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Safaris

Top Safari Destinations in the World

Tanzania is consistently rated at the top safari destination in Africa. The country values its resources, having over 30% of its land as protected status. With the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater being the most famous, the northern safari parks are the most desired. The fact that Mt Kilimanjaro also being in the north makes both a Kilimanjaro trek and Serengeti visit possible within the same trip. The other parks, though not as famous are very worthwhile to visit. You will find that even parks that are close to each other each have their unique character. If you have the time, visiting several destinations is desirable.

Bushmen Expeditions | Northern Tanzania Safari Map Outlined are brief descriptions of the destinations. Each destination has a variety of overnight accommodation options from luxury lodges to basic camping. Some destinations offer extra options such as hot air balloon safaris ending with a sparkling wine picnic brunch. This guide should start as a starting point to plan your trip. We can help you with more details and answer your questions. Through Bushmen Expeditions, we can make your dream trip a reality covering a wide variety of budgets.

Serengeti National Park

A million wildebeest... each one driven by the same ancient rhythm, fulfilling its instinctive role in the inescapable cycle of life: a frenzied three-week bout of territorial conquests and mating; survival of the fittest as 40km (25 mile) long columns plunge through crocodile-infested waters on the annual exodus north; replenishing the species in a brief population explosion that produces more than 8,000 calves daily before the 1,000 km (600 mile) pilgrimage begins again.Tanzania's oldest and most popular national park, the Serengeti is famed for its annual migration, when some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson's gazelle join the wildebeest’s trek for fresh grazing. Yet even when the migration is quiet, the Serengeti offers arguably the most scintillating game-viewing in Africa: great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant’s gazelle.

The spectacle of predator versus prey dominates Tanzania’s greatest park. Golden-maned lion prides feast on the abundance of plain grazers. Solitary leopards haunt the acacia trees lining the Seronera River, while a high density of cheetahs prowls the southeastern plains. Almost uniquely, all three African jackal species occur here, alongside the spotted hyena and a host of more elusive small predators, ranging from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful serval cat.But there is more to Serengeti than large mammals. Gaudy agama lizards and rock hyraxes scuffle around the surfaces of the park’s isolated granite koppies. A full 100 varieties of dung beetle have been recorded, as have 500-plus bird species, ranging from the outsized ostrich and bizarre secretary bird of the open grassland, to the black eagles that soar effortlessly above the Lobo Hills.
As enduring as the game-viewing is the liberating sense of space that characterizes the Serengeti Plains, stretching across sun burnt savannah to a shimmering golden horizon at the end of the earth. Yet, after the rains, this golden expanse of grass is transformed into an endless green carpet flecked with wildflowers. And there are also wooded hills and towering termite mounds, rivers lined with fig trees and acacia woodland stained orange by dust. Popular the Serengeti might be, but it remains so vast that you may be the only human audience when a pride of lions masterminds a siege, focused unswervingly on its next meal. About Serengeti
Size: 14,763 sq km (5,700 sq miles).
Location: 335km (208 miles) from Arusha, stretching north to Kenya and bordering Lake Victoria to the west.
Getting there
Drive from Arusha, Lake Manyara, Tarangire or Ngorongoro Crater.
When to go
To follow the wildebeest migration, December-July. To see predators, June-October

NOTE
The route and timing of the wildebeest migration is unpredictable. Allow at least three days to be assured of seeing them on your visit - longer if you want to see the main predators as well.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Called the eighth wonder of the world and stretching across some 8,300 sq km, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania boasts a blend of landscapes, wildlife, people and archaeology that is unsurpassed in Africa. The volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and mountain forests are home to an abundance of animals and to the Maasai. Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world's greatest natural spectacles, its magical setting and abundant wildlife never fail to enthrall visitors. It borders the Serengeti National Park to the north and west. A few hours drive to the east takes you to the town of Arusha which nestles at the foot of Mount Meru, within view of Mount Kilimanjaro. Arusha is known as the gateway to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Northern Parks.

Maasai pastoralists arrived in the Conservation Area a few hundred years ago. Their strong insistence on their traditional customs and way of life allow them to live in harmony with the wildlife and the environment. As of today there are approximately 52,000 Maasai living in the NCA with their livestock. Being herders of cattle, goats and sheep, their semi-nomadic life depends on accessible water supplies.Their seasonal homes, known as bomas, are scattered throughout the landscape and are rebuilt upon return from the dry or wet season quarters. This area also contains the famed Olduvai (Oldupai) Gorge, made famous by the research and archeology discoveries of Dr. Louis Leakey and his wife, Mary. Details of this can be found in the Culture section of this website.

Tarangire National Park

The fierce sun sucks the moisture from the landscape, baking the earth a dusty red, the withered grass as brittle as straw. The Tarangire River has shriveled to a shadow of its wet season self. But it is choked with wildlife. Thirsty nomads have wandered hundreds of parched kilometers knowing that here, always, there is water. Herds of up to 300 elephants scratch the dry river bed for underground streams, while migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the shrinking lagoons. It's the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem - a smorgasbord for predators – and the one place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope such as the stately fringe-eared oryx and peculiar long-necked gerenuk are regularly observed. During the rainy season, the seasonal visitors scatter over a 20,000 sq km (12,500 sq miles) range until they exhaust the green plains and the river calls once more. But Tarangire's mobs of elephant are easily encountered, wet or dry. The swamps, tinged green year round, are the focus for 550 bird varieties, the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world. On drier ground you find the Kori bustard, the heaviest flying bird; the stocking-thighed ostrich, the world's largest bird; and small parties of ground hornbills blustering like turkeys. More ardent bird-lovers might keep an eye open for screeching flocks of the dazzlingly colorful yellow-collared lovebird, and the somewhat drabber rufous-tailed weaver and ashy starling – all endemic to the dry savannah of north-central Tanzania. Disused termite mounds are often frequented by colonies of the endearing dwarf mongoose, and pairs of red-and-yellow barbet, which draw attention to themselves by their loud, clockwork-like duet ting. Tarangire's pythons climb trees, as do its lions and leopards, lounging in the branches here the fruit of the sausage tree disguises the twitch of a tail. About
Tarangire National Park
Size: 2,600 sq km (1,005 sq miles).
Location: 118 km (75 miles) southwest of Arusha.
Getting there
Easy drive from Arusha or Lake Manyara following a surfaced road to within 7km (four miles) of the main entrance gate; can continue on to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti.
When to go
Year round but dry season (June - September) for sheer numbers of animals.

Lake Manyara National Park

Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”.The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience.

From the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle-like groundwater forest where hundred-strong baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside, blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees, dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows, and outsized forest hornbills honk cacophonously in the high canopy. Contrasting with the intimacy of the forest is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views eastward, across the alkaline lake, to the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the endless Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, as do giraffes – some so dark in coloration that they appear to be black from a distance.

Inland of the floodplain, a narrow belt of acacia woodland is the favored haunt of Manyara’s legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants. Squadrons of banded mongoose dart between the acacias, while the diminutive Kirk’s dik-dik forages in their shade. Pairs of klipspringer are often seen silhouetted on the rocks above a field of searing hot springs that steams and bubbles adjacent to the lakeshore in the far south of the park.

Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded, and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in one day. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large waterbirds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.
About Lake Manyara National Park
Size: 330 sq km (127 sq miles), of which up to 200 sq km (77 sq miles) is lake when water levels are high.
Location: In northern Tanzania. The entrance gate lies 1.5 hours (126km/80 miles) west of Arusha along a newly surfaced road, close to the ethnically diverse market town of Mto wa Mbu.
When to go
Dry season (July-October) for large mammals;
wet season (November-June) for bird watching, the waterfalls and canoeing.

Arusha National Park

The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safarigoers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours. The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colorful turacos and trogons – the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.

Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one a different hue of green or blue. Their shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos, the lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and shaggy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, while pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs.
Although elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park, and lions absent altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, only 50km (30 miles) distant.

But it is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru - the fifth highest in Africa at 4,566 meters (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park’s horizon. Its peaks and eastern foot slopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbor, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right. Passing first through wooded savannah where buffaloes and giraffes are frequently encountered, the ascent of Meru leads into forests aflame with red-hot pokers and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching high open heath spiked with giant lobelias. Everlasting flowers cling to the alpine desert, as delicately-hoofed klipspringers mark the hike’s progress. Astride the craggy summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, blushing in the sunrise. About Arusha National Park
Size: 137 sq km (53 sq miles).
Location: Northern Tanzania, northeast of Arusha town. Getting there An easy 40-minute drive from Arusha. Approximately 60 km (35 miles) from Kilimanjaro International Airport.
When to go
To climb Mt Meru, June-February although it may rain in November.
Best views of Kilimanjaro December-February.


Offered below are some of the most commonly requested itineraries. We are happy to customise any itinerary and each one can offer a wide range of accommodation options. We treat these as a starting point to create a custom tour that fits your time allotment, budget and interests. Most groups travel to the destinations via safari vehicle but small plane transfer to each destinations is an option also. We do not list prices for the safaris because there are many options available but we will talk about the prices when working with you to create your itinerary.

7 Day Tarangire/Serengeti/Ngorongoro Safari

Day 1: Pick up from hotel/ Tarangire National Park
Today you will depart after breakfast from your hotel, traveling southwest through the Maasai Steppe to Tarangire National Park, Tanzania's fourth largest park.

  • Afternoon wildlife viewing in Tarangire National Park
  • Overnight: In hotel/lodge/camp

Day 2: Tarangire National Park
Spend another day in Tarangire National Park, viewing some of Tanzania's largest populations of elephant and enjoying the diverse scenery, including the dramatic baobab trees that are so typical of the park.

  • Full day wildlife viewing in Tarangire National Park
  • Overnight: In hotel/lodge/camp

Day 3: Tarangire / Serengeti National Park
After breakfast continue your journey into the heart of Tanzania by heading west, toward the Serengeti plains one of the seven wonders in the world

  • Afternoon game drive in Serengeti
  • Overnight: In hotel/lodge/camp

Day 4-5: Serengeti National Park
Enjoy the vastness of the Serengeti "the land that flows on forever" along with some of the best game-viewing that Africa has to offer.

  • Full day of wildlife viewing in Serengeti National Park
  • Overnight: In hotel/lodge/camp

Day 6: Serengeti /Ngorongoro Crater
Make your way to the Ngorongoro Crater, a geological marvel boasting several vegetation zones from lakes to forest to savannah and being home to about 30,000 animals, despite its tiny size of only 10 miles (16km) across

  • Morning wildlife viewing as you depart Serengeti
  • Brief optional stop at Olduvai Gorge
  • Overnight: hotel/lodge/camp

Day 7: Ngorongoro Crater / Return Moshi/Arusha
Spend half day on the crater floor, searching out lion, cheetah, hippo, the rare black rhino, hyena, wildebeest, zebra, African buffalo and much more.

  • Half day of wildlife viewing on the floor of Ngorongoro Crater
  • In afternoon, depart back to Arusha/Moshi

Suggested additions/deviations from this itinerary include Hadzabe and/or Maasai culture tours, early morning hot air balloon safari with picnic breakfast. Contact us for more details and sugggestions.

5 Day Tarangire, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Safari

Day 1: Hotel / Tarangire National Park
After breakfast we drive to southwest through the Maasai Steppe to Tarangire National Park, Tanzania's fourth largest.

  • Afternoon wildlife viewing in Tarangire National Park
  • Overnight: hotel/lodge/camp

Day 2: Tarangire / Serengeti National Park
After breakfast continue your journey into the heart of Tanzania by heading west, toward the Serengeti plains, one of the seven wonders in the world.

  • Afternoon game drive in Serengeti
  • Overnight: hotel/lodge/camp

Day 3: Serengeti National Park
Enjoy the vastness of the Serengeti "the land that flows on forever" along with some of the best game-viewing that Africa has to offer.

  • Full day of wildlife viewing in Serengeti National Park
  • Overnight: hotel/lodge/camp

Day 4: Serengeti /Ngorongoro Crater
Make your way to the Ngorongoro Crater, a geological marvel boasting several vegetation zones from lakes to forest to savannah and being home to about 30,000 animals, despite its tiny size of only 10 miles across

  • Morning wildlife viewing as you depart Serengeti
  • Brief stop at Olduvai Gorge(optional)
  • Overnight: hotel/lodge/camp

Day 5: Ngorongoro Crater
Take advantage of your optimally located lodge and spend half day on the crater floor, searching out lion, cheetah, hippo, the rare black rhino, hyena, wildebeest, zebra, African buffalo and much more.

  • Half day of wildlife viewing on the floor of Ngorongoro Crater
  • Afternoon departure back to Arusha/Moshi

Suggested additions/deviations from this itinerary include tribal visits (Hadzabe and/or Maasai), early morning hot air balloon safari with picnic breakfast. Contact us for more details and suggestions.

3 Day Tarangire/Ngorongoro Crater/Lake Manyara Safari

Day 1:
Depart from hotel after breakfast to Tarangire National Park for game drive; lunch will be served at the picnic site in the park. Dinner and overnight at lodge / campsite

Day 2:
After breakfast drive to Ngorongoro Crater for crater tour, lunch will be served at the picnic site in the crater. After game drive return to the lodge / campsite. Dinner and overnight at lodge / campsite.

Day 3:
After breakfast drive to Lake Manyara for the game drive till lunch time, after game drive return to the lodge / campsite for hot lunch, after lunch and short rest, we return back to Moshi/Arusha.

Possible additions include visit to Meserani Snake Park, Maasai culture tour