Tanzania is perhaps most famous for playing host to the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain.
But there is more than just one giant in Tanzania. The vibrant country is also home to roaming elephants, some of which are the largest on the Earth. Its elephant population has plummeted by more than 60% in the past seven years, causing concern with some conservationists.
There will not be a better time than now to head on safari in Tanzania. It’s best to live by carpe diem: seize the day...and go on an African safari.
Best Time To Visit
For all of the parks we’ll discuss, the best time to head there is around the months of June to October when wildebeest are in migration and the wildlife congregate at waterholes and rivers. This time of year offers a greater chance of seeing wildlife and some of the stunning sights they offer.
In the months of June to October, known as Tanzania’s dry season, the vegetation is thinner than at other points in the year, making it easier to track wildlife like chimpanzees and others you might find in bushes and trees.
The weather during the dry season is mostly sunny with rain minimal. Mosquitoes are found in lesser numbers meaning that the risk of malaria is reduced. However, it is still recommended to take necessary precautions and speak to a professional about what they may be.
November through to May are months where visibility is lower and you run the risk of not seeing the animals you wish to. Some of the months in this category are perfectly reasonable ones to embark on safari in, depending on the park.
Best Safari Parks In Tanzania
We have managed to pinpoint the top five safari parks or game reserves in Tanzania. Some offer very different experiences than others and are more flexible with what time of year is most suitable to travel. There will be something for everyone!
Serengeti National Park
If you’ve done even a small bit of research into Tanzania’s safaris, you’ll have come across Serengeti. It is often regarded as Tanzania’s best park and will make for a fantastic safari choice due to its wide range of inhabitants.
At Serengeti, you’re likely to encounter elephants, giraffes, lions and much more. Herds of buffalo can be seen making their way to the waterholes while hippos can be observed having one huge summer swim. Cheetahs are common on the south east planes of the park, as are hyenas and gazelles.
For those looking for a unique and truly authentic wildlife experience, visiting Serengeti in the months of June and July to see the great annual wildebeest migration where more than 1,000,000 of them make the journey along the Tanzanian planes joined by 200,000 zebra and 300,000 gazelle.
If you can’t make it to the park in June or July, don’t worry. Viewing at Serengeti is pretty good all year round and in January and February, you can see the next generation of wildebeest being born. It is best not to visit in March through to May, though, as there is only fair visibility and chance of spotting wildlife.
Tarangire National Park
Fans of elephants and zebras will love what Tarangire National Park has to offer as both wonderful creatures are found in abundance at the park.
Lions are common, alongside giraffe, hippo and buffalo, making this safari a true animal-lover’s dream. The Tarangire River is a particular attraction for wildlife in the dry season for these animals as they are found congregating there for the water source in the hotter months.
The dry season at Tarangire is really the only time at which you can maximise your chance of seeing the most animals as possible. Large herds of wildlife actually migrate to the park in the months of June to October, their trail blazed by predators from nearby.
A particular highlight at the park is the python. They can be found in trees when the swamps dry out (again in the dry season) and make for a rather exciting experience (depending on how you feel about an encounter with Africa’s largest snake...).
Ruaha National Park
One of the lesser-known safaris to embark on in Tanzania is Ruaha National Park’s. It is much more remote and doesn’t offer budget options like some other parks, but is nevertheless a fantastic spot to spy on some of Africa’s most amazing creatures.
Big cat fans will find Ruaha the best place to be as huge prides of lions can be spotted often attacking buffalo for food. They can be part of a pride of over to twenty fellow big cats, offering a special insight to what life is really like for the admired predators.
There are also elephants, giraffes and zebra to be seen at Ruaha to complete the general safari experience. However, there are no rhinos or wildebeest while cheetah and leopard are occasional sights.
It is best to visit Ruaha National Park in June to October as animals gather at rivers and waterholes. Moreover, it is also recommended to travel at this time of year because the earlier months do not offer as good visibility and the weather can be quite uncomfortable for some due to high humidity and damp levels.
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara NP is a smaller park with a groundwater forest providing a contrast to the savannah-heavy vista at lots of the other safaris.
It is best known for its tree-climbing lions but it must be noted that they are not easily seen by visitors. Elephants are the major attraction at Lake Manyara as they have huge tusks and are quite calm with visitors taking a peek at them at a small distance.
Wildebeest, hippo, buffalo and zebra are all common at Lake Manyara – the classic editions to any safari package. However, you will also find olive baboons and blue monkeys in the forest patch at the entrance to the park. It is usually the monkeys that win people over when it comes to this park as they are hard, if not impossible, to see at some others.
Viewing is pretty good throughout the year, although it is best to avoid March, April and May where visibility is much poorer. The best viewing optimisation is in June through to October where there is a much better chance of seeing more wildlife in the African heat.
Gombe National Park
For those interested in the conventional African safari with elephants, lions, zebra and giraffes, Gombe National Park is not for you. You won’t find any there.
So what’s the attraction? Well, it is of course the chimpanzee!
There are about 100 chimps at Gombe which you will find by walking on forest trails with a guide. If you are lucky, you’ll catch them at feeding time in the canopy but often they’re swinging through the trees and you’ll have to be on the move with them.
May through to October is the best time to find yourself some chimps – and we strongly recommend going at this time of year so to maximise the money you spend on this safari in particular.
Other primates can be found at Gombe, including olive baboons, red-tailed and red colobus monkeys.
There is no better feeling than coming face-to-face with a primate. It shares 96% of your DNA and it will often be the one time in your life you get so close to such awe-inspiring animals.
Whichever safari you choose, we know you’ll have a great time. Happy holidays!