National Parks

Tanzania bears witness to a cauldron of earth moving and volcanic activity, which helped shape East Africa millions of years ago. Ngorongoro Crater and Mt. Kilimanjaro are perhaps some of the best examples to note. Add to this Tanzania'a relatively undisturbed wilderness and it is easy to understand why this vast part of Africa has inspired the likes of Ernest Hemingway and travellers from across the world.

ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK and MOUNT MERU

137 Sq Kilometers
30 minute drive from Arusha

Arusha N.P has, in the past been sadly under-rated. Home of Mt. Meru, an extinct volcano, it is the second highest mountain in Tanzania after Kilimanjaro. Mt. Meru is however recognised as a far more strenuous climb - but the rewards are high. The park is divided into 3 distinct areas, Ngurdoto crater, the emerald coloured Momela lakes and Mt. Meru herself. The park is the perfect introduction to visitors visiting Tanzania's Northern circuit - a great day tour. Mt. Meru takes 3 - 4 days up and down.

SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK

14, 763 Sq Km
200 kilometers, West of Arusha

Unquestionably one of the last remaining wildlife spectacles on earth, the name Serengeti derives from the Maasai word 'endless plains.' The park lies along a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands and the Tanzania/Kenya border, extending almost to Lake Victoria. Synonymous with the park, are it's endless, open plains, vast savanna, black cotton soil, clay plains and dense woodlands with mountain ranges in the western corridor. It is home to a staggering variety of animals including most plains game, elephant, lion, cheetah, leopard, hippo and huge crocodiles, as well as over 500 species of birds. During May/June over 2 million Wildebeest and 250,000 Zebra migrate to the fresh, sweet grass of the Maasai Mara (in neighboring Kenya), returning five months later. The Serengeti truly is the 'Cry of the Wild.' Balloon Safaris are available in this park.

NGORONGORO (NCA)

8300 Sq Km. The Crater itself 260 Sq Km
180 kilometers West of Arusha

Ngorongoro Conservation Area includes the still active Volcano Ol-Doinyo Lengai, Olduvai Gorge (the cradle of Mankind) and vast forested highlands. The crater itself is a collapsed volcano and the view from the rim is nothing short of breath taking. Its steep forested wall's plunge 1000 meters down to meet the crater floor. Rich with color, green plains, splashed with wild, colourful flowers, Yellow Acacia forests, a sapphire/purple soda lake and the pink mass of a thousand flamingos complete this panoramic view. It is home to the largest concentration of wild animals in one place.

LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK

325 Sq Kms
120 kilometers, S. West of Arusha

Here the spectacular Great Rift Wall (that guards the park) drops several hundred meters to the permanent lake. Arguably home to one of the largest concentration of elephants in Africa, Lake Manyara National Park is full of surprises. Tree climbing lions love to lie in the shaded branches of the Acacia trees, so remember to look up. Hundreds of hippo regularly sunbath out of the water here, snoozing under the midday sun- (a sight previously unheard of!).

TARANGeRI NATIONAL PARK

2,600 Sq. Kms
114 kilometers, S. West of Arusha

Tarangeri is one the finest wildlife refuges in Tanzania. Bulky Baobab trees, relieved by swamps and the white waters of the Tarangeri River that forges through the length of the park. Famous for its large herds of elephant, the acacia forest also lends the perfect camouflage for shy game such as leopard, and Lesser Kudu. Tarangeri is also home to lion, and a large variety of plains game. Watch out for Tsetse Fly that tend to be particularly annoying just after the rains! (April, May & Nov).

KILIMANJARO NATIONAL PARK

756 Sq Km
Peak Height 5,895m
I98 kilometers, N. East of Arusha

Mount Kilimanjaro - the Roof Top of Africa has long stirred the hearts of the adventurous. Lush forest at 2,800 metres gives way to moorlands dotted with giant heather at 4,000 metres, the alpine zone starting at 5000 metres. Above 5,000M metres the cold is intense and the air so thin that few plants are able to survive. The final ascent up the steep cone of 'Kibo' to Uhuru Peak' needs every reserve of strength but its well worth it. For the less energetic the mysterious labyrinth of Kilimanjaro's lowlands provides superb walks and treks.

RUAHA NATIONAL PARK

12,950 Sq Kilometers
8 hrs drive from Dar or 1 1/2 hrs charter flight Arusha

Situated in the centre of the country, the 2nd largest National Park is bordered by the Ruaha River, which offers spectacular views across its banks of secretive forests, open plains and hilly terrain dotted with massive rock formations. From July to December wildlife is concentrated on the banks of the river and around the watering holes. You can see herds of elephant, giraffes, prides of lion, leopard, Greater & Lesser Kudu, and a host of other animals without moving from the banks. Ruaha is a paradise undisturbed.

SELOUS GAME RESERVE

55,000 Sq Kilometers
7 hrs drive from Dar or 35 minutes charter flight

The largest African reserve is crossed by the mighty Rufigi River and its tributaries, which form a network of lakes ideal for boat safaris. With over 350 species of birds it is an ornithologist's haven, whilst opportunities for close contact and observations of wildlife are endless. Most wildlife associated with East Africa can be viewed in this huge, unspoilt wilderness. The best time to visit is from June to February.

MIKUMI NATIONAL PARK

3,230 Sq Kilometers
4 hrs drive from Dar or 1hr charter flight

Situated in the Mkata plains, dominated by hills and mountains, this small park (in relation to some of Tanzania's many other parks) is set in Southern Tanzania. Allowing a glimpse of an unspoilt Africa of centuries ago the park's wilderness stretches almost to the shores of the Indian Ocean. The main feature of the park is the Mikumi flood plain, mountain ranges (that border two sides of the park) as well as the miombo woodland (a favorite haunt of lion, which cover the lower hills). Rains swell the bird population to over 300 species of European migrants alone and the park abounds with huge hippo, large herds of buffalo, elephant, most other plains game and the rare Wild dog (seldom seen elsewhere). Best months to visit are between March and May.

KATAVI NATIONAL PARK

4,471 Sq Kilometers
4 hrs drive from Dar or 1hr charter flight

Katavi is remote, hard and wild. It sits on a high, wide flood plain in south-western Tanzania. There is little chance you will have to share Tanzania's third largest park with anyone else! With Lake Chala in the south-east and Katuma River, it boasts Tanzania's greatest concentration of crocodile and hippo. There is also more than enough plains game (including impala, eland, topi, herds of zebra and buffalo groups up to 1600 sustaining the parks large population of lion and leopard) . An extensive variety of birds can also be seen and the elephants cool down during the hot hours of the day grazing, waist high in the marshlands. Best time to visit: May - October and mid Dec to February.

MAHALE MOUNTAINS AND GOMBE STREAM

1,613 Sq Kilometers (Mahale)
4 to 9 hrs boat trip or 2hr charter flight from Dar

Mahale is home to thousands of chimpanzees, baboons, colobus monkeys, as well as large herds of elephant, leopard, and most plains game. The area is famous for walking safaris, with the backdrop of mountains overhanging Lake Tanganyika. Gombe Stream National Park lies on the banks of Lake Tanganika, north of Kigoma, located on the slopes of this mountainous region. Chimpanzees tolerate human presence due to Jane Goodall's extensive scientific studies since 1960. The area however is a secluded and serene paradise.

UDZUNGWA MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

1990 Sq Kilometers
5hrs drive from Dar or approx 1hr charter flight

Udzungwa is a hot spot nurturing species found no where else on earth - a secret bank account of precious genetic stock. Of its six types of primate, two are endemic (the Iringa red colobus and the Sanje Crested Mangabey, first discovered in 1979). Birdlife is prolific and the area is recognised as one of the top bird conservation areas on the African continent. One of East Africa's greatest forests, this undisturbed habitat has yet to reveal all its treasures! The area is also superb for hiking and climbing, and the centerpiece is the Sanje River that plunges 170 metres through the forest in a spay of mist into the valley below.

SAADANI GAME RESERVE

500 Sq Kilometers
45 Kms North of Bagamoyo

Here the Bush meets the Beach! Saadani is a little piece of heaven, which was gazetted a Game Reserve in 1969. Apart from kissing the Indian Ocean, the park consists of three distinctive environments: the plains near the coast, swamps with undulating hills behind and, the Wami River along the park's southern boundary. Large mammals including elephant, African buffalo, zebra and other plains game inhabit the area. The reserve is also home to the rare Roan Sable antelope. Both lion and the shy leopard are indigenous to the area. In the past lion roamed the beach, their paw prints are still spotted on the beach - though lions are rarely, actually sighted! A favorite area with artists, Saadani is another of Tanzania's jewels.







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Photography by Colleen Hogg & Shaw Safaris