TANZANIA is the largest country in East Africa and almost one-third of its land is protected for wildlife conservation with 17 national parks spread across it making the safari experience here immensely rewarding. It’s not only home to world-famous safari destinations that attract no shortage of visitors, but also to lesser-known reserves that feel wild and remote. In fact, our itinerary emphasizes these less-trodden reserves in the Southern Tanzania circuit.
Our carefully selected upscale safari camps are situated in the very best locations within prime game-viewing areas. Our safari experience is immersive, authentic, and engaging. Protecting wilderness areas and the surrounding communities is a key focus of the suppliers we work with in Tanzania. And their teams welcome us with warmth and make us feel at home with genuine African hospitality.
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We begin in the north.
Tarangire National Park is one of the most underrated of Tanzania’s attractions, receiving just a fraction of the Serengeti’s visitors, which means more space and exclusivity for those who do make it to Tarangire. The park’s grassy plains are home to colossal baobab trees and massive herds of elephant, but we’re also likely to find big groups of buffalo and healthy populations of lion and leopard. There are wild dog and rare antelope such as gerenuk, plus more than 550 species of birds to spot throughout the year.
Tarangire is also ideal for those who want to explore beyond classic game drives. Walk through the savannah to study the smallest creatures and learn about tracking animals. Soar through the sky in a hot-air balloon at dawn or head out on a night drive to find nocturnal wildlife.
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We also do a couple of nights off the safari circuit by staying at a historic (1920s) coffee farm in an absolutely gorgeous setting with beautiful guest rooms and plenty of opportunity for non-safari activities. Take a guided walk through the immaculate orchards and scented herb gardens. Sit out on the creeper-clad terrace and enjoy home-made pastries and cakes at high tea. Get lulled by the sounds of everyday farm life – donkey carts creaking and rattling on uneven roads, accompanied by the whistling of a farmer making his way home.
See how many of the more than 200 bird species you can spot. Learn about the coffee-growing process. Take a long walk to the nearby Ngorongoro Forest to learn about indigenous medicinal plants. Cycle through the backroads of the nearby village. Explore ancient elephant caves. Chat with and view works by the artists-in-residence. Or simply indulge in a spa treatment inspired by traditional Maasai healing. All in all, we think this is a very special spot and a lovely way to break up the traditional safari routine.
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Moving on to the southern circuit we’ll have the privilege of a more exclusive safari experience as most tourists favor the better-known northern parks.
One of the largest national parks in Africa, southern Tanzania’s Ruaha remains blissfully off the beaten track, despite being home to around 10% of the world’s lion population. It’s not uncommon to find prides of more than 20 lion in the park. The eponymous Great Ruaha River serves as a lifeline for the park’s wildlife. Although it’s the largest national park in the country at 58,000 square miles (the size of Illinois!) and rich in wildlife, Ruaha is one of the least busy places to visit in Tanzania, so safaris here feel remote.
Waterbuck, impala and gazelle come to the river to drink and predators are never far behind. We may spot lion prowling watchfully along the banks; leopard stalking in the thicker woodland areas; or cheetah scanning the plains. The wild dog is endangered, but Ruaha is home to almost a hundred of them. There are healthy populations of hyena and black-backed jackal too. The park also hosts vast herds of buffalo as well as plentiful zebra, giraffe, greater and lesser kudu, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, waterbuck, bushbuck, and impala.
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Larger than Switzerland and with just a handful of small camps, Nyerere National Park (formerly called the Selous Game Reserve) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best places to visit in Tanzania. Expert guides will lead guests on a variety of safari activities to explore this wildlife-rich reserve with boat safaris, fishing, walking safaris, and game drives through woodlands, open plains, wetlands, and the Rufiji River. The Selous is home to the largest populations of wild dog in Africa, which are a real highlight if we’re lucky enough to encounter a pack. They share the reserve with plenty of crocodile, lion, leopard, hippo, elephant, black rhino, buffalo, and more than 400 bird species.
On game drives, we might follow wild dog as they dash through the bush hunting for warthog and antelope. Or cruise along the river, passing pods of hippo cooling off under water. Or head out on foot to study the landscape up close, learning about everything from termites to trees.
In the early mornings, the light is particularly beautiful in the Selous, making for some great photography opportunities as you look for tracks of wildlife that have come near camp overnight. The boat safaris are superb morning or afternoon, watching wildlife come to the water’s edge to drink and getting close to bird colonies, hippos and crocodiles.
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Got a few extra days??? Then treat yourself to an optional finale on the palm-lined shores of Zanzibar!
If you’re in search of white-sand shores, coral reefs, and clear waters full of marine life you won’t be disappointed here. But you’ll also find mangrove forests where the trees are alive with monkeys, and sprawling spice plantations rich with the scent of cinnamon and cloves. If Zanzibar is a melting pot, this is epitomized by the capital, Stone Town, where you’ll find Swahili, Arabic, Persian, Indian and European influences. The languages, foods, and buildings all reflect the changing rulers the trading port has seen over the centuries.
OUR ACCOMMODATIONS & their environs
Tarangire National Park
Karatu Coffee Farm
Ruaha National Park
Nyerere National Park (a.k.a. the Selous)