Tanzania is one of the best places to take a walk on the wild side since it offers one of Africa's greatest wildlife excursions, the safari. It is a well-known safari location and is the home of the Great Migration, which is regarded as the best spectacle on earth, as well as all five of Africa's "Big Five" animals. Tanzania provides a diverse range of national parks and game reserves, all tailored for individual interests and travel preferences, with 38% of its territory conserved as protected wildlife areas.
Knowing which wildlife park in Tanzania suitable for you will be important before you leave on your luxury safari vacation. There are two main "safari circuits": the busier Northern Circuit, which features Tanzania's top attractions like the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, and the less-frequented Southern Circuit, which provides an experience in a remote wilderness area away from the tourists. We've put up a thorough guide to our best wildlife parks in Tanzania to assist you in planning your luxury Tanzania safari.
Highlights of best wildlife parks in Tanzania
1. Arusha National Park
2. Lake Manyara National Park
3. Tarangire National Park
4. Serengeti National Park
5. Ngorongoro Crater
6. Selous Game Reserve
7. Ruaha National Park
Northern wildlife Parks in Tanzania
1. Serengeti National Park
One of the best areas in Africa for wildlife animal viewing is the Serengeti National Park, is the biggest and most recognizable wildlife park in Tanzania. Many tourists and safari addicts have it on their bucket lists because it is one of Africa's Seven Natural Wonders.
The Serengeti, which lies in northern Tanzania, is one of the planet's most intricate ecosystems. It connects to the Masai Mara in Kenya to form the powerful Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. One of the oldest and least disturbed ecosystems on the planet, this area's temperature, flora, and animals haven't undergone much alteration in the last million years.
The Great Migration, which is one of nature's most spectacular displays, takes place in the Serengeti National Park. In quest of greener pastures, about 1.5 million wildebeest, zebra, and antelope migrate thunderously from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara each year starting around July. The enormous herd travels back to Tanzania over a distance of 1,000 kilometers when the rains begin to fall, usually in October or November. The Serengeti wildlife park in Tanzania is home to more than two million wildebeest from December to April.
The Serengeti, which is home to all five of Africa's Big Five animals, is a wildlife enthusiast's paradise. Here, visitors may witness giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, and other characters from The Lion King in addition to elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, and rhinoceroses. With more than 500 different bird species, it is a sanctuary for bird enthusiasts.
You can see all the common species and perhaps some uncommon ones, for example the reintroduced African wild dog. This unusual species is seriously endangered throughout Africa and had been extinct in the Serengeti since 1991.
The Serengeti, known for its breathtaking landscape, is also a wildlife photographer's heaven. In the southeast, you can wander over grassy plains; in the west, you can cross valleys, rivers, and forests; and in the north, you can climb the park's rocky hills.
The best time to visit Serengeti National Park
The finest and busiest time to visit the Serengeti wildlife park in Tanzania is between June and October, when the foliage is at its thinnest and wildlife congregates near waterholes to make itself easier to see. However, the main event of the Mara River crossing occurs in July and August in this wildlife park in Tanzania, then once more in October or November when the rainy season starts. If you'd like to watch the Great Migration, you can see the herds traveling towards the Western Corridor from May to July.
Visit the Serengeti wildlife park in Tanzania from November to March when the plains are covered in lush, green foliage and young animals are born if you'd want to explore during a more sedate season. The best time of year to see birds in this wildlife park in Tanzania is also during this time, however because of the thick cover of trees, it can be challenging to see large animals and there are often afternoon downpours. The wettest months are April and May, and because of flooding, certain lodges and highways must be closed. Travel should be avoided during these months because mosquitoes are at their worst during these times.
How to get to Serengeti National Park
Taking a private vehicle transfer is the most convenient way to reach the Serengeti National Park. The Serengeti wildlife park in Tanzania is only a 2.5-hour drive from Ngorongoro Crater, and the Naabi Hill Gate in the southeast portion of the park is where you'll probably enter.
A charter flight can be arranged from Arusha Airport or Kilimanjaro International Airport to any of the Serengeti's small airstrips, or you can drive there from Arusha, Tanzania's safari hub, in 8 hours.
Accommodations in Serengeti National Park
Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge
The best safari lodge is Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge, an award-winning establishment with amazing views of the Serengeti grasslands. You'll reach a stunning infinity pool on a hillside where you can see large game and migrating wildebeests in just 27 kilometers from the Seronera airfield. Enjoy a massage at the on-site spa, have a meal in the wild, or just unwind on the balcony of your lovely rondavel lodge.
Kati Kati Tented Camp
Enjoy mobile camping with all the amenities at Kati Kati Tented Camp, located in the heart of the Serengeti. Just a 40-minute drive from the closest airport, you can enjoy scrumptious meals in the lovely mess tent, a warm campfire to congregate around at night, and opulent ensuite tents surrounded by the African bush.
Serengeti Pioneer Camp
Serengeti Pioneer Camp is located in the center of the action in the Moru Kopjes region of the South Central Serengeti. The Great Migration, sweeping views of Moru Kopjes, and the well-known Big Five are all within close reach. After a long day of exploration in the Serengeti, you may return home to comfort in one of the twelve luxury tents that are available. These tents feature antique furniture and modern amenities.
2. Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the most remarkable wildlife park in Tanzania and was named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. The conservation area, which is one of Tanzania's most well-known safari destinations and is situated in the Crater Highlands, is home to a great variety and richness of species. It is called after the enormous Ngorongoro Crater, a 600-meter-high crater wall enclosing a 260-square-kilometer old volcanic crater. It is the biggest complete and empty caldera in the world, and it is home to more than 25,000 big game animals.
The conservation area safeguards Tanzania's final remaining population of the critically endangered black rhino, making it one of the few spots in Africa where you may see all five of the Big Five in a single day. There may be sightings of enormous herds of buffalo and gazelle, spotted hyenas, sly cheetahs, the elusive leopard, and even the gravely endangered African wild dog. If you go to the sparkling soda lakes, you can witness hippos and big pink flocks of flamingos.
If you travel to Kenya during the Great Movement, you might observe approximately two million wildebeest, zebra, and antelope making their tremendous mass migration to the Masai Mara. Since 2,000 years ago, people have resided in the reserve area, particularly the Maasai. There, three million years ago, lived the ancestors of modern humans.
The sole conservation area in the country that permits cohabitation between people and protected species is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which was designated a wildlife sanctuary and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
You can visit the Maasai cultural center and the Olduvai Gorge, where fossilized footprints that show people could stand on two legs at least 3,7 million years ago were found. The Olduvai Gorge Museum, which houses one of the most important historical discoveries that changed our understanding of human development, has casts of the footprints on display.
The best time to visit Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is open all year round, and each of its two distinct seasons has its own special riches to be discovered. While the rainy summer season (November to April) is less tourist-heavy and the best time for bird watching in this wildlife park in Tanzania, the dry winter season (June to August) is the finest time to see animals. When the water levels of the soda lakes are higher, you'll witness larger populations of the well-known pink flamingos. Travel between December and March if you want to see the Great Migration in the Ngorongoro region.
How to get to Ngorongoro Conservation Area
From the Serengeti National Park or from Arusha, the nation's safari capital, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is easily reachable through a 2.5-hour private car trip. Most likely, you'll arrive at Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam before transferring to a local flight to reach Arusha Airport (ARK). A three-hour private vehicle transfer will get you to the conservation area from there.
Accommodation in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
One of Africa's most magnificent properties, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is located in a special elevated position on the southwest rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, at an elevation of 2,375 meters. You'll stay in lavish thatched homes with stunning views of the area.
3. Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park is an unexpected traveler favorite and is situated in northern Tanzania's Manyara region, less than two hours from Arusha. We advise staying at least two days to fully enjoy this beautiful wildlife park in Tanzania, as many tourists either avoid Tarangire entirely or simply visit the park for a quick morning or afternoon game drive.
The Tarangire River serves as the only supply of water for a variety of animals from June to October, attracting enormous herds of elephants - numbering up to 300, zebra, giraffe, impala, eland, and warthogs to drink there. Leopards, cheetahs, and even tree-climbing lions can be observed in some parts of the park, and predators like lions and spotted hyena congregate along the river in preparation for an attack. Although it is uncommon to see them, African wild dogs have been seen in this wildlife park in Tanzania.
You will get the opportunity to see over 550 species, including the ashy starling, northern pied babbler, bushveld pipit, and yellow-collared lovebird, in one of Tanzania's best birding locations.
In addition to its stunning scenery, Tarangire wildlife park in Tanzania is well known for its vast termite mounds that dot the plains and include dwarf mongooses, ancient baobab trees, and acacia woodlands.
The best time to visit Tarangire National Park
The dry season, which lasts from June to October, is the ideal time to explore Tarangire National Park because that is when the wildlife is most crowded. You'll have fantastic possibilities to see wildlife as the surrounding vegetation dwindles and animals congregate around the Tarangire River, the last remaining water source.
The Great Migration occurs during the dry season, so you may visit the adjacent Serengeti to check this incredible event off your bucket list. The optimum period for birders is during the wet season, November to December or March to May, when the summer migrant birds arrive and other species display their vivid breeding plumage. However, the majority of the large game has vanished, and you will have to deal with torrential rain and swarms of insects.
How to get to Tarangire National Park
A private vehicle transfer makes it simple to get to Tarangire National Park. It is 4.5 hours by car from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, 7 hours by car from the Serengeti National Park, 4 hours by car from Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), and 3 hours by car from Arusha, the country's safari gateway. The Kuro airstrip, which is situated in Tarangire National Park's southern region, is also reachable by plane.
Accommodations in Tarangire National Park
Tarangire Treetops evokes a sense of romance and adventure in the African wilderness and is centered around a magnificent baobab tree that is more than a thousand years old. You'll arrive to some of the largest rooms in the nation, with cozy decor and contemporary conveniences, just a three-hour game drive from Kuro airstrip or a four-hour drive from Kilimanjaro airport. The unusual accommodations offer panoramic views of the breathtaking surroundings and abundant wildlife while being high in the treetops.
Tarangire River Camp
Just 3.5 kilometers from the park's main gate, Tarangire River Camp is located in a 25,000-hectare concession area with a view of a branch of the Tarangire River. It provides exceptional access to one of Tanzania's highest concentrations of wildlife. From the comfort of the elevated platform of your opulent safari tent, you can observe herds of elephants burrowing into the dry riverbed, predators stalking their prey, and dozens of different bird species flying among the ancient baobab trees.
4. Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park is a simple addition to a Northern Circuit safari because it is situated halfway between Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. However, it's recognized for its distinct ecosystems teeming with a variety of wildlife, making it well worth a trip on its own. There are at least 11 different ecosystems in this miniature Serengeti, including groundwater forests, floodplains, hot springs, and open savannahs.
Lake Manyara, a stunning soda lake that is home to pink flamingos, hippos, and more than 300 other migratory birds, covers the majority of the park. The highest population of large mammals can be found in Lake Manyara National Park. Large herds of elephants, the fabled tree-climbing lions, as well as abundant populations of wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, giraffe, warthog, impala, and waterbuck are among the wildlife you may see.
Keep a watch out for the local baboon, vervet monkey, common monkey, and nocturnal bushbabies if you're eager to see some primates. Leopards and hyenas can also be found in this wildlife park in Tanzania, though they are more elusive. One of Tanzania's best protected sites for wildlife, Lake Manyara is surrounded on three sides by the Great Rift Valley and is situated beneath the Manyara Escarpment's towering cliffs. Lake Manyara is a member of the Lake Manyara Biosphere Reserve.
The best time to visit Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park can be visited all year round, with something special to see in every season. If you’d like to see the park’s abundant big game, visit during the dry winter season from June to October, when wildlife viewing is at its best, and you can also witness the Great Migration in the surrounding northern parks.
If you’d like to see the park’s birdlife and pink flamingos, visit between November and April, when migrant species arrive and resident birds display their colourful breeding plumage. The lake is also at its prime during this season, with lush green foliage dotted with bright pink flamingos.
How to get to Lake Manyara National Park
With only a three-hour drive from Tarangire National Park or Ngorongoro Conservation Area and a five-hour drive from Serengeti National Park, Lake Manyara National Park is the excellent addition to your Northern Circuit itinerary in Tanzania.
Alternatively, you can fly from Arusha Airport to Lake Manyara Airport and take a 2-hour drive from Arusha to Lake Manyara. The 30-minute flight will be welcomed at the airport by a representative who will arrange your transfer to the lodge.
Accommodation in Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge
Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge is a distinguished luxury lodge located in a picturesque setting adjacent to Lake Manyara with a stunning backdrop of the Mto wa Mbu escarpment. The lodge is the ideal location to unwind after a day of safari because it has roomy rooms, gorgeous maintained grounds, and an infinity pool with breathtaking views over the valley and lake below. You can choose from a wide variety of activities in Lake Manyara, including canoeing, biking, village tours, and night game drives.
Manyara Ranch Conservancy
The Manyara Ranch Conservancy is located on a private conservation area of 35,000 acres of pristine wilderness that is part of the Kwakuchinja animal migration corridor. You won't find another safari company operating in this region, and with only eight eco-friendly canvas tents, the peace and quiet is all yours.
The reserve is also Tanzania's first initiative to integrate conservation and tourism, and your visit will genuinely improve the lives of the locals. Explore the local culture on a village tour, go on nocturnal game drives, or watch wildlife at the watering hole from one of the specially constructed hides.
5. Arusha National Park
The majority of visitors bypass Arusha on their way to the more well-known national parks along the Northern Circuit, but we advise sticking for a few days to take in the amazing scenery in the area. Arusha National Park, which is nearby and is a small but incredibly wildlife-rich area, is easily accessible as a day excursion from the city.
With a variety of activities available, including wildlife drives, canoe safaris, and bush camping, it is one of the most fascinating Wildlife Park in Tanzania. It's also one of the few sites where you can go on a walking safari because the park doesn't have many predators.
Visitors will be treated to one of the greatest giraffe populations in the country, along with populations of buffalo, zebra, waterbuck, bushbuck, and other types of antelope. There are no lions or rhinos, and cheetah, leopard, and hyena are rarely observed.
If you're fortunate, you might see some of the few elephants, hippos, reticent dik-diks, or red forest duikers that wander the area. The Ngurdoto Forest is home to a variety of primates, such as blue monkeys and black-and-white colobus monkeys.
With over 400 distinct bird species present in the park, including the vivid pink flocks of flamingos that blanket the Momella Lakes, birdwatchers will be kept busy. Arusha National Park boasts broad grassland, thick woodland, sparkling lakes, and the Ngurdoto Crater. Consider climbing nearby Mount Meru, Tanzania's second-highest mountain, or ascending Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, if you're searching for more excitement.
The best time to visit Arusha National Park
The best time to visit Arusha National Park is during the dry winter season from July to October, just like the other wildlife parks in Tanzania. Wildlife is easier to see because there is less vegetation and because animals congregate around receding water sources. As well as seeing the Great Migration cross the Serengeti wildlife park in Tanzania, this is the finest time of year to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru.
The best time to go bird watching, look for baby animals, and take pictures of the gorgeous, lush green landscapes is during the wet season, which lasts from December to June. The biggest rains fall during the height of the rainy season (March to May).
How to get to Arusha National Park
Arusha is conveniently located as Tanzania's starting point for safaris. You can take a domestic flight from Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam to Arusha Airport (ARK). A 1.5-hour drive will take you to Arusha National Park from there. The other significant wildlife park in Tanzania on the Northern Circuit are also accessible by car.
Accommodation in Arusha National Park
Arusha Serena Hotel
The stunning, serene Arusha Serena Hotel is located close to Lake Duluti and encircled by Mount Meru's forested slopes. The hotel is ideal for taking in the natural beauty of the area because it has quaint cottage-style accommodations, planted grounds, and a 1920s lakeside resort feel. There is also a ton to do, including massages, lakeside sunsets, canoe safaris, city excursions, trips to the nearby market, and cooking courses.
Arusha Coffee Lodge
Arusha Coffee Lodge is about five minutes from the airport and is situated in the breathtaking Mount Meru foothills. The lodge is situated on one of Tanzania's largest coffee farms and is surrounded by history. The lovely guest rooms were created to capture the look of the early 1900s. Enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding evergreen fields, explore a coffee estate, or spend the day at the spa and pool.
6. Selous Game Reserve
Although it is the largest game reserve in Africa, the Selous Game Reserve is largely unknown to tourists despite being home to all of Africa's Big Five and an astonishing variety of animals.
Visitors to the Selous wildlife park in Tanzania will discover a more quieter, though just as stunning, safari experience there because it is situated in southern Tanzania, far from the crowds of the more well-known parks in the Northern Circuit.
During the dry season, a game drive in the reserve will likely allow you to see some of the 120,000 buffaloes that call it home, as well as the 4,000 lions that make up one of the world's largest populations. Elephants, cheetahs, leopards, crocodiles, giraffes, zebras, impalas, wildebeest, elands, and hyenas can all be spotted there. The African wild dog and the extremely endangered black rhino, both of which have about 50% of their remaining populations in the Selous, may even be seen there.
With a vast network of canals acting as the main water source for hundreds of species, the Rufiji River is the lifeblood of the Selous. Visit the marshes and rivers on a boat safari to see some of the 40,000 resident hippos and the enormous number of crocodiles. You can go on an adventurous walking safari through the Selous or take your guided safari vehicle off road in search of the spectacular wildlife.
Best time to visit Selous Game Reserve
The dry season, which runs from July to October, is the ideal time to explore the Selous Game Reserve. Even though it is high season, you won't see the typical crowds that frequent the more well-known northern parks. You'll have the best chances to see wildlife because of the diminishing vegetation and receding water supplies.
The greatest time to go bird watching, look for baby animals, and take pictures of the lush, green surroundings is during the wet season, which lasts from October to May. But from March to May, when the rains are the greatest, many lodges and roads are closed.
How to get to Selous Game Reserve
The simplest method to get to the Selous is to fly into Dar es Salaam's Julius Nyerere International Airport, then take a domestic flight to the Selous Game Reserve. When you arrive, a representative will welcome you and arrange for a transfer to your accommodation.
Accommodation in Selous Game Reserve
Selous Serena Camp
You may experience Africa's largest wildlife reserve in the utmost comfort when staying at Selous Serena Camp. With plush safari tents, a spa tent with massages, a stunning infinity pool, romantic sundowners by the river, boat safaris, bird walks, and game drives, you'll experience the ideal combination of action and peace. Elephants passing through the camp on their way to the neighboring Simbazi River can even be seen.
Siwandu Camp is located in one of the most thrilling regions of the Selous Game Reserve, nestled in an open palm grove next to Lake Nzerakera. In addition to spectacular views from the elevated lounge and dining area and the roomy safari tents that offer breathtaking views of the lake, you may go on safaris by car, boat, and foot. The camp is conveniently situated near the airstrip and has an off-grid ambiance. It is only a 5-minute drive away.
7. Ruaha National Park
The Usangu Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park merged in 2008, making Ruaha the largest wildlife park in Tanzania and home to a vast array of animals. Despite this, Ruaha is still one of the best-kept safari secrets in the nation. The park, which is in southern Tanzania, is only reachable by air. This is the ultimate getaway from the well-traveled safari path because it is so secluded and teeming with animals.
Large wide plains, undulating hills, century-old baobab trees, and the Great Ruaha River, which flows through the center of the national park, make up its lovely scenery. The park is home to a staggering amount of diverse species, and a big number of animals are drawn to this great river to drink and go on hunting expeditions.
One of Tanzania's largest populations of 12,000 elephants is likely to be seen. In addition, you can find large prides of lions, cheetah, leopard, spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, waterbuck, hartebeest, kudu, impala, bushbuck, roan, gazelle, and other antelope species within a short period of time.
Additionally, with only about 100 African wild dogs left in the park, you might get lucky and sight a striped hyena or an African wild dog, both of which are extremely rare.
We advise spending at least three or four nights in the park due to Ruaha's immense size and secluded location. Despite the fact that there aren't many campers here, our favorites are worth a longer stay.
The best time to visit Ruaha National Park
The ideal time to explore Ruaha National Park is from June to October, when it's dry. You'll get several excellent opportunities for ideal wildlife viewing as the vegetation thins out and wildlife congregates around the few surviving water sources.
The wet season, which lasts from November to April, is the best time to go birdwatching since migrant birds come and the terrain is covered in gorgeous green foliage. However, you will have to deal with frequent downpours throughout this time. The wettest months are April and May, when many resorts close because of impassable roads.
How to get to Ruaha National Park
Flying to the park's airstrip is the ideal way to reach Ruaha National Park. Direct flights are accessible from the following locations: Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Serengeti National Park, and Selous Game Reserve. You will be greeted at the airport upon arrival at Ruaha National Park by a representative who will then drive you to your lodge.
Where to stay in Ruaha National Park
Mdonya Old River Camp
You can get off the grid in the western region of Ruaha National Park by staying at Mdonya Old River Camp, which is about a one to two-hour drive from the airport. There are only 12 simple tents, and from your private balcony, you can observe elephant herds and even a regular cheetah as they pass through the camp. Experience exhilarating game drives around the park, romantic sundowners in the bush, or a trip to the nearby Mdonya Falls.
Staying in Jongomero Camp will allow you to explore the southern wilderness of Ruaha National Park. You'll feel far away in this secluded, peaceful setting on the banks of the Jongomero River, even though the camp is only five minutes from the Jongomero airstrip. There are just eight opulent canvas tents with private decks and enormous emperor beds available. Swim in the pool while enjoying river views, or embark on a longer fly-camping trip to experience sleeping beneath the stars.