This is Tanzania's under-the-radar safari circuit, offering classic wildlife sights without the crowds. The national parks are bigger, and far quieter than those in Northern Tanzania.
This remote, beautiful and simply enormous World Heritage Site - about the size of Ireland or Switzerland - is Africa's largest wildlife sanctuary, with an area of 54,600 sq. km. It's also home to one of the single largest remaining elephant populations in the world. The reserve has a varied terrain of rolling savannah woodland, grassland plains and rocky outcrops. Buffalo, crocodile, hippo and wild dog can also be seen here, as well as 350 bird species. It's a popular area for walking safaris and fly camping: it's quite possible to go all day without seeing another vehicle or safari group. Stay at Sand Rivers Camp
With an area of 10,300 sq.km Ruaha is Tanzania's second largest national park and one of the wildest, boasting some of Tanzania's most spectacular and diverse scenery. This park is truly a photographer's paradise. Crocodiles, hippos and clawless otters soak and play in the water and on the banks of the great Ruaha River, which flows along its entire eastern border. Reedbuck, waterbuck and buffalo drink here, ever watchful for lion, leopard, jackal, spotted hyena and hunting dog. You might also be lucky enough to see Greater or Lesser kudu, sable antelope and some of the 370 bird species. Stay at Ruaha River Lodge
Mikumi, to the north of the Selous, is only 283 km away from Dar-Es-Salaam. The park's flood plain bordered with mountain ranges, is the main feature: 3,200 square miles of savannah and miombo woodland offering prime game viewing and over 400 bird species. It’s part of the Greater Selous Ecosystem and shares many of the same characteristics, but with greater concentrations of animals due to its higher status as a National Park. Animals commonly found here include lion, eland, hartebeest, buffalo, wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, hippo and elephant. The Mikumi elephants are mainly grazers and do not cause extensive tree damage. Lions roam the plains and will occasionally climb into the branches of trees. The rare wild dogs can be seen in packs here. The vegetation includes woodland, swamp and grassland with two water holes, Mkata and Chamgore. Apart from the saddle-bill stork, hammerkop and malachite kingfisher, you will also find monitor lizard and python inhabiting the pools. Stay at Stanleys Kopje.
The small but fascinating Udzungwa National Park is amountainous rainforest habitat an hour’s drive from Mikumi. There are no roads or accommodation within the park, so most guests stay in Mikumi and make day trips to the perimeter, then continue on foot. The classic excursion is a strenuous trek up the slopes under the canopy of the rain forest to the spectacular Sanje Waterfall, with plunging panoramas over the surrounding countryside from the 2,000m+ summits. The rainforest is a remnant of the ancient Eastern arc rainforest that stretched along the eastern rift and which has remained isolated from those in West Africa for the last 5 million years. So there is a high degree of endemism, with 25% of the plant species unique to Udzungwa, 4 species of endemic primates (including the sanje-crested mangebey and the red hehe colobus), and several recently discovered endemic bird species.