Safari in Tanzania is an experience like no other. The vast landscape, the incredible wildlife, and the sense of adventure make it an unforgettable trip. We were lucky to visit Tanzania for the first time a few years ago, which still ranks among our favorite travel memories.
Tanzania’s Northern Circuit is a great place to start. This region offers several stunning national parks, including Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and the famous Serengeti. Tour operators provide many possibilities, ranging from budget camping safaris to luxury lodging safaris. If you’re on a tight budget, consider visiting Tarangire National Park as a day trip from Arusha or Dar es Salaam. If you’re thinking of going on a safari, here are some tips to help make your safari unforgettable.
The Northern Curcuit
Are you planning a safari in Tanzania? You’ll most likely stumble upon Arusha. The mid-sized city is nestled right in the middle of the “Northern Circuit” between several stunning national parks such as Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and the famous Serengeti. It is a fantastic starting point for safaris to discover African wildlife.
Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park is located 75 miles southwest of Arusha, and it’s easy to get there (a 1.5-hour drive). The relatively small park covers about 2900 sq. Km. But rivals the Serengeti with its diverse landscape. As so often, luck stroked us: we found ourselves on our “private” safari as nobody joined our group. We passed the landmark baobab trees and massive termite mounds until we spotted our first bigger game.
Although it is the least visited park on the Northern Circuit, it teems with wildlife and is an excellent place for those who want to explore beyond game drives. Tarangire is home to 300 herds of elephants and large populations of buffalo, lions, and leopards. Tarangire has the highest concentration of mammals in the country during the dry season. There are also rare antelope such as gerenuk, plus more than 550 species of birds to spot throughout the year.
The park is named after the Tarangire River, which runs straight through the park. The river is the only source of water during the dry season.
We observed herds of zebras, wildebeests, buffalos, impalas, warthogs, giraffes, and monkeys. Our driver Benjamin explained how the animals protect themselves and their babies from predators. Seeing a family of elephants was our favorite! It’s an incredible feeling to be so close to the gentle giants. The quietness and the magnitude of the elephants are breathtaking. Tarangire National Park was declared a wildlife reserve in 1970, and a massive elephant population recovered.
Visiting Tarangire National Park
Best time to visit Tarangire National Park:
Dry season: The best time to visit is during the dry season, from June to October, when the animals cluster around the Tarangire River.
High season: July and August are the top high season when most tourists visit.
Rainy season: March and April are the wettest months and have fewer visitors. During those months, the vegetation is full and lush, and the sky is supposed to be primarily dramatic at sunrises and sunsets.
Tarangire National Park entry fees and costs
For 180$, we went on a day trip to Tarangire National Park with the local provider African Travel Tour in Arusha. Our package included a comfortable safari jeep, lunch, and a guide.
The entry fees for Tarangire National Park are $ 53 incl. The VAT was already included, too.
Tarangire National Park offers some rather expensive lodges on the park’s grounds. However, there’s also a campsite. Therefore, we can only recommend a day trip from Arusha if you are traveling on a budget.
Places to stay around Tarangire
Located a bit off the beaten path Asmorein is a true home away from close to Lake Babati. The views are stunning.
Located right inside Tarangire National park, 10 cute tents are open for visitors. The service is amazing and the feeling to hear wildlife so close by is incredible!
Ngorongoro Crater is home to an estimated 30,000 animals, including lions, elephants, zebras, and rhinos. The best time to visit the crater is when animals congregate around the shrinking water sources during the dry season.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the best places for a safari in Tanzania. The world’s largest volcanic caldera provides fertile and rich grassing grounds. It is home to the highest density of big game in Africa. The area is also home to maybe the most well-known tribal culture in Africa, the Masai.
Ngorongoro Conservation area
The excursion to the Ngorongoro Conservation area offers the possibility to get a little insight into the life of the Massai. In bigger family clans, the Massai live together in so-called Bomas, their homes. Several bomas form a group of families, which a headman leads. The number of cows a family owns is a symbol of richness and power and plays a vital role within the community.
Wildlife to see at Ngorongoro
The safari trips through Ngorongoro allow you to see animals in their natural habitat that you would not see elsewhere. In addition, the crater provides suitable conditions for many different animal species, making it possible to encounter rhinos, elephants, hippos, Zebra, Wildebeest, and many more. The breathtaking, almost surreal view comes at a price: park entrance fees are high, and so are the number of tourists.
Best time to visit Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro Crater is an all-year-round safari destination as water and pasture within its protecting caldera walls provide for the resident animals.
Dry season: Lasts from June to September. During this time, the grass is lower, making wildlife spotting in the Ngorongoro Crater area easier.
Rainy season: From October till December, short rains make up for lush vegetation and lesser crowds.
In January and February, it’s calving time with thousands of newborn wildebeests.
It can get a bit chilly at the top of the crater from June to August.
Ngorongoro entry fees and costs
Expect to pay a 50 € entrance fee per person and day, plus a charge of 250 for the vehicle. A guide will cost between 40 and 100 € per day.
Camping starts from 30 € per night. Lodges start at 150 € per night. The crater is located 120 km outside of Arusha. If you are up for it, you can visit the National Park on a day trip or a multi-day safari.
Serengeti National Park
Tanzania’s world-famous Serengeti National Park is probably best known for the yearly immigration of about one million wildebeests accompanied by hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles chasing the rains in a race for life. Seeking water and pasture, the herds are followed by their predators. The migration makes up for incredibly thrilling game drives as they move north. The Serengeti National Park is far from Arusha and is one of the most expensive due to its popularity.
The Serengeti National Park is the oldest and largest national park in Tanzania. ‘Serengeti’ comes from the Maasai language and means’ endless plains.’ The park covers an area of almost 15,000 square kilometers (5800 square miles), of which about 3500 square kilometers (1350 square miles) are covered in grassland. The Serengeti National Park is located north of Tanzania and borders Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. The park is divided into three regions: the Seronera area in the center, the Western Corridor in the west, and the Northern Serengeti in the north. Each of these regions has its unique landscape and wildlife.
Visiting Serengeti National Park
Best time to visit the Serengeti National Park
When visiting the Serengeti, it’s worth planning your trip according to the significant migration.
January- March: During the winter months, the vast grasslands of the Southern Serengeti become home to wildebeests, zebras, and their predators.
June-October: As the migration moves north towards the Grumeti River, be ready to see grazers take on the crocodile-manifested river before reaching Lobo.
November- December: Short rains start. The best game-watching is near Grumeti River.
Serengeti entry fees, lodges, and costs
Big game watching in the famous Serengeti comes at a price. The entry fee for the Serengeti is $70 per day. Accommodation starts at &200 per night. Of course, you’ll need a vehicle and guide, too. Expect a total of at least $400 per day. The much cheaper option is to stay just outside of Serengeti. Prices for accommodations are much less expensive in the outskirts and go on day trips to the park. You’ll still get to see plenty of wildlife if you are lucky.
Places to stay around Serengeti
Africa Safari Maasai Boma Camping
As the name suggests, the accommodation is inspired by a traditional Maasai boma. Look around and you will understand why; you are in their midst. The round mud houses with thatched roofs are simple and solid, yet comfortable.
Lake Manyara is one of the smaller and more underrated National Parks in Tanzania. It impresses with its beautiful and varied landscape. Ranging from savanna to ever-vast forest, the National Park is home to a significant population of elephants.
The most significant feature of Lake Manyara National park is the Great Rift Valley. The valley runs along the eastern side of Africa and creates some of the continent’s deepest lakes.
Lake Manyara is one of these. However, due to its shallowness, it often dries up completely during the dry season. The lake thereby creates a unique opportunity to see one of the world’s largest concentrations of flamingos as they come to feed on the algae that bloom in the newly created pools.
The park becomes home to millions of flamingos and other birds during the rainy season. Lake Manyara National Park is approximately 2.5 hours from Arusha in the direction of the Serengeti National Park. It makes an excellent introduction to a safari tour. Lake Manyara has one of the highest populations of baboons in all of Africa – so you’re sure to see some interesting furry friends during your visit!
Visiting Lake Manyara Park
Best time to visit Lake Manyara
You can see Lake Manyara all year round.
Dry season: From June to September.
Rainy season: Allows for easier wildlife spotting. During the rainy season, the vegetation is green and offers some fantastic views. Bird watching is also best during the rainy season.
Lake Manyara entry fees, lodges, and costs
The entry fee is $45 per day. So calculate around $180 daily for a group tour and about $25 for tips daily.
Places to stay around Lake Manyara
As a guest you can experience wild animals on safari, the bushmen at Lake Eyasi or the happy children in a school. You can come to relax, to experience, or to get involved with helping hands in the society. Foresight Eco Lodge offers a variety of opportunities for open-minded people.
Arusha National Park
Tanzania is a country that is world-renowned for its safari trips. The Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lake Manyara are commonly visited national parks on a Tanzania safari. However, one park is often overlooked: Arusha National Park. Arusha National Park is located only 40 minutes outside the city center, making it an excellent option for a day trip. The park is dominated by the perfect volcanic cone of Mount Meru, and it offers an excellent opportunity to spot black and white Colobus Monkeys. In addition, the park is home to the most significant giraffe population in Tanzania! The park is home to over 700 of these gentle giants! You can often find them roaming around in small groups, munching on leaves from the acacia trees. So if you are looking for a less crowded park with plenty of wildlife to see, don’t overlook Arusha National Park!
How to get to Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park is located about 40 minutes outside of the Arusha city center. Dominated by the perfect volcanic cone of Mount Meru, the park is a beautifully varied topographic area.
Visiting Arusha National Park
Best time to visit Arusha National Park
Game-watching is pleasant throughout the year.
Dry season: From July-October. It’s easier to see wildlife gathering around waterholes.
Rainy season: From March to May. The park is home to various migratory bird species.
Arusha National Park entry fees, lodges, and costs
The entry fee is $45 per person per day. You can easily visit Arusha National Park on a day trip. If you decide to stay longer, basic huts start at $30 per day. A guide will cost you around $20 per day. Arusha National Park is one of the few parks that you can explore within a walking safari. Prices start at $200 per day.
Places to stay around Arusha National Park
Set among the woodland slopes of Mount Meru at the edge of Lake Duluti, there’s no better destination for soaking in the beauty and magnificence of the Tanzanian “Northern Safari Circuit.”
Very cute homestay right in the Center of Arusha. Great location to explore Arusha and its surroundings, especially great for those of you who stay longer.
Practical travel tips for your safari in Tanzania
When is the best time to to go on Safari in Tanzania?
The best time to embark on a safari adventure in Tanzania largely depends on your preferences and what you hope to experience during your trip. However, one of the most popular times to visit is during the dry season, which typically spans from late June to October. This period offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities as animals tend to gather around water sources, making them easier to spot. The Great Migration, where millions of wildebeest and zebras cross the Serengeti, is a highlight during July and August. On the other hand, the short rains from November to December can provide lush landscapes and fewer crowds. Alternatively, if you're interested in birdwatching and don't mind some afternoon showers, the green season from January to March is a fantastic choice. Ultimately, the best time for your Tanzanian safari depends on your preferences for weather, wildlife, and crowd levels.
Yet, Chefchaouen is an all-year-round travel destination. If you plan extensive hiking in the mountains, check the weather.
The weather is a lot more extreme in the Rif Mountains. Keep in mind that kif (marijuana) is harvested from August to October, and it may be harder to find transportation.
Do I tip when going on safari?
Yes! Load up on cash before going on safari. It is common practice to tip drivers and staff (guide, tracker, camp staff, and aids).
Expect to tip at least $15 -$20 for guides and trackers and $10 to camp staff and aids per day.
Tips are not included in the safari price.
Can I drink tap water in Tanzania?
You can not drink tap water in Tanzania without risking becoming sick. Bring your water filter or purifier and enjoy cool drinks while avoiding plastic pollution.
What should I pack for a safari in Tanzania?
When packing for your safari adventure in Tanzania, comfort and functionality should be your top priorities. I can't stress enough the importance of lightweight, breathable clothing. Opt for neutral colors like khaki, tan, and olive to blend in with the natural surroundings and avoid attracting unnecessary attention from wildlife. Long-sleeved shirts and pants help protect against the sun and potential insect bites. A wide-brimmed hat and a good pair of sunglasses are essential for shielding your eyes from the African sun. Don't forget a sturdy pair of walking boots or comfortable closed-toe shoes for those game drives and bush walks. And, of course, a lightweight rain jacket or poncho for the occasional unexpected shower. Lastly, remember to pack binoculars and a camera to capture the incredible moments you'll undoubtedly encounter on your Tanzanian safari.
Packing List Safari
In Tanzania you can come eye to eye big game while safari and see some of the most incredible wildlife on earth. Yet, packing for a safari is quite the challange. Check. out our packing list to come fully prepared for your trip!
You’ll find anything from clothing to travel gadgets and eco-friendly toiletries.
Places to visit in Tanzania
With its diverse cultures, beautiful nature and rich history Tanzania is a country not to be forgotten.
The beaches in Zanzibar are stunning. White palm trees seam white sandy beaches with perfectly turquoise water. Even though Zanzibar has been a popular tourist destination for quite some time, you’ll still find authentic, quiet villages and empty beaches.
Arusha, Tanzania, is a city in the middle of two worlds. This creates an exciting mix of people and cultures that make Arusha is unique. Arusha itself is a dusty, charming mid-sized African city.
Tanzania’s former capital, often referred to as “Dar,” is not only Tanzania’s second largest city but one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Located along the coast of the Indian Ocean, Dar es Salaam is brimming with activities for anyone.