Tanzania: Wildlife Destinations
Mahale Mountains National Park
Mahale Mountains' star species: Chimpanzee • Blue monkey • Red colobus • Red-tailed monkey
Tracking chimps in lush forest along the far-flung eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika is the highlight of a visit to this beautiful park. Members of the habituated Mimikire group are relaxed near human visitors, often enabling you to view them from close quarters.
Getting there Light aircraft flights from Arusha or Dar-Selous-Ruaha.
Getting around Be prepared to walk for anything from 30 minutes to three hours to locate the chimps.
When to go Forest paths are driest August to October.
Things to do Chimp tracking, kayaking, dhow trips, fishing, hiking.
Places to stay Greystoke Mahale is set on a sandy, lakeside beach and is renowned for its knowledgeable guides and expert trackers.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro's star species: Black rhino • Lion • Elephant • Buffalo • Leopard • Spotted hyena • Plains zebra
A spectacular natural arena for one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife, Ngorongoro Crater is a vast caldera, up to 19km wide and surrounded by 600m-high walls. In addition to large herds of zebra, buffalo and antelope, the crater has over 30 black rhino and a thriving population of elephant – including some impressive tuskers. At least 500 hyena prowl the crater’s grasslands, competing with the 60-odd lion for the position of top hunter. A few cheetah manage to hold out amongst these bolder predators, while leopard are sometimes seen in the forest of yellow-bark fever trees. Bat-eared fox and golden jackal are regularly spotted, while hippo are a regular feature of the swamp area. Flamingos and other waders can be found around Lake Magadi, but the plains are also teeming with birds, including kori bustard and crowned crane and rosy-throated longclaw. The only thing potentially spoiling this microcosm of Africa is the number of safari vehicles and the tendency for drivers to gravitate towards big cats and rhinos. However, for guaranteed sightings, magnificent scenery and a good chance of witnessing predator action, Ngorongoro is hard to beat.
Getting there 165km west of Arusha.
Getting around Game drives; 4WD vehicles are essential for negotiating the tracks in and out of the crater.
When to go Year round; June to September can get very busy.
Things to do Game drives; access to crater restricted from 0630-1800.
Places to stay No accommodation in crater itself, but five lodges on the crater rim, including the luxurious Ngorongoro Crater Lodge with its exotic suites, fine dining and butler service.
Selous Game Reserve
Selous' star species: African wild dog • Lion • Elephant • Buffalo • Hippopotamus • Crocodile
Lying at the heart of Tanzania’s less-trodden southern safari circuit, Selous covers 45,000 sq km of plains, forests and hills – plenty of space for you to immerse yourself in the solitude of a true African wilderness. The handful of camps in the Selous are found mainly along the Rufiji River – the reserve’s wildlife artery, pulsing with birds, hippo and crocodiles. Boat trips are a highlight of any visit, as are walking safaris.
Getting there Nearest entrance around 250km from Dar es Salaam.
Getting around 4WD vehicles.
When to go Some lodges close April to June.
Things to do Game drives, boat trips, walking safaris.
Places to stay Beho Beho, Lake Manze Camp, Rufiji River Camp, Sand Rivers, Selous Impala Camp and Selous Safari Camp. Some properties can arrange fly-camping, staying in simple, temporary bushcamps.
Serengeti National Park
Serengeti's star species: Wildebeest • Zebra • Thomson’s gazelle • Lion • Cheetah
Grand stage for the wildebeest migration (see blog for a full description, with timings etc), the Serengeti is utterly transfixing – a 15,000-sq-km expanse of savannah and acacia woodland, populated with large herds of game and abundant predators. Although timing is crucial to witness the migration, some areas have good year-round wildlife – particularly Seronera and the Western Corridor. Neighbouring reserves, like Grumeti and Loliondo, offer exclusive accommodation and the bonus of walking safaris, horse riding and night drives – activities that are not permitted in the national park.
Getting there Around 300 km northwest of Arusha.
Getting around 4WD vehicles.
When to go Year round. See blog for migration timings.
Things to do Game drives, hot-air ballooning, walking safaris.
Places to stay Wide range of camps and lodges
Eastern Arc Mountains
For spectacular big game, places like the Masai Mara, Serengeti and South Luangwa are hard to beat. And for abundant birdlife the Rift Valley lakes are a natural choice. But if you’re after sheer biodiversity then head to the Eastern Arc Mountains and coastal forests of East Africa. Stretching from Tanzania’s Udzungwa mountains to the Taita Hills in Kenya, this region supports a greater variety of species than anywhere in East Africa, including no less than 50 endemic species of reptile. Other wildlife unique to Kenya includes the Shimba Hills banana frog, the golden-rumped elephant shrew (found only in coastal forests north of Mombasa), the Malindi pipit (endemic to Kenya’s coastal grasslands) and the Tana River red colobus monkey – of which only around 1,200 individuals remain in patches of gallery forest along the lower Tana River.
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WHEN TO GO
The north is good all year, although the best time for climbing Kilimanjaro is March to September. The coast can be wet and stormy March to May, while southern parks can be inaccessible during April-June rains.