• February 26, 2024

When and where to go on a safari in Tanzania

You may still discover open spaces, wide vistas, and authentic wildness in Tanzania. The yearly migration of millions of wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson’s gazelles across the vast plains of the Serengeti in search of new pasture is just one of the many highlights of a Tanzania safari. The Serengeti offers year-round visual splendor, large concentrations of resident wildlife, and the geological wonders of the surrounding Ngorongoro Crater and Mount Kilimanjaro, but the front-row drama of resting in a movable tented camp in the route of the migration should not be undervalued. Southern Tanzania’s Ruaha and Nyerere (Selous) national parks are great places to truly escape the throng, especially if you want to get out of the car and enjoy activities like tag-and-release fishing, boat cruises, and guided walking safaris.

Read More: Tanzania Camping safari

The most popular places to stay in the nation are tented camps and permanent lodges in privately owned protected areas. This is especially true during peak travel season when availability is limited and sightings seem unique. In concessions that were formerly used for hunting, safari companies like Singita and Legendary Expeditions are contributing to the preservation of millions of hectares of wilderness. By funding these privately owned protected areas, they are also securing crucial animal movement pathways and assisting in the eviction of poachers. The top camps are always adjusting and reimagining themselves to meet the increasing demand for comfort and space. This includes anything from moving tents to optimise views and solitude to running back-of-house operations completely off-grid.

A beach vacation on an untainted stretch of coast or one of the islands in the Zanzibar archipelago is a chance to enjoy the sun and Swahili culture as you wrap up the ideal East African safari. Mnemba Island by AndBeyond is still the winner.

Where in Tanzania should I go on a safari?

Due to consistent water supplies and rich volcanic soil, Tanzania’s popular northern safari circuit—which encompasses the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire national parks—has the largest populations of big game in Africa. It is the natural destination for a first visit or if you are thinking about doing a leisurely, off-season return journey. Keeping up with the herds during the Serengeti’s migration is made easier with a mobile or seasonal camp. A highly sought-after wedge between the Mara River and the Serengeti’s border with Kenya’s Masai Mara is known as the Lamai triangle. Here are Singita’s permanent Mara River Tented Camp and Legendary’s seasonal Nyasi camp. Since there aren’t many campgrounds in the triangle, it’s the most convenient and exclusive spot to stay during the river-crossing season (see ‘when to go’). This is especially true outside of park hours. It’s a good idea to check if a camp location is easily accessible from a recognized river crossing point before making any reservations.

Nyasi South is run by Legendary Expeditions and is relocated from its northern position to an exclusive campground in the private Maswa concession during the summer calving season. It is a segment of an essential wildlife corridor that connects the Serengeti National Park with the crowded Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

enormous permanent lion prides, enormous herds of buffalo and elephants, and East African antelope species like Thomson’s gazelle and topi are among the year-round attractions of the western Serengeti. The year-round wildlife interactions in this region are so consistent that Mila Tented Camp has established a permanent location near the Grumeti River.

Ten years ago, Asilia Africa became the first organization to receive authorization to construct a temporary camp named Namiri Plains, which eventually evolved into a more elaborate, permanent replica of the original. Prior to that, the boulder-strewn grasslands of the eastern Serengeti were off-limits to tourists and kept for scientific purposes. This is big cat country, with amazing sightings of lions, cheetahs, and leopards.

The 30,000-hectare Ngorongoro Crater, home to short-grass plains, crater lakes, and volcanic peaks, is the biggest inactive volcanic caldera in the world. It serves as a sanctuary for numerous herbivores, including zebras and wildebeests, as well as lions, black rhinos, and elephants. After trekking and birdwatching around Empakaai Crater Lake, visit a nearby community to gain insight into the way of life of the Maasai people.

Tree-climbing lions and amazing birdlife, especially flamingo flocks during certain seasons, are two of Lake Manyara’s most well-known features.

Compared to the Serengeti, Ruaha National Park is larger yet receives a far smaller number of visitors. The underappreciated Nyerere (formerly known as Selous) features vast grasslands perfect for strolling, lakes teeming with hippos, a powerful river at its heart, and deep forest. Fly camping in Katavi National Park may be paired with chimpanzee hiking in Mahale around Lake Tanganyika.

When to do a safari in Tanzania

The optimum time to search for animal densities around water sources in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lake Manyara is during the dry months of June through October. The famous high-season river crossings in the northern Serengeti (July to October) are just one part of the year-long annual migration, which is a perpetual cycle of movement that also involves the herds traveling far south to the short, grassy plains for the calving season (roughly December to March), congregating in the central Serengeti (April to June) for the rutting season, and then moving north again to complete the circle. Compared to the dangerous river crossings in the north, the summer calving season presents more intensive predator activity, with thousands of young being born every day. The lengthy and brief rainy seasons in East Africa are becoming less regular and predictable due to climate change, which may have an effect on animal migration. Nevertheless, sites in popular areas will probably fill up a year in advance. During the so-called green season (November to March), the days are hot and there are afternoon thunderstorms that create dust. Photography benefits from this period, which is further facilitated by fewer crowded sightings.

Where to stay in Tanzania while on safari

Grumeti Private Reserve and Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Set in the Grumeti Private Reserve, which borders the Serengeti National Park, Singita’s flagship resort commands an amazing view from the summit of Sasakwa Hill. With its expansive, encircling verandahs and gently sloping grounds, this elegant property exudes refinement in every aspect, including the vast, tastefully designed rooms that showcase delicately carved East African antiques and African art. With nine elegantly equipped cottages with one, two, or three bedrooms and a four-bedroom villa, the lodge is more like a home than a hotel. The attention to detail is impeccable, from wine-paired, fresh produce-led tasting dinners cooked by graduates of the on-site cooking school to lavish afternoon teas on the verandah.

Best for: Singita offers the ideal soft landing in East Africa for families and first-timers, or a magnificent finale at the end of a demanding East African tour. It features tennis courts, rim-flow private pools, a spa, gym, and store.

Jabali Ridge Resort, National Park of Ruaha

This luxurious resort is located in the isolated Ruaha National Park in southern Tanzania, which spans 20,226 square kilometers and is 40% larger than the Serengeti yet receives fewer tourists. Large lion prides and leopards are frequently seen along the banks of the Great Ruaha River, which provides as a lifeblood for the park’s fauna while they wait for their meal. Nestled between massive rocks on a kopje, Jabali’s eight futuristically styled suites, open-to-the-elements main lodge, infinity pool, and spa provide 360-degree views over the park’s huge baobabs that reach as far as the eye can see. Families can also rent a private property with a pool.

Best for: Walks, dramatic sightings of elephant and buffalo herds, an action-packed safari with a final frontier atmosphere, and those beautiful baobabs that blossom after the rainy season.