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Tanzania Country Guide

Your guide to navigating Tanzania's amazing safari circuit

Tanzania is big. Really big, in fact, and home to more than a few national parks and reserves, in all corners of the country. For safari planning, it’s useful to view the country in three parts – the north (Serengeti, Tarangire, Ngorongoro), the south (Ruaha and Selous) and the west (Katavi and Mahale). Not to be forgotten, of course, is the languid coastline and the tranquil Indian Ocean islands.

Here’s your definitive Tanzania travel guide to where to go on safari. And if you want to get some extra tips, have a look at Top 10 Tanzania travel tips here.

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The North

The ‘Northern Circuit’ as it’s often called is classic Tanzania and is as perfect for first-timers as it is for honeymooners and experienced safari aficionados. This is the Africa of clichés and every single one of them is justified: visit the Serengeti for marvelling at the world-famous Great Migration, Tarangire for dreamy landscapes, walking and fly-camping, and the Ngorongoro Crater for ultimate Big Five game viewing. Stops in Lake Manyara for the spectacular powder-pink flamingo or at Lake Natron, which is also popular and easy to include.

How do I do it?

All parks in the north are serviced by regular daily flights from Arusha and Kilimanjaro Airport. There are several routes around the parks, but most flights fly in one big circle, stopping at several destinations one after the other, dropping passengers and collecting them as they go.

The northern part of Tanzania is one of the only safari destinations on the continent where it’s possible to drive between camps in a private-guided vehicle. It’s an excellent way to save money and safari on a budget and is also good for small groups and family travel BUT beware of the curse of the bumpy road!

Where do I start?

A great northern Tanzania travel guide must have a beginning. Start with our sample itinerary, A Classic Safari Tale. Pick and mix your lodges to save money, add in some beach time in Zanzibar at the end or make a quick stop in Lake Manyara – the choice is yours!

Lake Natron
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The South

Further south are Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve. You might not get the Great Migration down here, but what you do get are vast swathes of stunning landscapes (with very few tourists), expert and extremely passionate guides and the chance to walk, fly camp and even safari by boat. Visiting both parks would, of course, be first prize, but if time only allows for one, a few days in either will knock your socks off.

How do I do it?

The south might be a little trickier to get to but once you’ve made the effort, it will most certainly be rewarded. Flights to Ruaha and Selous depart from Dar es Salaam Airport but it’s also possible to fly from the Serengeti or Arusha if you are visiting a Northern park first. However, a lot of internal flights can rocket the cost, which is worth bearing in mind when planning your trip.

Where do I start?

Start with our Untamed Tanzania itinerary in Ruaha and Selous and swap lodges around to make the most of your budget. If you would like to visit the north first, explore the a canvas dream trip as a starting point and add some time at the coast to the end.

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The West

The ‘Wild West’ of Tanzania is truly that – wild! Again, it can be difficult  (and costly) to get to, but walking with chimps in the Mahale Mountains or game viewing in the remote wilderness of Katavi is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How do I do it?

Be prepared to part with a few dollars if you would like to add Katavi or Mahale to your itinerary. Both parks are remote and although serviced by flights from the southern parks and Dar es Salaam, they don’t come cheap.

Where do I start?

Have a look at our Tanzania’s Wild West itinerary for a good starting point. Lodges are more limited than in other areas, but there’s still a few to play around with.

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The Coast

Next up on our Tanzania travel guide is the coast. Tanzania certainly isn’t short of a postcard-worthy beach or two. Within easy driving distance from Dar es Salaam is the magical Ras Kutani area whilst tropical Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia Islands are all a short flight away – that’s white sand, world-class diving and easy living at your fingertips.

How do I do it?

The cheapest flights to Zanzibar and Mafia Islands tend to depart from Dar es Salaam but you can also fly directly from Arusha and Kilimanjaro and sometimes the Serengeti airstrips. Dar is easily accessible from pretty much all of Tanzania’s airstrips, making it one of the best ‘bush-and-beach’ combos there is.

Where do I start?

Our Classic Tanzanian Bush and Beach Safari combines the northern circuit with a few days in Zanzibar and our Remote Bush and Beach trip takes in Selous and Mafia Island. Swap your lodges, change the number of nights or add in some time in Ras Kutani if you’re looking for something cheaper.

Mafia Island
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