SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
The Serengeti is Tanzania's oldest and most popular national park, also a world heritage site and recently proclaimed a 7th world wide wonder.
There are so many different species in the Serengeti that this list could go on forever. The Serengeti's main attraction is the Great Migration, consisting of up to 2 million wildebeest, 200,000 zebras and 350,000 Thompson, Impala and Grant's gazelles.
The predator viewing here is exceptional with approximately 3-4,000 lion and huge numbers of cheetah, leopard and hyena. Other game found in the park include topi, eland, hartebeest, buffalo, elephant, caracal, serval, bat-eared fox, hyraz, genet, hares, porcupine, aardvark, giraffe, jackal, mongoose, crocodile, monitor lizard, aardwolf, many kinds of primates including baboons, vervet and colobus monkeys, and over 500 species of bird.
The spectacle of predator versus prey dominates Tanzania’s greatest park. Golden-maned lion prides feast on the abundance of plain grazers. Solitary leopards haunt the acacia trees lining the Seronera River, while a high density of cheetahs prowls the southeastern plains. Almost uniquely, all three African jackal species occur here, alongside the spotted hyena and a host of more elusive small predators, ranging from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful serval cat.
As enduring as the game-viewing is the liberating sense of space that characterises the Serengeti Plains, stretching across sunburnt savannah to a shimmering golden horizon at the end of the earth. Yet, after the rains - this golden expanse of grass is transformed into an endless green carpet flecked with wildflowers. And there are also wooded hills and towering termite mounds, rivers lined with fig trees and acacia woodland stained orange by dust.
There is no better way to see the Serengeti in its entirety than camping in the midst of the activity than under a canvas.
Ngorongoro Crater is a vast and unbroken volcanic crater ring, that's home to nearly every species of African animal. Deservedly referred to as Africa's Eden, where zebra, buffalo and wildebeest graze amongst the predatory lion, cheetah and hyena, whilst pink flamingos and hippos gather at the waters edge. Ngorongoro Crater is also one of the last remaining areas in Tanzania where you can see the endangered Black Rhino. Our safari vehicles descend the crater wall that is teeming with these animals.
In the lake on the crater floor and in the Ngoitokitok swamps, reside plenty of hippos who remain partially submerged during the day and graze on grass at night. The stunning pink flamingo is also resident at the Crater.
The Ngorongoro Crater is a natural amphitheatre created about 2 million years ago when the cone of a volcano collapsed into itself, leaving a 100 sq. mile cauldron-like cavity.
The landscape is made up of a blend of volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and mountain forests, where the wildlife is extensive. The southern and eastern boundaries are approximately defined by the rim of the Great Rift Valley, which also prevents animal migration in these directions. The annual ungulate migration passes through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, with wildebeest and zebra moving south into the area in December and moving north in June.
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK
Lake Manyara National Park offers a wilderness experience in diverse habitats, from its Rift Valley soda lake to dense woodlands and steep mountainsides. Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”. Apart from a spectacular setting, the park is famous for its elephant and tree climbing lions although you are also likely to see large herds of cape buffalo, pods of hippo, small herds of impala, waterbuck, giraffe and zebra along with warthog families and reedbuck. Troops of baboons and vervet monkeys live in the forest and open areas whilst blue monkeys live only in the forest. Monitor lizards can often be spotted sunning themselves on the riverbanks. Families of mongeese, who tend to live in old termite mounds, are often seen foraging for food.
From the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle-like groundwater forest where hundred-strong baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside, blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees, dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows, and outsized forest hornbills honk cacophonously in the high canopy.
Contrasting with the intimacy of the forest is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views eastward, across the alkaline lake, to the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the endless Masai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, as do giraffes – some so dark in coloration that they appear to be black from a distance.
Inland of the floodplain, a narrow belt of acacia woodland is the favoured haunt of Manyara’s legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants.
Oldupai Gorge is the most famous archaeological location in East Africa, and a popular stopover point for travellers coming from Serengeti or Ngorongoro. Not only have fossils of humanoid origin been found but also fossils from prehistoric animals that lived around them.
Early mans existence here is illustrated by the four different kinds of hominids found there show a gradual increase in brain size and in complexity of their stone tools. The guides for the museum also give on-site interpretation of the gorge. Oldupai museum at the gorge is also very useful for information and education, with many specimens, and exhibits.
Lake Eyasi, just south of the Serengeti, is a wild, scenically stunning area where you can get a real insight into the way of life of some of Tanzania's fascinating tribes, most notably the Hadzabe tribe of hunter-gatherers and the Datoga people.
Lake Eyasi lies in one of the oldest parts of the Eastern Rift Valley, it runs for a distance of about fifty miles below the impressive three thousand foot escarpment, which forms the south-eastern boundary of the Serengeti National Park and Maswa game reserve.
Eyasi is not somewhere to come in search of game, but it is an interesting part of Tanzania to see flamingos, pelicans and plenty of other waders in the shallow soda lake.
Lake Natron is a salt and soda lake in the Arusha Region of northern Tanzania. Part of Africa's immense Great Rift Valley, Lake Natron is famous for its flamingos and its rumoured ability to turn animals to stone! It is not renowned for it’s dense wildlife - but its is for its dramatic scenery!
The lake is set between rolling volcanic hills and deep craters at the lowest point of the Great Rift Valley, the surrounding volcanic hills are mesmerising, as is the nearby Oldoinyo Lengai volcano, which is still active and the only volcano in the world to produce black lava. Tanzania holidays to Lake Natron are far off the beaten track, with few other visitors around and only a few Masai settlements dotted over the vast landscape. You might spot the odd zebra or giraffe – and definitely thousands of flamingoes gathering around the lake!
Lake Natron's alkaline filled waters are the perfect barrier to predators, which leaves the flamingos unthreatened and safe. The area is quite inhospitable and certainly better suited for a traveller who won't mind the dry, hot climate.
TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
Tarangire National Park covers an undulating area of 2,600km2. The park's most obvious features are the permanent Tarangire River, which runs the length of it, and the vast 'swamps' – which are, in fact, dry for most of the year. Despite the fact that Tarangire is drier than the Serengeti, its vegetation is generally much more dense including densely packed elephant grass, large areas of mixed acacia woodlands and some lovely ribbons of riverine forest.
Particularly large numbers of elephant herds congregate here, as do many wildebeest and zebra. There are also substantial populations of impala, giraffe, eland and buffalo. Thompson's gazelle, Coke's hartebeest, bohor reedbuck and both greater and lesser kudu are found here. The localized and unusual gerenuk and fringe-eared oryx also occur here. There are still thought to be a few black rhino in the park.
Lion are common throughout Tarangire, as are leopard. Spotted hyena are always around, and whilst wild dog do sometimes pass through; sightings of them are rare.
ARUSHA TOWNSHIP & ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK
Surrounded by some of the most fascinating and varied national parks in Africa, Arusha sits snugly in a wide expanse of fertile volcanic land in the foothills of Kilimanjaro's little brother, Mount Meru. Arusha is the starting point for Tanzania's Northern Circuit safaris; many safaris start from here every day. But viewing Arusha simply as a safari centre is not doing it justice; it really is one of Tanzania's beautiful regions and the town itself has a very welcoming feel.
In Arusha practically everything centers on the safari industry. From 1978 to today, it has risen from ninth largest town to second-largest town, with a population of 270,000. It is likely that the driving force behind Arusha's steady rise is the lure of the tourist dollar. However, the natural charm of the Tanzanians and the buzz of a fast-growing city mean that Arusha has plenty to offer for those who are prepared to see beyond their air-conditioned safari trucks and satellite-TV equipped hotel rooms.
During the day, Arusha hosts a bustling food and produce market for locals and tourists and forms part of the All Around Tanzania Safari’s.
ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK
Arusha National Park is often overlooked by travelers rushing to the more famous sights of the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti. The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safari goers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours. However, with a little time, Arusha National Park offers some lovely walking in the foothills of Mount Meru and canoeing on the Momela Lakes, plus gentle game drives. If you have the time it is well worth a day or two.
In our 10 day safari you can enjoy a afternoon game drive through Arusha National Park where leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro. But it is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru - the fifth highest in Africa at 4,566 metres (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park’s horizon. Its peaks and eastern footslopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbour.