Serengeti National Park
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Selous Game Reserve
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Ruaha National Park
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Dar es Salaam
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Tanzania is a wonderful safari destination full of diverse national parks, reserves and conservation areas, some of Africa's finest wildlife veiwing washed down with stunning beaches and exotic islands to relax on afterwards. Located in East Africa and bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, and Zamia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south, Tanzania's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean which has beautiful islands dotted along the coast. Tanzania’s main economy is agriculture and it produces and exports excellent coffee. Tanzania offers a kaleidoscope of ever-changing landscapes, beautiful people, diverse wildlife and some of Africa’s most iconic images.
Tanzania has many national parks but perhaps one of the very best known is the Serengeti – an extension to the Masai Mara Reserve and the country’s oldest national park and a world heritage site. The Serengeti is famed for its annual migration when some six million hooves pound the open plains as more than 200,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson's gazelle join the wildebeest’s trek for fresh grazing.
The park is usually described as being divided into three regions:
- Serengeti plains: the endless, almost treeless grassland of the south is the most emblematic scenery of the park. This is where the wildebeest breed, as they remain in the plains from December to May. Other hoofed animals- zebra, gazelle, impala, hartebeest, topi, buffalo, waterbuck - also occur in huge numbers during the wet season. Kopjes are granite florations which are very common in the region, and they are great observation posts for predators, as well as a refuge for hyrax and pythons.
- Western corridor: the "black cotton" (actually black clay) soil covers the swampy savannah of this region. Grumeti river is home to enormous Nile Crocodiles, colobus monkey, and the martial eagel. The migration passes through from May to July.
- Northern Serengeti: the landscape is dominated by open woodlands and hills ranging from Seronera in the South to the Mara river on the border with Kenya. Apart from the migratory wildebeest and zebra (which occur from July to August, and in November), the bushy savannah is the best place to find elephant, giraffe and dik dik.
The Serengeti supports many further species, including lion, leopard, elephant, black rhino, African buffalo, cheetah, Thomson's and Grant's gazelle, topi, eland, waterbuck, hyena, baboon and impala. There are about 500 bird species, including ostrich, secretary bird, kori bustard, crowned crane, marabou stork, fish eagle, martial eagle, lovebirds and many species of vultures.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Adjoining the Serengeti, Ngorongoro is also a World Heritage Site. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area spans vast expanses of highland plains, savanna, savanna woodlands and forests. Established in 1959 as a multiple land use area with wildlife coexisting with semi-nomadic Maasai pastoralists practicing traditional livestock grazing, the park includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest caldera. The area is of global importance for biodiversity conservation due to the presence of globally threatened species, the density of wildlife inhabiting the area, and the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and other animals into the northern plains.
The conservation area also protects Olduvai Gorge, one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world. Situated in the plains area it is considered to be the 'cradle of mankind' after the discovery of the earliest known specimens of the human genus, Homo hablis.
Tarangire National Park
Tarangire gets its name from the Tarangire River which flows through the park - being the only source of water for wild animals during dry seasons. The hilly landscape is dotted with vast numbers of Baobab trees, dense bush and high grasses and the park is famous for its huge number of elephants, buffalo and the tree climbing lions.
During the dry season thousands of animals migrate to the Tarangire National Park from Manyara including wildebeest, zebra, eland, hartebeest, buffalo and oryx. Giraffes, warthogs, reedbucks and other antelope maintain predators such as leopard and large prides of lion.
Home to more than 550 species, the park is a haven for bird enthusiasts who can expect so see dozens of species even in the dry season. The swamps are the focus of the largest selection of breeding birds anywhere in the world. Yellow-collared-lovebirds are a common bird sighting in the trees along the Tarangire River.
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara is located 125 km west of Arusha town under the wall of the Great Rift Valley and is one of the oldest and most popular sanctuaries in east Africa. The park has a large variety of habitats, making it possible to support a wealth of wildlife in its small area. The main habitats include the shallow soda lake itself which occupies 70% of the National Park total area of 320 sq. km, the ground water forest, open grassland, acacia woodland and the rift wall. The forested areas are stunning and provide shade during the heat of the day.
The most famous spectacle in the park are the tree-climbing lions, which are occasionally seen along branches of acacia trees. Other animals found in the park include buffalo, elephants, leopards, baboons, impala, giraffes, zebra, wildebeest, ostrich and hippos.
Lake Manyara National Park contains over 400 bird species found in most savanna and river habitats in east Africa. Common water birds to be seen here are pelicans, spoonbills, Egyptian geese, hammerkops and the migratory flamingoes, which arrive in hundreds of thousands creating one of Africa’s great natural sights over the soda lake.
Mahale Mountains National Park
Mahale lies 120 km south of Kigoma town on a peninsula that cuts out into Lake Tanganyika. The park is dominated by the Mahale Mountains chain running from north-west across the middle of the park, the highest peak being 2,462 meters above sea level. The park vegetation is mainly Miombo woodland with narrow strips of riverine forests with a variety of animal species from elephants, warthogs, giraffes, zebras, roan antelopes, buffaloes, hyenas, wild dogs to lions in the eastern woodland. Chimpanzees, blue monkeys are also found in Mahale. According to recent census, there are more than 700 chimpanzees in about 15 communities.
Trekking to see the chimpanzees here can be demanding depending on where the chimpanzees are located. You will take a short boat ride to where the walk begins and the walk can be anything from 15 minutes on relatively flat ground when food around the lake is in season to a strenuous and very demanding 6 or 7 hours up near vertical slopes. You will normally spend an hour with the chimpanzees which makes all the walking and climbing worthwhile!
Both Gombe Stream National Park and Mahale Mountains National Park provide ornithologists with an outstanding opportunity to view the more than 340 species that have been sighted there. Travel on Lake Tanganyika can also be arranged.
Gombe Stream National Park
The smallest National Park in Tanzania with an area of 52 sq km of land and is a narrow strip of a mountainous country bordered to the east by the Rift Valley escarpment and by Lake Tanganyika to the west.
Gombe is a park without roads where you can walk and experience nature. The park’s vegetation varies from the evergreen forests of tall trees to open woodlands and grasslands. Mammals found are forests species mostly primates including chimpanzees, baboons, blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys and red colobus monkeys.
Gombe Stream is home to The Gombe Stream Research Centre which was founded in 1965 to advance Jane Goodall’s revolutionary findings about chimpanzee tool making and other behaviours. It is also a living laboratory, home to the world’s most studied group of wild chimpanzees. The Centre’s mission is to operate a world class research station in which the best available methods are used to continue and further develop the long term primate research projects begun by Dr Jane Goodall, and to advance basic science, support conservation, and train Tanzanian scientists.
Accommodation at Gombe Stream is in simple tented camps and a guest house but the chimpanzee trekking is simply superb with the added bonus of the possibility to be able to meet and talk to chimpanzee researchers during your stay.
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha is located in the south of Tanzania and derives its name from the Ruaha River flowing along its southeastern border. The river provides permanent water in the park and during the dry season animal concentration along its banks is spectacular and it is possible to see unusual wildlife behaviour such as lions digging in the dry riverbed for water.
This unspoilt wilderness is rich in flora and fauna and contains a wide variety of wildlife that includes Greater and Lesser Kudu, roan and sable antelopes which are rarely seen in most other game parks especially in Northern Tanzania. Ruaha National Park is famous for its herds of elephant and buffaloes and for large prides of lions who have developed successful hunting techniques to hunt elephants and giraffe.
The Ruaha River, which plays an important role in the ecosystem of the park, provides sanctuary to a large number of hippos and crocodiles. During the dry season the river attracts great quantities of game including lions, leopard, hunting or wild dog, impala, waterbuck, warthog, giraffe, and elands. In the plains ostriches, cheetahs and Grants Gazelles can be seen.
The park is rich in bird life throughout the year, with over 370 bird species recorded. The best time for game viewing is during the dry season, from May to December. During the wet months from January to April some tracks become impassable and some camps and lodges close.
SEASONS IN RUAHA
June to October: Dry and warm days with temperatures cooling down considerably at night. Vegetation becomes sparser and animals are drawn to dwindling water sources. Nights can be cold.
November – mid March: Hotter and greener. Nights still cool. This is the season for bird and plant lovers and is the main reproductive time of year so a good time for seeing young. There’s a chance of rain, flowers are in abundance and deciduous.
Selous Game Reserve
The Selous is one of the largest fauna reserves of the world, and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the diversity of its wildlife and undisturbed nature.
It is one of the most pristine wilderness still remaining in Africa with a wide variety of wildlife habitats including open grasslands, acacia and miombo woodlands, swamps and riverine forests in the many tributaries of the mighty Rufiji River which flows through the reserve. Due to its unique ecological importance, it was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1982.
Its wildlife is spectacular - some of its mammal and reptile populations are the largest in Africa - buffaloes, elephants, hippos, wild dogs and crocodiles. Other wildlife include the wildebeest, impala, waterbuck, zebra, eland, the greater kudu, sable antelopes, giraffe, baboon, the vervet and blue monkeys, and the black and white colobus monkey which can be seen in certain riverine forests moving from tree to tree in family groups.
SEASONS IN SELOUS:
June to September: Dry and warm – animals are drawn to dwindling water supplies in the lakes around the river. With vegetation sparse, this is the perfect season for walking and for larger concentrations of game.
October – March: Hotter and greener. This is the season for bird and plant lovers and is the main reproductive time of year so a good time for seeing young. There’s a chance of rain in November and December, flowers are in abundance and the deciduous trees are starting new growth.
Katavi National Park
Located in western Tanzania in the heart of one of the biggest and richest wildlife areas in Tanzania, Katavi is a remote and often overlooked area of wilderness with sensational wildlife viewing. Set along the rift escarpment in western Tanzania, Katavi offers incredible scenery including immense wetlands, roaring waterfalls and original miombo woodland where Sable antelopes often hide.
During the dry season, huge herds of buffalo, zebras and impalas gather with elephants, waterbucks and duikers around the drying water reserves of Lake Katavi and Lake Chada. Animals concentrate along remaining pools of the Katuma river full of hippos and crocodiles. Here, at these remaining water sources, lions, leopards and wild dogs search for prey, watched by patiently waiting vultures which share the trees with fish eagles, storks and vervet monkeys.
As soon as the first rains start, Katavi transforms again into a flowering paradise with enormous swamps, lakes, rivers and waterfalls, attracting an incredible diversity of bird life.
Katavi is a difficult park to reach and is often visited with the Selous and Ruaha. The park has just two tented camps and one lodge which means that this huge wilderness is shared with very few visitors every day!
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro offers a taste of adventure! Rising 4800m above the East African plains, 270km from the shores of the Indian Ocean and measuring up to 40km across, climbing Kilimanjaro is a challenge which can easily be combined with a Tanznain safari or relaxing on the beach afterwards.
Tracks Safaris are pleased to offer a selection of routes – all expertly guided. Please call us to discuss the options.
After a demanding hike or busy safari the spice islands of Zanzibar, Mafia, Pemba, Mnemba and Chumbe offer wonderful beaches and awesome diving. Swim with dolphins, dive the wonderful coral reefs, explore historic Stone Town or visit one of the many spice farms.
Simply relax, read a book, walk along the beaches, be pampered in exotic spas, dive, snorkel or discover exotic Stone Town and little fishing villages – or do absolutely nothing. The choice is yours.
Tracks Safaris have travelled around Tanzania extensively including the northern parks, Ruaha, Selous, Mikumi and Katavi in the south, we have trekked to see chimpanzees at both Gombe Stream and Mahale National Parks as well as visiting Zanzibar many, many times. We have visited Mafia Island snorkelling with whalesharks and qualified as a PADI Advanced Open Water diver at a local dive school on the island and visited and dived off the island of Pemba. We have also visited Fanjove Island in the Songo Songo archipelago close to the Mozambique border - one of the most remote and unspoilt little islands off Tanzania where you can swim with pods of wild dolphin away from the crowds!
Our Tanzania safaris are tailor made to your exact requirements - enjoy a safari with your own vehicle and experienced safari guide/driver for the greatest flexibility or if travelling with children. We have a number of small group safaris we can offer which combine well with some time at the coast or Zanzibar, Mafia and Pemba islands. We are happy to quote for all budgets and for all types of lodges and camps, from the comfortable to the very best, exclusive properties. Call us on 01984 667420 to start planning your journey!