Plan Your Dream Safari in Tanzania - How to plan the perfect safari

Experience the wild: Planning Your ultimate Safari in Tanzania

Embarking on a safari is the heart of every Tanzanian adventure. With its diverse landscapes serving as a backdrop to some of the world's most unique wildlife, Tanzania presents an unmatched savannah spectacle, making it an ultimate safari destination.

From witnessing the legendary Great Migration in the Serengeti, catching glimpses of tree-climbing lions in Lake Manyara National Park to following the elephants' trail in Tarangire National Park, there's a wealth of wildlife discoveries waiting for you in Tanzania.

As you venture deeper into Tanzania's wilderness, ensure to pay a visit to the Ngorongoro Crater, a natural wildlife haven renowned for its dense animal population. For a touch of tropical paradise, the islands of Zanzibar or Mafia offer a unique blend of beach and marine safari.

Planning a safari can seem like a gigantic task, but with the right advice and guidance, it becomes an exciting countdown to an unforgettable adventure. If Tanzania, with its abundant wildlife and diverse landscapes, is on your list, then you've made an incredible choice!

In this guide, you'll discover expert tips to plan your dream safari in Tanzania, from identifying the best time to visit, to understanding the various safari activities available. Additionally, we will uncover some of the most enchanting destinations that Tanzania has to offer, each offering a unique window into the stunning biodiversity of this magical country.

Pack your binoculars and let's embark on a virtual journey to the wild heart of Africa, where every day brings a new spectacle of Mother Nature's grandeur. Read on and ignite your wanderlust for an unforgettable Tanzanian safari!

Design your own safari adventure

Renowned as one of the world's most thrilling wildlife destinations, Tanzania not only offers the thrill of viewing a variety of wildlife but also the flexibility to design your own safari adventure. Whether you are an adventure enthusiast or a nature lover, there are a plethora of experiences to pick from to create a personalized Tanzanian safari.

Begin by selecting the region you wish to explore. Tanzania’s National Parks can be broadly categorized into the northern and southern circuits.

The northern circuit is a classic choice, featuring celebrated destinations such as Serengeti National Park, known for the Great Wildebeest Migration, and Ngorongoro Crater, an exceptional wildlife viewing spot. If you wish to add a touch of adventure, Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, offers numerous trekking routes.

On the other hand, the southern circuit offers a quieter, less travelled, and more intimate wildlife experience. Parks like Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National park are adored for their vast wilderness and exclusive lodges.

After selecting your region, tailor your safari with a range of activities that provide different perspectives to the Tanzanian wilderness.

For a high-altitude view, opt for a breathtaking hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti. Walking safaris offer a deeper, connective experience with nature. In contrast, boat safaris on Lake Manyara or Rufiji River provide unique opportunities to observe aquatic birds and animals.

Amidst these adventures, don’t miss visiting local Maasai villages. The interactions open doors to an enriching cultural exchange, allowing you to view Tanzania through a different lens.

Thus, creating your own safari adventure in Tanzania is not only about choosing your destinations, but it's also about handpicking experiences that complement your interests and preferences.

This flexibility, combined with Tanzania’s diverse offerings, ensures that you can create a safari that is truly yours, providing treasured memories to last a lifetime.

Set your safari budget

Embarking on a safari in Tanzania is an experience of a lifetime, one that can be tailored to suit various budget ranges. From budget-friendly camping adventures to luxurious stays in opulent lodges, Tanzania offers an array of choices to create the safari adventure that suits you best.

Planning a safari in Tanzania is undoubtedly an exciting endeavor; however, potential travelers should be aware that it does come with a high price tag.

This is primarily due to substantial park fees, fuel costs for safari vehicles, and the relatively high costs of lodging and camps. Given these accommodations are located in the wilderness, maintenance and operations costs are significantly higher than typical city lodges.

Safari costs in Tanzania typically start from around $350 per person per day for camping in a tent. These budget-friendly safaris, while affordable, still offer the thrill of game drives, the expertise of professional guides, and the rustic charm of camping under the African sky.

On the other end of the spectrum, you'll find premium safari experiences that can run into several thousands of dollars per person per day. Such luxury safaris boast sumptuous tented camps or lodges, offering lavish amenities like private plunge pools, gourmet dining, and butler services, often set in exclusive wildlife areas for a more intimate and luxurious experience.

Regardless of the budget, these prices are generally all-inclusive. They cover the costs of your vehicle, petrol, a professional guide, accommodations, park entry fees, and meals, thus providing a hassle-free and well-curated safari experience.

Ultimately, whether your preference leans toward a modest tented experience bathed in the magic of the African wilderness or a high-end luxury retreat nestled amidst serene landscapes, Tanzania's breadth of offerings makes it a suitable destination for every type of traveler and budget. By setting your safari budget wisely, you can ensure a fulfilling adventure that doesn’t compromise your financial comfort.

Ngorongoro coffee lodge

Picking the Right Time to Travel to Tanzania

When planning a trip to Tanzania, considering the country's climatic conditions and corresponding wildlife patterns can help you choose the best time for your visit.

Tanzania experiences two main seasons — the dry season and the wet season, each with its own pros and cons.

  • Dry Season (June - October): This is typically the high season in Tanzania. Thanks to the sparse vegetation and scarce water sources, wildlife tend to congregate around the few available watering holes, making game viewing easier. Another highlight is witnessing the Great Migration in the Serengeti around June and July, an event that attracts travelers from around the world. The downside is the increased tourist flow leading to overcrowded popular spots and higher prices for accommodations.
  • Wet Season (November - May): The wet season is divided into the 'short rains' (November - December) and 'long rains' (March - May). The landscape is lush and green, and there's an abundance of newborn wildlife, providing great photographic opportunities. On the other hand, the rains might restrict some activities, like certain hiking trails, and may make wildlife spotting more challenging. However, you'll find fewer tourists and better rates for safari lodges and camps.

It's important to note that Tanzania is a year-round destination, and each season offers a unique experience. For instance, birdwatchers might find the wet season ideal due to the influx of migratory species, while those planning a Mount Kilimanjaro trek might prefer the dry season's clear skies and firm ground.

Ultimately, the 'right time' to visit Tanzania depends on the preferred activities and wildlife-spotting priorities of each traveler. By understanding the country's seasons and their pros and cons, you can make an informed decision about when to book your Tanzanian adventure.

Zebre Ngorongoro

Exploring Tanzania's Majestic National Parks

In Tanzania, a land teeming with abundant wildlife and diverse landscapes, choosing the ideal park for a safari experience can be a daunting task. Numerous factors come into play when selecting the perfect destination, such as the time of year, the type of wildlife one hopes to spot, and of course, personal preferences.

Some well-known parks to consider include the Serengeti National Park, renowned for its annual Great Migration; Ngorongoro Conservation Area, boasting a rich concentration of wildlife within the volcanic Ngorongoro Crater; and Tarangire National Park, which comes alive with vast herds of elephants during the dry season.

Visitors should also keep in mind lesser-known gems such as Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve, offering less crowded experiences amidst vast wilderness areas.

Ultimately, conducting thorough research and consulting with experienced tour operators can assist in crafting an unforgettable safari adventure tailored to individual interests and desires.

The Serengeti National Park

Stretching over 14,763 sq km, the Serengetti National Park is the epitome of an African safari experience. The park is world-renowned for the Great Migration, where over a million wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles traverse its plains annually in search of greener pastures. Home to an impressive array of wildlife including lions, leopards, elephants, and cheetahs, it keeps wildlife aficionados spellbound by its sheer abundance of wildlife encounters.

Leoni famiglia serengeti

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Next on our list is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for the Ngorongoro Crater, the largest unbroken and unflooded volcanic caldera in the world. This natural amphitheater hosts approximately 25,000 animals, making wildlife viewing here exceptional. From the endangered black rhino to vast herds of wildebeests and zebras, it brims with biodiversity.

The Tarangire National Park

The underrated gem, Tarangire National Park, is Africa's premier destination for elephant lovers. The park's life-giving Tarangire River attracts hundreds of elephants, in addition to zebras, buffalos, and wildebeests, especially during the dry season. Its diverse landscape of baobab and acacia trees, swamps, and grassy hills, provides a picturesque setting for animal viewing.

tarangire game drive

The Lake Manyara National Park

Although small in comparison, Lake Manyara National Park delivers a compact safari experience. Its alkaline lake lures in astounding flocks of flamingos, while the groundwater forests serve as playgrounds for troops of baboons and blue monkeys. The park's claim to fame, however, are the oddballs - the tree-climbing lions, offering a truly unique spectacle.

The Selous Game Reserve

Sprawling over a vast 50,000 sq km, the UNESCO-listed Selous Game Reserve is Africa's largest protected wildlife area. Selous maintains a wild, off-the-beaten-path charm, allowing intrepid travelers to experience a sense of pristine wilderness. Its thriving ecosystem includes the mighty Rufiji River, meandering through diverse habitats and creating a sanctuary for wildlife including lions, leopards, African wild dogs, elephants, buffalos, and more. Selous offers a unique chance to enjoy walking, boat, and fly-camping safaris, providing an up-close and intimate experience with nature.

The Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park, Tanzania's largest national park, is a remote and enchanting destination that rewards visitors with an exclusive safari experience. Its dramatic landscape, marked by the Great Ruaha River and numerous baobabs, is home to a remarkable concentration of predators, such as lions, hyenas, and cheetahs. It also boasts an impressive array of birdlife, making it a bird-watcher's paradise. Ruaha's secluded location and vast wilderness promise an intimate and authentic safari experience for those who venture to explore its hidden grace.

The Gombe Stream National Park

Nestled along the shores of Lake Tanganyika, Gombe Stream National Park is an idyllic yet lesser-known gem. While it may be Tanzania's smallest national park, it gained fame through the groundbreaking work of primatologist Jane Goodall.

Thanks to her research on chimpanzee behavior, Gombe has evolved into the best location in the country for observing these closest relatives of humans in their natural habitat. The park's dense forest and hilly terrain offer visitors a chance to not only appreciate the resident chimpanzees but also witness breathtaking views of Lake Tanganyika and its diverse fauna and flora.

Each of these Tanzanian national parks brings its unique spectrum of flora and fauna, contributing to a comprehensive and rewarding safari experience. Get your cameras ready as you delve into the heart of Tanzania's wild realm!

tanzania safari car

Decide how many days of safari you want to book

The number of days you should spend on a safari in Tanzania can greatly vary depending on the scope of your adventure and your personal preferences. Generally, Tanzania offers safari packages that range from short 2 to 3-day trips to longer multi-day wildlife safaris that last for weeks[5%5E].

With such a diverse range of wildlife, landscapes, and attractions, Tanzania caters to both adventurers looking for immersive, long-lasting experiences, as well as travelers aiming to squeeze memorable wildlife encounters into a shorter trips. For example, a 2 to 3-day safari can be a great way to experience the highlights, such as a visit to the Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Parl.

However, if your goal is a thorough exploration of diverse parks and reserves, you may consider opting for a longer safari. Spending more days on safari allows for a more relaxed and in-depth encounter with Tanzania's wildlife, landscapes, and cultural experiences[5%5E].

Thus, there's no definitive answer to this question; the ideal duration for a Tanzanian safari depends on your interests, budget, time constraints, and what you are hoping to see and experience on your trip. It's always wise to speak to a tour operator or a safari expert, outlining your wishes and constraints to tailor the best possible safari itinerary for you.

Ngorongoro crater

Find a responsible and reliable safari tour operator in Tanzania

Finding a responsible and reliable safari tour operator in Tanzania is crucial to ensuring a memorable and fulfilling experience, as the right provider can significantly enhance your journey through this incredible country.

With numerous options available, it can be challenging to narrow down the list of potential operators. Prioritizing a tour operator with a valid license, in-depth expertise, and knowledge of Tanzania and its parks is essential, as these qualifications demonstrate professionalism, experience, and adherence to national regulations.

Moreover, look for an operator with extensive connections to an array of lodges and tented camps, as this will give you greater flexibility in terms of accommodation choices and offer diverse experiences to suit your travel preferences. An operator that is prompt and available to answer your questions demonstrates their commitment to customer service and ensures that they are ready to address any concerns or queries you may have throughout the planning process.

Flexibility in terms of itineraries, locations, and trip duration is another crucial factor to consider when selecting a safari tour operator. This allows you to personalize your adventure and ensures that your unique interests and needs are catered to while exploring Tanzania's breathtaking landscapes and spotting its diverse wildlife.

Lastly, consider user ratings, online reviews, and recommendations from friends or family who have previously embarked on Tanzanian safaris, as these can provide valuable insights into the quality of service and experiences a specific tour operator provides. Wonder about our ratings? Check this out.

By thoroughly researching and selecting a responsible tour operator who meets the aforementioned criteria, you will be better equipped to embark on the journey of a lifetime, exploring Tanzania's awe-inspiring national parks and immersing yourself in the magic of its diverse ecosystems.

Safari tanzania client

Is it possible to do a self-drive in Tanzania or is it better to book a guided safari?

Self-drive safaris in Tanzania, unlike in other African countries such as South Africa or Namibia, are uncommon and generally discouraged. It's also not a cost-saving option for those looking to stick to a tighter budget.

There are numerous reasons why having a guide is recommended, mainly:

  • A guide will allow you to navigate routes that might otherwise be difficult to find.
  • Guides communicate with each other and rangers via onboard radios, exchanging information about activities within the National Park, allowing for quick changes in course. They converse in Swahili, which is incomprehensible to tourists.
  • They have a keen eye for spotting animals in the savanna, understand the animals' habits, and know the routes to reach the tented camps, which are often in remote areas.
  • Guides/drivers also possess vehicle repair knowledge, or in the case of a breakdown, they know where to go or who to call. Breakdowns can happen, and having it occur in the middle of a national park is the last thing we want!
  • Guides know the locations of lodges within parks, something not to be taken for granted.

If you plan to camp and travel in self-drive mode, remember that there are no restaurants or refreshment areas within the parks. If you choose the camping tour, it will be essential to have a cook on board with you at all times.

Safari 4x4 Tanzania

Is a self-drive safari in Tanzania cheaper than one with a guide?

Contrary to what many might expect, self-driving in Tanzania can be significantly more expensive than booking a guided tour. The costs of renting a 4×4 safari car for a self-drive are equivalent, or even higher, than booking a vehicle with a guide.

Driving in East Africa can be quite complex, so few tour operators in Tanzania rent 4x4s to tourists. This is because those unfamiliar with driving in the country pose a high risk.

Moreover, entering National Parks requires licensed vehicles, which means you must use a local tour operator that can provide the vehicle and pay (quite high) annual fees to allow their 4x4s into national parks and protected areas. Therefore, this option is not recommended for those strictly looking to cut costs.

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Tour Operator based in Arusha, Tanzania, registration company number 132864. We provide custom made safaris in Northern Tanzania. Our guides speak English, French and Italian.
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