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- Katavi National Park
- Lake Manyara National Park
- Mafia Archipelago
- Mahale Mountains
- Ruaha National Park
- Selous Game Reserve
- Serengeti National Park
- Tarangire National Park
- Zanzibar - East
- Zanzibar - North
- Zanzibar - North East
- Zanzibar - Stone Town
Tanzania - Travel Essentials
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Tanzania Safaris - Wildebeest Migration
What distinguishes a Tanzania safari from safaris in South Africa is the migration, one of the greatest sights in Africa.
Big Game can be seen all year round in Tanzania but it's the Wildebeest Migration in Tanzania which draws safari enthusiasts from around the world to witness this iconic natural spectacle.
Planning a Tanzania safari is largely about planning things around the great migration.
When is the best game viewing season in Tanzania?
The Wildebeest Migration in Tanzania can be seen all year round in Tanzania.
In the Serengeti, between mid December and early March, the plains of the southernmost areas of the Serengeti offer incredible game viewing as this is when vast herds of Wildebeest and Zebra arrive on these nutrient rich plains (following the shorter rains in November) to come and calve.
This makes for spectacular and dramatic game viewing.
In April & May, these herds will have moved off to the Western Serengeti, crossing the Grumeti River.
These crossings can be as dramatic as the ones into the Masai Mara (later in the year), but the window for seeing them in April and May, with potentially inclement weather can make it a bit risky.
This time of year does have the advantage of far fewer visitors however.
Outside of these months, there really is little point in travelling to this Western Corridor.
Come June time, the herds will split up as they make their way North.
Smaller groups of Wildebeest & Zebra travel up via the Central areas of the Serengeti, through the Loliondo area, heading for the Mara Triangle region where these herds will settle on vast open plains from August through to early November, before they start their journey south again.
The second split sector passes outside the Serengeti National Park and through some exclusive private concessions and some remote areas re-joining the splinter groups in the Mara Triangle area around the end of July and early August.
Some of the best luxury safari camps in Tanzania are found on this route such as Singita Sasakwa, Singita Sabora and Singita Faru Faru.
It’s during the months of August –October that these herds cross the Mara River and its tributaries.
These river crossings are where the spectacular river crossings occur. Only the best luxury camps and lodges in the Serengeti are located here.
Tips for Migration Safaris
Many get blinkered by a desire to see the Wildebeest Migration on a Tanzania Safari.
If you have not been on safari before, we recommend trying to see as wide a variety of wildlife as possible rather than obsessing on river crossings (as exciting as they are!).
River crossings can be a waiting game sometimes, and sitting by the riverbank waiting for the animals to decide when to cross means missing the chance to see plenty of other wildlife out there.
Should you wish to know more information on the Wildebeest Migration and other wildlife, please get in touch with our specialist staff who have a thorough understanding of the movement of these and other wildlife.
Tanzania & Zanzibar Holidays
A typical holiday to Tanzania & Zanzibar will usually include a combination of Tanzania safari and beach holiday in Zanzibar, with the option of a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro for the very adventurous.
Planning a Tanzania safari requires a great deal of care and on the ground knowledge, especially if including the spectacular parks of Northern Tanzania.
To do this successfully, you really need the expertise and guidance of a specialist who can help you plan your perfect Tanzania safari, which is where our in depth knowledge and experience in East Africa comes in.
Specialist knowledge & experience
Speak to one of our Tanzania specialists and you will be speaking with someone who has organised hundreds of holidays to Tanzania & Zanzibar and who knows the destinations, camps and country inside out.
Not sure which camp to choose in the Serengeti, where the migration will be at what time of year or which is the most suitable resort in Zanzibar for you?
Give us a call and let one of our Tanzania experts guide you in the right direction and help create your perfect Tanzania adventure.
Tanzania's Northern Circuit includes the Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater (in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area NCA) and of course the Serengeti National Park.
The Tarangire National Park is a small but incredibly beautiful National Park which comes into its own between the months of June and December.
The peak months are August-October when large herds of Elephant migrate back into the park, boosting the permanent population enormously, in search of water.
This park is home to all the big cats and uniquely is home to the quite dramatic and beautiful Baobab Tree.
Lake Manyara National Park is a gorgeous little park which sits at the foot of the Great African Rift Escarpment. This park offers more lush vegetation and was made famous for its tree climbing Lions and Elephant. It’s a pretty little park, worth a few hours exploring around if you have the time.
Sadly, when time and money are short, this park becomes expendable in favour of the other parks because of the more extensive game viewing to be had there.
The Ngorongoro Crater, a collapsed volcano has a diameter of 22km and is almost like a natural 'safari park'. The game viewing on the Crater floor is legendary and this is one of the few places where you can see the endangered Black Rhino(very shy). The view from the Crater view point up on the rim is simply breathtaking and fills you with a real sense of anticipation of the days safari ahead.
Note: as majestic the Crater floor is, it’s also a magnet to safari traffic and during the peak months of July & August, the traffic can be infuriating. It’s for this reason, we tend to recommend a day trip into the Crater and then leave the area.
The Serengeti National Park is huge and covers a vast area. It’s not necessary to see the whole Serengeti in one visit, in fact it would make no sense. At different times of year the game viewing is better in some areas than others.
Best times to visit
Here’s a quick summary of the key areas and when to visit and why:
Southern Serengeti : Dec – March: Wildebeest Calving season sees the population increase to 2 million animals!
Central Serengeti : All year round game viewing – best for Lion & Cheetah
Western Serengeti : April-May: Wildebeest Migration passing through
Northern Serengeti : July: Loliondo area up towards Kleins Gate
Mara Triangle : July-October: Wildebeest Migration and great for river crossings
There are three parks in this area, The Selous Game Reserve, Mikumi National Park and the Ruaha National Park.
Mikumi is rarely visited, and whilst attractive enough to see, it does not hold the variety and quantity of wildlife to make it worthwhile.
The Selous and the Ruaha offer some of the most stunning safari camps and lodges in East Africa, with quality guiding, excellent levels of comfort and some of the best game viewing.
The Selous Game Reserve offers the best value safari destination in East Africa without compromising on quality. It remains unique in that it offers the greatest variety of safari activities anywhere in Tanzania. Here you can go on 4x4 Game drives, guided walking safaris as well as boating safaris.
It’s also a really quick and inexpensive flight from Dar es Salaam (approx. 40mins) and makes for the ideal shorter safari break.
The Selous is recorded as Africa’s largest game reserve and is home to the largest numbers of wildlife. It’s often overlooked because it’s less heard of. Let’s keep it that way, as it is simply an outstanding safari park!
The Ruaha National Park, this national park is rarely visited by visitors because of its remoteness and the fact it’s a longer flight to get there, and therefore more expensive. However, this is the visitor’s loss … those who do journey the extra mile to get to the Ruaha will be rewarded with the most amazing wildlife experiences.
One of the very best itineraries you can do is to combine both the Selous and the Ruaha for a week long safari and then head to the islands afterwards for a few days.
Those who venture out to the remote and wild western parks of Katavi National Park and Mahale National Park do so because they have a specialist interest in going to the remotest and wildest areas where they can enjoy some spectacular wildlife encounters.
These parks can only be reached on Mondays and Thursdays from Arusha town on special flights, or via the Southern Parks.
Katavi National Park offers even more remote and untouched wilderness than the highly acclaimed Ruaha National Park.
The Katavi Lions are legendary. Normally a visit to this park is done in combination with a visit to Mahale and you stay either 3 or 4 nights dependent upon your day of arrival.
Mahale National Park is made up of the Mahale Mountains, filled with dense rainforest drop down to a sandy beach and clear waters on Lake Tanganyika in the Kigoma region of Tanzania.
The major attraction here is the Chimpanzees, which are rated amongst the best animal interaction experiences in Africa. The experience here is often described as “life changing” by its visitors.
The islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia offer fantastic beach and diving holiday locations in their own rights, but in combination with a safari on mainland Tanzania, offer superb two-centre Tanzania holidays.
Zanzibar is a name to fire up the imagination of even the most world weary traveller with images of dhow's sailing across turquoise seas, languid white sand beaches and above all, exotic aromas.
Zanzibar is the largest of Tanzania's islands and has the greatest variety of accommodation to suit a range of holidays.
Zanzibar's best beaches are found along the northern, eastern and south eastern coastline. The powder white soft sand and turquoise seas make Zanzibar one of the most beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean.
It is worth noting that the sea is very tidal in Zanzibar. When the tide goes out, at 90% of places, the sea recedes leaving a hard coral reef.
Hard soled reef shoes are needed for exploring the reef at low tide and swimming in the sea is impractical at this time.
Mafia lies to the South of Zanzibar and is located in Tanzania’s largest National Marine Park.
Mafia Island and its offshore islands offer a complete getaway from the world feel.
There are some lovely beaches on Mafia and some good quality hotels and lodges.
The main reason to come here is to scuba dive and snorkel. Whale sharks are seen between December and March.
Some specialist dive lodges can be found on the main island and then those who dream of a superior Robinson Crusoe experience can come and stay at the delightful eco-friendly and award winning Chole Mjini Island which offers 5 treehouse style rooms.
Another island worth visiting for divers and those seeking a rustic private island experience would be to go and stay on Fanjove Island which sits in the channel between mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar.
Pemba lies to the north of Zanzibar and is reached by local plane.
Little-developed, hilly and tranquil Pemba is now the true 'Spice Isle', with spices being grown more here than on Zanzibar itself.
There are very few places to stay on the island, but the best and one of the best of all places along the entire east African coastline is called Fundu Lagoon.
The beaches on Pemba are nice, but not as picture-perfect as those on Zanzibar.
Fishing and diving off Pemba is excellent, purely because the reefs are less damaged and there is a lovely steep drop off by the channel which allows for deeper wall diving.
There are two gateways to Tanzania. Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which lies east of Arusha town in the north of Tanzania and Dar es Salaam (DAR) which lies on the south eastern coast of the mainland.
The quickest way to Tanzania from the UK is flying on KLM via Amsterdam or on Kenya Airways, via Nairobi.
KLM offer day time services to Kilimanjaro International which continue onto Dar es Salaam before travelling direct overnight back to Amsterdam.
For those doing a safari in the Northern Parks followed by a beach break on Zanzibar, then KLM is a great option as you can fly into Kilimanjaro and back from Dar Es Salaam.
KLM also have some excellent regional departures throughout the UK to Amsterdam.
Kenya Airways offer overnight flights from Heathrow to Nairobi, with onward connections with their regional partner, Precision Air, to Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam.
Flights back to the UK are also overnight, thereby maximizing your time on the ground.
Other popular airlines to Tanzania, with longer travelling times although often cheaper fares include: Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Swiss and Turkish Airlines.
Internal flights in and around Tanzania are booked and included as part of your safari arrangements.
Passports & Visas
A visa is currently required by UK passport holders to enter Tanzania.
UK Nationals currently can either get a visa in advance by applying in person or via post (only use special delivery and self – addressed special delivery) at the Tanzania High Commission in London.
Alternatively, a visa on arrival in Tanzania is currently an option, but you must ensure you have the US$50.00 per person in cash at hand, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months at time of departure and you should have a minimum of 2 double blank pages in your passport.
The address for the Tanzania High Commission is:
3 Stratford Place, London, W1C 1AS
Tel : 0207 7569 1470.
Tanzania High Commission: http://tanzaniahighcommission.co.uk/
Since Visa requirements can change without notice, it remains your responsibility to check prior to departure that no changes have occurred.
Family Safari Holidays to Tanzania
A family holiday to Tanzania & Zanzibar offers the chance for adventure and perhaps even life changing experiences.
Tanzania is a very family friendly destination, with the natural warmth of most Tanzanians immediately evident.
There are two kinds of safari which work especially well for families.
Selous Game Reserve is ideal for families looking for a shorter safari in Tanzania, whilst also generally keeping costs lower than a Northern Circuit Safari.
The Selous has permanent tented camps, many with specially designed family tents (perfect for children 8 years and above).
Safari's tend to be at a slightly slower pace here also - with one accommodation base and a choice of safari activities.
During the middle of the day there is time to rest and relax, which does give the children and parents some down time.
A family safari to the Selous is a great option for first-time safari goers.
Alternatively, we suggest a privately driven and guided overland 4x4 safari which is mostly applicable to visiting the Northern Parks of Tanzania.
This would typically include the Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater (in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area NCA) and of course the Serengeti National Park.
To see all these parks without rushing too much would require minimum of 7 days full safari.
This kind of safari requires more travel, with longer days – but the days are packed full of game viewing and cultural experiences as well as having the opportunity to see a large variety of spectacular landscapes. The wildlife is prolific in each of the locations too.
This kind of Tanzania family safari offers a deeper and more comprehensive safari experience and is great for more adventurous families.
Younger children can be accommodated on longer safaris, but they tend to suit families with older children looking for an adventurous family holiday.