We firmly believe that planning a Tanzania safari can be just as much fun as going on the trip itself. But we also know that organising a trip can be confusing and even a little bit frustrating – and that’s where we come in. Below, we’ve put together our top Tanzania travel tips, from the right airports to fly into, to the best time of year to travel – and a few nuggets of knowledge in between. And if you’re still debating the finer details of your trip to Tanzania, have a look at our other guides on where to go here, and when to go, here.
How long should I go for?
First on our list of Tanzania travel tips is this golden question and one that we get asked a lot. Our most common answer? It’s totally up to you. Seven to 10 nights for a multi-park or multi-country safari is a good starting point with two nights minimum in each camp (but we rather like three). Less than that and you’re in and out before you can say, ‘There’s a lion in that bush.’ But even if you’ve only got four nights then we can make it work – stay in one place with a variety of activities and maximise your wildlife viewing time. If you want to stay for seven nights in one place and make the most of the swimming pool and the down time, then that’s fine too. Play around with our trip designer and discover what works best for your time and budget.
Driving may seem like the most sensible option for moving around between safari parks, but actually, it’s not always possible due to the long distances and in some cases, wild terrain! The parks of Tanzania’s northern circuit, however, are ideally located to combine in a driving route – and that’s the second of our Tanzania top tips. Driving will undoubtedly save you a few pennies but it’s also a great way to see the ‘behind the scenes’ aspect of a country that you may miss if you choose to fly. Our Tanzania driving route combines Tarangire, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro but you could also consider adding Lake Manyara or some time at the beach – blissful Ras Katuni is even within driving distance of Dar es Salaam (although you may need to hop on a plane to get to Dar first!).
When should I travel?
The weather in Tanzania is fairly easily divided into different seasons. The main dry season runs from July to September and you can expect warm days and clear, blue skies as well as excellent game viewing. No surprise, then, that it’s the most popular time to visit. There is however another shorter dry season that runs from the end of December (just in time for Christmas!) to February. The rain tends to fall from March to May, and then again briefly in October/November time. But our Tanzania travel tip would be to not let the rain put you off! There’s no northern hemisphere drizzle here, and thunderstorms tend to be short, sharp and spectacular. Game viewing in places like the Serengeti is phenomenal (think lots of babies being born and beautiful, emerald plains), and plenty of migratory birds in places like Ruaha and Tarangire.
We couldn’t give you a list of Tanzania travel tips without mentioning the coastline. With an exotic array of tropical islands and more postcard-perfect beaches than sunbathing time, Tanzania ticks all the boxes for a classic ‘bush-and-beach’ holiday. Most flights out to the islands leave from Dar es Salaam and the connections are so easy, adding a few days at the beach is almost compulsory. The three main islands are Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia (read more about the differences between them here). Zanzibar is the largest and easiest to get to, and it’s the perfect mix of old-world culture and beach luxe. Pemba is a remote, easy-going island that’s perfect to get away from it all, whilst Mafia is the place to be for snorkelling with whale sharks – and just generally fantastic marine-life viewing whether by boat or under the water.
Head off the beaten track
It’s true that some parks in Tanzania can get a little busy at times, so use it to your advantage and try something a little different? Rubondo Island, a tropical wildlife sanctuary in the middle of Lake Victoria is just the place for a Robinson Crusoe-esque adventure,whilst the glorious Mahale Mountains offer world-class chimp trekking. If your heart is set on the northern circuit, then how about traversing the Ngorongoro Highlands with a dedicated Maasai by your side? And if you really can’t leave out the Serengeti but aren’t so keen on the crowds, check out the Grumeti concession (our favourite lodges include Singita Faru Faru or the more classic Legendary Mobile Camp) in the west of the park. Here, tourists and lodges are few but wildlife is plentiful and you’ll still catch the Great Migration if you visit in April or May.
Check your airports!
Next on our list of Tanzania travel tips is a reminder to have a look at the different airports in a country. Don’t assume that the only option is to fly into the capital city which in Tanzania’s case is Dar es Salaam. KLM have just launched a direct flight from Europe to Kilimanjaro, which is 30 minutes outside Arusha and the perfect connection for anyone heading to the Serengeti and the parks in the north. Also look at ‘open-jaw’ tickets, for example flying in to Kilimanjaro but flying out of Dar. This is the perfect combination if you’d like to head down to the coast after your safari.
Tanzania is a great all-encompassing destination but if wanderlust has got the better of you, it’s easy to combine a safari here with a few days in a different country. The last of our Tanzania travel tips is to have a look at adding some extra days in one of the neighbouring East African countries. The flight connections in and out of the major airports (Entebbe in Uganda, Nairobi in Kenya and Kigali in Rwanda) are good and time-wasting is kept to a minimum. So, what can you do? If you’ve always fancied tracking gorillas in Rwanda, how about combining it with a classic game drive in the Serengeti and some time on Zanzibar? Our trip, A Rwanda & Tanzania combination is a good place to start. If Uganda sounds more your thing, combine tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth with a gorilla trek in Bwindi and then of course, some R&R in Zanzibar in this trip. A win-win situation!