Northern Tanzania Safaris in brief
The world-renowned parks in the north, around the Serengeti, rightfully earn their fame and especially if you are there to witness the herds of the Great Migration or take a balloon or riding safari across the plains. The escarpment of the Great Rift Valley creates a dramatic volcanic landscape, and some of the most fertile grazing grounds on earth; thus this is home to the largest herds on the planet, and the highest concentration of predators in Africa.
The Ngorongoro Crater is reliably rewarding for wildlife action, although it gets crowded and for this reason we recommend a brief visit, but the wider conservation area is fascinating and very worthwhile as a cultural and historical experience. This is the land of the Maasai tribe, who are allowed to live and farm within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in as traditional a manner as is possible for nomadic tribes in the modern world. It is also the site of Olduvai Gorge, where Professor Leakey discovered the earliest known footprints of hominoid man. This region is best combined with other northern Tanzanian parks, in a diverse itinerary.
These days all the camps and lodges are linked with a network of bush airstrips. The best camps and lodges, whether permanent or luxury mobile camps, (see definitions of various forms of safari accommodation below), have their own safari vehicles and guides. Where once we used to drive the entire route, these days we recommend driving around Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Mayara, where the roads are good and parks are accessible, then flying into the more remote regions of the Serengeti.
Northern Tanzania Safaris: Activites
Rules banning activities such as night safaris, walking, etc, are most severe in the central Serengeti and Ngorongoro. Rules are relaxed in the adjacent reserves, such as Loliondo in the East and the fabulous Singita Grumeti Reserve above the Serengeti’s Western Corridor, where night drives, walking and even horse riding safaris are allowed.
Night safaris have also been recently introduced in Lake Manyara and Tarangire. There are no options for boating safaris in Northern Tanzania
Southern Tanzania Safaris in brief
Tanzania’s lesser known southern parks are superb safari destinations in their own right, and combine well with each other to create exciting wildlife itineraries. The best regions here include the Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park and the more expensive and less-visited western areas of Katavi and Mahale Mountains National Parks.
These parks provide superb opportunities for walking, boating and fly-camping nights, and there are highly recommended, small and good quality accommodation options here.
Each of these four, key areas are incredibly different from each other; Selous is riverine and water-based, Katavi and Ruaha are vast, dry and more remote. Mahale Mountains is a walking park on the banks of Lake Tanganyika, and an incredible place to experience a chimpanzee safari.
How you do it, what you want to see, how long you stay and in what style are all questions for discussion. Most people tend to either go north or south, although there are options to fly from Arusha into Ruaha, and so you can enjoy the best of both!
Tanzania Safaris - a guide to safari accomodation
Accommodation choices range dramatically in style and attitude; with many almost as worthwhile and interesting as the wildlife around them! This applies across the board to mobile, tented, thatched or hotel, depending on location, management and style of the best places.
Mobile Fly Camp: A private, mobile camp, packed up and pitched on a fresh patch of wild park each day. Tents are usually small and fairly basic.
Semi-permanent tented lodge: A camp constructed with large, luxurious, semi-permanent tents; you will not witness their 'mobility'! The camp is prepared before the arrival of guests, and will not move during your stay. The benefit of the semi-permanent camps is that they pitch according to the seasonal position of the migrating herds, and set you right at the heart of the action. Not necessarily private to your group.
Tented Camp/ Lodge: A tented lodge or camp is a permanent structure, in which accommodation is under canvas. Most have solid, wooden floors, proper bathrooms, running water and will include a fully solid structure bar and restaurant area.
Lodge: The term ‘lodge’ is generally used for a smaller, often owner-run accommodation, as distinct from a large hotel. The lodges that we recommend are tend to be beautifully appointed and run, usually have swimming pools and almost all have their own resident vehicles, trackers and guides.
Hotels: The safari hotels tend to be much larger, and less personal and intimate versions of lodges. They tend not to have their own safari vehicles, although, as usual, there are exceptions!