Safari Parks in South and West of Tanzania

Tanzania’s Southern Safari Circuit includes some of the most remote and remarkable sights in Tanzania. Because it is less well known than the Northern Circuit it has fewer tourists and you will frequently be the only vehicle on the landscape.

Selous Game Reserve

Selous game reserve one of the largest in the world covering 50.000 square kilometres, Named after Fredrick Courtney Selous of the Royal Fusiliers who was killed along the Rufiji River close to behobeho.

The attractions of this Reserve are very diverse. From the varying vegetation zones, ranging from dense thickets to open wooded grasslands, to walking safaris and boat safaris along the Rufiji river with its many lakes that are abound with hippopotamus and one of the greatest concentrations of crocodile. One of the main attractions is the possible sighting of hunting dogs (lycaon pictus), which have become rare in the northern circuit.

Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park, situated in the south western part of Tanzania, is one of the larger national parks.  Common features of this park are its herds of elephants, part of a stable population of over 10.000 often observed perched beneath the succulentbaobab trees seeking shade.  Another attraction is the diversity of Antelope species such as Grants gazelle generically from east Africa and greater Kudu more common in southern Africa.  The terrain characteristically is rugged, semi arid woodland meandering along the Ruaha river, which is the life support of the park. One of the attractions is the convergence/transition of two environments, from the typical acacia woodland of East Africa to the miombo woodlands of southern Africa.  This shift in vegetation is one of the factors attributing to the diversity of herbivores.  This park also offers opportunities to see the highly endangered African hunting dog of which several packs call Ruaha their home.  Several other predators are also a common sight in the park including Lion, Leopard and Cheetah.

Mikumi National Park

Mikumi National Park forms the northern boundary of Selous game reserve, one of the largest nature reserves in the world. This area that has been allocated for nature conservation allows for herds of animals to roam great distances uninhibited by fences or boundaries. The park is regarded as one of the less frequented national parks by the average tourist, and therefore allows for more intimate game viewing.  As a result the road infrastructure and services is steadily being improved as visiting tourists increase.  However this really does not limit your game viewing as game is plenty.

Udzungwa

Udzungwa national park is 1990 sum and was established in 1992. You get there by car from either Dar es Salaam or Mikumi National Park.

Here you can do hiking up to famous Sanje Falls, combined with both walking safaris and camping. Udzungwa is accessible all year around. The dry season is June – October, but be prepared for rain anytime.

Mahale Mountains

Mahale national park offers a safari experience which is unique and full of mystery, hidden treasures and magnificent beaches backed by spellbinding mountain ranges.  This destination is more for the intrepid traveler as there are no tracks and therefore no cars; exploration is all done on foot.  The daily activities are usually based around excursions into the forest in search of Chimpanzees, followed by relaxing afternoons as it can get quite hot.  This is usually a great time to go snorkeling or take boat trips on Lake Tanganyika.  Lake Tanganyika is the second deepest Lake in the world and has spectacular marine life, accompanied by exceedingly clear water.

Safari Parks in the North of Tanzania

The most famous parks are situated in the north of Tanzania. These parks offer the best chance of witnessing wild animals in their natural habitat. The parks are famous for ‘The Big Five’ and the ‘Great Migration’. All of these parks have their own unique characteristics and attractions. The main attractions are listed below.

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park derives its name from the Masai word Siringitu meaning endless plain. The Serengeti is located along the rift valley and abounds with geological formations. One of Serengeti’s defining features are its Kopjes pronounced copy, a feature of continual weathering. These islands in the sea of grass are formed as the top soil comprising of rock and ash is eroded exposing the covered layer of metamorphic rock. These “kopjes” are round as a result of spherical wind weathering. The national park covers an area of 14800 square Kilometres most of which is grassy plains. These rich grass plains are a result of ash deposited by volcanic eruptions are home to 3 million animals. Within these grass plains the scattered kopjes act as a haven for animals from grass fires, predators and the heat. Due to its location north west of the Ngorongoro conservation Area the Serengeti lie’s in the mountains’ rain shadow and thus receive less rainfall.

Serengeti National Park is famous for its abundance of leopards, cheetahs, lions and other large cats, but Serengeti’s reputation, first of all, is based on its famous migration. Approximately 1.5 million gnus, 200.000 zebras and 350.000 gazelles cover huge distances of up to 1900 kilometres twice a year to find enough water and fresh green grass to survive. But also when the animals are not migrating, Serengeti is worth a visit. We highly recommend this park.

Ngorongoro crater

Ngorongoro Conservation Area geologically lies in an area that is in constant change, this is a result of the eastern side of Africa starting to breach, causing the land between the rifts to wane. This resulted in the formation of lines of weakness in the earth’s crust which acted like vents for molten material, hence the creation of the rift valley, Ngorongoro and other craters and volcanoes in this area. Ngorongoro is a unique crater known as a caldera. A caldera is the aftereffect of a volcanic collapse, an implosion rather than explosion, Ngorongoro was formed some two million years ago. Ecologically it covers an area of 8300 square Kilometres with varied terrain and altitudes. These variations result in diverse and distinct habitats from grassy plains to mountain forest. The Crater itself measures an average of 18 Kilometres in diameter and has an approximately 700 metre vertical drop. Apart from being home to 25000 large animals it forms part of what is known as the Serengeti-Ngorongoro-Masai Mara ecosystem. This ecosystem allows for the free movement of 1.5 million animals in their continuous search for green pastures known as the migration.

Nearly all the big wild animals can be seen in the crater. Apart from large herds of zebra and gnus the Ngorongoro is the scene for elephants, lions, hippopotamuses and in particular the black rhinoceros. The giraffe is strikingly absent: their long necks and legs prevent these animals from making the steep descent into the crater.

Olduvai Gorge

This site, which is also known as the “cradle of mankind”, is named after the Masai word for the wild sisal plant, commonly called Oldupaai. The site was actually first discovered by a German entomologist Professor Kattwinkel who was more interested in the butterflies found in the area and fortuitously found fossil remains. This lead to the later excavation work there that was pioneered by Louis and Mary Leakey in the 1950s, and the later discovery of Australopithecus boisei, also known as “nutcracker man”. He is believed to be 1.7 million years old.

Tarangire National Park

Tarangire national park boasts one of the largest concentrations per unit area of elephants and this is often evident when you follow the game drive circuits along the river. One will often encounter herds of elephant either going or coming from the river.  This offers great viewing of the herds as they socialize and interact with each other. There are also buffalos, cheetahs, hyenas and lions to be seen. In the dry season the animals assemble at the marshes for fresh drinking-water. We can assure you that this is a grandiose spectacle.

Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara is one of those national parks that offer rich and diverse game viewing within a reasonably small area. From its thick ground water forest at the park entrance to its more arid acacia woodland in the south.  It’s one of the best areas for elephant viewing and close encounters are very common, the bird life here is also exceptional.  Because of its thick bush and forested areas viewing of cats is not so common.

Arusha National Park

Arusha national park offers great scenic beauty with thick forests, undulating hills, lakes and craters. This park allows for great chances of viewing colobus monkeys, which are some of the most interesting primates with long white tails and vestigial thumbs. The name Colobus is derived from the Latin language meaning mutilated one, as they do not possess a thumb.

Bird Watching Safari

The geography in Tanzania is diverse, leading to various climates. Although in the tropics, the higher areas are reasonably cool. Because it straddles the equator there are just two seasons – wet and dry.

Tanzania has a variety og over 1000 species of birds, and it varies in each location due to the nation’s geographic diversity. From mountain forest to tropical coast, every conceivable altitude range: deserts, open savannah grassland, lowland forest, bush and scrub, lakes and mudflats.

The National Parks have open savannah grassland, bush and scrub with large rivers running through them.

Top species include: Secretary Bird, numerous vultures, eagles and hawks, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Bare-faced Go-away Bird, Gabon Nightjar, Lilac-breasted Roller, Ground Hornbill, Red-throated Tit and Sooty Chat together with a wide variety of larks, pipits and widowbirds.

If traveling to the the Mara and Talek rivers, you can watch African Finfoot, Livingstone’s & Ross’s Turaco, Giant Kingfisher, Blue Flycatcher, Double-toothed Barbet and the rare Pel’s Fishing Owl. The alkaline Lake Natron is also located near the National Parks; feeding ground for over one million [exceptionally two million] Lesser Flamingo. Greater flamingo are also found, in far smaller numbers. Mt. Kilimanjaro has three vegetation zones: Rain forest, Alpine Forest, and Moorland, making for species diversity.