It’s no exaggeration to say that Tanzania is probably the world’s most alluring safari destination. So much so that first-time visitors planning a Tanzania itinerary can find the options bewildering. Serengeti National Park and its famous wildebeest migration dominate the popular Northern safari circuit, while the vast Nyerere (Selous) and Ruaha National Parks are highlights of the wilder Southern circuit. Other tempting landmarks include snowcapped Mt Kilimanjaro, the sultry island of Zanzibar and the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater. Here we help you get your head around a few recommended Tanzania itineraries and some popular variations on them.

 

Itinerary 1: 7-Day Serengeti Migration Explorer Safari

Wildebeest crossing the Mara River in Serengeti National Park Wildebeest crossing the Mara River in Serengeti National Park

This classic Tanzania itinerary is ideal for first-time safari-goers. Focused on the world-famous Serengeti and its unique wildebeest migration, it also includes three other fabulous destinations on the Northern safari circuit. Tarangire National Park is known for its high elephant densities. Lake Manyara National Park has a spectacular location below the sheer Rift Valley escarpment and is one of the few places where lions regularly climb trees. Then there is Ngorongoro Crater, where the Big Five thrive within the world's largest volcanic caldera.

Day 1 – Arrive in Arusha and enjoy its leafy setting below 4,562m/14,967ft Mt Meru

Day 2 – Transfer to Tarangire, where large herds of elephant huddle below ancient baobabs

Day 3 – Head on to Lake Manyara to look for tree-climbing lions and marvel at the colorful birdlife

Day 4 – A morning drive in Ngorongoro Crater offers a good chance of spotting all the Big Five, including black rhino

Day 5 – Head out onto the endless Serengeti plains, where you might encounter some of the park’s 2 million migrant wildebeest

Day 6 – Continue exploring Serengeti, looking out for lion, leopard, cheetah and other iconic wildlife

Day 7 – After a morning game drive, return to the urban comforts of Arusha

7-Day Northern Circuit Safaris

 

Itinerary 2: 10-Day Tanzania & Kenya Highlights Safari

Lioness with cubs in Masai Mara National Reserve Lioness with cubs in Masai Mara National Reserve

Torn between Tanzania and its equally alluring neighbor Kenya? Then why not visit both on a combined safari? This will require a bit more time on the road and hopping between parks than a safari dedicated to one country. But it also means that in addition to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, you'll get to explore some of Kenya's finest wildlife destinations. These include the legendary Masai Mara National Reserve, as well as Amboseli National Park at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro, and Lake Nakuru National Park with its dense rhino population and seasonal concentrations of flamingo.

Day 1 – Drive from Nairobi to Masai Mara for an afternoon game drive

Day 2 – Spend a full day exploring Masai Mara, which is home to all the Big Five and receives the legendary wildebeest migration over July or August to October

Day 3 – After a morning game drive, head off to scenic Lake Nakuru

Day 4 – A full day in Nakuru allows plenty of time to look for black and white rhinos and enjoy the spectacular birdlife

Day 5 – Road transfer to Amboseli, then take an afternoon game drive hoping to see mighty tuskers and a clear view of Mt Kilimanjaro

Day 6 – A morning game drive in Amboseli provides one last opportunity to glimpse Mt Kilimanjaro. Cross into Tanzania at the Namanga border to overnight in the leafy town of Arusha.

Day 7 – Enjoy a relaxed breakfast in Arusha, then head to Lake Manyara for an afternoon game drive to look for its legendary tree-climbing lions

Day 8 – After a morning game drive in the majestic Ngorongoro Crater, home to all the Big Five, drive on to Serengeti

Day 9 – Experience a full day exploring Serengeti, looking out for its famous wildebeest herds, prolific big cats and other carnivores

Day 10 – After a last Serengeti game drive, return to Arusha or Nairobi by road or air

10-Day Tanzania & Kenya Safaris

 

Itinerary 3: 11-Day Tanzania Wildlife Safari & Zanzibar Beach Holiday

Aerial view over Stone Town, Zanzibar Island Aerial view over Stone Town, Zanzibar Island

This very popular Tanzania itinerary combines a Serengeti safari (see ‘7-Day Serengeti Migration Explorer Safari’ above) with a beach holiday on Zanzibar. Also known as the Spice Island, Zanzibar is only a 15-minute hop by air from the Tanzanian mainland, but it has a very different atmosphere. Highlights include the characterful old Stone Town, aromatic spice plantations of the interior, coral reefs alive with colorful fish, and tempting Indian Ocean beaches.

Day 1 – Arrive in Arusha, Tanzania’s unofficial ‘safari capital’, which is set below the slopes of Mt Meru

Day 2 – Transfer to Tarangire, home to some of Africa's largest concentrations of elephant

Day 3 – Continue to Lake Manyara, where lions are often seen climbing trees below the scenic Rift Valley escarpment

Day 4 – Game drive in Ngorongoro Crater, an extinct volcanic caldera that provides refuge to all the Big Five

Day 5 – Explore Serengeti, the arena for the world's greatest animal migration, comprising around 2 million wildebeest and zebra

Day 6 – Continue exploring Serengeti, looking out for characteristic wildlife such as lion, leopard and cheetah

Day 7 – Return to Arusha by road or air then fly to Zanzibar’s Stone Town

Day 8 – Explore Stone Town’s atmospheric alleys, colorful seafront and timeworn historic sites

Day 9 – Chill out on one of Zanzibar’s legendary palm-lined, silky-sanded beaches

Day 10 – Spend another day on the beach or go snorkeling on the reefs of the Mnemba Atoll

Day 11 – Take a boat out to pretty Changuu Island and its giant tortoise sanctuary, or a guided walk to look for monkeys in Jozani Forest before flying out of Zanzibar

11-Day Tanzania & Zanzibar Packages

 

Itinerary 4: 9-Day Southern Tanzania Adventure Safari

Boat safari on the Rufiji River in Nyerere National Park Boat safari on the Rufiji River in Nyerere National Park

This adventurous Tanzania itinerary focuses on the Southern safari circuit, which carries far less tourist traffic than northern parks such as the Serengeti, and has more of a wilderness feel. It incorporates the country’s two largest national parks: Nyerere (formerly Selous Game Reserve) and Ruaha. Both these parks support four of the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo, but no rhino) and are good for African wild dog. A highlight of Nyerere is hippo-dodging boat safaris on the Rufiji, Tanzania's largest river.

Day 1 – It’s a 5-hour drive from the port city of Dar es Salaam to the vast Nyerere and mighty Rufiji River

Day 2 – Choose between game drives, guided walks or boat trips as you explore Nyerere

Day 3 – Spend another day in Nyerere looking for elephant, giraffe, buffalo, hippo and lion

Day 4 – Drive to Mikumi National Park via the pretty town of Morogoro, which sits below the Uluguru Mountains

Day 5 – Do a game drive through the classic savannah of Mikumi, then a short hike to look for monkeys found nowhere else in the world in Udzungwa Mountains National Park

Day 6 – Continue to Ruaha, crossing the scenic Great Ruaha River as you enter

Day 7 – Game drives in Ruaha often throw up surprises. This is the only park in Tanzania where lion, leopard, cheetah and African wild dog are all regularly seen.

Day 8 – Continue exploring Ruaha, enjoying the varied birdlife and diversity of antelope

Day 9 – A full-day drive returns you to Dar es Salaam

9-Day Southern Circuit Safaris

 

Itinerary 5: 7-Day Roof of Africa Kilimanjaro Climb

Hiker at the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro Hiker at the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro

Conquering Mt Kilimanjaro’s snowcapped Uhuru Peak, at 5,895m/19,340ft the highest point in Africa, is for many people the ultimate travel dream. And while a Kilimanjaro summit isn't for everybody, it’s a very achievable goal assuming you’re determined and moderately fit. The guided hike requires an absolute minimum of five days (six or seven are better, for altitude acclimatization) so it tends to dominate any itinerary on which it is included. Of several routes open to hikers, the Machame Route probably stands out as the best compromise between ease, cost and overcrowding, so it is the one we have chosen for this itinerary.

Day 1 – Road transfer from Moshi or Arusha to Machame Gate (1,640m/5,380ft); ascend 5km/3mi through evergreen forest to Machame Camp (2,890m/9,482ft)

Day 2 – Exit the forest zone into an open moorland of heather shrubs on the 5km/3mi hike to Shira Hut (3,840m/12,598ft)

Day 3 – A tough 10km/6mi hike ascends to the Lava Tower before descending to Barranco Camp (3,950m/12,959ft)

Day 4 – Continue acclimatizing on a steeply rolling 5km/3mi path to Karanga Camp (3,995m/13,105ft)

Day 5 – It’s only 4km/2.5mi to Barafu Camp (4,600m/15,092ft), but the breathless altitude and steep slopes make it slow work

Day 6 – Set off at midnight to reach Stella Point at sunrise. Continue to Uhuru Peak, then descend to Mweka Camp (3,100m/10,170ft) in the forest zone

Day 7 – A relatively easy 10km/6mi descent through the forest leads to Mweka Gate (1,650m/5,415ft). Road transfer to Moshi or Arusha.

7-Day Mt Kilimanjaro Tours

 

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By Philip Briggs
South Africa ZA

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Bradt guidebook to Tanzania.

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