​Expert Reviews – Tanzania

Sort By: Most helpful 1-3 of 3 Reviews
Ariadne van Zandbergen   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Multiple times

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

33 people found this review helpful.

Three Safari Circuits in One Country
Overall rating

Having traveled all over the continent, people often ask me: “What is your favourite country in Africa?” It is a silly question, of course. I usually feel the need to explain what makes each country special and unique, but if I’m honest with myself, the short answer is “Tanzania”. The quality and quantity of its magnificent network of national parks and game reserves is hard to beat.

First-time visitors to Tanzania tend to focus on its Northern safari circuit, which incorporates bucket-list landmarks such as Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks, and Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. I like going a bit off the beaten track while visiting this popular circuit. The stark but beautiful area of Lake Natron, with its flocks of flamingos and traditional cultures, is always worth the detour and the challenging climb to the top of the active volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai is one of my all-time travel highlights.

I equally love the less-publicised Southern circuit. Here you can lose yourself in some of Africa’s biggest wilderness areas. Although wildlife densities aren’t as high as in Serengeti, the focus is on a rounded bush experience. I especially like to mix up game drives with walking safaris and boat trips on the mighty Rufiji River in Nyerere National Park. Ruaha National Park, with its rugged landscapes and healthy wild dog population, is another favorite.

The grassy floodplains of Katavi National Park, in the Western circuit, attract huge numbers of animals in the Dry season and I’ve often felt like I had the whole park to myself. You won’t believe the wildlife spectacle that unfolds here when thousands of hippos are pushed together in the dwindling river, the only source of water in a vast area. A safari in Katavi is often combined with chimp tracking in Mahale Mountains National Park, arguably the best place to see these charismatic primates in Africa. Wherever you go on safari in Tanzania, you’re only ever a short hop away from the offshore spice island of Zanzibar.

Lucy Corne   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: January

Lucy is travel writer for a range of publications, including Lonely Planet's guides to Africa, Southern Africa and South Africa.

14 people found this review helpful.

Big name parks for big game viewing
Overall rating

With the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro positioned within Tanzania's borders, this is a safari destination par excellence. Big Five encounters are common and vistas are far-reaching, with mountains and gorges adding interest to the flat savannah lands. Don't forget to explore the oceans for animal life too – Zanzibar's paradise-like waters are the perfect place to glimpse turtles and tropical fish on a snorkeling or scuba diving trip. It's well-known that luxury lodges can be found throughout Tanzania, almost always with the big bonus of a knowledgeable guide on hand to teach you your topi from your Thomson's Gazelle, but there are also options for those on a tighter budget. Sleeping with nothing but canvas to separate you from the all-enveloping sounds of the bush is a wondrous experience and there’s nothing quite like crawling out of your tent in the middle of the night to find your torch beam resting on a pair of unidentified eyes...

Stuart Butler   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: Multiple times

Stuart is a travel writer and author of numerous Lonely Planet guidebooks, including 'Kenya', 'Rwanda' and 'Tanzania'.

13 people found this review helpful.

African Safari Clichés at their Best
Overall rating

Tanzania is everything you ever thought Africa would be. Perhaps nowhere else on the continent has such huge expanses of animal packed savannah grasslands or areas of wilderness where it’s still possible to imagine how East Africa looked a hundred years ago.

The Tanzanians know they have some of the finest wildlife terrain on the continent and have devoted a huge amount of land to wildlife preservation and developed an impressive array of safari facilities. There are stunning and exclusive lodges, some of the best wildlife guides in the business and an array of ways to enjoy this wilderness be it on foot, by hot air balloon or a customised safari jeep.

Tanzania is big enough (it covers 947,000sq km2, which isn’t that far off double the size of Kenya) that you need never be bothered with a crush of other safari tourists. Even in the Serengeti; the one park that everyone visits, it’s easy to have great swathes of grassland almost completely to yourself while in lesser visited areas you can relish the wilderness vibe. Not just is Tanzania big, but it’s also a very varied country. As well as the classic savannah country there are endless stretches of light woodland, rainforests buzzing with bright birds, mountain meadows criss-crossed with hiking trails and some of the most breathtaking beaches in Africa.

Tanzanian safari tourism can be divided into three neat circuits. Far and away the most popular is the northern circuit which concentrates on the world renowned Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Arusha national parks as well as Mt Kilimanjaro, the loftiest peak in Africa. A safari in this area will give you the full portfolio of classic East African safari experiences: massive herds of migrating wildebeest, luxurious lodges, lions on the prowl, huge herds of elephants and red-robed Maasai and their cattle kicking up the sunset dust. The next most popular area is the southern circuit taking in the hot, dry, baobab studded countryside of the south. It’s all a lot wilder down here – and bigger – parks such as Nyerere (formerly Selous) and Ruaha could swallow some countries. There’s some spectacular wildlife as well including huge numbers of elephants (although numbers have recently been dramatically reduced in Nyerere due to uncontrolled poaching in some parts) and rivers full of hippos and crocs and, for those who like to feel and touch the bush as well as just see it, some of the camps down here run excellent walking safaris. Finally, there’s the little visited west of the country. Katavi National Park is stuffed full of elephants, lions and mud pools bubbling in hippos yet it receives a fraction of the visitors of the Serengeti. For me though, the best thing about a safari out west is chimpanzees. Mahale Mountains and the Gombe Stream national parks are, arguably, the two best places on the planet to see habituated wild chimpanzees and nobody who goes to the (quite considerable) effort and expense of visiting these two parks will likely regret it.

But, good as it all is, there’s a catch. Tanzania is one, if not the, most expensive country in eastern Africa to go on safari in. Yes, by joining an organised budget camping safari in Arusha you can see the wonders of Tanzania for a price that’s affordable to mere mortals but if you want any kind of exclusivity (and to really get the most out of a safari you do need to aim this high) then you’re going to pay considerably more for it than in say Namibia, South Africa, Zambia or even Kenya.

For me though, despite the expense, Tanzania will always remain the best place in Africa for the classic safari experience – and the beaches aren’t bad either!

Average Expert Rating

  • 4.8/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star 15
  • 4 star 3
  • 3 star 0
  • 2 star 0
  • 1 star 0
Write a User Review