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Tanzania Travel Guide

Tanzania

Overview

Parks & Reserves

Wildlife

Birds

Best Time To Visit

Weather & Climate

Popular Routes

Getting There

Malaria & Vaccinations

Safety

Overview – Tanzania
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By Maliwaza Kazimoto

Mali, celebrated for her expertise in Tanzanian tours and as a seasoned guide for many photographic safaris, provides clear and authoritative advice to turn your dream journey into reality. Inquire today.

Tanzania is renowned as a prime wildlife viewing destination in Africa, featuring three distinct regions for safari adventures. The celebrated Northern region is dotted with renowned landmarks such as the vast Serengeti National Park, the breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater, and the towering Mt. Kilimanjaro. For those seeking a more secluded experience, the Southern and Western regions offer untouched natural landscapes. Additionally, the picturesque ‘Spice Island’ of Zanzibar, with its inviting beaches, is just a quick flight away for a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation.
feature serengeti (6)
Tanzania Travel Guide Map
Rates (USD)
$250 to $600 pp/day
Best Time To Go
June through October and January to February are ideal for witnessing the wildebeest calving season.
High Season
July-March: Northern parks busy. June-October: Southern/Western parks, Nyerere sees crowds.
Size
947,303km² / 365,756mi²
Pros & Cons
Exceptional wildlife encounters, featuring the yearly wildebeest migration in the Serengeti.
Unique, secluded safari experiences in Katavi and Ruaha National Parks.
A variety of safari circuits available for visitors who return for more experiences.
Africa's premier chimpanzee trekking in Gombe and Mahale Mountains National Parks.
Zanzibar offers perfect beach holiday extensions.
Rich traditional cultures
Relatively expensive safari destination
Some popular parks can be crowded
Wildlife

Tanzania is a treasure trove of wildlife, offering an array of ecosystems from the vast Serengeti plains to the secluded corners of Mkomazi National Park. Its landscapes are home to a rich variety of animals, including the iconic elephants, graceful giraffes, and the mighty lions. The annual great migration of millions of wildebeest and their predators is a natural spectacle unmatched anywhere in the world. Rare sightings of endangered wild dogs in Ruaha and Nyerere (Selous) National Parks, and close encounters with black rhinos in the Ngorongoro Crate

Activities

Safaris in Tanzania typically revolve around morning and afternoon game drives, yet the adventure doesn’t end there. Night drives open up a whole new world, revealing the nocturnal creatures that remain hidden by day. For those keen on the details often missed in a vehicle, walking safaris provide an immersive experience, delving into the nuances of small animals, tracks, and flora. Moreover, boat safaris present an unparalleled opportunity to observe crocodiles and hippos up close, an experience particularly recommended in Nyerere National Park.

Weather & Climate

In Tanzania, from June to October (the Dry season), the weather is mostly warm, with daytime temperatures between 20°C (68°F) and 30°C (86°F). If you’re higher up, like on a mountain, it will feel cooler. The Wet season lasts from November to May, starting with the “short rains” in November and December. There’s a bit of a dry spell after that, and then the “long rains” come from March to May.

Best Time To Visit

Viewing wildlife in Tanzania peaks from June to October, the Dry season, which is perfect for observing the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti’s Western and Northern areas. For those interested in witnessing the birth of wildebeest calves, the best time to visit is between January and February in the Southern Serengeti. While the Wet season, spanning November to May, might limit access to certain parks in the Southern and Western circuits, the Northern circuit parks remain open and offer fruitful game-viewing experiences during these months.

Premier Parks, Reserves & Wildlife Areas
- Classic and walking safaris
- Classic safaris
- Classic and walking safaris
- Classic, boat and walking safaris
- Classic and walking safaris
- Classic, walking and canoe safaris
National Parks & Game Reserves – Tanzania
All Parks & Reserves
Dive into classic safaris and trekking adventures, spotlighting antelopes, buffalo, giraffes, and the unique Kilimanjaro colobus monkey.
Experience chimpanzee trekking alongside encounters with various other primates.
Walking safaris, viewing the Big Five (with rare rhinos), witnessing the wildebeest migration, and catering to high-end clientele.
Walking and traditional safaris featuring four of the Big Five (excluding rhinos), with abundant wildlife sightings in the Dry season.
Day and night game drives, walking, and canoe safaris, complemented by a treetop walkway. You’ll get the opportunity to see four of the Big Five, with the rhino being the exception.
Chimpanzee trekking is available, along with sightings of other primate species.
Game drives, walking, and classic safaris offer encounters with four of the Big Five, excluding the rhino.
Game drives and walking safaris take place in a black rhino sanctuary, where the Big Five are present but can be challenging to spot.
Classic safaris showcase a vast array of wildlife, with opportunities to see each of the Big Five.
Classic safari, including walking and boat excursions, you can encounter four of the Big Five, with the exception of both black and white rhinos, and witness a thriving population of wild dogs.
Top-rated classic and walking safaris, featuring four of the Big Five without excluding rhinos, along with sightings of cheetahs and wild dogs.
Premier chimpanzee trekking, accompanied by classic and boat safaris, offering sightings of elephants, sitatungas, and giraffes.
Classic, walking, and boat safaris converge where the beach meets the bush, in areas where wildlife is sparsely populated.
Premium safaris feature the Big Five, with rare rhino sightings, abundant big cats, and the unique chance to see lions, leopards, and cheetahs together on one game drive, plus the wildebeest migration.
Classic, walking, and night safaris showcase four of the Big Five, excluding rhinos, with a significant presence of elephants during the dry season.
Wildlife & Animals – Tanzania
Bush2City Support (2)

By Maliwaza Kazimoto

Mali, celebrated for her expertise in Tanzanian tours and as a seasoned guide for many photographic safaris, provides clear and authoritative advice to turn your dream journey into reality. Inquire today.

Tanzania is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream, home to the iconic Big Five. Here, elephants, buffaloes, and lions are frequently seen, while the Ngorongoro Crater offers a rare glimpse of the black rhino. The chance encounter with a secretive leopard elevates the safari experience, making every moment in Tanzania’s wilds unforgettable.

Elephant
Buffalo
Wildebeest
Hippo
Zebra
Giraffe
Cheetah
Lion
Leopard
White Rhino
Black Rhino
Wild Dog
Hyena
Wildlife Highlights

Tanzania’s wilderness is a sanctuary for a diverse array of carnivorous wildlife, hosting more than thirty species of predators. This includes a variety of cats, from the elegant caracals and servals to the elusive African wild cats, alongside packs of wild dogs, cunning jackals, and stealthy hyenas. Smaller carnivores such as mongooses and genets add to the rich tapestry of life here. While wild dogs prefer the seclusion of the southern parks, bat-eared foxes and black-backed jackals are more commonly seen throughout the country. An early morning safari is the optimal time to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, offering an unparalleled wildlife experience.

Best Time for Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife viewing in Tanzania peaks in the Dry season, June to October, with easier animal sightings. The Wet season, November to May, offers lush scenery and fewer visitors. Prime times include January to February for wildebeest calving in the Southern Serengeti and June to October for their migration in the Western and Northern regions. Note, access to Southern and Western circuit parks becomes limited during the March to May heavy rains, leading to some lodge closures.

Recommended Wildlife Books
The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals
(Not a field guide but a fascinating intro to mammal behavior) Richard D. Estes
A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania
(This lavishly photographed book covers 133 mammal species) Charles Foley et al.
The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals (book and app)
(Definitive guide for serious Africa wildlife enthusiasts) Jonathan Kingdon
East African Wildlife
(One-volume guide to common mammals, birds and reptiles) Philip Briggs
Field Guide to East African Reptiles
(Great for identifying lizards, snakes and other reptiles) Stephen Spawls et al.
Wildlife Photos
feature serengeti (11)
Birds - Tanzania
Bush2City Support (2)

By Maliwaza Kazimoto

Mali, celebrated for her expertise in Tanzanian tours and as a seasoned guide for many photographic safaris, provides clear and authoritative advice to turn your dream journey into reality. Inquire today.

Tanzania is a top birding destination, home to over 1,100 bird species. This includes more than 800 residents and nearly 200 migrants, with about 40 endemic species, notably in the Northern circuit and the Eastern Arc Mountains. Birdwatchers can enjoy sightings, especially of migrants, from November to April.

Notable Birds in Tanzania

Fischer’s lovebird
Locally common and endemic
Ostrich
Common
Palm-nut vulture
Occasional
Red-and-yellow barbet
Locally common
Superb starling
Common
Best Time for Bird Watching

Tanzania offers excellent bird watching throughout the year, with November to April standing out as the prime time. During these months, international migratory birds visit, and numerous local species display their vibrant plumage and engage in nesting. This period aligns with the Wet season, the warmest time of the year, particularly heating up the coastal areas. Heavy rainfall is typical from March to May, with frequent daily showers. For those interested in observing wildlife beyond birds, visiting in the Dry season, between June and October, is advisable.

Recommended Birding Books
Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi
(Only field guide with complete Tanzania coverage; a must) Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe
Birds of Kenya & Northern Tanzania
(Complete for the north but omits birds found further south) Dale A. Zimmerman, Donald A. Turner and David J. Pearson
East Africa Birds – A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species in Kenya, Tanzania & Uganda
(Of limited use with only 140 species described) James Kavanagh
Pocket Guide: Birds of East Africa
(Kenya-centric beginner’s guide has fewer than 300 species) Dave Richards
eGuide to Birds of East Africa (app)
(The app version of the above book is comprehensive for Tanzania) Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe
Facts & Figures

Bird Species

550+

Migratory Birds

Oct to Apr

Best Time To Visit – Tanzania
Bush2City Support (2)

By Maliwaza Kazimoto

Mali, celebrated for her expertise in Tanzanian tours and as a seasoned guide for many photographic safaris, provides clear and authoritative advice to turn your dream journey into reality. Inquire today.

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Visiting Tanzania is most rewarding during the Dry season, between June and October when conditions are ideal for wildlife watching. This period is also perfect for witnessing the spectacular wildebeest migration in the Serengeti National Park. For those eager to observe the wildebeest calving, the period from January to February offers the most reliable opportunities. While the Southern and Western circuit parks are optimally experienced during the Dry season, the renowned parks of the Northern circuit welcome visitors throughout the year, offering a consistent safari experience.

Best Time
June through October and January to February are ideal for witnessing the wildebeest calving season.
High Season
July-March: Northern parks busy. June-October: Southern/Western parks, Nyerere sees crowds.
Low Season
During April and May, many lodges in the Southern and Western circuit parks are closed.
Best Weather
June to October features little to no rainfall.
Worst Weather
March to May marks the peak of the Wet season.
June to October – Dry Season – Winter
The wildebeest migration takes place in the Serengeti.
August and September are the optimal months to witness the Mara River wildebeest crossings in the Northern Serengeti.
Animals gather around waterholes and rivers, making them easier to spot.
With little to no rain, there are fewer mosquitoes.
The skies are clear, and most days are sunny.
Mornings and nights can be cold; it's advisable to bring warm clothing.
It is the high season, and some areas may become crowded.
November to May Wet Season – Summer
January to February marks the wildebeest calving season in the Southern Serengeti, making it an excellent time to observe predator action.
The scenery is lush and beautiful.
April and May are considered the low season, offering lower rates and less crowded parks.
While wildlife spotting is easier in the Dry season, you'll still see plenty, especially in the parks of the Northern circuit.
Migratory birds are present from November to April, making this period optimal for bird watching.
Outside of March, April, and May, rains typically consist of short afternoon showers that rarely disrupt activities.
March to May is the peak of the Wet season.
Wildlife viewing in Tarangire, Katavi, Nyerere (Selous), and Ruaha National Parks is better during the Dry season.
Wildlife Photos
feature serengeti (11)
​Weather & Climate – Tanzania
Bush2City Support (2)

By Maliwaza Kazimoto

Mali, celebrated for her expertise in Tanzanian tours and as a seasoned guide for many photographic safaris, provides clear and authoritative advice to turn your dream journey into reality. Inquire today.

Tanzania is graced with a tropical climate, yet it showcases notable climatic diversity across different regions, largely influenced by altitude variations. The coastal regions boast the warmest and most humid conditions, contrasted by the less humid, yet equally warm climates of the low-lying western and southern parks. The country’s interior, on the other hand, enjoys a more temperate climate, often dipping into cooler temperatures at night. Tanzania’s weather pattern distinctly divides into the Dry and Wet seasons, each offering its unique charm and challenges.

Arusha's Climate Compared to Tanzania's Parks

Arusha, nestled close to the highly coveted northern parks, boasts a comparatively gentle climate. In April, a month marked by the zenith of rainfall, the precipitation in most parks is markedly less than in Arusha. The Ngorongoro Crater’s rim, perched at the lofty elevation of around 2,300 meters (7,545 feet), is subject to ample rainfall and experiences brisk temperatures in the evenings and mornings. Conversely, the parks situated at lower altitudes, including Lake Manyara, Nyerere (Selous), Mikumi, Ruaha, Gombe, Mahale Mountains, and Katavi National Parks, bask in warmer conditions than those found in Arusha.

Wet Season – Dry Season

During the Dry season, rainfall is scarce and humidity drops significantly, leading to cooler temperatures at night. Packing warm clothing is important, as morning game drives in open vehicles can be quite chilly, particularly in the northern parks.

 

In June, July, August, and September, afternoon temperatures typically range from 20°C (68°F) to 30°C (86°F), although they can vary significantly depending on altitude and location. During these months, the sky is often clear, and the weather is sunny.

 

October marks the conclusion of the Dry season. This period is characterized by hot temperatures, with the arrival of the season’s first rains bringing welcome relief.

feature serengeti (10)
Wet Season – Wet Season

Throughout much of the Wet season, afternoon temperatures remain consistently hot, around 30°C (86°F), though areas above 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) experience cooler conditions. In the northern parks, known for their higher elevations, mornings tend to be cold.

 

November and December are known for the ‘short rains’ – a period of regular rainfall lasting about a month, occurring sometime between these two months. The onset of these rains in northern Tanzania can be unpredictable, sometimes even beginning in October. However, these rains are unlikely to disrupt your safari experience.

 

In January and February, the northern parks and coastal areas typically enjoy a respite from the rainy season, experiencing a brief dry period. The other parks, however, do not generally see a significant break in rainfall during these months.

 

March, April, and May are characterized by the ‘long rains,’ marking the wettest period of the year. Heavy rainfall is common nearly every day during these months, though it typically does not last all day. Humidity levels are particularly high, especially in the warmer southern and western parks.

feature Ngorongoro crater (4)
Popular Routes – Tanzania
Bush2City Support (2)

By Maliwaza Kazimoto

Mali, celebrated for her expertise in Tanzanian tours and as a seasoned guide for many photographic safaris, provides clear and authoritative advice to turn your dream journey into reality. Inquire today.

Tanzania Travel Guide Map
Northern Circuit (1 to 2 weeks)

The Northern safari circuit ranks as Tanzania’s most sought-after route. Typically, travelers arrive via Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK), which serve as gateways to this circuit near the town of Arusha.

 

Key Destinations:

Arusha National Park (0.5 to 2 days): Offers picturesque landscapes dominated by Mt. Meru and views of Mt. Kilimanjaro on clear days.

Lake Manyara National Park (1 day): A sanctuary for diverse wildlife, nestled beneath the Rift Valley escarpment’s scenic beauty.

Tarangire National Park (1 to 3 days): Known for its large elephant herds congregating by the Tarangire River during the Dry season.

Ngorongoro Crater (1 to 2 days): A unique conservation area where spotting the Big Five in a single day is a common experience.

Serengeti National Park (3 to 5 days): Renowned for excellent wildlife viewing opportunities and the iconic wildebeest migration

 

Suggested Add-ons:

Zanzibar Island: Ideal for unwinding on pristine beaches.

Gombe National Park or Mahale Mountains National Park: For an unforgettable chimpanzee trekking adventure.

Kilimanjaro National Park: Offers the challenge of climbing Africa’s highest peak.

​Getting There – Tanzania
Bush2City Support (2)

By Maliwaza Kazimoto

Mali, celebrated for her expertise in Tanzanian tours and as a seasoned guide for many photographic safaris, provides clear and authoritative advice to turn your dream journey into reality. Inquire today.

Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), located 50km (31mi) east of Arusha, serves as the primary entry point to Tanzania’s renowned Northern safari circuit, with the drive to Arusha taking approximately 1½ hours*. On the other hand, Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), positioned 13km (8mi) southwest of Dar es Salaam, caters to those heading to the southern parks.

 

Travel between reserves from Arusha or Dar es Salaam can be done by air or road. Domestic flights may depart from Kilimanjaro International Airport or the smaller Arusha Airport (ARK), which is 8km (5mi) west of the city. Regardless of your mode of transportation, local tour operators typically handle pickups from the airport and manage all subsequent travel arrangements as part of your safari package.

 

*Note: Driving times are approximate and can be affected by delays.

Main Park Map
Tanzania Travel Guide Map
Flights & Airlines to Botswana

For general searches to Tanzania, you can start here:

Domestic Airlines & Flights in Tanzania

As your dedicated expert and consultant from Bush 2 City, we typically handle the arrangement of domestic and charter flights between parks as part of your comprehensive tour package. For travelers inclined to make their own flight arrangements, Tanzania is served by a variety of domestic airlines that offer convenient travel options across the country, connecting various regions and parks. The airlines available for booking include:

Passport, Visa & Other Entry Requirements
Entry requirements may vary, so it’s crucial to confirm the latest details with your local Tanzanian embassy or high commission.
A valid passport is necessary for all international visitors, with at least six months of validity.

Ensure your passport has at least one blank visa page for stamps.

Most visitors need a visa, except for nationals from countries exempted from visa requirements.

Visas can be applied for in advance via Tanzania’s official online visa application portal, or alternatively, through your local Tanzanian embassy or high commission. On-arrival visas are also an option.

Travelers arriving from countries with yellow fever risk in Africa or the Americas must present a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au
Canada: travel.gc.ca
EU member states: ec.europa.eu
Ireland: www.dfa.ie
New Zealand: www.safetravel.govt.nz
United Kingdom: www.gov.uk
United States: travel.state.gov