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Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park is undoubtedly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world, unequalled for its natural beauty and scientific value, it has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa

The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania was established in 1952. It is home to the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth – the great migration of wildebeest and zebra. The resident population of lion, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, and birds is also impressive. There’s a wide variety of accommodation available, from luxury lodges to mobile camps. The park covers 5,700 sq miles, (14,763 sq km), it’s larger than Connecticut, with at most a couple hundred vehicles driving around.

The Park can be divided into 3 sections. The popular southern/central part (Seronera Valley), is what the Maasai called the “serengit”, the land of endless plains. It’s classic savannah, dotted with acacias and filled with wildlife. The western corridor is marked by the Grumeti River, and has more forests and dense bush. The north, Lobo area, meets up with Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve, is the least visited section.

Two World Heritage Sites and two Biosphere Reserves have been established within the 30,000 km² region. It’s unique ecosystem has inspired writers from Ernest Hemingway to Peter Mattheissen, filmakers like Hugo von Lawick and Alan Root as well as numerous photographers and scientists – many of which have put their works at our disposal to create this website.

The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.

It is the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous. Over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras flow south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back.

The Wildebeest travel through a variety of parks, reserves and protected areas and through a variety of habitat. Join us to explore the different forms of vegetation and landscapes of the Serengeti ecosystem and meet some of their most fascinating inhabitants.

    About Serengeti National Park

    Location: 5,700 sq miles, (14,763 sq km) north-west of Arusha.

    Getting there

    What to do
    – Game drives.

    Accommodation
    (ii) Serengeti Serena Lodge
    (ii) Thorn Tree Camp

    Tarangire National Park

    Tarangire National Park

    Tarangire National Park has some of the highest population density of elephants as compared to anywhere in Tanzania, and its sparse vegetation, strewn with baobab and acacia trees, makes it a beautiful and distinctive location to visit.

    Located just a few hours drive from the town of Arusha, Tarangire is a popular stop for people travelling through the northern safari circuit on their way to Ngorongoro and the Serengeti. The park extends into two game controlled areas and the wildlife is allowed to move freely throughout.

    Before the rains, droves of gazelles, wildebeests, zebras, and giraffes migrate to Tarangire National Park’s scrub plains where the last grazing land still remains. Tarangire offers an unparalleled game viewing, and during the dry season elephants abound. Families of the pachyderms play around the ancient trunks of baobab trees and strip acacia bark from the thorn trees for their afternoon meal. Breathtaking views of the Maasai Steppe and the mountains in the south make a stopover at Tarangire a memorable experience.

    Herds of up to 300 elephants scratch the dry river bed for underground streams, while migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the shrinking lagoons. It’s the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem – a smorgasbord for predators – and the one place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope such as the stately fringe-eared oryx and peculiar long-necked gerenuk are regularly observed.

    During the rainy season, the seasonal visitors scatter over a 20,000 sq km (12,500 sq miles) range until they exhaust the green plains and the river calls once more. But Tarangire’s mobs of elephant are easily encountered, wet or dry. The swamps, tinged green year round, are the focus for 550 bird varieties, the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world.

    On drier ground you find the Kori bustard, the heaviest flying bird; the stocking-thighed ostrich, the world’s largest bird; and small parties of ground hornbills blustering like turkeys.

    More ardent bird-lovers might keep an eye open for screeching flocks of the dazzlingly colourful yellow-collared lovebird, and the somewhat drabber rufous-tailed weaver and ashy starling – all endemic to the dry savannah of north-central Tanzania.

    Disused termite mounds are often frequented by colonies of the endearing dwarf mongoose, and pairs of red-and-yellow barbet, which draw attention to themselves by their loud, clockwork-like duetting.

    Tarangire’s pythons climb trees, as do its lions and leopards, lounging in the branches where the fruit of the sausage tree disguises the twitch of a tail.

    Location: 118 km (75 miles) southwest of Arusha.

    Getting there
    Easy drive from Arusha or Lake Manyara following a surfaced road to within 7km (four miles) of the main entrance gate; can continue on to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti.
    Charter flights from Arusha and the Serengeti.

    What to do
    – Guided Walking safaris.
    – Day trips to Maasai and Barabaig villages, as well as to the hundreds of ancient rock paintings in the vicinity of Kolo on the Dodoma Road.

    Accommodation

    (i) Tarangire Safari Lodge

    (ii) Sangaiwe Tented Camp.

    Lake Manyara National Park

    Lake Manyara National Park

    Located beneath the cliffs of the Manyara Escarpment, on the edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park offers varied ecosystems, incredible bird life, and breathtaking views.

    Located on the way to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, Lake Manyara National Park is worth a stop in its own right. Its ground water forests, bush plains, baobab strewn cliffs, and algae-streaked hot springs offer incredible ecological variety in a small area, rich in wildlife and incredible numbers of birds.

    The alkaline soda of Lake Manyara is home to an incredible array of bird life that thrives on its brackish waters. Pink flamingo stoop and graze by the thousands colourful specks against the grey minerals of the lake shore. Yellow-billed storks swoop and corkscrew on thermal winds rising up from the escarpment, and herons flap their wings against the sun-drenched sky. Even reluctant bird-watchers will find something to watch and marvel at within the national park.

    Lake Manyara’s famous tree-climbing lions are another reason to pay a visit to this park. The only kind of their species in the world, they make the ancient mahogany and elegant acacias their home during the rainy season, and are a well-known but rather rare feature of the northern park. In addition to the lions, the national park is also home to the largest concentration of baboons anywhere in the world — a fact that accounts for interesting game viewing of large families of the primates.

    Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”.

    The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience.

    From the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle-like groundwater forest where hundred-strong baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside; the blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees; dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows, and the outsized forest hornbills honk cacophonously in the high canopy.

    In contrast with the intimacy of the forest, is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views eastward, across the alkaline lake, to the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the endless Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, and so do the giraffes – some so dark in coloration that they appear to be black from a distance.

    Inland of the floodplain, a narrow belt of acacia woodland is the favoured haunt of Manyara’s legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants. Squadrons of banded mongoose dart between the acacias, whereas the diminutive Kirk’s dik-dik forages in their shade. Pairs of klipspringer are often seen silhouetted on the rocks above a field of searing hot springs that steams and bubbles adjacent to the lakeshore in the far south of the park.

    Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded, and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in one day. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large water birds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.

    About Lake Manyara National Park
    Size: 330 sq km (127 sq miles), of which up to 200 sq km (77 sq miles) is the lake when water levels are high.
    Location: Northern Tanzania. The entrance gate lies 1.5 hours (126km/80 miles) west of Arusha along a newly surfaced road, close to the ethnically diverse market town of Mto wa Mbu.

    Getting There
    – By road, charter or scheduled flight from Arusha, en route to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.

    What To do
    – Game drives, night game drives, canoeing when the water levels is sufficiently high.
    – Cultural tours, picnics, bush lunch/dinner, mountain bike tours, abseiling and forest walks on the escarpment outside the park.

    Accommodation
    (i) Lake Manyara Serena Lodge.
    (ii) Kirurumu Tented Lodge.

     

    Arusha National Park

    Arusha National Park (ANAPA) is a gem of varied ecosystems and spectacular views of Mt. Meru, the crater that gives the region its name.

    It is a popular destination for day trip visitors who are about to embark from the town of Arusha on longer northern circuit safaris. The small national park includes the slopes, summit, and ash cone of Mt. Meru, the Momela Lakes, Ngurdoto Crater, and the lush highland forests that blanket its lower slopes. Game viewing around the Momela Lakes is at a laid-back and quiet pace, and while passing through the forest many visitors stop to search for troupes of rare colubus monkeys playing in the canopy.

    Climbing Mt. Meru or enjoying the smaller trails that criss-cross its lower slopes is a popular activity for visitors to Arusha National Park. The three-day trek to reach the crater’s summit is a quieter, and some say more challenging alternative than the famous peak of nearby Mount Kilimanjaro. Along the lower slopes, the paths to rivers and waterfalls create a relaxing day hike for visitors who don’t want to attempt the rather arduous climb. Ancient fig tree forests, crystal clear waters cascading from mountain streams, and a chance to spot colobus monkeys are the attractions and pleasures of Arusha National Park.

    The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safari goers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours.

    The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colourful turacos and trogons – the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.

    Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one having a different hue of green or blue. There are shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos. The lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and also shaggy waterbucks that display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, whilst pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs.

    Although elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park, and lions are absent altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, which is only 50km (30 miles) away.
    But it is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru – the fifth highest mountain in Africa at 4,566 metres (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park’s horizon. With its peaks and eastern foot slopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbour, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.

    Passing first through wooded savannah where buffalos and giraffes are frequently encountered, the ascent of Meru leads into forests aflame with red-hot pokers and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching highly open heath spiked with giant lobelias. Everlasting flowers cling to the alpine desert, as delicately-hoofed klipspringers mark the hike’s progress. Astride the craggy summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, blushing in the sunrise.

    Size
    552 sq km (212 sq miles).
    Location:
    Northern Tanzania, northeast of Arusha town.

    Getting There
    An easy 40-minute drive from Arusha. It is approximately 60 km (35 miles) from Kilimanjaro International Airport. The lakes, forest and Ngurdoto Crater can all be visited in the course of a half-day outing at the beginning or end of an extended northern safari.

    NOTE: Mountain Climbing Permits duration time is 12 HOURS.

    What To Do
    Forest walks, numerous picnic sites;
    three- or four-day Mt Meru climb – good acclimatization for Kilimanjaro.

    Saadani National Park

    One gets to relish the palm trees as they sway in a cooling oceanic breeze. White sand and blue water sparkle alluringly beneath the tropical sun, brand Saadani is a splendid place to visit. Traditional dhows sail slowly past, propelled by billowing white sails, whilst Swahili fishermen cast their nets below a brilliant red sunrise.

    Saadani is where the beach meets the bush. The only wildlife sanctuary in East Africa to boast for an Indian Ocean beachfront, it as well possesses all the attributes that make Tanzania’s tropical coastline and islands very popular with European sun-worshipers. Yet it is also the one place where those idle hours of sunbathing might be interrupted by an elephant strolling past, or a lion coming to drink at the nearby waterhole!

    Protected as a game reserve since the 1960s, in 2002 it was expanded to cover twice its former area. The reserve suffered greatly from poaching prior to the late 1990s, but in recent years a marked turnaround has been seen, due to a concerted clampdown on poachers, based on integrating adjacent villages into the conservation drive.

    Today, a surprisingly wide range of grazers and primates are seen on game drives and walks, among them include giraffes, buffaloes, warthogs, common waterbucks, reedbucks, hartebeests, wildebeests, red duikers, greater kudus, elands, sable antelopes, yellow baboons and velvet monkeys.

    Herds of up to 30 elephants are encountered with increasing frequency, and several lion prides are inhabitants, together with leopards, spotted hyenas and black-backed jackals. Boat trips on the mangrove-lined Wami River come along with a high chance of sighting hippos, crocodiles and a selection of marine and riverine birds, including the mangrove kingfisher and lesser flamingo. The beaches form one of the last major green turtle breeding sites on mainland Tanzania.

    Location: On the north coast, roughly 100km (60 miles) northwest of Dar es Salaam, and a similar distance southwest of the port of Tanga.

    How to get there
    Charter flight from Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam with a possibility of scheduled flights in the future. Thrice-weekly road shuttle from Dar es Salaam, taking four hours in either direction.
    No road access from Dar es Salaam along the coast – Follow the surfaced Moshi road for 160km (100 miles), then 60km (36 miles) on dirt.
    Road access from Tanga and Pangani except after heavy rains. 4×4 required.

    What to do
    – Game drives and guided walks.
    – Boat trips. Swimming.
    Visit Saadani fishing village, which lies within the reserve, where a collection of ruins pays testament to its 19th century heyday as a major trading port.

    Accommodation
    The Park offers various types of accommodation and their facilities for both Residents and Non-residents visiting the Park.

    Rest house near the beach, with a furnished sitting room, master bedroom, three single rooms and a fully equipped kitchen.
    Bandaz which are located along the beach, each with two rooms of four beddings and
    single rooms for couples with outside dining and kitchen equipped with cooking gas, deep freezer and utensils.
    These facilities offer campers an opportunity to sleep at camping sites by pitching
    tents at the public camp site which is located along the beach of Saadani,

    Special camp sites: Kiwandi campsite located at Zaraninge forest, Kinyonga campsite located along Wami river and Tengwe campsite located in the wilderness zone.
    Visitors are advised to come with their own food that they may cook using park facilities.
    There are other privately owned accommodation facilities inside and outside the park include Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge, Saadani River Lodge, KISAMPA, Saadani Park Hotel, Tembo Kijani Lodge and A Tent with A View Lodge. Please visit their websites for more information.

     

    Saadani National Park

    One gets to relish the palm trees as they sway in a cooling oceanic breeze. White sand and blue water sparkle alluringly beneath the tropical sun, brand Saadani is a splendid place to visit. Traditional dhows sail slowly past, propelled by billowing white sails, whilst Swahili fishermen cast their nets below a brilliant red sunrise.

    Saadani is where the beach meets the bush. The only wildlife sanctuary in East Africa to boast for an Indian Ocean beachfront, it as well possesses all the attributes that make Tanzania’s tropical coastline and islands very popular with European sun-worshipers. Yet it is also the one place where those idle hours of sunbathing might be interrupted by an elephant strolling past, or a lion coming to drink at the nearby waterhole!

    Protected as a game reserve since the 1960s, in 2002 it was expanded to cover twice its former area. The reserve suffered greatly from poaching prior to the late 1990s, but in recent years a marked turnaround has been seen, due to a concerted clampdown on poachers, based on integrating adjacent villages into the conservation drive.

    Today, a surprisingly wide range of grazers and primates are seen on game drives and walks, among them include giraffes, buffaloes, warthogs, common waterbucks, reedbucks, hartebeests, wildebeests, red duikers, greater kudus, elands, sable antelopes, yellow baboons and velvet monkeys.

    Herds of up to 30 elephants are encountered with increasing frequency, and several lion prides are inhabitants, together with leopards, spotted hyenas and black-backed jackals. Boat trips on the mangrove-lined Wami River come along with a high chance of sighting hippos, crocodiles and a selection of marine and riverine birds, including the mangrove kingfisher and lesser flamingo. The beaches form one of the last major green turtle breeding sites on mainland Tanzania.

    Location: On the north coast, roughly 100km (60 miles) northwest of Dar es Salaam, and a similar distance southwest of the port of Tanga.

    How to get there
    Charter flight from Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam with a possibility of scheduled flights in the future. Thrice-weekly road shuttle from Dar es Salaam, taking four hours in either direction.
    No road access from Dar es Salaam along the coast – Follow the surfaced Moshi road for 160km (100 miles), then 60km (36 miles) on dirt.
    Road access from Tanga and Pangani except after heavy rains. 4×4 required.