Kenya might be the birthplace of the safari, but it falls behind the wonders of Tanzania when it comes to offering a spectacular experience in the wild. Watching hippos fight their territorial battles, wildebeest walk across the lands, elephants wander around migration routes and chimps swing from one treetop to the other are experiences you’ll cherish each day of your life. The adventure, that feeling of being over-the-edge, the adrenaline rush, a sense of excitement, a tiny knot in your belly, these are just some of the things you want from a safari, things that feel so every day in Tanzania!
Tanzania has three safari circuits, and each circuit has its own highlight, but here are the top 5 safari parks in Tanzania that you ought to be considering.
Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park is easily the most popular national park in all of Africa, the world even. Renowned for its huge populations of predators and host to the Great Migration, Serengeti’s 1.5 million ha. of savannah have become synonymous with quintessential Africa. The Migration itself is a spellbinding spectacle. Imagine seeing 2.5 million gazelle, wildebeest and zebras making their annual pilgrimage to the Mara in Kenya, with all kinds of predators close at heels. Imagine being witness to spectacular river crossings, where lurking crocodiles lie in wait for the slowest or weakest prey. It really doesn’t get larger than this.
Even if you don’t happen to time your trip to the Migration, you can still expect to see all kinds of birds and animals, including the Big 5 and the black rhino. Try sticking to the Central Serengeti and Seronera River Valley region as this area has year-round water supplies, ensuring that the place is teeming with wildlife throughout the year.
If you’re visiting the Serengeti between May to July, you’d want to consider the Grumeti region, known for its crocodile-infested waters and those nail-biting fights as migrating herds try to cross the river.
Tarangire National Park
Tarangire isn’t located on the main safari route, and this makes it all the more reason to visit this hidden gem. This lovely park is known for presenting an authentic safari experience where you can venture into the park for hours without another soul in sight.
Tarangire might not offer the Great Migration, but it has an exciting migration of its own, with elephants. Tarangire feels particularly special during the dry season (June to October) when most of the game concentrates around the river. The best thing to do here is game driving during the day, but you also have night safaris and guided walks to choose from.
No list of any top five safari parks in Tanzania would be complete without the Ngorongoro Crater. The Ngorongoro Crater ranks as one of the most beautiful regions of Tanzania. It is the largest intact volcanic caldera in the world, and millennia of isolation allowed the wildlife here to thrive away from human interference, ensuring the highest density of big game in Africa, including the Big Five – buffalo, lion, cheetah, rhino and the elephant. Other species worth mentioning include the near-extinct black rhino, some of the largest tuskers in the continent, hyena, wildebeest, serval cat, gazelle, flamingo, bat-eared foxes and 400 species of birds.
Like most safaris in Northern Tanzania, Ngorongoro gets incredibly busy, particularly during the peak season. But don’t take this as an excuse to give the park a miss, for it still presents a mesmerizing image and is full of all kinds of birds and animals. It is also among the top destinations to interact with the local Maasai tribe.
The best part about visiting the Ngorongoro is that there isn’t a good or bad time to come here. In fact, this is one of the few destinations that feels more exciting during the low season, as you have to contend with fewer tourists.
Lake Manyara National Park
Despite its small size (330 sq. kms.), Lake Manyara really packs a punch. It presents as many as 11 unique ecosystems and this allows all kinds of species to flourish here. The African bush is usually defined by those endless savannahs, but after experiencing the Northern Circuit parks, the groundwater forest cover comes as a much-needed change.
Lake Manyara is most famous for its elephant encounters, tree-climbing lions, pink flamingos and outstanding bird-watching opportunities. Other sightings include wildebeest, blue monkey, giraffe, zebra, leopard, baboon, water-buck, impala, buffalo and warthog.
Apart from game drives, you can choose from night safaris and guided hikes and treks. The best time to visit Lake Manyara is between the months of July to October.
Mahale Mountains National Park
Mahale Mountains is as beautiful a place as any. Located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, this is one of the best destinations for getting close to chimpanzees and monkeys of all shapes and sizes. It hosts approximately 1000 chimps and 8 species of primates and always feels special.
Many often get confused between the Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream national parks. Gombe certainly sounds more famous thanks to Jane Goodall’s pioneering work, but both parks offer a similar experience with chimpanzees. What makes Mahale Mountains stand out is that the accommodation is more luxurious here, and the scenery feels more remote.
Unless you have ample time it is impossible to experience everything that Tanzania has to offer. We’d recommend sticking to a particular region and exploring it in greater depths. Each park is unique, and every experience feels special.
Already planning a trip to Tanzania? We recommend checking out Bookmundi for great safari tours in Tanzania.