East Africa’s largest country remains one of the continent’s most definitive and stirringly original safari destinations. Blessed with a string of superlatives unmatched on the continent: Africa’s highest mountain, its largest game reserve, its biggest volcanic caldera, its oldest human settlement; and – towering above all other safari experiences – the awe-inspiring migration. This spectacle of 1.5 million wildebeest, zebras and antelopes crossing the Serengeti plains, in what naturalists the world over consistently rate as “the greatest wildlife show on Earth”, is in our opinion, an unrivaled bucket-list-must!
Tanzania’s wilderness defies the imagination, its sweeping plains alive with giant creatures – and perhaps the closest thing on Earth to a true Garden of Eden. The snowcapped Kilimanjaro towers above dusty red savanna, flamingo-carpeted lakes abut thick green forests, and lush grass plains seemingly stretch on forever. First-time visitors are invariably awed by the scale and color, before being bewitched by the diversity. You’ll find hidden waterholes, dazzling white sands, teeming volcanic craters, and ice-capped mountain peaks – all within a few hours of each other. These are landscapes that have inspired countless wildlife documentaries and Disney movies – evocative spectacles that remain indelibly raw and rugged.
No great landscape is complete without an inimitable cast of characters. During the great wildebeest migration, an estimated 1.5 million large mammals march across the Serengeti, while big cats roam freely through parks and reserves, and spotting hippos and elephants is an almost daily routine. No country can match the diversity of Tanzania’s national parks and the mind-boggling concentrations of its wildlife. First-timers are always wowed, while regulars return year after year because there is always somewhere new to explore, something new to see. The best time to witness the migration is probably February - March when the wildebeest and zebra have their young. Not only can you enjoy seeing baby animals, but the predators are at the highest number too. Because the herds also concentrate in the south of the Serengeti, it's easy to plan your wildlife viewing in that area.
The most popular safaris in Tanzania (and the least expensive) usually include several parks in the North of the country. Since you can fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (situated between the towns of Arusha and Moshi) you can also avoid spending too much time in urban areas and get into the bush as quickly as possible. Most safaris will include a visit to a Maasai village, school or an organized hunt with the local Hadzabe.
Safaris in Tanzania aren’t about spotting a few animals – they’re a sublime immersion in an ancient and astonishing animal world. Safari experiences vary from budget mobile camping, to luxury mobile camping and also established lodges to large hotels within the parks, which in our experience, are best avoided! Pricing varies from mid-level to expensive.
For all its vast beauty and monumental scale, Tanzania always offers a very personal experience. Everybody leaves with different memories and unique snapshots that symbolize their vacation. While Tanzania can monopolize superlatives, a trip here is always an enthralling journey, full of iconic experiences and surprises.