| Safari regions
Tanzania has three main safari regions:
Northern Tanzania, where the wildlife is more abundant, southern Tanzania,
where visitors are fewer, and western Tanzania, where some interesting parks
are situated, home to for example wild chimpanzees.
These three safari regions are sometimes referred to as the northern, southern and western
Getting to the western parks is time consuming, though, and safaris there cost a lot
more. Few if any packaged safari tours include this area.
Your first safari
We recommend northern Tanzania to anyone going for a first safari in Africa. The wildlife
is very rich, and the setting is the typical African bush.
Map of parks in Tanzania
Tanzania has a dozen national parks and a number of game reserves, forest reserves and
other protected areas. The following map shows the most important parks.
Most visitors come to see the parks in northern Tanzania. These parks are situated in
the main safari region of East Africa: the savanna and rift valley region on the border
between Tanzania and Kenya.
Click the map for more information about parks in northern Tanzania.
Serengeti and Ngorongoro
Serengeti and Ngorongoro
are the best parks in northern Tanzania. If you combine these, you have good chances
seeing the three big cats (lion, leopard
and cheetah), the Big
Five (elephant, African buffalo, rhinoceros, lion and leopard), and many
other animals. Serengeti is the larger park, and is the main destination on many safaris.
The migration spends December to June in Serengeti, adding
some 1.5 million wildebeest and zebras to the resident animals.
Lake Manyara and Tarangire
Lake Manyara and Tarangire
are located en route to Serengeti/Ngorongoro, so all these parks are easy to combine.
Both Tarangire and Lake Manyara are good parks for elephants. A lot of animals of different
species congregate in Tarangire during August to October.
Arusha NP and Kilimanjaro
Arusha National Park is just outside the city of Arusha,
from where most safaris in northern Tanzania start. The park has some wildlife, but
its main feature is the bird life. Some visitors also come to climb Mount Meru (4,566
m/14,980 ft), situated in the park. Nearby Kilimanjaro
National Park is mainly visited by mountain climbers, attempting to climb the highest
peak in Africa (5,895 m/19,340 ft), and isn't known for its wildlife, although a good
bird life and some animals are found in the mountain forests below 3,000 m/10,000 ft.
Safaris start in Arusha
Most safaris in northern Tanzania start from Arusha,
situated a 45 minute drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport, where KLM flies daily
directly from Europe (Amsterdam), and where you can also get from, for example, Dar
es Salaam in Tanzania, Nairobi
in Kenya or Addis Abeba in Ethiopia. Mount Kilimanjaro is 1.5 hours by road east of
Arusha, and a climb can easily be combined with a safari in northern Tanzania. Zanzibar
Island, known for its white beaches, spice farms and former slave trade, is a one-hour
flight away from Kilimanjaro International Airport or Arusha Airport.
You can go for a safari in northern Tanzania all year round, except for during the rainy
season in April and May, when road accessibility etc may be poor. Two very good seasons
for seeing wildlife are September to October and December to February.
More about safari seasons
More parks in northern Tanzania
In addition to the main parks, which offer the best wildlife, other areas offer scenery,
some wildlife and fewer tourists.
The parks in southern Tanzania are situated in a transition zone between a northern
and a southern vegetation zone, which gives them a partly different fauna and flora
compared to the parks in northern Tanzania. The wildlife is rich, although not as abundant
as in the north, but visitors are considerably fewer. Many visitors travel to the parks
by air, as road distances are long.
Click the map for more information about parks in southern Tanzania.
Mikumi and Selous
Mikumi has the best road connection with Dar es Salaam; a
four-hour drive on tarmac. Getting to neighbouring Selous
is less convenient, and includes much driving on poor bush roads and river crossings.
The most convenient option is flying there from Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar. There is
also a train from Dar es Salaam stopping in the northern part of the park. As Selous
is not a national park but a game reserve, where activities are less restricted, the
park offers not only game
driving, but also game viewing in boats on the Rufiji River, walks, bush camping
and fishing. Both parks have a varied wildlife, with many species to see. A rare mammal
seen regularly is the African wild dog.
Ruaha offers good opportunities for game viewing, but fairly
few visitors go there. The park is situated even further inland, and the best way getting
there is by air. There are scheduled flights from Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar to Ruaha,
stopping over in Selous, so these two parks can easily be combined.
Saadani is Tanzania's only coastal park, where you may see
both large mammals and coral reefs, fish and dolphins. It is situated some 4 hours on
poor roads north of Dar es Salaam.
The Udzungwa Mountains are west of Mikumi and northern
Selous, set on a mountainside between 300 m/1,000 ft and 2,800 m/9,200 ft above sea
level. The variety of different biotopes is home to wildlife and many birds. Some endemic
animal species are found in the mountains, including birds and monkeys.
The season from July or August to October is generally the best time to visit these
parks. It is the driest season of the year, and animals are concentrated to areas where
permanent water is found. January and February may also be fine.
The western region of Tanzania receives few visitors, as distances to the major entry
points to the country are long, and as these parts are less known than for example Serengeti
and Ngorongoro in the north. There are domestic flight
connections to Kigoma on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, but travelling to western Tanzania
still means higher costs and more time getting there.
Click the map for more information about parks in western Tanzania.
Gombe, Mahale and Katavi
Gombe and Mahale both face Lake
Tanganyika and feature wild chimpanzees, as well as other primates. (Jane Goodall made
her research on chimpanzees in Gombe.) These parks are usually approached by boat from
Kigoma town, where you can fly from Arusha or Dar es Salaam. Inland Katavi
offers good game viewing, but accommodation in the few tented camps within the park
More about parks
The parks vary in size, ranging from huge Selous in Tanzania
(55,000 km2/21,200 sq mi, which is the same size as New York State, or quite a bit bigger
than the Netherlands) down to little Saiwa Swamp
in Kenya (3 km2/1.2 sq mi protecting the small local population of sitatunga antelopes).
The Tanzanian parks are generally larger than the Kenyan, while there are more parks
All park visitors pay an entrance fee. You usually don't have to worry about this, though,
as the park fees should be included in your tour price and handled by your driver guide
or tour leader.
Park fees range from USD 10 to 100 (depending on which park you visit). There are lower
fees for children and for local residents. There is also a separate fee for the vehicle.
For the main parks in northern Tanzania, a special electronic card is used for paying
The fees usually last for 24 hours from the time of entry. Fees for consecutive days
can be paid all at once.
Facilities in parks
Some East African parks are major tourist attractions, but not very much has been done
to adapt them to tourism. This makes sense, as the fundamental idea of the parks is
to conserve nature. There are bush roads criss-crossing the parks, lodges
camps for the tourist to stay and the odd picnic site with basic toilet facilities.
Some parks have camping sites where you may pitch a tent, and some have bandas,
which are basic cottages or huts you may rent.
A handful of parks, for example Lake Nakuru National Park
in Kenya, are fenced. Fencing is usually a precaution to keep poachers out or to prevent
the animals from approaching densely populated areas.
Most parks are protected by rangers,
but the level of protection varies a lot. Major national parks, where a lot of visitors
come, are usually quite well funded and have resources to patrol the park and protect
both wildlife and visitors. In less visited parks in remote areas, there may be little
funding, and park protection may be poor. The same goes for developing and maintaining
park infrastructure, such as roads; parks in remote areas may have less funding and
Different kinds of parks
National parks are usually well protected, and have the strictest park rules. Most of
them may only be visited in vehicles during daytime, i.e. walking safaris and night
safaris are not allowed. The most well known national park in East Africa is Serengeti
in northern Tanzania. Some safari tours to Serengeti do include bush walks, but these
are not done inside the park, but outside the park border.
Walking is allowed in some less visited national parks, for example Udzungwa
in southern Tanzania. There are also walking opportunities in Tarangire
in northern Tanzania.
The only humans allowed into the parks are tourists, researchers and park staff. Farming,
grazing cattle, logging or collecting wood etc is not allowed.
National parks are governed by the state through national authorities.
Game reserves are governed by local authorities, and may have less strict park rules
than national parks and national reserves. In Selous Game Reserve
in southern Tanzania, for example, activities such as walking, boating and fishing are
allowed. In much of Selous, controlled hunting is also allowed.
Private reserves and sanctuaries
Some privately owned farms have been transformed into reserves, in some cases called
sanctuaries. These reserves may be fenced, and may have a healthy wildlife following
decades of conservation work by keen owners. They are more common in Kenya.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania has
a unique form of protection. In most parts of the park, rules comparable to those of
game reserves apply, with one major exception: the Maasai
are allowed to live there in traditional ways, i.e. herding their cattle. The Ngorongoro
Crater, which occupies a small part of the park, has stricter rules, on the level of
There are also other types of parks, such as forest reserves, conservancies etc. They
have less strict park rules, and usually don't have wildlife rich enough to be of interest
for general safari tours.
Animals in the parks
The animals in the parks are wild. They live their lives without human interference,
such as farming, pasturing and deforestation. They are not fed, even when starving,
and sick or injured animals receive no help from veterinaries.
There are a few exceptions, where park authorities do interfere with the wildlife. Elephants
have been relocated from some parks to other areas when the local elephant population
has grown too large. If there are too many elephants in an area, nature can't keep up
with the elephant's feeding habits, and may be impoverished or even destroyed.
Another exception is re-introduction of endangered species, such as rhinoceros or African
Used to vehicles, not humans
In the parks that receive most visitors, the animals may be used to safari vehicles,
and mainly ignore them. The animals are not accustomed to humans, though. Should you
walk out of the vehicle, most animals would shy away.
Some parks are not open even to tourism, and some only allow a small number of visitors
Which animals live in the parks?
Most classic safari animals can be seen in both Kenya and Tanzania, for example lions,
elephants, hippos and giraffes. All may not be found in every park, though.
Some major parks, for example Serengeti, have a wide range
of species, and large numbers of individuals within these species. Such parks are of
course popular with safari-goers. Other parks may be more or less specialized in protecting
You should be aware that it isn't possible to predict exactly where to find the animals
within a park, as they move to find food and water. Sometimes they even move out of
the park. The huge herds of wildebeest and zebras known as the migration
move between two parks, and spend part of the year in Serengeti, part in Masai Mara.
More about safari mammals
You will probably get the best safari if you go to a few different parks, as this allows
for seeing a wider range of animal species.
This page in Swedish
Go to www.savannen.com for this page in Swedish.