When we talk of safaris, we just can’t help but think about Africa! Imagine dry grasslands with zebras and giraffes grazing, along with a pride of lions sneaking among the bushes where they can’t be seen, and a glowing scorching sun in the backdrop while you’re sitting in a 4-wheel drive offroad vehicle with a pair of binoculars in your hands looking at the scene. Do you like the sound of that? Well, a good old African safari might be just the thing for you. And where better to go on an African adventure other than the great plains of Tanzania?
The land of Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, and the Maasai, Tanzania is teeming with natural wonders, beautiful wildlife, and unique culture. A significant portion of the country’s land consists of protected areas and national parks, which attract hundreds of thousands of nature lovers who wish to experience the African savanna on Tanzania tours. If you are hesitant about Tanzania or need help making up your mind about it, well, you’ve come to the right place! Because here, we’ve prepared a list of 7 reasons why we think a Tanzania safari is what you’re looking for.
- Mount Kilimanjaro
No matter where you live, you’ve probably heard the name Kilimanjaro somewhere; from Hemingway’s short story to the Lion King, Kilimanjaro has gained worldwide fame. And for a good reason! Mount Kilimanjaro (or Kili as some like to call it) is the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Comprising three peaks of Mawenzi, Shira, and Kibo, with Kibo being the tallest of the bunch. While the other two are completely extinct, Kibo remains dormant; No worries, though, since its last volcanic activity is said to be 100 to 200 thousand years ago. This massive, extinct volcano lies north of Tanzania, near the Kenyan Border, and attracts many thousands of tourists and travelers each year.
Shrouded in mist and mystery, Kilimanjaro has been known to the indigenous peoples of Africa for centuries and was a source of legend and folklore. It has also been a source of inspiration for travelers and explorers. Many have attempted to conquer this mountain towering above the East African plateau. Since climbing the mountain requires little to no technical skill or professional experience, it is considered one of the easier climbs among summits of similar size. The slopes up the mountain are not that steep, making the snowy peaks quite accessible. There are records of children, seniors, and disabled people ascending to the top. Make no mistake; as easy as it may seem, peaking the summit requires a tremendous amount of physical endurance and stamina and can take between 4 to 7 days.
The areas around the mountain are covered in dense vegetation and montane forests and are considered protected along with the mountain, under the Kilimanjaro National Park. This registered UNESCO World Heritage Site is rich with different wildlife species like African elephants, giraffes, monkeys, leopards, unique birds, and more, which make your hiking along the several hiking routes all the more memorable. All the above and much more left unsaid make this park one of the best spots for a Tanzania safari.
- The National Parks
Let’s face it; the main reason people visit a country like Tanzania is to enjoy the natural wonders of the savanna and immerse themselves in untouched wildlife under the equator sun. one of the greatest ways to experience this is to go on a Tanzania safari and visit the national parks. And let me tell you that when it comes to national parks and conservation areas, Tanzania does not disappoint! The country has more than 30 of these; in fact, around forty percent of the country’s land area is protected pristine wildlife, all of which are excellent for Tanzania safari experiences.
Tanzania features some of Africa’s best and most famous national parks. The Serengeti National Park, for example, located in the Serengeti area north of Tanzania, is well-known across the globe for the enormous mammal population that considers this protected game reserve their home. Every animal of the African savanna can be found in this UNESCO World Heritage Site: lions, leopards, hyenas, hippos, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, buffalos, rhinos, and more. Therefore, it’s a popular destination for Tanzania safaris. Lake Manyara National Park is another excellent example. Located near Arusha, in the Great Rift Valley, this national park is a haven for migratory birds as well as unique tree-climbing lions. Ngorongoro Conservation Area is another park on the UNESCO list that offers Tanzania safaris for spotting all the Big Five. Selous Game Reserve is the fourth UNESCO registered protected area on this list. It is home to the endangered black rhino and African wild dog, along with other species, and Mahale Mountain National Park, near Lake Tanganyika, is famous for its large population of chimpanzees.
But we’re just scratching the surface here. As we said before, the sheer number of national parks and conservation areas in Tanzania is mindboggling. No matter which city you’re visiting, there’s probably a national park in your proximity where you can go on an adventure in the wilderness, and Tanzania safaris are the perfect way to do so.
- The Great Migration
Another great reason why you should consider a Tanzania safari is the Great Migration, a spectacle of nature. This natural phenomenon is a year-long journey that takes place in the eastern plains of Africa; more than a million wildebeests, zebras, antelopes, and other herding herbivores move around in a circle that stretches from Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, all the way north to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. This journey is essentially what creates the wondrous natural show known as the Great Migration.
Locating and trekking these migratory animals is a challenging task. But if you’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and have a knowledgeable guide by your side, you might catch a glimpse of this epic migration. This cycle takes place in Tanzania for the most part (around nine months), and the herds can be spotted in Kenya approximately from August to October when they look for grasslands and sources of water. During this time, when the herds cross the border near the Mara River, crocodiles, hippos, lions, and other predators feast on the herds, adding to the dramatic effect of this natural show. Now, what’s the best way to experience the Great Migration, you ask? Kenya and Tanzania safaris, my friend! Since the Great Migration is a famous event attracting thousands of tourists annually, tours, safaris, and accommodation options are plenty. Choose one that suits your preferences best, and get ready for some adventures; just make sure to check if the time is right beforehand. You can visit the official Serengeti webpage for more in-depth information about the Great Migration.
- The Fauna
Tanzania’s wildlife is spectacular both in numbers and in variety. Among all the African countries, Tanzania houses around a fifth of the large mammal population. This includes hippos, elephants, chimpanzees, giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, and large predators like lions, cheetahs, leopards, etc., scattered across the country in more than 30 different national parks and conservation areas. According to data, Tanzania has one of the highest carnivorous population densities in the world. Aside from the hundreds of mammal species, Tanzania is also home to nearly a thousand bird species and tens of thousands of different insects. If you’re a fan of birdwatching, or an animal lover in general, Tanzania safaris in the wild can be the thing you’re looking for.
Some of the previously mentioned national parks and reserves are notable for their unique animals. The Serengeti is famous for its large wildebeest population and the Great Migration, while Lake Manyara National Park is one of the only places in the world where tree-climbing lions can be spotted. Mahale Mountains National Park and Gombe Stream National Park, both located west of the country on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, contain some of the highest populations of chimpanzees and other primates; Tarangire National Park has the highest number of elephants in the country, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a well-rounded park that offers an all-inclusive package: you may find the Big Five in one go (i.e., if you’re lucky!). By the way, if you’re wondering, the term “the Big Five” refers to the lion, leopard, black rhino, African elephant, and African buffalo and was used originally because these were the biggest and hardest game animals to hunt. They aren’t hunted anymore, but the name has stuck.
- The Flora
Tanzania is a country with diverse wildlife; from the ice-capped peaks of the Kilimanjaro to the coral reefs of the Zanzibar archipelago and all the green and yellow forests and plains in between, Tanzania is not only biologically diverse with regard to animals, but it is also home to a significant number of plant and flower species. The country hosts several different biomes, each with its unique properties and distinctive plant species. The Savanna tropical grasslands comprise the majority of the area in central Tanzania, where most national parks are located, and the majority of Tanzania safaris take place. These plains contain tall patches of grass and baobab and acacia trees.
The mountainous areas around Mount Kili are covered with low shrubs and montane grasslands, while the coasts near Zanzibar islands, especially in the Rufiji Delta, are prime locations for mangrove forests. Kitulo National Park, south of Tanzania, is located on volcanic soils, perfect for flowers to grow. While the animal species aren’t as varied as some other famous national parks, the park is famed for its montane grasslands and floral diversity. The locals call it “The Garden of God,” while botanists refer to it as the “Serengeti of Flowers.” There are vast plains covered in flowers of all colors.
- The Many Lakes
Tanzania is in the African Great Lakes region, and the Great Rift Valley cuts the country in half. It is no wonder then that there are some amazing lakes found across the country. Some of the choicest Tanzania safaris can be experienced in or near such lakes, on a cruise boat, or a lodge on the shore. These lakes were what inspired the famous American writer, Ernest Hemingway, to write his successful book titled Green Hills of Africa. In the book, Hemingway retells his hunting adventures on a Tanzania safari near Lake Manyara.
Lake Victoria, for example, the second largest freshwater lake in the world, and the source of the Nile River, spans three countries: Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. Near the Tanzanian shores of this massive lake, you can find Rubondo Island National Park, a closed-off chimpanzee sanctuary you can visit. Lake Manyara, Hemingway’s favorite, is also a beautiful lake with a dedicated national park in its proximity. It is home to some unique species that we mentioned before. Lake Natron is a different lake from the rest, though. Located just south of the border with Kenya, this salty, alkaline lake is home to flamingos that intensify the natural pink color of the lake. Lake Tanganyika is another large freshwater lake on the country’s western borders. Aside from the high population of chimps in the parks near the lake, the lake itself is an incredible sight, and you can ride the waves on the famous century-old ferry, MV Liemba, that still cruises those waters to this day.
- The Maasai People
When you’re on a Tanzania safari, especially up north, it’s not uncommon to come across the indigenous Maasai (or Masai) people, whom you can probably distinguish by their shukas or red and purple robes. The Maasai inhibit the plains of the Great Rift Valley in East Africa, mostly in northern Tanzania and southern Kenya. These tribesmen and women live a traditional nomadic life, in close relationships with nature.
If you want to come into direct contact with deeply rooted African cultural heritage, you can embark on a journey in the Serengeti or Ngorongoro on a Tanzania safari, or try visiting the Masai Mara in Kenya to have an up-close and personal experience with the Maasai tribe. In a time when many other African tribes are assimilating into the modern lifestyle, the native Maasai can show you the true beauties and colors of the African savanna. They rule these lands!
More on Tanzania Safaris
We hope this article helped prepare you for your journey to Tanzania and what you can expect on a Tanzania safari. If you like more information about the country and its other attractions, check out the following articles. Kwaheri!