While the world has been changing, we have been exploring.
Arusha: This town in northern Tanzania rests just below Mt. Meru on the eastern edge of the eastern branch of the Great Rift Valley. It is an excellent base to explore Tanzania’s natural icons – Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge and Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Burunge Wildlife Concession: The Burunge Wildlife Management Area is the last critical link between Tarangire and Lake Manyara that is still intact. The “slow safari” brings travelers out in the open and out of the vehicle to take on the African bush on foot. This is discovery first hand. It is a tangible experience that involves all the senses to engage with Africa. It is easy to get caught up in the 4×4 ‘rush hour’ in a fevered quest to spot the ‘Big Five’, however, true safari aficionados understand it is what we discover about ourselves in this wild land that has lasting value. The slow safari ethos encompasses a deeper examination of what we see and experience. Walking safaris reveal how to read wildlife tracks and spoor, how to identify plants and which help heal or nourish, how traditional Maasai live, and how to find the voice of Africa.
Mt. Kilimanjaro Trekking: The ‘rooftop of Africa,’ Kilimanjaro has three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. Hiking the famed mountain is the adventure of a lifetime for many. At 5,895 m/19,340 ft., Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is encircled by Kilimanjaro National Park. Its ecosystems range from lowland forests, to alpine meadows, to barren rock and ice near the top. With planning, nearly everyone from first-timers to seasoned climbers can scale the peak.
Ngorongoro Highlands Conservation Area: Ngorongoro Conservation Area embraces expanses of highland plains, scrub bush and forests covering more than 13,209 sq. km/5,100 sq. mi. The crater is the largest intact caldera in the world. It has been called ‘Africa’s Eden.’ Indeed, most of East Africa’s common species are found here. The descent of about 609 m/2,000 ft. into the crater passes through rainforest and thick vegetation before emerging onto the grassy plains of the crater floor. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is part of the Serengeti ecosystem, and protects black rhinos, hippos, zebra, wildebeest, eland, Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelle and a dense lion population. The area is important for its biodiversity, the presence of globally threatened species and as part of the route for the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and other animals into the northern plains. Extensive archaeological research has found early hominid footprints dating back 3.6 million years.
Northern Tanzania Conservancies: Northern conservancies are home many conservancies. Kilimanjaro Conservancies in West Kilimanjaro face the snow-capped peaks of the famous mountain. The semi-arid land of Sinya and Elerai has an abundance of natural riches and is home to some of the largest elephants in East Africa. In addition to large bulls, herds of mothers and calves migrate through the area en route to Amboseli National Park and the Acacia woodlands on the Kenya side of the border in search of water and food. They form one of the healthiest and most balanced elephant populations in Africa. Sinya is a private concession bordering Kenya at Amboseli National Park, and offers spectacular landscapes with magnificent views of Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru, Ol Doinyo Longido and Ol Doinya Orok. In addition to elephants, there is an array of wildlife such as zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, Maasai giraffe, eland, lesser kudu, Oryx, striped hyena, cheetah, lion and leopard. Activities include game drives in open 4×4 vehicles, night game drives, walking safaris with Maasai trackers, and hikes in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. The Serengeti ecosystem in northwestern Tanzania extends into southwestern Kenya. The vast plains bear witness to the largest and longest overland migration in the world. Upwards of 1.5 million wildebeest, zebra, and various antelope travel in a great circular migration from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara and back again; traveling over 2,897 km/1,800 mi. each year in search of rain-ripened grass. The region comprises several national parks and game reserves that protect some 70 species of large mammals and 500 species of birds. Serengeti National Park is widely regarded as the best wildlife national park in Africa. On the northern edge of the Serengeti, Taasa Private Reserve offers excellent game viewing throughout the year with resident wildlife that do not migrate. These conservancies offer exceptional game viewing including buffalo, elephant, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, eland, Thomson’s gazelle, and the endangered rhino. Some areas have great herds of elephant. During the dry season, herds of up to 300 elephants can be found along dry river beds, digging for underground streams, while migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland flock to the remaining pools. These community conservancies also strongly benefit the local communities by not only providing income, jobs, and educational opportunities but by also helping Maasai communities strengthen and share their culture, traditions and heritage with the rest of the world.
Southern Tanzania: The Mahale Mountains are home to some of the Africa’s last remaining wild chimpanzees, a population of roughly 900. The chimps are habituated to human visitors due to a Japanese research project in the 1960s. As well as the chimps, the forest is home to many other animals, including bushbucks, bushpigs, Angola colobus, red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys, and an incredible array of birds and butterflies. Mahale borders Lake Tanganyika, the world’s longest, second deepest and least polluted freshwater lake. It harbors an estimated 1,000 fish species. The Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest reserves in Africa and has beautiful wetland scenery with abundant hippo, crocodile and birdlife. It has Africa’s highest population of African wild dog and buffalo as well as lion, elephant, leopard and giraffe. Mikumi National Park north of Selous, offers flat horizons and wide savannah plains that teem with game but draws fewer visitors than the more famous northern parks. It is also family friendly. The Udzungwa Mountains presents steep hiking trails leading up the mountains to waterfalls and lookout points, ideal for walkers and hikers. Also in southern Tanzania is Ruaha National Park, home to large predators, elephant herds and a variety of antelope such as sable, roan and greater and lesser kudu. In the dry season, Ruaha has some of the best game viewing in Africa. Both Selous and Ruaha are accessed by light aircraft, while the two smaller parks of Mikumi and Udzungwa are only accessible by 4×4 vehicles. The remote Katavi National Park is less frequently visited than other Tanzanian parks. It covers about 4,471 sq. km/1,726 sq. mi., making it the third largest national park in Tanzania. It encompasses the Katuma River and the seasonal Lake Katavi and Lake Chada floodplains that support large animal herds, particularly of Cape buffaloes, zebras, wildebeest, giraffes, and elephants, and along the Katuma River, crocodiles and hippos. In dry seasons, mudholes form that can see hundreds of hippos crowding into them. Predators are well represented here as well, including cheetahs, wild dogs, hyenas, leopards, and lions.
Zanzibar: Three main islands, Unguja, Pemba and Mafia – along with a multitude of smaller islands make up the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The capital is Zanzibar City on Unguja. The old Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has changed little in more than 200 years. Its labyrinth of narrow streets, bazaars and mosques are fascinating. The grand, old Arab houses are known for intricately carved doors, of which there are some 500 different examples. Zanzibar’s main industries are spices, raffia, and tourism. They have long been known to traders for clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper. Zanzibar is also home to the endemic Zanzibar red colobus monkey and the Zanzibar servaline genet. Zanzibar’s more than 24 beaches invite travelers to enjoy a relaxing break.
Best Time to Go
Tanzania is a year-round destination, with each season offering its own distinctive rewards, but the best times are December to March, and October to July for the migration. Rainy seasons are April and May and November. “Short Rains” season is November and December while the “Long Rains” are March through May. Summer runs from December to March. Winter includes June and July.
The prime months for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro are August to October and January to March. The calving season usually takes place on the Serengeti between January and mid-March before the migration north. The best time to see the migration is usually between October and July when the wildebeest and zebra congregate to cross the famous Grumeti River.
Please note: Droughts and other factors can affect and even alter exact migrations times and routes.