Safari Parks in Tanzania
Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest unbroken caldera. Often referred to as “Africa’s Garden of Eden,” the crater is home to over 30,000 animals including elephants, lions, cheetahs, wildebeests, buffaloes, and the rare black rhino.
Ngorongoro Crater was officially declared one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Africa on February 11th 2013 in Arusha, Tanzania. Driving down the crater at 6:00am gives you the ultimate sense of awareness that this is truly “Africa.”
As you see a Rhino wander across the path in the front of your vehicle, the hairs on the back of your neck will stand up; up close, it’s as if you have been transported back in time to the Mesozoic era and have just seen a dinosaur…(even though the Rhino is actually a mammal…)
The Great Serengeti
In the language of the Masai people, Serengeti means ‘endless plain’. The Serengeti stretches for miles across the East African landscape, a world where over two million animals play out a daily drama of life and death.
The Serengeti National Park is undoubtedly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world, unequalled in natural beauty and scientific value. With more than two million wildebeest, half a million Thomson’s gazelle, and a quarter of a million zebra, it has the greatest concentration of game in Africa. The National Park, with an area of 12,950 square kilometres, is as big as Northern Ireland, but its ecosystem, which includes the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Maswa Game Reserve and the Maasai Mara Game reserve (in Kenya), is roughly the size of Kuwait. It lies between the shores of Lake Victoria to the west, Lake Eyasi to the south, and the Great Rift Valley to the east. As such, it offers the most complex and least-disturbed ecosystem on earth.
Lake Manyara is Located beneath the cliffs of the Manyara Escarpment on the edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park in northern Tanzania boasts varied ecosystems, incredible bird-watching, and breathtaking views. Lake Manyara offers an entirely different perspective from the other parks in the region primarily due to its landscape. While the other parks offer rolling hills and vast plains, Manyara boasts lush green forests and algae-streaked hot springs, allowing the traveller to experience elephants emerging from the verdant oasis or giraffe heads peering out of the trees.
Stretching out 50km along the base of the 600-metre high Rift Valley Escarpment, Lake Manyara is a gem. Its setting was made famous by the Ernest Hemingway quote: “the loveliest I had seen in Africa.”
Tarangire National Park
Tarangire is the sixth largest park in Tanzania, though it seems to be much smaller than it is. It offers the traveller an intimate safari experience in a trip that can be done in a few hours or over the course of one day. A bird-watchers paradise, Tarangire is home to more than 550 species; it is a ideal for bird watching enthusiasts who can expect to be wowed by the incredible diversity in species this park has to offer, even during the dry season.
Tarangire is named for the river that crosses through the park — the only water source for animals. During the dry season thousands of animals migrate to the Tarangire National Park from Manyara National Park in search of this water source, as the sources in Manyara tend to dry up more quickly.
The swamps of Tarangire are also home to a large population of elephants; close encounters for pictures are common occurrences.
The Selous Game Reserve
The Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest remaining wilderness areas in Africa that boasts a relatively undisturbed ecology, including a diverse range of wildlife with significant predator/prey relationships.
When you think of “wild Africa” – this is it. The Selous Park is contains one-third of the world’s entire dwindling population of wild hunting dogs, fascinating creatures that are almost non-existent in northern Tanzania. Their ability to hunt as a pack has given them an edge over some of the most dangerous predators in Tanzania.
But it is above all for its beautiful rivers, the channels and tributaries of the Great Ruaha and Rufiji Rivers, that the Selous is so spectacular. Particularly impressive is Stigler’s Gorge, where the Great Ruaha River meets the Rufiji River; this is an exquisite of example of the beauty and complexity of this park.
Katavi National Park
The Katavi National Park is the definition of “remote”. On the most western side of Tanzania, Katavi has been gaining recognition in the last decade due to its extraordinary game and incredible beauty. For the adventurous traveller seeking a more obscure vacation that offers a different perspective on the East African experience, this park is perfect. Katavi is the ultimate “off-the-beaten” safari track holiday.
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park is the largest of the Tanzanian parks. It provides the traveller with vast wilderness in the southwest of the country, a region visited by only a handful of adventurous travellers each year. At the park’s heart is the Great Ruaha River, a massive watercourse that dwindles to only a few puddles in the dry season, but bursts its banks at the height of the rains.
Waterbuck, impala, and gazelle risk their lives for a sip of water along the shores of the Ruaha, a permanent hunting ground for lion, leopard, cheetah, jackal, hyena and the rare and endangered African wild dog. Ruaha’s elephants are recovering from extensive ivory poaching in the 1980s and remain the largest population in East Africa. The Rhinoceros, unfortunately, has not been seen in the Ruaha since 1982, believed to be rendered extinct from this same poaching.
Sadaani National Park
Known as the area where “bush meets beach,” this national park is quite literally a wildlife sanctuary bordering the Indian Ocean. While relaxing on the beach on a gorgeous day, it is entirely possible to be interrupted by an elephant en route to a watering hole. Sadaani is a wildlife-lovers alternative to the more developed beaches around Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, offering the unique combination of safari and sunbathing.
Dar es Salaam
The diversity of Dar es Salaam is reflected in the culture of the people. Home to Tanzanians, Arabic and South Asian communities including many European and American expatriates, the multiculturalism of Dar is reflected in the outstanding cuisine ranging from traditional Tanzanian BBQ to Thai and western foods.
The nightlife in Dar is similarly vibrant. There is an abundance of bars in Dar where you drink local beer, listen to a Tanzanian music, and chat with locals or watch a football. The biggest days for socializing in Tanzania are Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Locals prefer to go out on Sundays.
As you fly into Zanzibar from the air it appears almost tiny; but when driving from the airport in Stone Town (on the southern tip) to Nguwe (the Northwestern tip) its sprawling and diverse landscape is immediately evident. From relaxing on the beaches on the north coast, to kite boarding and scuba diving on the east coast, the island of Zanzibar offers unlimited opportunities with a legendary status.
The Zanzibar Archipelago consists of two large islands Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba. Its infamous Stone Town is rich in history, most notably the slave boom in the 19th century. This sad and important history can be experienced with a visit to one of the many slave dungeons around the island: Zanzibar was one of the most significant trading centers in East Africa. Zanzibar is also well known for its beautiful and intricately designed doors and incredible selection of spices. The name “ Stone Town” is derived from the tall white buildings, built out of coral stone during this period.