Tanzania, is a beautiful, diverse and vast country renowned for its amazing safaris and snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro also offers genuine smiles from some incredible people.
© Kilimanjaro above the clouds
Tanzania, the largest country in East Africa has borders with Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and the Indian Ocean. The country is rich in wildlife, stunning and varied landscapes, sunshine and friendly people.
Tanzania has predominantly three safari circuits, each offering travellers a different aspect of the country. Each showcases the immensity of land set aside for conservation and wildlife protection. As the landscapes change in the differing areas, so do the habitats and species found there.
The Northern Circuit
The Northern Circuit encompasses; the mighty Serengeti National Park, home to millions of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra. It is here that these animals, migrate in search of fresh pastures, travelling from water source to water source, constantly on the move in an endless circle, better known as the Great Migration. Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks complete this circuit. With Arusha at the hub and Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru dominating the skyline.
Typically, the Northern Circuit attracts many first time safari visitors and returning safari goers. Due to the area being well serviced by, a variety of camps and lodges and transport in and out of the area being organised and easily accessible. The wildlife sightings are almost guaranteed, there are plenty of predators, large herds and bird species to fascinate and excite everyone. The downside to this circuit is its popularity and during peak season can be a little congested.
The Southern Circuit is suited more for travellers that have already experienced a busy safari and are looking for a more quiet region where you can still see all the game, but avoids the crowds and vehicle congestion that often occurs in the northern parks.
The Selous Game Reserve, Mikumi National Park and Ruaha National Park form the Southern Circuit. The Selous Game Reserve, the largest and oldest reserve in Tanzania offers diverse habitats, which can be explored on foot, boat and vehicle. It’s close to the coast and often gets very humid. The animals are more dispersed due to a lot of water available throughout the year, but for seeing the highly endangered wild dogs, it is most certainly the reserve to visit. Ruaha, being much drier than the Selous, the prolific wildlife tends to be more concentrated along the Ruaha River; making game spotting is very rewarding.
Totally off the beaten track are Katavi National Park and Mahale Mountains National Park. These remote parks are certainly perfect for the safari traveller looking for something out of the ordinary.
Katavi, consists of a series of flood plains fringed with woodland. This park has two very different sides to it, depending on the season. During the very hot dry months, the water holes shrink and the game is very concentrated around the little water available, making for some unforgettable, raw and stark sightings. During the wet months the game disperses across the plains, the grass grows high and the area becomes a paradise for bird watchers.
With the only access to the park by boat or plane, Mahale on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, is possibly one of the most isolated parks in East Africa. With three distinct habitats in a single area, this park offers adventurers the opportunity to trek in a tropical rain forest inhabited by forest animals including wild chimpanzees. View savannah animals like lions, Grant’s zebra and giraffe and also observe miombo woodland animals such as roan and sable antelope. No roads, sandy beaches, rugged mountains, tropical fish and a freshwater lake, this utopia it worth the effort to here.
Swahili Coastal Regions and Zanzibar
A wonderful way to end your safari is with some rest and relaxation on the beach. Tanzania has a long sandy coastline on the Indian Ocean and along the great lakes of Tanganyika and Lake Victoria. Not forgetting the Zanzibar archipelago for an exotic island vacation.
Of course, these circuits can be combined to make a superb mix of north, south, west and beach. Tanzania has so many different facets, gems and hidden beauties that you can return repeatedly and each time enjoy a great safari, make new friends and have novel wildlife encounters. Once you’ve experienced Africa, you’ll always hanker to return.
Tanzania has two International Airports and many regional airports and bush airstrips. Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam is the best port of entry for the Southern and Western Circuits. Kilimanjaro International Airport is the usual port of entry for the Northern Circuit.
The roads of Tanzania are a mixture of well maintained tarred roads to bare tracks. Driving safaris are popular, especially for small groups of 4 to 6 family or friends travelling together, as it often works out cheaper than flying. The other advantage of a drive safari is that you have a private vehicle and the same guide throughout your safari. The disadvantage is that the distances between areas can be colossal and much of your time is spent travelling, whereas by air the distances are covered quite quickly and smoothly.
A visa is required each time you enter the United Republic of Tanzania. It is recommended to obtain your visa prior to travel, however visas are available at the entry ports of Dar es Salaam International Airport, Zanzibar International Airport, Kilimanjaro International Airport and Namanga Entry Point. Visas can be obtained from any Diplomatic or Consulate Mission of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Credit Cards & Money Matters
Generally, credit facilities at the camps are few and far between. It is better to check with your Siyabona consultant prior to travel if the camp you have booked accepts credit cards.
If bringing US Dollars cash, please ensure that all the bills are no older than 2006, as they will not be accepted in the camps or at the bureau de change.
Many areas of Tanzania have malaria; please check with your medical practitioner for the latest advice re prophylactic treatments. To avoid malaria, it is best to take precautionary steps to limit being bitten by a mosquito. Wear long sleeve tops and long pants at night. Use bug spray. The majority of lodges and safari camps have fitted mosquito nets around their beds to reduce the risk of bites.
Tsetse flies, often found in heavily wooded areas. They can be a nuisance as their bites can be painful. Generally, they prefer moving targets, so the more you move about and flap at them the more they will bite. Your guide will remove you from the area if they are becoming too much of a problem, as usually the flies are found in small forest pockets during the day.
As of 2016, a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is mandatory for ALL visitors coming to Tanzania.
It is always prudent to take out travel and medical insurance before travelling to ensure that if there should be an unexpected problem, you are covered.
The official languages are English and Swahili and most of the people that you meet on a safari can speak some English. Tanzanians, on average have a great ear for languages and can quickly learn some new phrases from the tourists that they meet. Generally much faster than visitors learn Swahili phrases. Many guides can speak more than three languages.
Best Time of Year
Generally the dry months, late June to October, give better wildlife sightings, but they are also the most crowded months to visit. The “green” season before and after the rains, offer a substantial difference in prices and usually coincides with the arrival of migrant birds. The game is more widely dispersed, at this time due to there being more water available, but can still offer rewarding safaris. The country has low and high seasons in different areas at different times, due to the movement of the animals and the rainfall. When booking your safari it is a good idea to ask your Siyabona Consultant the best time to visit according to what your specific needs are.
On the coastal areas the climate is hot and humid, as you move inland towards the highlands the temperature becomes cooler and temperate.
There are two rainy seasons, which usually occur from mid March to early June for the long rains and from October to December for the short rains.