This Tanzanian Safari Planner has information about:
- Tanzanian Safaris in the North (this page)
- Tanzanian Safaris in the South
- Tanzanian Safaris in the West
- Lodging; Getting Around; Park Fees; What to Pack
- Recommended Tanzania Safari Tour Operators
Tanzania's Northern CircuitThe most popular safaris in Tanzania (and the least expensive) usually include several parks in the North of the country. Since you can fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (situated between the towns of Arusha and Moshi) you can also avoid spending too much time in urban areas and get into the bush as quickly as possible.
Many safari goers these days are as interested in visiting local tribes as they are spotting the "Big Five". Most safaris will include a visit to a Maasai village, school or an organized hunt with the local Hadzabe.
Best time to go on Safari in Northern TanzaniaThe annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra is a truly remarkable wildlife show and worth planning for. The best time to witness the migration is probably February - March when the wildebeest and zebra have their young. Not only can you enjoy seeing baby animals, but the predators are at the highest number too. Because the herds also concentrate in the south of the Serengeti, it's easy to plan your wildlife viewing in that area and find a safari company that offers lodging there (see below). For more on the migration click here
Tanzania is still worth visiting during the shoulder season; you'll be able to witness some wonderful wildlife, undisturbed by other tourists. The low-season is May - June when the heavy rains make many roads simply impassable. Rain also means that water is plentiful and the animals are able to scatter over a wider area -- making it more difficult for you to spot them. More on Tanzania's climate and more about -- Best time to visit Tanzania.
The Northern ParksThe Northern parks include the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire. You can see more wildlife you thought possible and enjoy several different parks with unique features. The Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is where you can witness the incredible migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra -- followed enthusiastically by their predators. You should budget at least 5 days for a decent safari.
Some of the parks in the Northern Circuit include:
- The Serengeti
The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania offers the absolute classic African safari setting. The grasslands make the Serengeti fantastic for spotting lion kills because you can see the whole spectacle clearly. The migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra starts here, and because it's much larger than the Masai Mara in Kenya, the park is less densely populated with minibuses full of tourists.
There are 5 basic sections of the Serengeti Park, each with its unique environment and corresponding wildlife patterns. Find out more from this detailed ATS guide so you can plan the best place to lodge or camp when you go, to maximize your wildlife viewing opportunities.
There are all kinds of accommodation options within the Serengeti National Park, from basic camping to luxury mobile-tented safaris. (See my general African safari planner for more information on these different accommodation styles)
For firsthand accounts of my visit to the Serengeti National Park, click here
- Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The Ngorongoro Conservation area borders the Serengeti in northern Tanzania and includes the world's largest crater which acts as a natural enclosure for almost every species of wildlife found in East Africa. This includes the very rare black rhino. The Ngorongoro Crater is where you'll witness some of the densest population of wildlife in the world and it's a truly amazing place for photographers. The Maasai still live within the conservation area, and it's also home to Olduvai where some of man's earliest remains have been found.
There are several lodges and campsites in the Conservation area.
For firsthand accounts of people who have recently visited the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, click here
- Lake Manyara
Lake Manyara is a relatively small national park but it's incredibly diverse. Lake Manyara boasts plenty of elephants, tree-climbing lions (getting rarer), leopards, giraffes and more than 400 species of birds including flocks of pink flamingos.
Most tour itineraries stop at Lake Manyara for a night en route to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro (or on the way back to Arusha).
For first-hand accounts of people who have been to Lake Manyara recently click here
- Tarangire National Park
Tarangire, like Lake Manyara, is often combined with a visit to the larger, better known Serengeti and Ngorongoro parks. But during the dry season, (June to October) the river beds just teem with animals and it is well worth a trip.
Tarangire is a good place to enjoy a walking safaris and an excellent place to view elephants. Be prepared to swat tsetse flies here, at certain times of the year they can get annoying.
Accommodations in Tarangire include lodges, campsites and luxury tented camps.
Add-Ons to the Northern Circuit
- Mount Kilimanjaro: Africa's highest peak offers a breathtaking 6 day hike to its summit.
- Mount Meru: Tanzania's second highest peak offers a 4 day hike to its summit (13,700 feet), a great alternative to Kilimanjaro.
- Lake Eyasi offers a peaceful place to camp, incredible birdlife and an unbeatable cultural experience with local Hadzabe, Tanzania's "bushmen".
- Zanzibar: Zanzibar is one of Tanzania's biggest tourist draws and a popular add-on after a dusty safari. You can enjoy spice tours, Stone Town, snorkeling, scuba diving and much more.