Safari and beach
The wildlife watching here is arguably the best in Africa. Predators are in abundance and there’s huge herds of herbivores including elephant to be found. Serengeti is the stage for the astonishingly vast wildebeest migration. There’s also a spectacular range of colourful birds to spot. And don’t forget the small stuff, the micro-fauna can be surprisingly delightful.
Home to the Masaai and Hadazbe hunter-gatherer, amongst
others. Northern Tanzania is also culturally rich. Village visits are a must or
why not spend a day or few in the highlands to trek with Maasai guides.
Home to the mind-bogglingly vast migration, which annually sweeps through the Serengeti ecosystem in a broadly circular, more or less continual journey. The best time to see the migration is December – February when, typically, the herds take up temporary residence on the short grass plains to calve.The name comes from the Maasai word Siringet which translates roughly as never-ending plains. This enormous national park is about the size of Wales, so we divide it into sub sections. The main ones are: Seronera in the centre, Lobo to the north and the western corridor.
This is the busiest area of Serengeti but for good reasons. This section of the park is the transition zone between the grasslands to the south and the acacia scrub to the north. Consequently, it is biodiversity rich. Animal concentrations tend to be high especially during the dry seasons due its year round water supply. You are almost guaranteed to see most of the quintessential African wildlife set amongst glorious scenery. Busy as it is, with a quality guide you can enjoy a full day’s game viewing without being surrounded by other visitors.
Situated in northern area of the park a few hours’ drive from Seronera. If you have the time and prefer a wilder safari experience then Lobo is for you. You can cut out the drive by flying as there’s an airstrip here.
The Grumeti River and its forest forms the backbone of this sector. Most often visited during May and June when the migration passes through, it hosts enough resident wildlife to warrant a stay at any time of year.
Unlike its neighbours, Ngorongoro it is designated as a conservation area to allow Maasai communities to live within their traditional lands. This does not detract from the wildlife experience and adds culture to your safari. Made up of a complex of extinct volcanoes and home to the short grass plains of the Serengeti ecosystem there’s varied habitats to explore.
Not to be missed is the famous Ngorongoro crater, a world heritage site. This is the largest intact caldera in the world measuring roughly 12km in diameter. The caldera walls provide a natural protective barrier for the resident populations. Here there is one of the few remaining healthy populations of highly endangered black rhino. Because of its smaller area and being in easy reach of the nearby towns it is possibly the busiest area you’ll visit. Many of the animals have become very habituated to the vehicles. However this makes for some spectacular moments of wildlife watching.
Here you can visit some of the Maasai villages They will welcome you into to their boma (village), explain aspects of Masaai life and celebrate your arrival with song and dance. There’s also Oldupai Gorge, known as the cradle of humankind, where several species of early hominids have been unearthed.
This national park is nestled at the base of the rift valley escarpment and centred on the Lake. It is famed for its tree climbing lions though we’ve never seen them here ourselves and the Serengeti prides seem to be rather adept at this feat too! What you will usually encounter here are most of the usual safari suspects in a very pretty forest/wetland setting. The birdlife on the lake is prolific. It can, however, be a busy area due to its proximity to the towns.
An afternoon here is well spent if you’re on the way to Ngorongoro and Serengeti, giving you a taste of things to come. If you are short on safari time then Manyara in combination with Ngoronoro or Tarangire will deliver a rounded and gratifying wildlife experience.
This is a less visited park to the south of the main clutch of reserves in this part of Tanzania. It is enchantingly beautiful with classic African baobab and acacia bushland scenery. Tarangire is the setting of a second almost unknown migration which involves several species including elephant.
From June to November the park is home to large herds of grazers and predators who come to this area for its permanent water and abundant food. A visit during this period should not be missed.
For the rest of
the year the park provides a true wilderness feel being significantly quieter.
There’s fewer animals to see, nevertheless for the more experienced safari-goer
its smaller delights are worth the visit.
Although it’s not part of the classic northern circuit and we wouldn’t recommend a visit if you are going on to other game reserves, it deserves a mention. If you don’t have the resources to undertake a proper safari then Arusha National Park gives you a mini wildlife watching opportunity.
A day trip to Arusha national park rounds off a Kilimanjaro climb very nicely. You won’t see lion or cheetah here but most of the typical African game is represented. Situated around Mt Meru, the little sister of Kilimanjaro, there’s varied scenery and habitats.
Whilst we normally talk of Zanzibar the island, in truth it
is an archipelago of 3 main islands: Unguja, the one we all call Zanzibar,
Pemba and Mafia. These islands are located off the coast of Tanzania in the
warm Indian Ocean waters. Each is quite different, yet they all offer some
superb lodges in almost hidden coves and bays. Perfect for a relaxing end to
your adventures in Tanzania.
Zanzibar is the most developed of the 3 islands with hundreds of lodges across all price ranges. It’s also the easiest to get to with several flights daily.
Zanzibar is historically rich. Following Portuguese rule the islands became part of Oman. The wealth built here through trading in ivory, spices and slaves was so significant that Stone town became the de facto capital of Oman. From the late 19th century the islands were incorporated into the British empire in an effort to end the eastern slave trade.
The international trading and settlement created the Swahili culture and language, local Bantu with strong Arab and Indian influences.
The capital is Stone Town, clustered around the original beach port on the western coast just 20 miles from Dar es Salaam. The heart of the old town is a puzzle of meandering narrow alleyways. Getting lost can be half the fun. Look out for the traditional Zanzibari doors and the typically dilapidated historic buildings that tell of glorious heydays. There’s plenty to see and do here to easily pass a couple of days before you fly home.
Zanzibar, though, is most famous for its beaches and a trip to the island is not complete without at least a few days relaxing on one. Some areas are now very developed and cater to package tourism but they are many more beautiful and peaceful beaches to escape to with just a smattering boasting low-key nightlife. Just let us know what your preferences are and we'll guide you to your perfect beach escape.
If you’re looking for something with a little more activity there are several great diving areas, including a protected marine park to the north. Kite surfing is gaining in popularity and if you don’t mind the heat a bicycle can be a lovely way to explore this fairly flat island.
If you’ve not seen enough wildlife Jozani forest is the place for you. Home to the endemic red colobus monkey or take a walking or boat tour into the mangrove areas A spice plantation tour is a surprisingly fascinating way to spend a morning you’ll be able try local seasonal fruits too.
Zanzibar has pretty much everything you could wish for to give you a fantastic finale to your Tanzanian travels.
Mafia island is about 90 miles to the south of Zanzibar and much less developed. Perhaps not the best location for true beach holiday as they are few and far between here. But, if you prefer a more off the beaten track, chilled yet cultural place then this could be the island for you. If you are a keen ocean lover or diver you’ll find far superior oceanic destinations around Mafia. Chole bay to the east is within a marine reserve and boasts some spectacular dive spots with high chances of coming across mantas, whale sharks and other pelagic species.
Pemba island to the north of Zanzibar is quite distinctive. The other islands are coral islands. Pemba was originally part of the mainland giving an almost mountainous topography and soils much more amenable to intensive agriculture. This is the least developed of the islands in terms of tourism with far fewer accommodation options It’s better suited to adventurous travellers unless you’re planning on staying at one of the luxury high end lodges. Pemba is probably the best location for experienced and keen divers. There are several dive sites where pelagic species are regulars.