Fast becoming the “hotspot” of all safari destinations, Tanzania should be visited sooner rather than later! With a range of mobile camping safaris, first class lodgings and more recently superb deluxe eco-friendly tented camps and lodges there is something for any budget and more. Highlights include the must not miss Serengeti National Park with its enormous herds of plains game and gorgeous scenery, the Ngorongoro Crater nicknamed the world’s largest wild “zoo”, the snowy peaks of Africa’s highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro, and Amboseli National Park lying in the valley enjoying the views. Capturing images of giraffe or elephant moseying along with the mountain in the background at sunset are definitely for the library! Not forgetting that Tanzania is also home to the exotic island of Zanzibar, where ancient Spice trade route history and fantastic beaches combine – a great conclusion to anyone’s safari.
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• Serengeti National Park
• Ngorongoro Crater
• Mount Kilimanjaro
• Tarangire National Park
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Tanzania is almost a year round destinations, save for March to May which is the rainy season and can put a damper on afternoon game drives. But if you are watching the pennies, then this is the cheapest time to visit, being low season. The prime time to visit for safari is July through September when it is dry season and massive herds of wildebeest and other plains game are moving in their thousands within the enormous expanse of the Serengeti and between the Masai Mara in Kenya. World Journeys recommend ‘mobile’ luxury camps which enable you to move with the migration, depending on the month of travel. If ascending Mt Kilimanjaro is your aim, then January to March, or between June and October are the best times.
The Great Migration
The Great Migration is a nine-month cycle of movement where wildebeest accompanied by zebras, gazelles and impalas are on the move, crossing rivers with hungry crocodiles lurking in the waters, all in search of fresh grazing.Between late June and October the river crossings take place (sometimes backwards and forward over the same rivers!) but it is also good to know that there is wonderful wildlife viewing year-round. Here we take you through a month by month guide of this wonderful circle of life.
In January, February and March the Wildebeest are calving on the southern grasslands of the Serengeti, which means great visibility of animals in one place. This takes place in various Tanzanian safari hot-spots such as the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti and is of great interest to the thousands of predators who are looking for their next meal. Don’t forget your camera!
The rainy season is in April and May. Rains in the bush tend to be afternoon storms rather than continuous showers. Game viewing and photography is generally excellent. When the rains end in May, the land dries fast and the grazing animals move on, heading for their dry season refuge.
In June the wildlife move north through the Serengeti “Western Corridor” into the Lobo area. To get to the grassy plains of Kenya the animals must pass through the crocodile infested waters of several rivers, notably the Grumeti in Tanzania.
In July and August herds are crossing over the Sand and Mara Rivers and into Kenya. A good portion of wildlife still remains in the Serengeti year round, and crossing back and forth is not uncommon.
In the dry season, September and October, big herds are up in the Mara, minus up to a quarter of a million who didn’t make it along the way. It is green and pleasant in Maasai Mara and the wildebeest will be happily grazing. There is resident game in the Serengeti eco-system making for fantastic game viewing.
During November and December much of the grass of the Maasai Mara has been devoured. The animal’s instinct tells them to move southwards to the Serengeti, where the rains are once again beginning, so they return south through the Seronera to the Serengeti, completing the cycle.
Life and death is played out beneath the great East African skies and to witness this is a spectacle you would never forget.
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My second visit to Tanzania has been long awaited…and finally this year I returned. I have vowed not to leave it that long for the next visit. First off I visited the Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, where the wildlife is abundant with lots of plains game and a variety of birdlife. The rooms have extra large beds, well appointed, stunning bathroom and outdoor shower of course! What I loved about Manyara is the scenery – it’s ever changing and the Rift Valley escarpment is breathtaking.
From Manyara, you head to the world famous ‘living zoo’ Ngorongoro Crater a couple of hours drive away. On the first game drive we saw hyena, jackal, wildebeest, zebra, elephants and lions. The crater is a beautiful place and the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge was all I expected and more – quirky but not over the top – stunning rooms – the bubble bath awaiting my return from the game drive was the icing on the cake!
My last stop in this Tanzania itinerary was to &Beyond’s Serengeti Under Canvas, a fantastic concept in safari for it follows the migrating herds around the huge Serengeti area, moving camp every six weeks or so to get the best position. On arrival at Seronella Airstrip we embarked on a 3 hour game drive /transfer to camp and not only did we see tree climbing lions but also two leopards – a great start! Arrived at the camp for a late lunch which was superb and decided to forgo the late afternoon game drive to relax at camp. The living tent houses comfy sofas and the bar, and there is a separate dining tent. All of the staff are Tanzanians and their super friendliness is such a pleasure. Each tent has a butler – brilliant idea! Until the next visit… Brett
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Currency Tanzanian Shilling
Language English and Swahili are the official languages of Tanzania
Why we love it Tanzania boasts (as it should!) three of the major highlights of Africa within its scenic borders – Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro and Ngorongoro Crater. The Serengeti is a land of wide open plains and Acacia trees, home to huge herds of wildlife and the ensuing predators that follow them. Of course one of its biggest attractions is the great migration in which you can view the largest mass movement of wildlife on the planet. Your chances of viewing a possibly deadly chase is very high on safari in Tanzania! The Serengeti is also one of the best places to enjoy a hot air balloon ride in all Africa. Mount Kilimanjaro of course for the more adventurous among is actually considered a “hike” rather than a mountain climb and there are several different routes to choose to the top depending on your level of fitness and whether you choose tents or huts. We have “the” experts when it comes to organising your climb so speak to us for more information. The world’s so called largest “living zoo” is the Ngorongoro Crater – inside which zebra, wildebeest and other wildlife graze all day alongside lion and rhino. Atop the crater rim, the Masai tend to their herds as they have done for centuries alongside the wildlife.
Weather Tanzania’s most pleasant season for travelling is during June through September when the days are warm and mild on the safari circuit, though July and August are the height of the peak season. The main rainy season is March to May when it does rain daily and this can hamper the roads if you are travelling distances on safari. The shorter and less eventful rainy season is November/December with short, light showers.
Social customs & quirks Two of the most well known cultures of Tanzania are the Masai tribe and the Swahili of the Zanzibar archipelago. The Masai inhabit the northern part of the country, live off the land and very traditional to their culture still to this day. Cultural tourism is certainly very popular and visits to Masai villages can be incorporated into your safari in Tanzania. The male elder is the boss of the Masai society and once young warriors become elders they may then take on a wife and begin a family of his own. The Swahili people are a great deal different to the Masai – a heady mix of backgrounds including Arab, Indian and Bantu with the Indian Ocean as their work and playground. Cuisine on the “Spice Islands” is as you can imagine – coconut, curries, spices and seafood making up the most mouth-watering dishes!
Festivals & events A lot of the festivities in Tanzania are centred in Zanzibar, with its middle eastern influences such as the Eid al-Fitr (Ramadan) and Eid al-Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Also taking place there is the Mwaka Kogwa which is the Persian New Year celebration around 23rd or 24th of July. Singing, dancing, jousting and feasting all take place mainly in and around the village of Makunduchi.
Health* There are no compulsory health requirements on entering Tanzania, although if you are travelling from a Yellow Fever infected country you will be required to have a vaccination certificate. Malaria precautions are highly recommended, particularly during and after the rainy season and you should consult your health practitioner for the best advice on which precautions to take.
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Notes *Please be aware that Health information is subject to change at any time and you should always double check these requirements at the time of booking and before travel.