Why We Love Southern and Western Tanzania

17th May 2024

Southern and West Tanzania offer some of our favourite ever safari experiences, and are handily often overlooked for their northern rivals – the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater – meaning they’re relatively untrodden. Its four parks are Africa’s best kept secret. This is unlikely to last long… 

Nyerere National Park is a mere 40-minute flight from Dar Es Salaam, where many international flights land, which is only a further 20-minute hop to Zanzibar Island. It’s possibly the handiest safari destination on the planet for a safari and beach holiday. You would have thought Nyerere’s accessibility means it’s teeming with tourists, but it is simply so vast – at 50,000 square kilometres – that the park feeling busy would be impossible. It’s also got a few of Africa’s best camps, which combine the essence of old school safari magic with modern standards of luxury. Boating and walking safaris are brilliant here, and so usually-rare wild dog sightings are a real possibility here. 

boating in nyerere national par

© Nomad Tanzania

Ruaha National Park is the unearthed gem of Tanzania. It’s truly off the beaten track, with only a handful of camps spread over its baobab-studded, burnt-red earth terrain. With lion and elephant showdowns around every bush and world class big game sightings, it offers the luxurious privacy and wildlife experience of a private concession in somewhere like the Okavango Delta, but for quite literally half the price. Walking safaris are brilliant here, too. The camps are also second-to-none, cleverly weaving rustic charm with pinch-yourself wow factor. 

Go further inland from Ruaha, and you will find the wild west of Tanzania. After making the journey – probably the most remote flight you will ever take – you are greeted by a safari paradise in Mahale and Katavi

With a mountainous backdrop, laze on the beach of Lake Tanganyika in Mahale, with its transparent, glistening waters. That’s after you’ve trekked to see the protected troops of chimpanzees, which call the surrounding forest home. With only one lodge worth visiting – Nomad Mahale – you are truly detached from the world in this paradise. An hour spent with chimpanzees can be life-changing. 

jungle trek

© Nomad Tanzania

Katavi is an essential safari experience if you’re heading as far west as Mahale. This is truly untamed wilderness, as buffalo herds charge, hippos wallow in depleting water holes, and catfish flap around alongside them in dry season desperation. Katavi does not jolly Okavango Delta scenes with luscious greenery and skipping calves – this is primal Tanzania, and sees nature at its most raw, most extreme.