an alternative for those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Zanzibar, and the marine park preserves fantastic coral reefs for diving and snorkelling adventures to treasure. With its history, culture and stunning natural marine environment, Mafia is a fantastic option for those wanting to experience a different East African beach.
The central main island of Mafia is where most accommodation options are located, the smaller islands are fun to explore, with crumbling historical ruins now inhabited by a variety of different animals, from monkeys to wild pigs, fruit bats and bush babies.
Kilimanjaro is the world's highest free-standing, snow-covered equatorial mountain. Now charted and climbed; stories of her resident man-eating spirits are relegated to the realms of folklore. But Mount Kilimanjaro continues to preserve a mysticism that defies all recent knowledge of her slopes. Images of the towering snow-covered cone rising majestically from fertile green foothills have become a powerful motif of Tanzania's extraordinary extremes.
Few could deny a very distinct sense of awe when the cloud clears to reveal a glimpse of the towering peaks, shining bright in the African sun. The cloud-swathed peaks of Africa’s highest mountain inspire climbers of all ages and abilities. This magnificent, still partially ice-capped peak crowns fantastically lush volcanic slopes, with plenty of wildlife interest along the lower forest trails. Climbs can be arranged up a variety of different routes, and with various options for accommodation. It is worth having the time to enjoy the climb and acclimatise.
Located in the far West of the country, Katavi is a safari park for the safari enthusiast. Often combined with nearby Mahale, Katavi it’s a park that receives very few travellers due to its inaccessibility and subsequent expensive cost of flights. The reward of spending the time and money to get here, however, is one of the last places in Africa that can take you back to bygone era; Katavi is nothing short of magical.
Manyara is best used as a soft introduction to a safari. The scenic beauty of Manyara is the main reason to travel here and certainly deserves a visit. But the game viewing pales into insignificance compared to the quality of game viewing on offer in Tarangire, the Ngorongoro and the Serengeti.