Tanzania’s Top 11 Places to Visit
Tanzania offers some of the most diverse safari experiences in Africa, from witnessing millions of wildebeest, zebra, and other antelope traverse the Serengeti plains to ascending to the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro or sipping chilled drink on the white-sand beaches of Zanzibar.
Tanzania, a vibrant and beautiful country with outstanding parks and reserves, is endowed with a winning combination of unparalleled game viewing and dazzling tropical beaches. Because Tanzania is so large (nearly 1.5 times the size of Texas), it is useful to divide the country’s major tourist destinations into four categories:
The Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara, Tarangire, and Kilimanjaro are all part of the Northern Safari Circuit, Tanzania’s most popular safari route.
Tanzania Coast and Islands – Tanzania’s beaches, particularly those on islands such as Zanzibar, are breathtaking and easily accessible.
Southern Tanzania Is home to the gloriously wild and underappreciated Nyerere (formerly Selous) and Ruaha, two of Tanzania’s best-kept safari secrets.
Western Tanzania – for the ultimate off-the-beaten-path Tanzania safaris, travel to the far-flung corners of Katavi and Mahale.
Where you travel depends on what you want to see and do while on safari in Tanzania, as well as the optimum time to visit Tanzania. While the Northern Safari Circuit is popular with both first-time and experienced safari visitors, both Southern and Western Tanzania are undiscovered gems of this multifaceted destination. Read our Tanzania safari guide to learn all you need to know about organizing the perfect Tanzania safari.
1. Serengeti National Park: A Safari Legend
The Serengeti, synonymous with safari, is the place to go in Tanzania for the most dramatic game viewing. The Serengeti’s sheer size, accessibility, top-quality lodges and camps, and year-round abundance of wildlife make it one of Africa’s best safari destinations, hosting the lion’s share of the Wildebeest Migration (from about January to September). It’s also a popular stop on Tanzania safari tours.
Explore the Endless Plains.
2. Ngorongoro Crater: A Refuge for the Big Five
Place approximately 30 000 animals inside the crater of an extinct volcano. The Ngorongoro Crater is the result of wetlands, forest, grasslands, and some out-of-this-world cliff-top accommodations. This fantastic Tanzania safari destination provides excellent game viewing in a truly unique setting. It is well-known for providing the easiest and most reliable Big 5 sightings in East Africa, and it offers what is arguably Tanzania’s best safari.
Drop Into The Crater
Tarangire National Park, Tanzania: An Elephant Empire
Tarangire, located near Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater, is well worth more than a day trip. During the dry season, from June to October, animal concentrations along the Tarangire River are among the highest in the country. The park’s bird count of over 500 species makes it one of the most rewarding Tanzania safaris for twitchers, and its full range of large predators rounds out the appeal. Tarangire is a stunningly diverse wilderness with riverine forest, vast swamps, and open woodlands dotted with Africa’s iconic baobab trees.
Explore a Land of Giants
4. Lake Manyara National Park, which is home to tree-climbing lions
Lake Manyara, which is part of Tanzania’s famous Northern Safari Circuit, provides easy game viewing in a beautiful setting. The park’s heavyweight species include buffalo, hippo, giraffe, elephant, leopard, and its famous tree-climbing lions. Lake Manyara is a fantastic place to go bird-watching. In the middle of the lake, you’ll often see flocks of pelicans and flamingos, and the floodplains, woodlands, and evergreen forests are equally vibrant.
Learn More About Manyara 5. Zanzibar and Tanzania Islands: Indian Ocean Paradise
Finish your East African safari with a stay on Tanzania’s Spice Island, Zanzibar. It’s where to go in Tanzania for glorious beaches and coral reefs, sunset dhow (traditional boat) trips, and exploring fragrant back-street markets, and it’s ideal for both families and honeymooners. Tanzania’s other Indian Ocean islands will not let you down either. Pemba, Mafia, and Chole are outstanding beach vacation destinations with excellent diving, exclusive boutique accommodations, and all the indulgent pampering you could want.
Locate Your Island
Ruaha National Park: A Hidden Treasure
Ruaha’s wild and unruly nature distinguishes it from other safari destinations. This hidden gem is Tanzania’s largest national park, and despite its size, there are only a few safari camps. There will be no other tourists around, only buffalo, giraffe, kudu, sable, roan, lion, cheetah, and leopard. It is home to the largest elephant population in Tanzania and a stronghold for rare African wild dogs.
Discover A Little-Known Fact
7. Selous Game Reserve: A Sanctuary for Wild Dogs
The Selous Game Reserve (pronounced’suh-loo’) is Africa’s largest game reserve, larger than Switzerland. Its lifeblood, the colossal Rufiji River, forms an intricate network of channels, swamps and lakes from which one of East Africa’s most magnificent ecosystems is born. Buffalo, hippo, crocodile, and lion thrive here, while the reserve is also one of Africa’s most important sanctuaries for endangered wild dogs. Don’t miss a boat safari, guided walk or fly-camping excursion in this breathtaking wilderness.
Step Into The Wild\s8. Lake Tanganyika: Rainforests and Chimpanzees
The world’s longest freshwater lake is hemmed in by the mountainous walls of the Great Rift Valley. It’s one of our planet’s most biologically rich habitats, not least due to the lakeside presence of the Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream National Parks. These two far-flung destinations are worth the effort it takes to get to them, as both deliver some of Tanzania’s most unique safari experiences: tropical rainforest wildlife viewing and remarkable chimpanzee trekking.
Go Off The Beaten Path
9. Mount Kilimanjaro: Africa’s Tallest Peak
Whether you’re content with standing in its mighty shadow or yearn to climb to its icy summit, the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro won’t fail to stir your soul. At 5 895 metres (19 340 feet), it’s Africa’s highest mountain and the tallest free-standing mountain on Earth. But its snow-capped peaks are far more accessible than you may think. If you climb Kili in the dry season between July and October or January and March, no technical climbing is required. But organising and executing a hike to the summit does call for a fair amount of logistical planning.
Summit The African Roof
10. Arusha as a Safari Gateway
Arusha, Tanzania’s undisputed safari capital, is on the itinerary of nearly everyone visiting the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lake Manyara, as logistics frequently necessitate an overnight layover in or around the city. Arusha, located in the shadow of Mount Meru, has both an international airport (Kilimanjaro International Airport) and a smaller airport for charter flights to final destinations. If you stay in Arusha, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to buy souvenirs, participate in cultural activities, and visit local points of interest.
See A Safari Capital 11 for more information. Dar es Salaam: Access to the Islands
The majority of visitors to Dar es Salaam are on their way to Zanzibar or the Indian Ocean coast, but this thriving city also provides easy access to Tanzania’s lesser-known reserves, such as Selous. If you need to stay overnight, there is high-quality accommodation available.