Tanzania is a firm favourite amongst the wildlife-mad members of our team, and it’s no wonder – it has one of the biggest wild animal populations in the world. You can spot everything from wildebeest and huge Nile crocodiles to tree-climbing lions and wallowing hippos – and that’s without even mentioning the Big 5.
Both North and South have jaw-dropping landscapes, a tropical climate and thrilling close encounters but offer a very different experience. Here’s our guide to what to expect in each.
When should you visit? Different times of year bring different delights. The warm but less humid dry season (June-September) is ideal for walking safaris and game viewing; during the sticky rainy season, from November to May, the vegetation is lush and baby animals are in abundance.
Best for: a classic Tanzanian safari – the well-known parks, the Big 5 and the great migrations
Highlights: The endless plains of the Serengeti support the greatest concentration of wildlife on Earth. The best areas to visit vary by season, but June-October see the wildebeest migration across the Grumeti river, where gigantic Nile crocodiles lurk. The Big 5 (elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard) make the grasslands, rivers and woodlands of the Ngorongoro Crater their home. The tree-climbing lions of Lake Manyara National Park are not to be missed, while huge herds of elephant, zebra, wildebeest, eland and oryx congregate along the river in Tarangire National Park. Anyone with a penchant for mountain climbing should head to Mount Meru in Arusha National Park – or to Mount Kilamanjaro, of course.
Don’t miss: Oliver’s Camp in the heart of Tarangire National Park. Close to the best game-viewing locations but still wonderfully remote, this colonial-style tented camp offers peace, tranquillity, open fires and huge skies. The first-class guides specialise in tracking animals on foot and their walking safaris are tremendous – options range from short one-hour strolls to full days or even overnight-ers using fly camps. Highlights of our honeymoon stay were a giraffe wandering past as we took an outdoor shower, and a huge herd of buffalo running in front of our jeep on a night drive.
Best for: a more wild experience in off-the-beaten-track parks (read: empty of other tourists)
Highlights: Selous Game Reserve is one of our favourites: this enormous World Heritage site has a varied terrain, a huge array of bird species, and one of the single largest elephant populations in the world. Wild Ruaha National Park boasts some of Tanzania’s most impressive and diverse scenery, while packs of rare wild dogs can be seen in Mikumi National Park. Mountainous Udzungwa Rainforest has a high number of endemic species, including 4 breeds of primate and several recently discovered types of bird.
Don’t miss: Sand Rivers – a classy bush lodge in the vast Selous Game Reserve, surrounded by unspoilt forests, vast plains and croc-filled waters. The 8 open-fronted cottages have stunning views over bathing hippos in the Rufiji river below, and it’s a paradise for birders – we saw swooping carmine bee-eaters and majestic fish eagles standing sentry on palm trunks. The expert guides can help you explore the wilderness on foot, by boat or in a Land Rover – we loved chugging upriver and floating back through the pristine Steiglers gorge, where we spotted animals drinking at the water’s edge.