Travel Guide to Northern Circuit

Best things to do and see in Northern Circuit

Northern Circuit: Why go

This is Tanzania's classic safari circuit, with all the famous sights. There's the Ngorongoro Crater (home to 25,000 large mammals, including the Big 5); there's Lake Manyara (with its incredible flocks of flamingoes), and there's the Serengeti Plains, where the annual Great Migrations take place.

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Serengeti National Park

The name comes from a Maasai word Siringit meaning 'endless plains', and the size of the Serengeti certainly lives up to this. It extends over some 5,700 sq. miles, supporting over 4 million mammals and birds: the greatest concentration of wildlife on the planet. Due to its size, most visitors concentrate on a specific area according to the time of the year.

The short grass plains (Dec-March) transform when the first rains start, allowing the grass to grow from a dull brown to a bright green. The volcanic soil enables nutrient rich grasses to attract the pregnant wildebeest to feed and give birth.

The central Serengeti, Moru Kopjes and Seronera valley (April-June) are the most popular areas of the Serengeti, and ideal in European springtime. The wildebeest migration will be passing through the area, heading out of the short grass plains towards the western corridor.

The western corridor provides very exciting game viewing between June and August, as the wildebeest migration meets the Grumeti river, where some of the largest Nile crocodiles can be found. The results are spectacular - and gruesome.

The North (August-November) is perhaps the best kept secret of the Serengeti, relatively devoid of tourists. The migration across the Mara river, traversing some of the most photogenic areas, a patchwork quilt of colour and diversity.
Stay at Sayari Camp or Olakira Camp


Ngorongoro Crater

The views at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater are sensational. On the crater floor, grassland blends into swamps, lakes, rivers, woodland and mountains - all a haven for wildlife, including the most dense predator population in Africa. The crater is home to up to 25,000 large mammals, mainly grazers - gazelle, buffalo, eland, hartebeest and warthog - but also the big 5. There are a small number of black rhinos here too. The birdlife is largely seasonal and is also affected by the ratio of soda to fresh water in Lake Magadi on the crater floor.
Stay at Plantation Lodge or Rhotia Valley.


Lake Manyara

Manyara's mahogany, sausage-tree and croton are alive with blue monkeys and vervets. Elephants feed off fallen fruit while bushbuck, waterbuck, baboons, aardvark, civet, the shy pangolin and leopard, as well as the black rhino, all make their home in the forest. Manyara is a sanctuary to elusive buffalo and hippo, giraffe, impala, zebra and the famous residents - tree climbing lions. Lake Manyara itself is a magnet for birdlife and a kaleidoscope of different species can be found around its lake shores, including huge flocks of flamingoes.
Stay at Plantation Lodge


Tarangire National Park

Located in the Rift Valley, Tarangire covers approximately 2600 square kilometers and contains nine different vegetation zones, each supporting distinct types of wildlife. Panoramic and wooded savannas stretch far and wide in every direction, punctuated with majestic baobab trees. The park's main source of water, the Tarangire River, attracts nearly as high a concentration of animal life as Ngorongoro Crater. Large herds of elephant, zebra, wildebeest, eland and oryx congregate along the riverbank until the wet season allows them to migrate to lush new grazing land.
Stay at Olivers Camp


Arusha National Park Arusha

Arusha National Park is mountain forest habitat with three distinct zones: Mount Meru, Ngurdoto Crater and the Momella Lakes, the latter being a group of shallow alkaline lakes fed by underground streams. Mount Meru is one of the most rewarding mountains to climb in Africa, and much less visited than Kilimanjaro. Animals here include buffalo, elephant, hippo, giraffe, zebra, blue monkey, black and white colobus monkey, leopard, hyena and a variety of antelopes.
Stay at Onsea House


Mount Kilimanjaro

Standing at 19,344 feet, Kilimanjaro is the zenith of Africa and stands as a colossal monument to the beauty and enormity of the continent. The climb is an amalgamation of experiences as the trek passes through rainforests, moorland and summits on snow and ice. With these breathtaking landscapes, a diversity of wildlife can also be found including, monkeys, birds, antelope, elephant, buffalo and even leopard. It is not so much a climb as a pilgrimage to the stunning sights of Africa.