2020 Tanzania Safari | Tanzanian Safaris and Tours

Tanzania is a big country, and the main safari destinations can be split into the north (The Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater) or the south (The Selous and Ruaha). Most tourists flock to the north as it is comprised of the famed highlights of Tanzania – and rightly so as the wildlife is phenomenal. However, the fame of the north can often overshadow the south, which in our view is one of East Africa’s best kept secrets. West Tanzania is also an option, though this is extremely expensive to get to and hardly any tourists do as a result. As a rough guide - when 70% of travellers head to the north, 25% go to the south, and only 5% or less venture to the West.

best tanzania safari parks

A guide to Northern Tanzania

Northern Tanzania is expensive (comparatively to the south) but offers unrivalled wildlife viewing and is completely iconic.

  • The Serengeti (which borders the Masai Mara in Kenya) is world-class and home to The Great Wildebeest Migration as well as the biggest concentration of predators on the planet.
  • The Ngorongoro Crater has a huge amount of the big 5 in a unique and dramatic setting. Surrounding the crater, the Ngorongoro Highlands is home to colourful Masai culture and rolling coffee farms.
  • Tarangire National Park is another option in the north with night drives, fantastic views and a colossal number of elephants. However, it is more of an "add-on" park to the main northern circuit of the crater and Serengeti. 
  • Lake Manyara is another smaller park with flamingos, fantastic land-birdlife and some truly beautiful spots for safari. It can be seen in an afternoon rather than as the focus of a trip as it is small. 

When the Migration is at its best, the vehicles are at their worst. You can avoid it with careful planning, so let us know if you want to minimise vehicle sightings and we will get you to the hidden spots in the Serengeti.” Ted, Africa Expert 

A guide to Southern Tanzania 

The South of Tanzania offers better value accommodation than the north, a less touristy experience but is not a classic ‘big 5 safari destination’.

  • The Selous Game Reserve is a huge dry season park offering boating, walking safaris and fly-camping with excellent wild dogs. 
  • Ruaha National Park is a beautiful red-earth park where you can also enjoy walking, fly-camping, super prides of lions and huge buffalo herds. Ruaha is home to 10% of the whole world’s lions, so to say the wildlife here is not as prominent as in the north could be a mistake!
  • The west comprises of Katavi and Mahale which are expensive to get to, but because of their relative inaccessibility offer a simply magical experience alone in the wilderness, where you can trek chimps in the Mahale Mountains and see some of Tanzania’s most dramatic safari scenes in the depths of Katavi’s harsh dry season. 

"The south is king. Great value accommodation, authentically wild parks, no other vehicles, fantastic wildlife, close to the beach… I am glad people do flock to the north, otherwise the very thing which makes the southern parks so special will be lost." George, Africa Expert

The Great Migration 

The Great Wildebeest Migration is a spectacular event where 2 million grazers circle the Serengeti all year round in search for fresh pastures. Some months are better than others to see the herds. The best times are when they are the most concentrated in certain areas:
  • From July – October the herds are crossing the Mara River in the northern Serengeti. This is where you get those dramatic Attenborough-esque scenes of wildebeest hurtling themselves into crocodile infested waters.
  • February is when calving season is in full swing and this is the best time to see the herds in their full glory as they gather in their thousands on the endless plains of the south. February is the only time of year you are guaranteed to see the herds if you stay where they are predicted to be, ad they never fail to gather in the Ndutu plains at this time of year.

We would advise visiting at these times if the Migration is on your bucket list. However, the Migration is a complex and unpredictable event. It is important to know the pros and cons for each time of year, which you can find in our month-by-month migration blogs below.

"In July through to October, the wildebeest do not cross over the Mara River to carry on into Kenya and cross back at the end of this period – a common misconception! It is not as rigid as this. They may mull around the riverbanks for days then suddenly cross… Only to cross straight back again… Seeing a crossing is for the most patient (and lucky!) travellers." Kitty, Africa Expert   

best tanzania safari lodges

Tanzania Safari Accommodation

Tented Camps or Non-tented Camps

A common misconception is that there is a massive difference between tented camps, and non-tented options. The assumption is that tented lodges are “basic” whilst wooden structured, solid lodges are more luxurious. In truth, some of the most luxurious camps in the country can have a canvas covering… As well as a pool, amazing food and all the amenities in the world. Likewise, some non-tented options like the Serengeti Serena offer permanent, solid walls – and granted - a pool, but the quality of the safari experience is somewhat under par in comparison to some excellent, authentic, safari-mad tented camps like the fantastic Lake Manze. 

Mobile tented camps

The one exception is when it comes to “mobile tented camps”. Located in the Serengeti, they move two to three times throughout the year to be well positioned for the Great Migration. Because of their mobility they do not have pools, plumbing (though you still get hot showers), electricity is limited (but there!) and there are no solid structures, so you are most definitely in a tent… Even though it is a very luxurious tent nonetheless. The “camping” style of the mobile camps does not mean that they aren’t of the highest quality, but if you like big rooms and even bigger pools, then they may not be for you. It is about as authentic as it can get though, and we would really recommend them.

This is why when it comes to safari it is so important to talk to an expert about their experience in these different lodges, as photos can be deceiving and atmosphere, food, quirks and character can make or break your trip. 

"Glossy luxury is nice, but I always think it is a shame when people venture on an East African safari without experiencing what it originally was – authentic tiny camps with an amazing spirit, good food, campfire tales and an indescribable charm. A combination of the two – starting with back to basics and finishing with a nice pool is spot on." Sam, Africa Expert

Hand Picked Tanzania Itineraries

The cost of a safari in Tanzania 

Per person per night:Tented, comfortable yet basic safari accommodation option prices begin from around $500 per person per night, and exclusive luxury (with all the pools and mod cons) begins at $1,200 per person per night. 

Per person per trip:Generally, safaris in Tanzania begin from around $4,000/£3,500 per person if you were to go on a 4-night safari in southern Tanzania, and head over to the beach for a few days. All of our trips include internal flights, transfers, guides and your game viewing activities, but they exclude international flights. Most of the time all drinks and food are also included, but some camps are full board which means drinks are on top of this. 

Special offers: We have been working with and re-visiting lodges in Tanzania for 20 years, so have access to unique special offers. Please get in touch, and we can build you an itinerary which takes advantage of these deals. Please also see our itineraries page for more specific costings – these are just a starting point though, as we tailor all our itineraries exactly to you. 

"Southern Tanzania is far better value than the north! The flights are cheaper and quicker to the beach and you get a lot more for your money in terms of luxury. I think it is the best safari honeymoon destination in Africa – time and money usually spent on flights from safari to beach can instead by used on quality accommodation throughout the whole trip…" Dave, Africa Expert 

The best time for a safari in Tanzania 

Here, there is no very straight forward answer... You can go at any point in the year, but for each month there are certain pros and cons to be considered. It is best to chat to us, and we can discuss your options. 

  • April and May is when the heavy rains hit East Africa and some camps close during this period. 
  • The main dry season is from July to October and this is the most popular time to travel to tick the big five off your list, but other times of year also have their individual benefits. 
  • Going off-peak season in June or November can reduce the cost of your trip, avoid the crowds and yet still offer a wholly phenomenal safari experience.

If you are a birder or photographer, or just a lover of amazing scenery then visit Tanzania in June. This is just before the peak season so the wildlife is amazing, but because it is just after the long rains then the parks are bursting with life and very beautiful. Also helps that there are loads of free night special offers, and generally in early June the rates are slashed in comparison to July. Sam, Africa Expert

Tanzania: Safari and Beach – Zanzibar

Tanzania is probably one of the best and easiest safari countries to combine the beach with. Our favourite beach hideaway is Zanzibar, due to its diversity in lodgings, activities and not to mention its beautiful white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. With plenty of internal flights from all the national parks, Zanzibar is accessible with short flights.

Other islands to consider are Pemba Island, Mafia Island and for those seeking a caste away experience, take a look at Fanjove Private Island

For those who require exclusivity fit for a movie star then there is nowhere else but Mnemba Private Island.

"Zanzibar has its beautiful spots of Indian Ocean magic, but you have to be careful as it can be extremely tidal – to the point where the sea doesn’t start for a mile from the beach…  There are a few lodges which avoid this, so call us up and we can chat through the best options with you." Marc, Africa Expert 

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Tanzania Safaris FAQs

Tanzania Fly-in Safaris vs 4x4 Safari Tours

For the most part, the parks of Tanzania are best visited by flying into your different destinations. Southern Tanzania is completely made up of fly-in destinations, as the Selous and Ruaha are relatively inaccessible otherwise. For Northern Tanzania, we like to recommend a half drive and half fly-in safari, as this provides a varied experience, but also in the Ngorongoro Crater, a lot of the time driving can be a cheaper than flying from Kilimanjaro airport after your international flight. Your guide would take you from stop to stop, so don’t worry about ever being stuck on the ground at any point on safari.

What to pack and what to wear on safari in Tanzania

Advisable packing and clothing are so changeable depending on what you are doing, where and when you are going. The best thing to do is to give us a call and discuss your plans. However, we do have a pre-departure page you can have a peek at for general advice. Is it your first safari? Check out our blog on useful tips for first time safari goers..

Where to fly into for a Tanzania Safari?

There are two main international airports in Tanzania; Mount Kilimanjaro (JRO) and Dar es Salaam (DAR). Most flights are not direct, and the best ones have only one connection if coming from the UK or the US.

African Safaris: Tanzania or South Africa Safari?

Tanzania has taken a relatively high-quality, low-volume approach to safari tourism, with emphasis on excellent accommodation, service and guiding, rather than a high volume of tourists. This makes for a much better, more exclusive and intimate safari experience than in other countries which have taken a more mass-market approach such as South Africa. The Kruger can get exceptionally busy, and the other reserves which take a more high-quality approach are ludicrously expensive. You can get a really high-quality safari in Tanzania which you simply can’t get in South Africa for the same money.

I want to push the boat out – where are the best luxury safari holidays in Tanzania?

  • The Serengeti - With its reputation as one of the most iconic safari parks in Africa comes seriously luxurious lodges, not to mention the most spectacular natural event in the world, the Great Wildebeest Migration. If you want unrivalled safari action, there is nowhere better in Tanzania than the flat acacia dotted Serengeti plains.
  • Ruaha - True, wild and unspoilt African bush, Ruaha is perfect for a real safari enthusiast looking for superb and varied wildlife without the interruption of the sometimes chaotic tourism of the north. Ruaha is home to some of the best lodges on the continent for a truly authentic, yet luxurious safari.
  • Ngorongoro - As the 8th wonder of the world, the crater itself is wondrous to behold. If you add into the equation the huge concentrations of wildlife all within its dramatic cliff edge walls, you can soon see why the crater is referred to as the cradle of mankind.

Why Tanzania Odyssey?

Our website speaks for itself; we are passionate about giving honest personal opinions and crafting truly personalised itineraries. We couple our in-depth, first-hand knowledge forged from 20 years experience with each client’s individual requirements to tailor unique and unbeatable experiences in Tanzania and throughout the rest of Africa.

Our experience goes above and beyond most tour operators, as our MD Marc Harris is a judge of the Safari Awards and is a former director of African Travel and Tourism. Annabel Skinner is also a director and wrote the Cadogan Guide to Tanzania (see below!) so rest assured every single one of our team is fully up to date with the world of Tanzanian safaris from our combined knowledge, as well as from visiting and revisiting Tanzania every year.

Client Reviews

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Tanzania Safari | Tanzanian Safaris - Reviews

We had a fantastic holiday organised by Tanzania Odyssey. The web site was the best travel website we have ever used - very informative and easy to use and includes the prices of each property. Our travel consultant, Dave, was very pleasant and helpful and gave us useful advice to give us exactly the holiday we wanted. Highly recommended.
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Map of Tanzania Tanzania - Serengeti Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania - Lake Manyara Tanzania - Tarangire Tanzania - Kilimanjaro Tanzania - Selous Game Reserve Tanzania - Ruaha Tanzania - Mahale Mountains Tanzania - Katavi Tanzania - Zanzibar Tanzania - Pemba Island Tanzania - Mafia Island Tanzania - Dar es Salaam Tanzania - Arusha
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