If it’s rich culture, incredible wildlife and breathtaking scenery you’re after then you won’t be disappointed with the 6 best Tanzania safari parks.
Each with it’s own distinguishing features, the safari parks in Tanzania take up nearly 40% of the land here and the country is dedicated to protecting and conserving their local wildlife. Tanzania gives safari enthusiasts the chance to see all of the big five, along with countless other rare and beautiful animals and birds.
But if the animals alone aren’t enough to seduce you, Tanzania is also home to Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in all of Africa, and over 100 different ethnic groups that give a rich culture to this colourful land. It is impossible not to fall for all that Tanzania has to offer.
It was my first safari ever and I wanted to experience the very best Tanzania safari parks. I wanted to feel as though I was stepping into my very own edition of The Lion King, and I’ve got to be honest, that was exactly how I felt! I’ve detailed the best safari parks that Tanzania has to offer below to give you an idea of just how incredible this country really is.
1. Ngorongoro Conservation Area
In my opinion, Ngorongoro Conservation area might be the best Tanzania safari park if you want the whole package in one place. Often referred to as “The Wildlife Eden”, Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that lies in the northern circuit of Tanzania.
Not only is it full of wildlife (and the number one place to be in with a chance of spotting the extremely endangered black rhinos), but it is also set in a huge volcanic crater. It is the largest unfilled crater on Earth and has been inactive for several million years. You can view the crater from above to take in just how enormous it really is. Bring a pair of binoculars so you can spot the wildlife roaming the plains below.
I didn’t see the same range of wildlife here that I saw in the Serengeti, but the surrounding scenery made the sightings so much more dramatic and beautiful. I left wishing I’d had longer in this incredible place and would definitely go back if I had the chance.
2. Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest park in Tanzania, and one of it’s quietest due to the fact it is a little off the beaten track. If you visit here you will find a stunning forested landscape covered with baobab and acacia trees.
It is famous for its migrating herds of elephants that come from around June to October. Tarangire National Park also has a lake that attracts about 250,000 mammals during this time. You won’t find rhinos here but can spot the rest of the big 5 as well as impalas, wildebeest, and zebras. When it comes to birds, Tarangire has one of the highest numbers of birds in Tanzania, making it a twitchers paradise. Make sure you bring your binoculars!
You can take day or night safaris here and there is the option to take part in walking safaris. The park also offers fly camping, a unique experience allowing visitors to camp out in the open. Take a walking tour and end it by sleeping under the sky, with only a mosquito net to separate you from the night sky. If that sounds a,little too adventurous for you then there are other overnight options!
3. Ruaha National Park
If you plan on heading south then Ruaha is the safari park for you. Because it isn’t on the more common Northern safari circuit it is rarely visited and it is one of the best Tanzania safari parks for those after remoteness and seclusion.
Ruaha National Park is the largest in Tanzania and has the feeling of being completely untouched. Expect to see tonnes of lions, elephants and wild dogs along with impressive landscapes including rolling hills, plains, baobab trees and a river flowing through. There is a great blend of northern and southern wildlife, so if it’s a bit of everything you’re after then Ruaha might be the perfect safari park for you. Be prepared for it’s exotic feel though, and distinct lack of tourists!
4. Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and probably the most famous and most photographed wildlife sanctuary in Tanzania. I’m usually a fan of the quiet, untouched spots when I travel, but I have to say that I joined the masses and fell head over heels for the Serengeti. I would in fact go so far as to say that it is the best Tanzania safari park. The truth is, the immense size of the Serengeti meant that it didn’t actually feel like a tourist hot spot. We were there slightly out of season, which helped according to our guide, who has seen huge queues of jeeps lined up to see leopards and cheetahs in the past. Luckily, we shared our leopard sighting with only a few other cars, and a lot of the time we had the animals all to ourselves.
If you are there at the right time then you will get to see the huge Great Migration event, where two million strong wildebeests along with hundreds and thousands of zebras and gazelles stampede across the savannah. We caught the tail end of the Great Migration and even then it was impressive.
Serengeti National Park demonstrates an amazing mixture of landscapes and ecosystems, ranging from open grasslands, rocky terrains and gorgeous woodlands, and even swamps and lakes for the hippos and birds! It is home to the highest concentration of large mammals in the world, including the famous Big Five, so keep your eyes peeled and this may be the place to tick them all off. The park is also home to a range of animals you may not find in other parks, like Nile crocodiles, pythons, monkeys, eagles and honey badgers.
5. Lake Manyara National Park
Ernest Hemingway called Lake Manyara “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”, and it’s easy to see why. This is a popular stop off on the way to the Serengeti but is a spectacle in its own right. Although you won’t find the big five here, the park boasts of diverse wildlife including buffalos, giraffes, hippos, antelopes and one of the biggest baboon and elephant population in Africa. But what will really impress you is the thousands of flamingos by its soda lake. Bird fanatics should also know about the 400 other bird species found here.
We would recommend you follow the more popular route and head to Lake Manyara first on your way to some of the bigger safari parks in Tanzania. It is the perfect place to start, as it is smaller and more concentrated than some of the larger parks. However, you may not appreciate it quite as much if you have already seen the vast plains of the serengeti or the incredible views over Ngorongoro crater.
6. Selous Game Reserve
Covering a vast wilderness area of over 50,000 km², with additional outer zones, the Selous Game Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an incredible place to visit. It is far less touristy than some of Tazania’s other, more famous safari parks and visitors here enjoy it’s untouched nature, naming it one of the best Tanzania safari parks.
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. You will also find African bush elephants, black rhinos, hippos, lions, Masai giraffes, Plains zebras, and Nile crocodiles here.
Tanzania Safari Accomodation
There are a few different ways to book your safari in Tanzania, depending on budget and preference. If you book with a tour company then make sure you specify which type of accommodation you’d prefer. Most will be to cater to your preference.
There are several luxurious hotels in each of the safari parks, offering three course meals every night, outdoor pools and gyms, and views to die for! Serengeti Serena Lodge manages to retain the charm that many of the modern hotels have lost, while still being incredibly luxurious!
Your other option is to choose a Tanzania camping safari, giving you the chance to get really up, close and personal with Tanzania’s incredible wildlife. This is definitely the more adventurous option!
We love the look of the glamping tents at Zawadi Camp. Imagine sitting beside the fire and listening to the sound of the animals hunting in the Serengeti – truly magical!
Finding A Guide For The Best Tanzania Safari Parks
If you struggle with choice then this will be a tricky decision! There are a hundred different tour operators, all offering the most incredible sounding packages. You could spend literally all your money on luxury accommodation, flights over the savannah and hot air balloon rides at sunrise. You can also choose to hire a car yourself and go it alone. Try to work out what you are really going for before you get drawn in by the many options available!
Seeing The Best Tanzania Safari Parks With A Tour Guide
We can highly recommend Sunny Safaris, based in Arusha. They were incredible from before we even started our trip and we have never experienced such high levels of service from any other tour operator. We found them highly recommended by other travellers, and after receiving several different quotes we also found out they were the cheapest. They tailor made our whole safari experience from start to finish.
Our guide was full of knowledge, was conservation conscious and was friendly for the whole 6 day trip, listening to exactly what we wanted from our safari experience. The accommodation was all booked for us. Having booked such a budget trip compared to a lot of them, we quite honestly had low expectations for our rooms, but every single place we stayed was pure luxury. Each came with character, charm, excellent food and wonderful views. The six day trip took us all over, and dropped us at the airport for our connecting flight to Zanzibar.
If you are short on time in Tanzania then we have found these highly recommended one or two day safari trips to some of Tanzania’s best safari parks.
- Private Full Day Tanzania Safari to Ngorongoro Crater
- Tarangire Full Day Tanzania Safari from Arusha
- Ngorongoro Full Day Tanzania Safari Tour
- Luxury Two Day Serengeti Safari
Seeing The Best Tanzania Safari Parks On Your Own
Taking a tour with a knowledgeable guide is definitely the easiest and possibly even the most enjoyable way of seeing the best Tanzania safari parks. You won’t have to worry about navigating Tanzania’s tricky roads for long distances, you will see more wildlife due to the guides expertise and radio inside knowledge, and all your accommodation and food will be sorted for you. However, there is always a certain thrill to going it alone that you can’t get from tours.
Roadtrip Tanzania offers jeep hire along with detailed suggested itineraries and ideas for places to stay along your preferred routes to make planning your trip alone as easy as possible. They really have thought of it all, so that you don’t have to. They even offer camping equipment to hire so that you can be really self sufficient!
If getting off the beaten track is what you’re really after then a self drive safari is what you’re after. Having experienced both, I can honestly say both are amazing, and completely different. You can read about my experience on a self drive/camping safari here to give you more of an idea of what you are in for!
So there you have it, the 6 best Tanzania safari parks. We hope this guide has been helpful in planning your trip to Tanzania and we would love to hear all about your experiences or answer any questions in the comments section below. We are always thrilled to hear from you!