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Tanzania/Safari

Travel Guide Africa Tanzania Tanzania/Safari

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Introduction

Aaaagh, boring tourists!

Aaaagh, boring tourists!

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

One of the prime draws of eastern Africa and Tanzania is the opportunity to see the African wildlife up close in their native habitat. Whether you are a first timer who wants to see the "big five" of the leopard, lion, buffalo, elephant and rhino, or a hard-core birder who wants to see some of Africa's avian life in flight, Tanzania has some excellent parks for the traveller. The most visited parks are in the north, near the border with Kenya. A combination of both countries is possible and gives you the opportunity to cross into the national parks of Masai Mara National Reserve and Amboseli in Kenya. Of course, a safari can be combined with other activities and sights as well, like climbing the Kilimanjaro mountain or lazing on a beach on the Indian Ocean coast, for example on the island of Zanzibar.

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Tanzania's National Parks and Conservation Areas

Tanzania has a lot to offer when a real African safari is your main goal. Safari actually means trip/travel in Swahili language. The north is the most visited part of Tanzania, but in the more central parts of Tanzania are some spectactular parks as well, less visited but at least as impressive and with some possibilities to see different wildlife compared to the north as well. Getting there, on the other hand, can either be time consuming or expensive, or both.

Parks in the north

  • Serengeti National Park - Tanzania's oldest and most popular national park, the Serengeti is famed for its annual migration, when some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson's gazelle join the wildebeest’s trek for fresh grazing. The Serengeti is as you'd expected and African safari to be, with savanne landscapes as far as the eye can see. Seeing wildlife here is pretty easy, but because of the vastness not as easy as for example in the Ngorongoro Crater.
  • Lake Manyara - Surrounding the 325 square kilometre big Lake Manyara, this national park is home to baboons, hippos, impalas, elephants, wildebeests, buffalo, warthogs and giraffes. The park used to be famous because of its tree climbing lions, but nowadays you should consider yourself like when seeing a lion at all as numbers have declined.
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Ngorongoro Crater - The only conservation area providing protection status for wildlife whilst allowing human habitation, this park is home to the Olduvai Gorge, where Louis Leakey found some of our earliest human ancestors. The highlight of this park, however, is probably the Crater, which with its steep walls of 610 metres has become a natural enclosure for a very wide variety of wildlife, including most of the species found in East Africa. Aside from herds of zebra, gazelle and wildebeest, the crater is home to the "big five" of rhinoceros, lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo, and is often an excellent chance to see wildlife.
  • Tarangire National Park - This park, south of the other 3 parks mentioned above, is less visited but has one of the biggest concentrations of wildlife during the dry period and one of the biggest en most stable populations of elephants. You can also see generuks here, a longnecked antilope species.

Parks in the south

  • Ruaha National Park - This park is just slightly smaller than the Serengeti. Together with the Rungwe and Kizigo Game reserves the park formes the massive Ruaha Ecosystem, with the Ruaha river flowing through its eastern parts. This park is home to several rare animals, like the wild dog and the sabelantilope.
  • Selous Game Reserve - This is the second biggest game reserve of Africa and you can find wild dogs here as well, next to most large predators and large herds of elephants. It is the only place in Tanzania where you can join a guide for a safar on your feeth.
  • Gombe Stream National Park - This is probably the best park is Tanzania to get face to face with animals you are not likely to see elsewhere in the country. The park is in the east, near the town of Kigoma and close to the borders with Rwanda and Burundi. Although it is a very small par, the main attraction here is to visit the chimpanzees, a primate only found throughout the western and central parts of Africa.

More information on Tanzania's national parks can be found at the official website by following this link: Tanzaniaparks.com.

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Before You Book

Hippo

Hippo

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

There are a few decisions to be made about your safari before you book.

When to Go?

The dryest months are January and February and then again from July to September, the latter periode being the cooler and more popular one, also because of the school holidays in Europe and North America. There are two rainy seasons, the long rains from March to mid June and the short rains from October through December.

The Wildebeest migration moves through the Serengeti National Park from December until July, but actually the migration is a continuous proces and if you visit outside these months you might be able to see the migration in some part of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
More about the migration

How Long?

For time, you can have as long or as short a safari as you want. Gernally first timers might want to think about a 5-day safari. This would give you enough time to ensure that you see a lot of interesting stuff, but wouldn't be so long that you get sick of spending your days cruising around bumpy roads in a car.

Group Safari or Private Safari?

A group safari is a safari where you go with other people that you don’t know. A private safari is where just you (and your private group go). Booking a group safari can save anywhere from US$200 to $300 to thousands of dollars (depending on the iternary). However, often companies will book a safari with promises of other travellers, but the other travellers aren’t real. In the worst case, this means delaying the safari until real travelers can be found, which can be an issue. A private safari is where you pay the entire cost of the safari, but then you have to pay more.

Camping or Lodges?

Camping safaris are where you stay in tents in camp grounds. Lodges are hotels or tent camps that are nicer, and usually have better immentities, but cost more. In Tanzania, lodges would add about $US150 a night onto your cost for the cheapest places (which were still pretty nice), and could cost upwards of $US600 for really nice places.

Which Operator?

Check out the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (website) to find a company. You will save some money for sure by dealing with a local company and not having to go through a middle-man in your local country.

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Booking A Safari

Flamingos on the pond  in Ngorongoro crater, Tanzania

Flamingos on the pond in Ngorongoro crater, Tanzania

© All Rights Reserved GregW

Safari's can be booked directly with a tour operator from the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (website), through a 3rd party tour company or in Tanzania in either Arusha or Dar es Salaam. The difference in cost between booking directly with a tour operator or booking in Arusha is small. 3rd party companies generally charge more.

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Costs

Costs can range between $100 and $1,000 a day, depending on the itinerary and type of lodging you select. As for Spring 2008, minimum prices for camping safaris are $150 a day per person.

Costs should include park fees, guide and cook, food, water, vehicle and gasoline.

Additional tours like visiting a Maasi camp or seeing the Olduvai gorge are typically extra. Maasi camps are $10 - $20 per person. Olduvai gorge is $3 per person.

Contributors

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Tanzania/Safari Travel Helpers

  • natureboundtz

    Eliya was born in Tanzania and he grew up in the tourism, travel and leisure industry as his father was in the travel industry. Eliya founded his own agency after having worked for 9 years with various tour companies as a driver guide and progressing to operations manager. He gained the experience and vision for what is considered to be the most important principles in operating a successful safari adventure business from traveling through East Africa countries: from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda to Burundi, gathering experience and establishing contacts with safari companies and tour guides. Eliya has exceptional knowledge of East Africa. Exploring is his lifestyle, and he strives to deliver the right trip for the wildlife experience of a lifetime and to ensure that his first goal of commitment to sustainable tourism and the long-term conservation of habitats will continue to be meaningful. Through his agency he supports private concessions that have partnerships with local communities such The Umoja Centre and also ensures that the accommodations used are Eco-friendly, with low usage of energy resources.

    Ask natureboundtz a question about Tanzania/Safari
  • alex.nadda

    I spent most of my life in Kenya because that's where i took my studies, and field work. Then i started working in Serengeti with &beyond Safaris as a Tour Guide. Got transfer d to Maasai Mara.
    Early in 2009 my brother and i opened our tour company in Arusha Tanzania (Green & Brown safaris).
    So if u want to visit any country of the two(Kenya & tanzania) and you dont know where to start Contact us at info@greenandbrownsafaris.com or visit our website for more details.
    and we will give you all the help you need.

    Ask alex.nadda a question about Tanzania/Safari

This is version 15. Last edited at 9:01 on Jun 8, 11 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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