Table of Contents
Serengeti National Park
With sunburnt plains stretching till the shimming golden horizon, the Serengeti National Park is Tanzania’s oldest and most popular national park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site that is famed for its Great Migration of wildebeest, zebras and gazelles. But also when the migration has moved, large herds of elephants, giraffes, buffaloes and impalas can be spotted grazing in this area. Predators like lions, leopards and cheetahs haunt in the grasslands, hide in lush acacia trees or rest on the kopjes that intersperse the rolling grasslands.
What to do and see in Serengeti National Park?
- Game drives – follow the Great Migration and observe dramatic river crossings.
- Hot Air balloon safari – one of the most exciting ways to see wildlife in the Serengeti National Park.
- Bird watching – with over 500 species of birds the park is endlessly rewarding to birders.
- Walking safari – take a walk on the wild side and explore the wilderness by foot!
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Adjacent to Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area covers a large area of short-grass plains as well as a range of large ancient volcanoes and the Ngorongoro Highlands.
Part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the famous Ngorongoro Crater, also refered to as the “Eight Wonder of the World”. It is the largest intact volcanic caldera in the world and harbours one of the densest large mammal populations found anywhere in Africa.
What to do and see in Ngorongoro Conservation Area?
- Ngorongoro Crater – descend into to one of the most impressive natural wonders of the world and explore the unique ecosystem
- Cultural tourism – get a glimpse of the daily life in a Maasai ‘boma’ and how community tourism is successfully combined with wildlife conservation
- Ol Duvai Gorge – also called “The Cradle of Mankind” and home to some of the oldest archaeological findings in the world
- Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek – created by the eruption of the volcanoes in this area, these two lakes provide the only remaining water during dry season and draw large numbers of flamingos
Lake Manyara National Park
Nestled below the dramatic Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara was extolled by Hemingway as “the loveliest I had ever seen in Africa”. It is one of Tanzania’s smaller national parks but offers a compact game-viewing circuit with a great diversity of habitats, animals and birds.
At the foot of the 600 meter high Rift Valley escarpment a well maintained road winds through a jungle-like forest, home to many baboons and Blue Monkeys. From the acacia woodland it continues into the grass floodplains, ending at the shores of the shallow soda lake that attracts flocks of pelicans, flamingos and other species of water birds.
The south, which is home to the legendary tree climbing lions, is relatively unexplored but definitely worth a visit for those who are able to spend a full day in this lovely national park.
What to do and see in Lake Manyara National Park?
- Game drive – explore the varied game and rich birdlife with over 400 species of birds
- Night safari – Lake Manyara is currently the only national park in Tanzania where you can go on a captivating night game drive in search of the nocturnal animals
- Hot Springs Boardwalk way – Enjoy unique views of the steamy Hot Springs, marshland and the Hippo Pool from a freestanding observation platform right in the lake. The boardwalk is a 300 meters long wooden structure located in the southern part of the park.
- Cycling Safari – although not possible within the park boundaries, the direct surroudings of Lake Manyara offer thousands of miles of biking trails to explore
Tarangire National Park
Named after the Tarangire River this national park is especially known for its large elephant herds, arguably the highest density in whole Africa. Herds of up to 300 elephants come to the marshlands or river to drink, while zebras, wildebeest, impalas, and elands gather around the shrinking lagoons.
The landscape is characterized by the giant baobab trees surrounded by an extremely diverse landscape; grasslands, acacia woodlands, forests, bush steppe and extensive swamps. But also birders are majorly drawn to this area, with 550 species recorded to date.
What to do and see in Tarangire National Park?
- Game drive – go in search of the abundant wildlife that inhabit this park, including all animals of the Big 5 apart from the rhinoceros
- Birding – Tarangire is a birders paradise with the highest number found in any in Tanzania, and about a third of all Tanzanian species
- Safari walk – explore the wilderness by foot to genuinely hear, see and smell the bush!
- Lake Burunge – located only 10 minutes from Tarangire National Park and managed by the local Maasai community. Enjoy guided walking safaris, canoeing on the lake or cultural interactions.
Kilimanjaro National Park
The roof of Africa! With its 5895 meters the Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the African continent, and the world’s highest freestanding mountain. Its majestic appearance and the fact that it’s one of the most accessible high summits draw every year thousands of visitors to the base to conquer its peak. The hike will take you through a variety of sceneries: from cultivated slopes to lush montane forest that give way moorland, then a surreal alpine desert and finally, as you approach the top, a winter wonderland of ice and snow.
What to do and see at Kilimanjaro National Park?
- Climbing Uhuru’s peak via one of the several routes and stand on the Roof of Africa!
- Nature walk in the foothills – hike in the shadows of the Kilimanjaro on the beautiful Shira plateau and interact with the locals while passing traditional villages
- Go trout fishing in one of the many streams that flow off Mount Kilimanjaro
- Mountain biking – explore the foothills of the Kilimanjaro with its mountain villages, coffee farms and the green valleys by bike!
- Enjoy the tranquility of Lake Chala – a mystical caldera lake close to the border with Kenya
Arusha National Park
One of Tanzania’s smallest and often bypassed protected areas, Arusha National Park is more than worth a visit. It is home to the impressive Mount Meru whose irregular shaped peak rises high above the green scenery.
Arusha National Park is extremely diverse with rolling grassy hills, shadowy montane forests inhabited by the Blue and Black-and-White Colobus Monkeys, the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater and the serene alkaline Momella lakes attracting thousands of flamingos and other water birds. Herds of buffaloes and zebras graze peacefully the plains of the “small Serengeti”, giraffes feed from the acacia trees and occasionally you may spot a leopard or hyena.
What to do and see in Arusha National Park?
- Game drive – thanks to its small size, this area forms a great introduction with Tanzania’s wildlife.
- Walking Safari – hike up in the foothills of the Mount Meru with some panoramic views while keeping an eye out for wildlife.
- Canoe Safari – enjoy the tranquil beauty of the clear alkaline Momella Lakes in a traditional dugout canoe
- Climb Mount Meru – hike Africa’s 5th highest mountain (4566), not as high as the Kilimanjaro but according to many absolutely more challenging!
Lake Eyasi & Lake Natron
In Tanzania’s popular northern circuit, Lake Eyasi and Lake Natron form an ideal highlight for those who wish to escape the majority of the tourists and go off the beaten track. These hardly explored areas see relatively little tourism yet offer spectacular sceneries with great walking opportunities, unique interaction with the local tribes and a welcome relaxation during the safari.
Lake Eyasi is located southwest of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and attracts many flamingos. It is home to the indigenous bushman, also known as the Hadzabe tribe, who are still traditional hunters and gatherers.
Lake Natron lies in the middle of a volcanic moonscape in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, between rolling hills and deep craters. The special colours of the lake are due to the blue algae in the salty water, which harbours a fascinating eco-system. The lake is the only regular breeding place in East Africa for the lesser flamingos, who are becoming more and more endangered.
What to do and see at Lake Eyasi & Lake Natron?
- Visit to the Bushman – witness the traditional lifestyle of the Hadzabe tribe and join them on a (simulated) hunt in the area, with bows and arrows.
- Walk along the shores of Lake Eyasi – admire the many flamingos, pelicans and other birds that search for food in the shallow soda lake
- Climbing Mount Ol Doinyo Lengai – locally called the “Sacred Mountain of God” is an active volcano that still regularly erupts natrocarbonatite lava. Climbing to the summit crater at 2960 m offers you rewarding views of Lake Natron, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater and western slopes of the Great African Rift Valley.
- Hike to the Engero Sero Waterfalls near Lake Natron – adventure the steep cliffs and shady gorge before reaching a beautiful natural swimming pool surrounded by palm trees and clear waterfalls