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North Tanzania or South Tanzania for your African safari?

Posted in: Tanzania


North Tanzania or South Tanzania for your African safari?

Partly because of the distribution of the best national parks in Tanzania to visit for wildlife and partly because of the immense size of the country, when planning a Tanzania safari, the wildlife experts at Wildlife Trails often ‘divide’ the country into north and south Tanzania and then compare and contrast the wildlife experiences in ‘each half’. North Tanzania offers one of nature’s greatest wildlife spectacles; with the world famous Serengeti wildebeest migration and wildebeest calving and also surely one of the most spectacular national parks and physically beautiful wilderness area in the whole of Africa; the Ngorongoro Crater, or Ngorongoro conservation area. South Tanzania is ‘less discovered’ than the more touristic north and has incredible wildlife diversity. One moment you could be looking for African Wild Dogs in Selous game reserve and the next chimp trekking in Gombe Stream national park.

Tanzania northern circuit itinerary

The northern circuit or safari in Tanzania is a well recognised route, which generally includes visits to the Ngorongoro crater, Serengeti, Manyara and Tarangire. The problem we find here at Wildlife Trails, is that both local and international safari companies try to put together very short northern Tanzania safaris, which may last only 5 or 6 days, despite visiting 4 different national parks. You will then have clients say that they didn’t see much wildlife at Manyara or Tarangire; but with only 1 night there and possibly just half a day on safari; are you in a position to truly judge? What the best wildlife companies in Tanzania should be saying to their clients, is if you only have 1 week for the northern circuit in Tanzania, then focus only on two of the national parks and don’t try to do too much. After finishing their safari in north Tanzania some clients finish with a beach break in Zanzibar, or for the more active an attempt at climbing Kilimanjaro.

Best time of year to visit Tanzania for the northern circuit?

There are some truly monumental wildlife experiences to be had in northern Tanzania and one of the most rewarding is to follow the Serengeti wildebeest migration. Infact, the wildebeest and other herbivores which follow the famous Tanzania migration routes, also spent time in the Masai Mara in Kenya; but from approximately November/December when they are found in the Seronera plains, until around June/July when they start crossing into Kenya, the great wildebeest migration truly ‘belongs’ to Tanzania and specialist wildlife camps (some temporary and re-positioned each year in the best places to see the wildebeest migration) and lodges provide their guests with a front row seat to one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth.

However, if you prefer to travel in what is generally regarded as the ‘high season’ in Africa from July to October, then you can still expect some great wildlife viewing in northern Tanzania. The Ngorongoro Crater is best for predators and big cats all year round and with the addition of Manyara or Tarangire, you can create a great one week Tanzania safari before possibly adding on an extension in Kenya to focus on the migration.

Tanzania southern circuit itinerary.

Although the southern circuit has become more popular in recent years, in terms of visitor numbers it is still dwarfed by northern Tanzania. The gateway to south Tanzania is the famous port town of Dar es Salaam; which is incredibly well connected with flights to both nearby Zanzibar and Pemba island; for those clients looking for some chill out time after their southern Tanzania safari. The ‘Big 3’ in south Tanzania are Selous game reserve, Mikumi national park and Ruaha national park; although visits to national parks off the beaten track – such as Sadaani close to Dar – have proved enjoyable and productive for recent clients of Wildlife Trails. Some of the wildlife camps overlooking the Ruaha river are simply stunning, but Ruaha national park once famous for leopard sightings, has not been as productive recently. Selous game reserve remains one of the best places in Africa to see wild dogs and Mikumi national park is well known for its regular lion sightings.

For the more adventurous wildlife client, you can take advantage of connecting bush flights into western Tanzania and add on an extension to Mahale Mountains national park or Katavi national park. Like in Gombe Stream, you can go chimp trekking at the much large Mahal Mountains NP and Katavi is famous for large numbers of elephants, huge buffalo herds and large numbers of lions and spotted hyena.

If you would like Wildlife Trails to put together a bespoke itinerary for your Tanzania safari then please contact us or check out our selection of Tanzania wildlife safaris which can be tailored to your requirements.

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