Situated in East Africa, just south of the equator, mainland Tanzania lies between the area of the great lakes; Victoria, Tanganyika and Malawi - with the Indian Ocean on its' coastline to the east. It has land borders with Uganda and Kenya to the north, Mozambique and Malawi to the south, Zambia to the southwest and Zaire, Burundi and Rwanda to the west.
The country lies at an altitude of over 1,000ft, apart from a coastal strip varying in width from 10 to 40 miles. The greater part of the country is made up of plateau averaging 3,000 to 4,500ft in height. Mountains are grouped in various section. The Pare and Usambara ranges are in the northeast and the Livingstone Mountains in the southwest. Kilimanjaro (19,340ft) in the north is the highest mountain in Africa.
On the borders are three large lakes; Victoria, the second-largest freshwater lake in the world, Tanganyika, second only to Lake Baykal as the deepest in the world; and Lake Malawi. Lakes within Tanzania include Natron, Eyasi, Manyara and Rukwa.
Even though three great African rivers; the Nile, the Zaire and the Zambezi, have their origins in Tanzania, the country has few permanent rivers. During half the year, the central plateau has no running water, but in the rainy season flooding presents a problem.
Lowest Point: Indian Ocean 0m
Highest Point: Kilimanjaro 5,895m
GOMBE STREAM NATIONAL PARK
This park is located in the north-western part of the country, just 16 kms north of Kigoma. It is Tanzania's smallest parks, covering an area of 52 sq.kms, but one of the most popular, famous for its chimpanzees, being one of the few remaining places where they can be found in their natural habitat.
Due to the park being heavily forested, large game animal are not found in this area, but the park is home to a number of different species of monkey including the red colobus, red-tail and blue monkey, grey duiker, bushbuck and bushpig as well numerous species of bird including trumpter hornbills, Roos's turaco, crowed eagle, secretary bird, narrow tailed starling to mention a few.
The park can only be accessed by boat and a daily entry permit is charged.
There is a small hostel in the park where beds and mattresses are provided and all provisions including cooking equipment should be brought with you. Booking in Kigoma is recommended.
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK - click to view recommended Tours & Safaris
Location: 130KM west of Arusha
Best time to visit: Dry season (July-October) for large mammals; wet season (November-June) for bird watching, the waterfalls and canoeing. Size: 325 kmē (of which about 230 kmē are the lake)
Sights: Lake Manyara NP is in base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment and comprises of forest, woodland, grasslands, and swamps. Wildlife to be spotted Tree climbing Lions, Baboons, Buffalo, Zebra, Hippos, giraffe; Wildebeest, and over 350 species of bird, storks and flamingoes.
MIKUMI NATIONAL PARK
Mikumi National Park is located approximately 300 km west of Dar es Salaam, and is a popular destination for weekend visitors. The park lies within a flood plain bordered by the Uluguru Mountain range to the east and the Rubeho Mountains on the west and covers an area of over 3,200 sq kms.
Wildlife is abundant with giraffe, zebra, buffalo, hartebeest, wildebeest being amongst the most commonly sighted game, but elephant, wild dog and tree climbing lions are also found here along with smaller mammals and reptiles. The park is also home to over 300 different species of birds.
Access to the park is easy, with good road conditions from Dar es Salaam, and an airstrip near the park headquarters.
There is a variety of accommodation available ranging from budget to luxury and a tented camp with designated camp sites. Advance bookings are advisable.
Mt. KILIMANJARO NATIONAL PARK - click to view recommended Kilimanjaro Climbs
Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, reaching a height of 5,895 meters, a dormant volcano, with the diameter at its base being 40 miles. There are two main snow capped peaks, Kibo and Mawenzi. Although it can be climbed year round the best times of the year for climbing are between August and October and January and March, from mid March to May it is the wet season.
There are six different routes up the mountain ranging in degree of difficultly and there are many tours operators running organised trips.
The Park has been a game reserve since 1921 and was designated a National Park in 1973. The rainforest is home to many species of animals and birds including, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo.
Click to view Lodges & Hotels in the Kilimanjaro area
Kilimanjaro climb - Machame Route
The most beautiful, but technical climbing route. Climbing skills required, is now often booked by many. The climb crossing the breath rain forest gives you an open view of the glacier when you reach the Shira Plateau situated in the middle of the moorlands. 6 Days, 5 Nights.
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Kilimanjaro Climb - Marangu route
6 Days 5nights
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Kilimanjaro Climb - Shira Route
This Western breach route starting from West Kilimanjaro is for more Technical and experienced climbers and proves very challenging, with very spectacular diversified view right from the start. Ascend via Londorossi gate and descend via the Marangu gate.
- 8 Days
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AHALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Located in the west of the country, Muhale Mountains National Park is a remote park that can only be reach by plane or boat. There are no roads and game viewing is safely carried out on foot.
This is the other of Tanzania's parks where chimpanzee can still be found in their natural habitat along with elephant, buffalo, antelope, giraffe, leopard and lion.
The best time of the year to visit is between May and October.
Camping is allowed in designated areas and camping equipment is available for hire.
NGORONGORO CRATER - click to view recommended Tours and Safaris
The Conservation area is a fine blend of landscapes, people, wildlife and Africa main archaeological site, lying in the north of country and merging into the Serengeti Game Reserve. The Ngorongoro Crater is regarded as a natural wonder of the world (the 8th) and has been declared a World Heritage Site. It is the largest intact crater in the world, being 610 meters deep, 16 kms across and covering an area of 540 sq kms. and is teaming with wildlife, with virtually all the big game species found here, including, zebra, wildebeest, black rhino, antelope, elephants, giraffe, buffalo, lion, cheetah, leopard. The area is also an ornithologists' paradise, with the thousands of flamingos wading in the shallows of Lake Magadi and hundreds of other species of birdlife.
The prime time of the year to visit is from December to May when the spectacular sight of the Serengeti migration usually takes place.
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
located on Lemala Hill on the uppermost, eastern rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. The only lodge in which the crater tour begins within five minutes of leaving the lodge. The lodge can accommodate 190 guests in 92 suites, each enjoying wall-to-wall carpeting, central heating, a private lounge with a mini bar, a bedroom with two queen size beds and ample room for a third, an en-suite bathroom with shaver sockets and a hair dryer, and a private solarium which offers stunning views either down into the crater floor below or of the setting sun over the western horizon. The lodge provides a direct-dial satellite telephone facilities as well as satellite television and wildlife-video-film options. A complimentary bottled mineral water is provided in the mini bars while further stocks are available for sale in the main bar. The guest shops stock a wide selection of curios, gift items, clothing, film, sweets, postcards, personal requisites and toiletries. A swimming pool is situated on the very edge of the crater itself and the water is bracing, even invigorating to say the least, at any time of year.
RUAHA NATIONAL PARK - click to view recommended Tours and Safaris
Situated in the centre of the country, the Ruaha National Park, is Tanzania's second largest park covering an area of over 13,000 sq kms and the worlds largest elephant sanctuary. Although set in spectacular scenery, with an abundance of wildlife, the park is one of the lesser visited in the country, keeping it an isolated, peaceful and unspoilt wilderness.
Amongst the game found here are Elephant, Buffalo, Giraffe, Cheetah, lion, leopard, a wide variety of antelope including the Greater and Lesser Kudu and the Roan and Sable antelopes. There is over 465 recorded species of birdlife in the area.
The best time for game viewing is during the dry season when the animals congregate along the Ruaha River, from between May and December. During the raining season, from January to April, many roads are impassable.
Read our featured article from Travel Africa Magazine
Ruaha may be the second largest national park in Tanzania, but it is also one of the least visited. This and its abundant wildlife are amongst the reasons why it is widely regarded to be one of the wildest and best wilderness reserves in Africa.
Accommodation is available in an exclusive Tented Camp, various designated camp sites around the park including at the park headquarters at Masembe and a Lodge
SAADANI NATIONAL PARK
Tanzania's newest national park, located 130 km North of Dar Salaam and just 38 km from Zanzibar.
The reserve has the unique distinction of being East Africa's only coastal wildlife sanctuary, providing the opportunity to observe Africa's big game and bird life interacting with the sea. Saadani has a diverse population of mammals and birds, although many species are both scarce and scared compared to other parks which have received better protection in the past.
Of the big five, lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo are present, the rare Roosevelt sable is indigenous, whilst plains game such as giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, eland and hartebeest are more frequently seen in larger herds.
The southern boundary is marked by the Wami River, which attracts fabulous bird life, large pods of hippo, massive crocodiles and the spectacular black and white Colobus monkey. Bottle-nosed dolphins are common off the Southern coast of the reserve, whales pass through the Zanzibar Channel in October and November, and there is a green turtle breeding beach at Madete in the North.
The Wami river offers probably the best boat safari in Tanzania and is a favourite with visitors to Saadani. The boat often passes flocks of flamingoes at the mouth of the estuary before entering the river with its abundant wildlife and profusion of bird life. Explored by foot the reserve is extremely rewarding and highlights how much game lives in close proximity to the beach. The unique experience of tracking giraffe through prime bush then emerging onto a pristine beach in a matter of a few paces is not easily forgotten. Improved road conditions within the reserve have made the prime game viewing areas more easily accessible and the wildlife is now becoming used to 4x4 vehicles on the game drives.
Saadani is in the unique position of providing the opportunity to observe Africa's big game and bird life interacting with the sea. Foot safaris combining the bush and the beach, birdwatching by canoe on the Mafue river and game drives are all available from the lodge and a boat safari on the Wami river can be organised as part of a full day game drive. The nearby Madete Marine Reserve offers superb snorkeling and is a green turtle nesting site. ATWV has started its own turtle hatchery at the lodge to help conserve this endangered species
Superficially at odds with the reserve, yet aligned to conservation and the thinking eco-tourist, is Saadani village, one of the oldest communities on the East African coast and as such right at the heart of Swahili culture. The fascinating history of the village is evident in the remains of the old fort and war time cemeteries, whilst silhouetted prawn fisherman dragging their nets before the coming dawn make an extremely evocative image.
(text courtesy of David Barker - A Tent with a View Safaris)
SELOUS GAME RESERVE - click to view recommended Tours and Safaris
The Selous Game Reserve, located approximate 8 hours drive south of Dar-es-Salaam, is the largest reserve in Africa and one of the largest protected wildlife areas in the world. It is home to some of the biggest quantities and variety of animals and birds in Africa. It has the world's largest number of big game, more than 120,000 elephants, 160,000 buffaloes and about 2,000 rhinoceros, In addition, the Selous contains Africa's greatest concentration of hippopotamus, crocodile and wild dog. The Selous is a rare combination of woodlands, marshes, savannah and open grass plains, crisscrossed by many rivers, one being the mighty Rufiji River.
The best time to visit is from June to the end of October. The park can be reach by road, rail for air, having several airstrips located at the various camps, a flight from Dar-es-Salaam takes approximately 45 minutes.
Accommodation is available in lodges and luxury tented camps located in the parks extreme northern end. There are no budget facilities for camp sites.
Read our Feature Article: Selous - Tanzania's Untouched Wilderness
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK - click to view recommended Tours and Safaris
Tanzania's oldest park, located in the North, covering an area of over 14,760 sq, the Serengeti is the country's most popular and famous park. "Serengeti" is a Maasai word meaning "endless plain", very apt, as the park consists of flat, treeless plains stretching as far as the eye can see, one of the highest concentration game sites in Africa.
Virtually every game species in Africa can be found here, but it is most famous for its vast herds of wilderbeest, zebra and antelope, as well as "the Serengeti Lions"
The best viewing months are from December to March, when many animals are concentrated in the park's southern regions.
However, one of the spectacular and unique events of the year is the Serengeti annual migration, which takes place heading north to south October November and back south to north between the months of April and June. This has been described by many as one of the greatest wonders of the world. There is no fixed migration timetable, the animals migrate according to rainfall patterns.
Grumeti River Camp
A 5* Hotel, located on the Western Corridor of the Serengeti National park. It has a total of 10 luxury twin-bedded tents with ensuite bathrooms. Facilities: Central dining room and bar, Game viewing drives into the Serengeti, excursion to Lake Victoria.
located on the North Eastern edge of Serengeti National Park, NothernTanzania. Accommodation: Provides 8 twin bedded rooms with en suite bathroom and private terraces. Facilities: Central dining rooms & bar Game viewing, Elephants, granls gazelle, lion, leopard, wildebeest, drives into the Serengeti, bush walks around the Camp with expert guides.
Kirawira Tented Camp
Western Serengeti. 90 Kilometers west of Seronera area of Serengeti National Park near the Grumeti River. Accommodation: 25-luxury double tents with a classic Victorian atmosphere. Facilities: Swimming pool, valet service, guided walking & driving safaris & nature walks, fishing & day sailing excursions to Lake Victoria, Sumptuous bus luncheons, observing crocodiles from slide presentation every night by a resident naturalist.
Serengeti Sopa Lodge
located in the Nyarboro Hills in the south west of Serengeti National Park. The lodge can accommodate 170 guests in 79 suites, each enjoying wall-to-wall carpeting, a private lounge with a mini bar, a bedroom with two queen size beds and ample room for a third, an en-suite bathroom with shaver sockets and a hair dryer, and a private verandah which offers stunning views over the plains.
Serengeti Serena Lodge
The famous lodge is located in Serengeti National Park with panoramic views of the Mbingwe Valley Accommodation: The lodge has a total of 53 Twin rooms, 12 Triples, and 1 Suite. Facilities: A restaurant serving local and international cuisine and a well stocked bar. Wilderness breakfasts and luncheons, sunset cocktails by the pool, balloon safaris in the evening, traditional dancing and performances by guitarist. Daily slide presentation by a resident naturalist.
Serengeti Safari Lodge
TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK - click to view recommended Tours and Safaris
Located approximately 110 kms southwest of Arusha, covering an area of approximately 2,600 sq kms. During the dry season from June to October, this park has a particularly high concentration of wildlife, mainly congregating along the Tarangire River.
The park is also an ornithologists paradise with more than 300 species of birds, including the largest bird in the world, the ostrich and the heaviest bird that can fly, the Kori Bustard.
The best game viewing months are between September and December but for bird viewing is is best to come between the months of October and May
Tarangire Sopa Lodge
on the eastern side of the Tarangire river, opposite Tarangire Hill. The lodge is 120kms (75 miles) from Arusha by road and is one of Tanzania's most easily accessible conservation areas. Can accommodate 160 guests in 75 suites, each enjoying wall-to-wall carpeting, a private lounge with a mini bar, a bedroom with two queen size beds and ample room for a third, an en-suite bathroom with shaver sockets and a hair dryer, and a private verandah which offers stunning views over the baobab studded lands