Plan Your Safari in Tanzania and Zanzibar

February 1, 2019

Tanzania is unbeatably the perfect safari destination. This safari haven has everything for everyone. At the mention of a safari in Tanzania, most people think of Serengeti, Ngorongoro or a trek to Mount Kilimanjaro, however, the country has so much more safari options to offer. Tanzania is also blessed with abundant beach locations on Tanzania’s east coast and in its islands in the Indian Ocean.

When to plan a Safari in Tanzania and Zanzibar

The best time to go for a safari in Tanzania is during the dry season, July to October. During this period the weather conditions are conducive throughout the country; both for road access and an abundance of wildlife for viewing.

There are specific factors that may determine the best time to visit depending on one’s interests for visiting Tanzania. Those keen in watching the migration, have to follow the migration calendar to find out where the migration is at their time of visit.

Swimming with the whale sharks in Mafia island is best between October and March. Always mention if you have specific interests to allow your travel consultant to advise you on the best time to visit.

During the rainy season March to June, most parks are not accessible and many camps are closed. However if one enjoys the adventure of navigating in through road conditions, the rainy season can be a rewarding experience as there is plenty of wildlife during the period, and you get to enjoy the feeling of exclusivity as parks are less visited during the rains.

Safari Options in Tanzania

Tanzania offers a wide range of safari experiences. From novice to expert travellers, low to high budget travellers. Safaris in Tanzania can be done in as little or as many days as you wish. Most travellers tend to do a combination of a safari in Mainland Tanzania followed by a beach experience in the coast to experience both ends of the country.

While in a safari in Tanzania, be ready to be amazed by the amazing landscape, abundant wildlife, the diverse cultures, historical sites and soak in the white sandy beaches of the East Coast.

As there are a lot of attractions to see in Tanzania, avid safari enthusiasts will often make more than one visit to the country and still not be able to confidently say that they have seen all the country has to offer.

Safari Attractions in Tanzania

A safari in Tanzania is an opportunity to see wildlife, get close to nature or simply enjoy a beach experience. For more active travellers, there are plenty of opportunities for mountain climbing in Tanzania as well as walking safaris, boating/canoeing, balloon safaris and more.

Safari Circuits

1- Northern Safari Circuit & Northeast Circuit

Arusha National Park

Best Time: June to October

Highlights: Close to Arusha and accessible for a day trip, very scenic, Views of Mount Kilimanjaro; excellent for birding, walking safaris, canoeing on the Momela Lakes

Wildlife Commonly Found: Buffalo, giraffe and several antelope species, black-and-white colobus monkey and a large number of bird species. Several lakes often host flocks of flamingo.

Manyara National Park

Best Time: July to October

Highlights: Night safaris, hiking and trekking, Tree-climbing lions, bird-watching, see elephants from up close, experience nature at its best.

Wildlife Commonly Found: Flamingo, elephant, wildebeest, giraffe, baboon, blue monkey, buffalo, water-buck, impala, warthog, zebra, lion, leopard.

Tarangire National Park

Best Time: July to October

Highlights: Night safaris, walking safaris, concentrated wildlife during the dry season, amazing scenery

Wildlife Commonly Found: Elephant, giraffe, lion, leopard, cheetah, eland, impala, gazelle, hartebeest, buffalo and wildebeest

Ngorongoro Conservation Authority

Best Time: June to September

Highlights: Year-round wildlife viewing, the endangered black rhino, Maasai culture, chance to see the Big 5 in one day

Wildlife Commonly Found: Black rhino, wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, elephant, topi, buffalo, cheetah, lion, spotted hyena, leopard etc

Serengeti National Park

Best Time: June to July & January to February

Highlights: The Great Migration, excellent game viewing opportunities including African predators, hot air balloon safaris

Wildlife Commonly Found: Wildebeest, giraffe, gazelle, elephant, zebra, eland and the big cats

Kilimanjaro National Park

Best Time: January to February and July to October are some of the best months for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Highlights: Magnificent scenery, wildlife safari coupled with trekking adventures, a chance to climb the tallest free-standing mountain on the planet

Wildlife Commonly Found: Bushbabies, buffalo and lions, elands and bushbucks

2-Western Safari Circuit & NorthWest Circuit

Katavi National Park

Best Time: June to October

Highlights: Walking safaris, hippo viewing, exclusive and uncrowded

Wildlife Commonly Found: Eland, sable, roan antelope, reedbuck, impala, duikers, hippo, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, elephant, lion, leopards and wild dogs.

Mahale Mountains National Park

Best Time: May to October

Highlights: Chimpanzees, walking tours, fishing and kayaking, spectacular beaches, exclusive and uncrowded,

Wildlife Commonly Found: Chimpanzee, antelope, red-tailed monkey, red colobus monkey, blue monkey, warthog, bushbuck, hippo, crocodile and leopard.

Gombe Stream National Park

Best Time: July to October

Highlights: Jane Goodall’s research area, Chimpanzee, walking safaris, exclusive and uncrowded

Wildlife Commonly Found: Chimpanzee, vervet monkey, olive baboon, blue monkey, red colobus monkey, white-tailed monkey, bushbuck, bush pig and leopard.

Rubondo Island National Park

Best Time: June to September & November to March. Birdwatching is from December to February.

Highlights: Chimpanzees habituation experience, walking safaris, sport fishing and boat excursions, canoeing, highest density and concentration of birds in Tanzania, a variety of reptiles such as snakes, monitor lizards and crocodiles, lowland Congolese forest and beaches as well as cultural sites.

Wildlife Commonly Found: Chimpanzee, hippo, vervet monkey, genet,  mongoose black-and-white colobus, elephant and giraffe

3- Southern Safari Circuit

Selous Game Reserve

Best Time: June to November

Highlights: One of the few destinations in Africa with wild dogs, elephant migration, boat safaris, excellent wildlife viewing during the dry season, higher chance for lion sightings

Wildlife Commonly Found: Elephant, wild dog, antelope, bushbuck, sickle-horned sable, reedbuck, waterbuck, curly-horned greater kudu, black colobus monkey, hippo and crocodile,

Mikumi National Park

Best Time: June to October

Highlights: great wildlife sightings during the dry season, perfect for weekend getaways, walking safaris

Wildlife Commonly Found: Hippo, zebra, giraffe, elephant, impala, wildebeest, spotted hyena, buffalo and lion.

Ruaha National Park

Best Time: June to October

Highlights: Fly camping trips, guided walks, unusual antelope species

Wildlife Commonly Found: Giraffe, greater kudu, sable antelope, lesser kudu, impala, bushbuck, buffalo, hartebeest, gazelle, waterbuck, zebra, elephant, lions, black-backed jackals, cheetahs, leopards, spotted hyenas and African wild dogs.

4- Coast 

Saadani National Park

Best Time: June and February.

Highlights: The only park in East Africa with an Indian Ocean beachfront, Boat safari in Wami river, Bush Walks, a visit to the Mafui Sandbank, green turtle nesting in Madete Beach, Zaraninge forest. Nearby attractions, Bagamoyo historical town and Amboni caves in Tanga.

Wildlife commonly found: Waterbuck, giraffe, warthog, yellow baboon, vervet monkey, reedbuck, bushbuck, hartebeest, elephant, buffaloes. Lion and other predators are available but rarely seen. Boat trips offer amazing hippo and crocodile encounters.

Zanzibar (Unguja and Pemba) Islands

Best Time: June - October, during the dry months and later between December - February after the short rains.

What to see and do: Historical and cultural tours, stone town and spice tour, swim with the dolphins, kitesurf, deep sea fishing or simply relax and enjoy Zanzibar’s famous white sandy beaches.

Mafia Islands

Best Time: July to October, January to February. For whale sharks experience, the best time is October to March.

What to see and do: Dive and snorkel in world-class sites with the richest reefs in the world.  Go on boat excursions to sandbanks, swim with the whale sharks, kayak, sail and windsurf.

Safaris in Tanzania Cost How Much?

A safari in Tanzania can cost as little or as much as you want. The cost of safari in Tanzania varies depending on the length of your stay and level of comfort. There are plenty of budget safaris and luxury safaris. Tanzania offers accommodation options of all kinds from the low-end camping to luxurious camping and properties. Be sure to let your travel consultant know your preference so you can be quoted accordingly.

In considering the cost of a safari in Tanzania, it is important to remember that there are park fees and you may also be charged camping fees depending on where you are staying. These are fees imposed by the relevant park authorities. Activities like walking safaris, night game drives, canoeing, boat excursions, filming and photography also attract extra fees charged by authorities.

Important information

Visas

Most nationalities require a visa to enter the United Republic of Tanzania and Zanzibar. Visas can be obtained on arrival, you will need to have USDs ready for that. A single entry visa is around $50 for most nationalities, US$100 for travellers from the USA. Multiple entry visas may also be available. However, it is advised to obtain a visa in advance to avoid the long queue at the visa point on arrival.

There are certain nationalities who must obtain a referral visa in advance which can take up to 3 months as the application is processed in Dar es Salaam.

All visitors are required to have a valid passport with at least six months remaining between the date of departure from the country and the date of expiration and at least two blank pages for stamps and visas.

More Visa information here

Health

International travellers are advised to take suitable health precautions for visiting Tanzania. It is important to have adequate vaccinations and to take prophylaxis pills against malaria. Please consult a medical professional prior to your visit.

Travellers arriving from or having transited through countries where yellow fever is endemic will be required to show a suitable certificate of vaccination in order to gain entry into the country. More info on yellow fever here

Money

The currency in Tanzania is The Tanzanian Shilling (TZS/Tshs). Credit and Debit card (VISA/Mastercard) are widely accepted usually with a 5% surcharge on total bill. USD notes are mostly accepted. Note that US bills dated prior 2009 will not be accepted in Tanzania.

Communications

It is advised to get a local sim card upon arrival in Tanzania. You will need a valid ID to be able to register for a local sim card. If you would not like to get a local sim-card, please check with your mobile provider on the roaming charged for using your home sim in Tanzania. Data connection is poor in remote areas, however, most lodges have wi-fi connections for guests mostly available in common area. Please check with your travel consultant about wi-fi connection for the areas you are planning to visit.

Airports in Tanzania

Depending on where you want to start your safari, you may arrive in Tanzania through Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro International Airport in Kilimanjaro or Abeid Amani Karume International Airport in Zanzibar.

Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam

This is your airport of choice if you are starting your safari with the southern circuit or the coast. There are connecting domestic flights on the domestic terminals that will get you to Selous, Ruaha or to the islands.

Kilimanjaro International Airport

If your safari itinerary starts at the northern safari circuit, then Kilimanjaro INternational airport is your best options. Safaris to Kilimanjaro National Park, Arusha National Park, Lake Manyara and Tarangire, Ngorongoro and Serengeti can be done easily starting from Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Abeid Amani Karume International Airport in Zanzibar

It’s not very common knowledge, however, there is an international flight terminal in Zanzibar should you wish to start your itinerary with a visit to Zanzibar. In case your airline of choice does not stop at Zanzibar, do not worry. You can fly into Dar es Salaam’s JNIA airport and take a domestic flight to Zanzibar, the flight from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar is only 20 minutes.

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