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Tanzania

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Tanzania

Few destinations in Africa can rival Tanzania's diversity of wildlife, cultures and landscapes. From the classic savannah destinations of the Serengeti, Tarangire and Ngorongoro Crater to the beaches and coral reefs of Zanzibar and the tropical coast, a Tanzania safari holiday delivers one massive experience after another. And that's before you discover the off-the-beaten-track experiences such as chimpanzee trekking in the magisterial rainforests of Mahale and Gombe or game viewing in the super-remote Selous Game Reserve.

Even fewer destinations however can offer an experience to match the Serengeti Migration. Forming the centrepiece of most Tanzania safaris, the migration is regarded as Nature at her most extravagant and involves hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra and antelope running the gauntlet of predators as they migrate around the Masai Mara/Serengeti ecosystem.

Tanzania offers a wide range of safaris for both first-timers and seasoned campaigners. The ease with which a child-friendly safari can be combined with a beach holiday makes Tanzania a shoo-in for families while the country's most exclusive and luxurious safari lodges and beach retreats make for an unforgettable Tanzania honeymoon. And for a full East Africa safari experience, our experts have selected a range of Kenya & Tanzania safari combinations.

Browse our range of Tanzania safari itineraries for ideas and inspiration or simply contact one of our African Safari Experts for assistance with planning a tailor-made tour.

Quick links to travel advice

What travellers most enjoyed about Tanzania


Tanzania

A huge country with much regional variation in geography and climate plus two distinct rainy seasons, the question of when to go to Tanzania depends on what it is that you want to experience.

The best time to go to Tanzania for the Serengeti Migration is between November and Augustbut you'll need to be in the right place at the right time to catch all the action: find out more about the best time to see the wildebeest migration.

General game viewing in the Serengeti and Tanzania's other parks is at its peak during the June to October dry seasonMount Kilimanjaro is best climbed either between July and October or January to March, while the best time to visit Tanzania's coast, its islands and Zanzibar is between August and October - avoid the coast during the long rains of March to May.

Where to Go in Tanzania

Comprising the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Parks, Tanzania's famous northern safari region is where to go for classic game viewing and the wildebeest migration. But the country's long tropical coastline is home to fabulous beaches as well as can't-miss Zanzibar and other tropical islands - and that's before you discover wild savannah and rainforest destinations, located in barely visited central and southern Tanzania.

Read more about East vs Southern Africa Safari experiences.

Serengeti National Park: wildebeest migration & year-round game viewing

The Serengeti is where to go in Tanzania for game viewing at its most dramatic. Host to the wildebeest migration between November and July, the Serengeti's accessibility, sheer size and year-round abundance of wildlife also means that amazing game viewing in a wilderness setting is always on offer.


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Ngorongoro Crater: East Africa's easiest Big 5 game viewing

Take 30 000 animals - including the Big 5 - and place them inside the crater of an extinct volcano close to the Serengeti. Add wetlands, forest and grasslands, some out-of-this-world cliff-top accommodation and the result is the Ngorongoro Crater, a safari destination that offers excellent game viewing in the most unique of settings.

Note that the nearby town of Karatu is well-positioned for excursions to both the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, there is a wide range of accommodation in Karatu with many activities on offer such as guided walks and horse rides.


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Arusha: centre of the Northern Safari Circuit

The undisputed safari capital of Tanzania, the ever-busy town of Arusha is on the itinerary of virtually anyone visiting the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara: indeed, logistics often dictates an overnight layover in or around the town. Set in the shadow of the 4556m Mount Meru, Arusha has its own international airport (Kilimanjaro International Airport) but safari-goers will head for the smaller Arusha Airport for charter flights into their final destinations.

If you do have some time in Arusha, there are many opportunities to buy souvenirs and take in cultural activities and visit local places of interest. A visit to nearby Arusha National Park is worthwhile, if only as an introduction to the wildlife that is to come in the region's bigger parks.


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Dar es Salaam: international gateway to Zanzibar & safari destinations

Most visitors to Dar es Salaam are on their way to Zanzibar or the Indian Ocean coast but this thriving city provides easy access to Tanzania's lesser-known reserves such as the Selous as well as the world-famous Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. High quality accommodation is available if you need to overnight.


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Zanzibar & Tanzania Islands: cultural melting pot & barefoot luxury

Complete your East African experience with a stay on Tanzania's Spice Island: Zanzibar. Perfect for both families and honeymooners, it's where to go in Tanzania for dhows, minarets and back-street markets on the one hand, and glorious beaches, coral reefs and private Indian Ocean islands on the other.

And Tanzania's other Indian Ocean islands won't disappoint either. Pemba, Mafia and Chole islands are superlative luxury beach holiday destinations with superb diving, exclusive boutique accommodation and all the indulgent pampering you could want for.


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Tarangire National Park: wildlife gem on the Northern Safari Circuit

Close to Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire is worth more than the usual day visit: during the June to October dry season, animal concentrations along the Tarangire River are among the highest in the country. Especially good for elephants in the late dry season, Tarangire's bird count of 500 species will keep bird watchers happy while its full range of large predators complete the appeal.


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Lake Manyara: easy game viewing in a beautiful setting

Part of Tanzania's Northern Safari Circuit, modestly sized Lake Manyara shouldn't be compared to the Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater but it is nevertheless home to a good range of heavyweight species including hippo, giraffe, elephant, leopard and its famous tree-climbing lions. The good mix of habitats means Lake Manyara is an amazing bird watching destination and there's the chance to do canoe safaris and boat trips.


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Mount Kilimanjaro: Africa's iconic mountain

Whether you're content to stand in its shadow or climb to its icy summit, Mount Kilimanjaro won't fail to move you. At 5896m it's Africa's highest mountain but its glacier-capped peaks are far more accessible than you may think. Climb Kilimanjaro in the July to October or January to March dry seasons - no technical climbing is required but organising and executing a 5-day mountain hike is not easy: a guide, food and porters are needed. Talk to us about a Kili hike and it'll all be arranged before you go.


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Lake Tanganyika: gateway to rainforests & chimp trekking

With 19 000km³ of clear freshwater hemmed in by the mountains of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Tanganyika is the world's second deepest, and by volume, second largest lake in the world.

It's also one of the planet's most biologically rich habitats, not least due to the lakeside presence of the Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream National Parks. These two remote and hard-to-reach destinations are worth the effort however as both deliver Tanzania's unique safari experiences - tropical forest wildlife and superb chimpanzee trekking.


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South & Central Tanzania: Africa's big safari secrets

Suitable for intrepid safari-goers and those who have already experienced the more familiar destinations in East Africa, Tanzania animal reserves set in the little-visited south and central regions of the country offer many places of interest ranging from savannahs and swamps to rainforests and lakes.

Head for the raw and rugged Katavi or Ruaha National Parks for classic savannah game viewing, or the vast Selous Game Reserve - Africa's biggest and wildest conservation area and home to Africa's greatest numbers of elephant, lion, buffalo and hippo.


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Tanzania Travel Advice


There's nothing like up-to-date, relevant travel information direct from the experts - get Truelionkingsafaris's essential Tanzania travel advice before you go.

Money & Spending

Tanzania's unit of currency is the Tanzanian Shilling but our advice is to use US Dollars only - and in cash: credit cards and traveller's cheques (although accepted in most establishments) incur hefty transaction fees.

ATMs are found throughout the major towns in Tanzania but in case they are out of service you should always have a supply of back-up cash.

Note that due to the number of fake notes in circulation, no US Dollar bills printed before 2003 will be accepted in Tanzania.

Tipping

Tipping lodge staff and drivers/guides is customary for good service on a Tanzania safari, but check first to see whether a service charge has been added to your bill. Tipping is always in addition to the price quoted by your operator and the amount varies depending on the size of your group, the level of luxury of the safari and whether you thought an exceptionally good job was done.

When travelling in the major Tanzania cities, a 10% tip is customary in restaurants and bars when a service charge is not included.

For in-depth tipping guidelines, enquire with one of our Africa Safari Experts - they'd be happy to share their knowledge with you.

Climate


Average summer temperatures: 18°C to 29°C

Average winter temperatures: 15°C to 26°C

Rainy season: mid-March to May ("long rains") and November to December ("short rains").

Refer to “best time to visit Tanzania” for climate charts, details on the best wildlife-viewing times and when to witness the Serengeti migration.

What to Pack

When packing for your Tanzania safari, light casual clothing in practical, neutral colours and a warm jacket for evening game drives are a safe bet throughout the year. For more on what to pack for a safari, refer to our Africa Safari Guide travel advice section.

When visiting Zanzibar it is important for women to dress modestly out of respect for Muslim cultural beliefs. T-shirts that cover the shoulders, long skirts and capri pants are generally better options than tank tops and shorts.

Etiquette

Religious belief is strong in Tanzania with Christianity and Islam dominating. Most Muslims live on the coast and in Zanzibar; visitors should be aware of the conservative nature of these destinations and dress and behave accordingly.

Tanzanians are renowned for being friendly and harmonious people; however it is courteous to ask permission before photographing people.

Dar-es-Salaam International Airport: Tanzania's main airport is the gateway to the Indian Ocean coast and Zanzibar as well as Selous Game Reserve.

Kilimanjaro International Airport: Tanzania's second international airport serves the SerengetiNgorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Lake Manyara. However, you need to transfer to nearby Arusha Airport for charter flights to these destinations and, as international flights often arrive at Kilimanjaro Airport late in the day, a night in Arusha is usually necessary.

Arusha Airport: located 30km from Kilimanjaro Airport, this is the gateway to northern Tanzania's fly-in safari airstrips.

Given the size of Tanzania and the condition of its roads, charter flights are considered the best way to get around the country.

Road transfers and game drives in Tanzania are conducted in open-sided 4X4 vehicles though visitors to Gombe and Mahale will enjoy a boat transfer across Lake Tanganyika.

Visa & Passport Requirements

Almost all visitors to Tanzania require a visa, which costs between US$20 and US$50 for a single-entry visa valid for three months. You should try to obtain a visa for Tanzania before departing your home country (especially if you require multiple entry); however, visas can also be purchased at Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro airports as long as you are able to pay cash in US dollars.

Visitors to Tanzania must possess a passport that is valid for six months after the initial date of travel.

 


About Tanzania

History & Economy

In many ways Tanzanian history is the history of humankind. Fossils found at Olduvai Gorge, one of the world's premier archaeological sites, suggest that Tanzania has been settled by hominids for over two million years. Iron Age migrations from West Africa were followed by European and Arabian merchants, missionaries and slavers, and by the mid-1800s Zanzibar had become the centre of the East African slave trade. Colonised first by the Germans and then the British, independence came peacefully to mainland Tanganyika in 1961; the addition of Zanzibar in 1964 created the modern state of Tanzania.

Rich in mineral wealth and natural gas, Tanzania's economy is nevertheless dominated by agriculture which employs 75% of the workforce and produces half the country's GDP. Tanzania's main exports include gold, coffee, tea and cotton but it is tourism, increasing in importance year after year, which is the country's biggest foreign exchange earner.

People & Culture

Tanzania's 46 million inhabitants are overwhelmingly young and non-urban: half the population is under 15 and more than 80% live in rural areas. Some 120 ethnic groups make up the African population and there are significant numbers of Asians, Arabs and Europeans but Tanzania has long promoted a harmonious national culture, one that is based on a subtle but strong social code of courtesy and respect.

English and Swahili are the official languages.

Landscape & Wildlife

Lying between the two arms of the Rift Valley, Tanzania's huge central plateau is bounded to the west by Africa's great lakes, to the north by mountains (including Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak) and to the east by the Indian Ocean coast. Most of the country is covered in grassland, open woodland and savannah but significant pockets of rainforest exist in remote mountain ranges.

Home to 20% of Africa's large mammals, Tanzania is the continent's premier game viewing destination. More than 25% of the country is given over to conservation and several Tanzania animal reserves rank among the biggest in the world. Most visitors head for northern Tanzania where the most famous and accessible animal reserves are but huge, virtually unvisited savannah and rainforest reserves lie in south and central Tanzania, delivering genuine off-the-beaten-track safaris.

Tanzania wildlife highlights include the wildebeest migration which moves through the Serengeti from November to July; abundant predators; East Africa's easiest Big 5 game viewing at the Ngorongoro Crater; chimpanzee trekking in Gombe Stream and the Mahale Mountains; plus - with a bird list of 1 100 - some of the world's best bird watching.


Best Tanzania Tours & Safaris

Fuelled by its international reputation for fantastic wildlife, idyllic scenery and dreamy tropical islands, Tanzania is rapidly becoming one of Africa's most popular holiday destinations. Naturally, most of our Tanzania tours and safaris focus on the country's great parks and reserves like the Serengeti and  Ngorongoro Crater but we also have a great selection of tours to Tanzania's less well known reserves like Selous and Mahale plus tours to exotic Zanzibar too.

Our top tours and safaris in Tanzania will deliver experiences that last a lifetime, and we have a wide range of tried-and-tested itineraries. Te best way to explore Tanzania is with a customised safari - particularly if you want to visit the Serengeti during the wildebeest migration season.

Talk to an Africa Safari Expert today and make the most of your Tanzania safari tour package.

Best Tanzania Accommodation

Home to the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater plus a host of other parks and reserves, Tanzania is one of Africa's classic safari destinations and its accommodation reflects this: luxury safari lodges, remote tented camps and popular safari hotels make up most of our recommendations.

But our selection of Tanzania accommodation showcases both the luxury lodges and the more affordable camps, ensuring everyone gets a taste of this fascinating and diverse country.

However, Tanzania also has some of East Africa's most exceptional and indulgent accommodation. Have a look at our private safari villas, set in the most incredible wilderness locations, as well as fabulous beach resorts on Zanzibar and other Indian Ocean destinations. And if you can't decide between the two, rest assured that combining safari and beach accommodation in Tanzania is straightforward and easy to arrange.

Note that if you're planning to view the Serengeti's wildebeest migration, the availability of suitably located accommodation in peak season is at a premium and should be booked well in advance. Have a look at our guide to the Wildebeest Migration and how to plan your trip to coincide with the movement of the herds or simply contact one of our African Safari Experts for hands-on advice and help with bookings.