Top 4 safari experiences in Tanzania

Poor old Kenya has had a rough ride of late, but one country’s misfortune can be another destination’s opportunity. So take a bow Tanzania, East Africa’s other classic ‘bush and beach’ destination. In this blog we’re going to concentrate on the ‘bush’ element, rather than the ‘beach’, so while Zanzibar, the Spice Islands and the Tanzanian Coast have some of the most idyllic coastlines in all of Africa, it’s the safari that sets Tanzania apart. Read on for the four finest safari experiences in Tanzania.

The Wildebeest Migration

Possibly the most iconic movement of animals anywhere on the planet. The numbers alone are staggering, with wildebeest in their hundreds of thousands moving en masse around the plains of the Serengeti (and in Kenya’s Masai Mara across the border) with predators in hot pursuit of these meals on hooves. The key to getting the most out of the migration? An understanding of where the wildebeest are, why and when. From January to March the herds feed on the freshly rain-fed grass and give birth in the southern Serengeti before moving north to follow the rains from April onwards. By June most will be in the so-called Western Corridor before they make the much photographed and filmed break across the Grumeti River where vast crocodiles lurk. The trek north continues until around August and in September the wildebeest take on the next obstacle, the Mara River into Kenya. October sees a mass movement southwards in search of the November rains coming to the southern Serengeti again before the whole circular process starts all over again. The Lion King’s Circle of Life has got nothing on this spectacle, but of course the dates are anything but set in stone. This year the move north to the Western Corridor was under way far earlier than expected. As a result, it’s best to plan with a company that knows Africa down pat.

Wildebeest migration

Chimps in Mahale

For anyone who thinks a luxury Tanzania safari is all about wide open savannah and the Big Five, think again. Head out west to the shores of Lake Tanganyika and the densely-jungled mountain slopes of the Mahale National Park. These slopes are home to one of the world’s most famous habituated groups of chimpanzees, and for many, seeing our closest ancestors in the wild equates to a pretty much spiritual experience. Granted, it can be a hard slog climbing into the jungle to spot the chimps, but that only adds to the sense of elation when you find them, and sit watching them go about their daily lives. Even better, all of this is done from Greystoke Mahale, a wonderfully romantic lodge on the beach overlooking Lake Tanganyika.

Chimpanzees, Mahale

The Selous

First, the stats – the Selous is four times larger than the Serengeti, bigger than Denmark and in fact the largest game reserve in Africa. And yet? And yet it receives a mere fraction of the visitor numbers experienced in the Serengeti. OK, there’s no dramatic migration, but animals in abundance in the reserve’s wild environment of plains, gorges, lakes and wooded escarpments. The main events are the huge populations of buffalo, zebra, hippo and so many giraffe some wag christened it the Selous ‘Giraffic Park’. Needless to say, with all this food on offer, predators are prevalent, and this is one of the finest places in Africa to see healthy populations of wild dog. It gets better – the lions in the Selous have adapted to hunt by day rather than night, so lucky safari snappers can see big beasts in action rather than lazing around looking imperious.

The Selous

The Ngorongoro Crater

The Land That Time Forgot was a 1975 movie that fitted nicely into the ‘so bad it was good’ category. The preposterous proposition? 20th century heroes discovered a lost world of dinosaurs living within a huge volcano crater. Not so preposterous, it turns out, when you visit the Ngorongoro Crater National Park. OK, OK there are no actual dinosaurs, but the walls of the vast (and fortunately extinct, like the dinosaurs) volcanic caldera make for a spectacular holding pen for some of Africa’s best beasties. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to everything from elephants to a thriving population of black rhino and, for added colour, you’ll also see bright kikoy-wearing Maasai herdsmen grazing their cattle on the lush grasses. After a day’s gawping at the wildlife and scenery, retire to the three adjacent camps that make up Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, sitting pretty some 1,800 ft up the crater slopes and overlooking the action.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Tom Barber is Co-Founder of Original Travel.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Comments (3)

  1. Mindy says:

    We are looking into a safari in Tanzania through Kwanini. It would have us staying in Rivertrees Country Inn and Manyara Ranch… can you share any thoughts on this safari package?

  2. Tom Barber says:

    Hi Mindy – We couldn’t possibly comment on another Tour Operator but if you’d like to get in touch and talk about your safari, please do! Tom Barber

  3. Lelo says:

    Tom,

    Asante sana! (Thank you) for such a nice piece about Tanzania. As avid conservation and sustainable development activist from Tanzania I’m disappointed to see that this country is unknown for majority while it has so much to offer in terms of wildlife and nature exposure, adventure traveling and so much more.

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