A fantastic country that encompasses everything, Tanzania is understandably one of the best safari destinations on the continent. From the world famous Serengeti, the highest mountain in Africa in Kilimanjaro, the spectacular sun drenched beaches and remarkable history of the Spice islands of Pemba and Zanzibar, some of Africa’s wildest National Parks in Ruaha and Selous, and opportunities to trek wild chimpanzees, Tanzania has it all.
The most visited part is the ‘northern circuit’ encompassing the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, as well as the Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks and Mount Kilimanjaro. Arguably the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth, the annual Migration, takes place in the northwest corner of Tanzania. The Great Migration of almost two million animals occurs in a large area known as the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem, which incorporates the Serengeti National Park, the Masai Mara Game Reserve (in Kenya) and numerous private reserves, game reserves and community run wildlife management areas.
The Ngorongoro Crater is an incredibly beautiful caldera that formed when a massive volcano collapsed and its lush floor supports one of the highest animal concentrations in the world. Despite the crowds it attracts by virtue of its World Heritage status, the Crater remains spectacular and provides one of the best spots to encounter the critically endangered Black Rhinoceros in East Africa. Much less visited is the nearby Tarangire National Park, which in the dry season (June to October) offers fantastic wildlife sightings, with massive congregations of elephant, wildebeest and zebra, and possibly rare antelope species like fringe-eared oryx and gerenuk.
In western Tanzania, in the tropical forests rising from Lake Tanganyika, are some of the best places to observe wild chimpanzees. The Mahale Mountains National Park is home to nine species of primate including a population of up to 1,000 chimpanzees. Being rather remote and only reached by small aircraft this area is rather exclusive with none of the crowds encountered further north.
The ‘southern circuit’ of Tanzania has some of Africa’s best and wildest National Parks and a great area to experience the Africa of yesteryear. The Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest wildlife preserves in Africa and with its amazing ecological diversity is home to massive mammal and bird populations, along with great scenery. Another gem in southern Tanzania is the remote and unspoilt Ruaha National Park, with its large resident elephant population and a stronghold for the endangered African Wild Dog. Ruaha is situated in an area where Southern and East African fauna and flora species overlap resulting in a great diversity.
The exotic and seductive Spice Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba off the East coast provide travellers with the ideal place to relax after a week or two on safari. While white sand beaches are a perfect place to soak up the sun and pristine coral reefs provide fantastic diving and snorkelling experiences, the labyrinth of narrow alleys in historic Stone Town are great to explore and learn more about the rich culture of this ancient trade centre. Zanzibar City (Stone Town) has long been an important city, ruled at various points by the Persians, Portuguese, Sultanate of Oman and the British, and was for a period a prominent centre for the ivory and brutal slave trade.