It’s almost always an impulse that when one thinks of going on a safari adventure, the top choices will always include Tanzania as if we’re all programmed to think it. Well, it’s natural, really; and there is absolutely no surprise why. Aside from being a staple safari country, visiting the top safari parks in Tanzania is always an adventure – whether you’re a safari neophyte or a wildlife enthusiast at that. So, if you’re looking into exploring the best of the best, here is a list of the top Tanzania safari parks you shouldn’t miss!
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
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Serengeti National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and probably the most popular and most photographed wildlife sanctuary in Tanzania. It is easily an absolute favorite among all who come to visit for a safari due to its unrivaled adventure and mystery as well as the mind-blowing great migration event, where two million strong wildebeests along with hundreds and thousands of zebras and gazelles stampede across the savannah in search for better grazing and water.
But, to only recognize Serengeti National Park because of the Great Migration would be unjust. In fact, it is believed that even if you take the migration out of the park, it would still be the finest safari park in Africa.
Serengeti National Park demonstrates an amazing mixture of ecosystems ranging from open grasslands, swamps, rocky terrains and gorgeous woodlands. It is also home to the highest concentration of large mammals in the world, including the famous Big Five; and the highest concentrations of predators in Africa, guaranteeing spectacular, adrenalin-filled predator vs prey actions. Plus, its birdlife is so impressive, you wouldn’t want to put down your binoculars!
NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
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Often referred to as “The wildlife eden”, Ngorongoro Conservation area is another UNESCO World Heritage Site that lies in the northern circuit of Tanzania, continuous to the world-famous Serengeti. It is best known for its resident Big Five and endangered black rhinos and also the world’s largest inactive volcanic caldera, Ngorongoro Crater.
The Park is a paradise of woodlands and crater lakes that provide habitats for abundant wildlife. It rises high above the plains of the Serengeti with Lake Natron in its northeast, which is a breeding ground for East Africa’s flamingoes, Lake Eyasi in its south and Lake Manyara in its east.
KILIMANJARO NATIONAL PARK
It’s hard to miss Kilimanjaro National Park in postcards and cover photos of Africa since it is where you can find one of Africa’s most iconic features, Mount Kilimanjaro. At 5,895 meters, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak and the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. It has a year-round snow-capped peak that looms over the savannah, almost calling out for visitors to explore its splendor. Surrounding the mountain is a lush forest that hosts a wealth of mammals including endangered species like Abbots duiker.
For adventurous and physically fit travelers, a trek the roof of Africa will be an amazing opportunity to tick that off the bucket list. Luckily, there are several routes winding around the mountain (some routes are even beginner-friendly!), allowing travelers to discover the beauty of Africa from 5,895 meters high.
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK
A popular stop on the way to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara is an absolute scenic gem with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”. It stretches for 50 kilometers along the base of the rusty-gold vast high Rift Valley escarpment and offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience.
The park boasts of diverse wildlife including buffalos, giraffes, hippos, antelopes and one of the thickest baboon and elephant population in Africa but what Lake Manyara is very famous for are the thousands of flamingoes by its soda lake, huge elephant herds, and the tree-climbing lions.
SELOUS GAME RESERVE
Known as Africa’s largest natural reserve covering a vast wilderness area of over 50,000 km² plus the Rufiji River, Selous Game Reserve offers magnificent wildlife and a highly untouched, less crowded scenery. It is located in southern Tanzania and it is popular for its unique wildebeests and numerous endangered wild dogs. Selous Game Reserve is also home to the largest population of buffalos in the whole of Africa, hosting about 150,000 of them which is more than twice the entire buffalo population in all of Southern Africa.
TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
A neighboring park to Lake Manyara, but often skipped by tourists because it is quite off-route to the string of northern circuit safari parks, Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest park in Tanzania. It boasts of a stunning forested landscape with baobab and acacia trees peppered around it and it is famous for its migrating herds of elephants that come around June to October, which is the perfect season to see a lot of elephant mud baths. Speaking of the dry season, Tarangire National Park also has a lake that attracts about 250,000 mammals during this time.
The Big 5, sans the rhino, can also be easily spotted around the park as well as impalas, wildebeest, and zebras. When it comes to birding, Tarangire will not disappoint. It holds one of the highest numbers of birds in Tanzania, making it a paradise for twitchers, photograph lovers and first-timers alike.
RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
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Located in the southern circuit, Ruaha is known as the second largest national park in Tanzania. It is one of the most remote parks and is one hundred percent untouched. The park is famous for its immense concentration of lions, elephants and wild dogs.
Although not very accessible, many visitors to Ruaha say they would go visit the park again in a heartbeat. So if you fancy having the wild “all to yourself” and experience a more raw kind of adventure, Ruaha National Park should definitely be in your itinerary!
Thanks to the diverse landscape and impressive wildlife that thrives in Tanzania, it is easily one of the top safari destinations in the world. And even if each top Tanzania safari park you shouldn’t miss offer something slightly different and unique, it is warranted that a Tanzania safari is simply a once-in-a-lifetime experience – something that endows you with remarkable stories and fond memories that you won’t only treasure forever but also share to others for a very long time.