Tanzania is often regarded as the quintessential Africa of old, where some of the names and places conjure up thoughts of legendry travel – Zanzibar, The Rift Valley, Dr Livingstone, Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika, Mt. Kilimanjaro to name a few.
By virtue of its history and abundant wildlife you would expect Tanzania to be at the top of everyone’s safari list, but that isn’t quite the case, as many say that it is over-shadowed by neighbouring Kenya, due primarily to the popularity of the Masai Mara and Amboseli, which are both easily reached from Nairobi.
Tanzania has two distinct safari circuits both served by regular internal flights from the capital Dar es Salaam. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, Dar, as it’s locally known, has become more difficult to get to as many airlines have stopped flying there. When we first visited in 2012 we were able to fly directly with BA, but now you have to go with Kenya Airways via Nairobi. This is an unnecessary inconvenience which, no doubt, puts some people off.
The two main safari areas are the popular northern circuit, which includes the Serengeti, Ngorongoro crater, Arusha and Tarangire National Parks, and the less visited southern circuit of the Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park. Further inland, and an extended part of the southern circuit, you also have the remote and less-accessible Katavi National Park. And, beyond that, on the western side of the country you have the expensive destinations of Gombe Stream and the Mahale Mountains.
Glossary of place names :-
Dar es Salaam
– thriving port and capital city, which is home to more than four million Tanzanians. The name actually means ‘haven of peace’ in Arabic, which is certainly not the case when you come back to the city after spending gloriously peaceful days in the bush!
– the ancient spice island once ruled by sultans and slave traders, the original port of entry into East Africa, David Livingstone’s main base when he was exploring the region and, of course, the capital Stone Town being the birthplace of Queen’s late front-man Freddie Mercury.
– the wide-open, endless plains of the Serengeti in the far north of the country stretch over the border into neighbouring Kenya where they become the Masai Mara
. The savannahs are an amazing location to see wildlife, which is why the area is so well known. The Serengeti is most famous for the 'great migration'; the annual circular journey of over two million animals. Not surprisingly it’s an extremely popular destination and, consequently, despite the abundance of wildlife, it’s a region of Tanzania that we’ve currently avoided.
– this famous crater is actually a collapsed volcano or caldera
, around 11 miles wide. The landscape within the rim is extremely varied, including forests, valleys, plains, rivers and lakes. It is an area rich in wildlife and, like the adjoining Serengeti National Park, attracts many visitors. The crater floor is dominated by a huge alkaline lake full of flamingos, surrounded by large herds of plains game, which provide easy targets for the high numbers of predators.
Arusha National Park
– a small, and far less crowded, park in the north of the country close to Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Tarangire National Park
– a little known park close to Arusha with large and varied herds of wildlife, and more than 500 recorded bird species.
and the Mahale Mountains
– two adjacent, rarely visited, parks, which jointly are one of the very few places in Africa where you can come face to face with wild chimpanzees. Gombe is Tanzania’s smallest park, and Mahale Mountains, on the edge of Lake Tanganyika is regarded as the most remote, which is why very few people visit it.
Click on the following place names
to access associated destination information.
Selous Game Reserve
– the location of our first safari in 2012.
Ruaha National Park
– our favourite destination to date, which we've now visited three times in 2012, 2014 & 2016, and with a further trip booked for 2017.
Katavi National Park
– our second destination in 2014.