Our Quick Guide to Safaris in Tanzania
The second largest country in East Africa, Tanzania, also happens to be a leading safari destination. The country’s natural beauty and abundant wildlife has been well established by David Attenborough through his popular TV serials over the years.
To see these spectacles with your own eyes, one has to be in the middle of things, to enjoy a piece of the action. In order to get the most out of your personalized Tanzania safari holidays, go through this ultimate safari guide and experience an adventure of a lifetime.
What to bring for a safari in Tanzania
Carrying a proper first aid kit is essential not only for comfort and safety, but also to enhance the total safari experience. As a general rule, even though some resorts in Tanzania offer one day laundry service, bring only clothing that you don’t mind getting soiled.
Avoid bright colours and pack loose fitting garments which can be worn in layers. Safari activities vary with terrain, carry good hiking boots for the long game walks. Insects are a concern in most places in Tanzania, so carry an insect repellent. In addition, your list should include hat, sunglasses, binoculars, fleece jacket, swimsuit and a thin waterproof raincoat.
Tanzania requires a visa for foreign visitors to cross the border. You can apply and get an e-visa online following a few steps.
Best time to visit Tanzania
Tanzania has so many attractions in different areas at different times of the year that there is no right or wrong time to visit this country. However, as a thumb rule, the dry summer season, which extends from late June to October are said to be the best months for a safari.
The hot weather increases the demand for water, as such large herds of animals tend to congregate at the waterholes. This in turn attracts predators, and the cat and mouse game played out on the bush makes for a thrilling wildlife experience.
It is but natural that such thrilling sightings will attract people in large numbers, something which select nature lovers are adverse to. Should you wish to avoid the crowds, consider visiting Tanzania in the green season from March to May, or the shorter dry season from December to February. Not only game viewing will be crowd free, you save quite a bit of money on the accommodation and activities as well.
Best parks to visit in Tanzania for safaris
Some of the popular safari parks of Tanzania are summarised here, with their potential merits, to make the process of planning easy for you.
Serengeti National Park
This famous park, known for its exceptionally high game density, needs no introduction to wildlife lovers. Although the peak season here is from June to September, those wishing to witness the Great Migration should head to the western periphery to enjoy this spectacle during May and June. As this event is extremely popular, visits should coincide accordingly, and booked well in advance.
There is high drama played out on the southern plains of the Serengeti during the calving period from late January to early March. The fragile new-borns make easy targets for the hungry lions and cheetahs who keep an eager eye out for them.
The wet season from March to April sees short and sharp showers, but lures a large number of migratory birds. With practically no crowds, the Serengeti becomes a haven for birdwatchers.
Except a fair number of vehicles in the main crater during the dry season from June to October. November onwards, right until May, is the green season when visitors are few and game viewing is still good. The wet season from March to May attracts the migratory birds in abundance. Wildlife gets spread out, but birding is exceptional.
Selous Game Reserve
For excellent wild dog and big cat sightings, the dry and cool months from June to November are perfect in the Selous Game Reserve. Most of the water dries out and animals collect on the remaining sources, thus making for enthralling animal viewing experience. Animals spread out during the wet period of March and April, and activities are restricted, but the die hards can still see the newborns in action and the return of the migratory birds.
Tarangire National Park
The water shortage from June to November draws many animal species to drink at the only available source, the Tarangire river. Obviously, because of the good sightings, crowds are also good. However, one can still have an intimate and exclusive experience in the southern part of the reserve, which has fewer people. The wet season from March to April also has its plus points. No crowds, generally good animal sightings and the migratory feathered friends return to the park.
What you will see on a Tanzanian safari
With almost a third of the country under protection, Tanzania’s sheer density of plant and animal life makes it a haven for nature enthusiasts. An astonishing 20% of the large mammal population of Africa, is located across the seventeen national parks of Tanzania spread over 42,000 square kilometres. For animal viewing, Serengeti is considered to be the best bet.
Big herds of buffalo, elephants, giraffe and antelope like kongoni, topi and eland are found throughout the year. All the three members of the big cat family lion, cheetah and leopard are seen easily during the dry months.
The highlight of a Tanzanian safari is undoubtedly the Great Migration, where one can witness millions of wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle moving across the plains. Apart from the big cats, their other predators include spotted hyena, jackal and the monstrous Nile crocodiles.
Where to stay in Tanzania for best wildlife experience
After an exciting day of game drives and nature walks, sometimes in a challenging environment, there is nothing better than returning back to your resort and receiving a warm welcome by a cheery attendant with a refreshing drink in hand.
Your choice of accommodation in the wilds of Tanzania, can easily make or break your dream vacation.
Discerning travelers are advised to choose lodges which allow for easy access to the animals and comfort and ease back in the rooms. Depending on the budget one can opt for camping, lodge or luxury safaris. These offer a well stocked bar, a delicious three course meal or buffet as per request.
Here is a handy guide to help you arrive at a decision.
- Camping: this provides the quintessential safari experience starting at 100$ pp/per night. These can be permanent or mobile.
- Lodges: equivalent to a deluxe western hotel, including advance mode of transportation. 250-300$ pp/ per night.
- Hotels: this lavish opulence with spa and lavish dining with private transport for game viewing. 300$ and up
- Resorts: state of the art facilities,guided tours, private sit outs. From 350$ and up.
- Chalets: ensuite facilities, private decks for game viewing, warm comfortable cottages. From 220$ pp/ per night.
Enjoying a reputation of the leading country for wildlife exploration, Tanzania offers unmatched safari experiences in its National Parks. In fact, few other destinations in Africa can rival the country’s landscapes and the winning combination of unparalleled game viewing.