National Parks in Tanzania, Africa
On this page you'll find all the
information on the Top 5 National Parks that are included in the various
Expedition Kilimanjaro Safari's.
The Top 5?
The Arusha National Park, a small but
beautiful park, is the closest National Tanzanian National Park to both the
famous African "safari town" of Arusha (29 km), the Kilimanjaro
International Airport and the Kilimanjaro entrance town Moshi, thus making
it ideal for 1
day safaris. Not only is the wildlife in the Arusha National
Park abundant, but it is also one of the most beautiful and topographically
varied game parks in Tanzania.
River provides the only
permanent water in the area and forms a "dry season retreat" for the animals
of the southern Masailand in Tanzania and the Tarangire
National Park is reputed to contain some of the largest elephant herds
in Tanzania or even in Africa. A safari into the Tarangire National Park is
included in the 3 days,
5 days, and 6 days safari options.
The Lake Manyara National Park is one of
Tanzania's most dramatically located wildlife areas, and Lake Manyara's most
visible predators, and also its prime tourist attraction are lions, famous
for their habit of climbing trees. This park is included in all
The Ngorongoro Crater Game Park - the
name has an almost mystical ring to it and the Ngorongoro Crater is one of
the most densely crowded wildlife areas in the world and is home to an
estimated 30,000 animals. This park is part of all multiple-days safaris.
The Serengeti National Park hosts the
annual wildebeest migration across its grassy plains - arguably the world's
greatest wildlife spectacle - this Serengeti National Park is without a
doubt a defining image of East Africa and more specifically Tanzania. A
visit to the enormous Serengeti Plains is only available in
4 days, 5 days
and 6 days safari options.
About the National Parks
The primary role of Tanzania’s national parks is
conservation. The 14 national parks, many of which form the core of a much larger protected African-wide ecosystem, have been set aside to preserve the country’s rich natural heritage, and to provide secure breeding grounds where its fauna and flora can thrive, safe from the conflicting interests of a growing human population.
The existing park system protects a number of internationally recognised bastions of biodiversity and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, thereby redressing the balance for those areas of the country affected by deforestation, agriculture and urbanisation.
The Tanzania National Parks organisation is currently also acquiring further land to expand certain parks, and to raise the status of traditional migration corridors connecting protected areas.
By visiting Tanzania you are supporting a developing country’s extraordinary investment in the future. In spite of population pressures, Tanzania has dedicated more than 42,000 square kilometres to national parks. Including other reserves, conservation areas and marine parks, Tanzania has accorded some form of formal protection to more than one-third of its territory – a far higher proportion than most of the world’s wealthier nations.
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
safarigoers, despite offering
the opportunity to explore
a beguiling diversity
of habitats within
a day trip.
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 fl oor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.
Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes,
each one a different hue of green or blue. Their shallows sometimes tinged pink
with thousands of fl amingos, the lakes support a rich selection of resident and
migrant waterfowl, and shaggy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns
on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra
herds, while 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 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, only 50km (30 miles) away.
But it is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru - the fifth highest in Africa
at 4,566 metres (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park's horizon. With its peaks and
eastern footslopes 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 afl ame with red-hot pokers
and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching high open heath spiked with
giant lobelias. Everlasting fl owers 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 137 sq km (53 sq miles)
Northern Tanzania, northeast of Arusha town.
Getting there An easy 40-minute drive from Arusha.
Approximately 60 km (35 miles) from Kilimanjaro
International Airport. The lakes, forest and Ngurdoto
Crater can all be visited in the course of a one day safari.
To do Forest walks, numerous picnic sites
To climb Mt Meru, June-February although it may rain in November. Best views of Kilimanjaro in December-February.
Accommodation The Arusha National Park is only offered as a day trip from the hotel in Moshi.
Tarangire National Park
Day after day of cloudless
The fierce sun sucks the
moisture from the landscape,
baking the earth a dusty red,
the withered grass as brittle as
straw. The Tarangire River has
shrivelled to a shadow of its wet
season self. But it is choked
with wildlife. Thirsty nomads
have wandered hundreds of
parched kilometres knowing
that here, always,
there is water.
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 fl ying bird; the stockingthighed
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-andyellow
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.
2,600 sq km (1,005 sq miles).
118 km (75 miles) southwest of Arusha.
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.
Year round but dry season (June - September) for
sheer numbers of animals.
When you visit the Tarangire National Park you'll be accommodated at
The Endoro Lodge
in a peaceful private chalet overlooking the edge of the Conversation Area.
Manyara National Park
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 junglelike
groundwater forest where hundred-strong baboon troops
lounge nonchalantly along the roadside, blue monkeys scamper nimbly between
the ancient mahogany trees, dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows,
and outsized forest hornbills honk cacophonously in the high canopy.
Contrasting with the intimacy of the forest is the grassy fl oodplain 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, as do 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, while the diminutive
Kirk’s dik-dik forages in their shade. Pairs of klipspringer are often seen silhouetted
on the rocks above a fi eld 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 waterbirds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.
330 sq km (127 sq miles), of which up to 200 sq km
(77 sq miles) is lake when water levels are high.
In 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 Mtowa Mbu.
By road, charter or scheduled fl ight from Arusha, en
route to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.
Game drives, canoeing when the water levels
is suffi ciently high. Cultural tours, mountain bike
tours, abseiling and forest walks on the escarpment
outside the park.
Dry season (July-October) for large mammals; wet
season (November-June) for bird watching, the
waterfalls and canoeing.
One luxury treehouse-style camp, public bandas
and campsites inside the park. One luxury tented
camp and two lodges perched on the Rift Wall
overlooking the lake; several guesthouses and
campsites in nearby Mto wa Mbu.
The Ngorongoro Crater is
often called ‘Africa’s Eden’ and the ‘8th Natural Wonder of the World,’ a visit to the crater is a main drawcard for tourists coming to Tanzania and a definite world-class attraction.
Within the crater rim, large herds of zebra and wildebeest graze nearby while sleeping lions laze in the sun. At dawn, the endangered black rhino returns to the thick cover of the crater
forests after grazing on dew-laden grass in the morning mist. Just outside the crater’s ridge, tall Masaai herd their cattle and goats over green pastures through the highland slopes,
living alongside the wildlife as they have for centuries.
Conservation Area includes its eponymous famous crater, Olduvai Gorge, and huge expanses of highland plains, scrub bush, and forests that cover approximately 8300 square
kilometres. A protected area, only indigenous tribes such as the Masaai are allowed to live within its borders. Lake Ndutu and Masek, both alkaline soda lakes are home
to rich game populations, as well as a series of peaks and volcanoes and make the Conservation Area a unique and beautiful landscape. Of course, the crater itself, actually
a type of collapsed volcano called a caldera, is the main attraction.
Accommodation is located on its ridge and after a beautiful descent down the crater rim, passing lush rain forest and thick vegetation, the flora opens
to grassy plains throughout the crater floor. The game viewing is truly incredible, and the topography and views of the surrounding Crater Highlands out of this world.
This truly magical place is home to Olduvai Gorge, where the Leakeys discovered the hominoid remains of a 1.8 million year old skeleton of Australopithecus boisei, one of the distinct links of the human evolutionary chain. In a small canyon just north of the crater, the Leakeys and their team of international archaeologists unearthed the ruins of at least three distinct hominoid species, and also came upon a complete series of hominoid footprints estimated to be over 3.7 million years old. Evacuated fossils show that the area is one of the oldest sites of hominoid habitation in the world.
The Ngorongoro Crater and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are without a doubt some of the most beautiful parts of Tanzania, steeped in history and teeming with wildlife. Besides vehicle safaris to Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, and surrounding attractions, hiking treks through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are becoming increasingly popular options. Either way you choose to visit, the Crater Highlands are an unforgettable part of the Tanzanian experience.
26 sq km (1,615 sq miles)
In northern Tanzania. The entrance gate lies 1.5
(140km/87 miles) west of Arusha along a newly surfaced road.
Descend into the crater from the 600 meter/1,968 feet high
crater edge and drive through the various climates inside the crater
The edge of the crater is the location of the
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
. You'll be accommodated here on the
, 5 days
Serengeti National Park
A million wildebeest... each
one driven by the same ancient
rhythm, fulfi lling its instinctive
role in the inescapable cycle
of life: a frenzied three-week
bout of territorial conquests and
mating; survival of the fi ttest as
40km (25 mile) long columns
plunge through crocodileinfested
waters on the annual
exodus north; replenishing the
species in a brief population
explosion that produces
more than 8,000 calves daily
before the 1,000 km (600 mile)
pilgrimage begins again.
Tanzania’s oldest and most popular national park, the Serengeti
is famed for its annual migration, when some six million hooves
pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebra and 300,000
Thomson’s gazelle join the wildebeest’s trek for fresh grazing.
Yet even when the migration is quiet, the Serengeti offers arguably the most
scintillating game-viewing in Africa: great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of
elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni,
impala and Grant’s gazelle.
The spectacle of predator versus prey dominates Tanzania’s greatest park.
Golden-maned lion prides feast on the abundance of plain grazers. Solitary
leopards haunt the acacia trees lining the Seronera River, while a high density of
cheetahs prowls the southeastern plains. Almost uniquely, all three African jackal
species occur here, alongside the spotted hyena and a host of more elusive small
predators, ranging from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful serval cat.
But there is more to Serengeti than large mammals. Gaudy agama lizards and
rock hyraxes scuffl e around the surfaces of the park’s isolated granite koppies.
A full 100 varieties of dung beetle have been recorded, as have 500-plus bird
species, ranging from the outsized ostrich and bizarre secretary bird of the open
grassland, to the black eagles that soar effortlessly above the Lobo Hills.
As enduring as the game-viewing is the liberating sense of space that
characterises the Serengeti Plains, stretching across sunburnt savannah to a
shimmering golden horizon at the end of the earth. Yet, after the rains, this
golden expanse of grass is transformed into an endless green carpet fl ecked with
wildfl owers. And there are also wooded hills and towering termite mounds,
rivers lined with fi g trees and acacia woodland stained orange by dust. Popular
the Serengeti might be, but it remains so vast that you may be the only human
audience when a pride of lions masterminds a siege, focussed unswervingly on
its next meal.
14,763 sq km (5,700 sq miles).
335km (208 miles) from Arusha, stretching north to
Kenya and bordering Lake Victoria to the west.
Scheduled and charter fl ights from Arusha, Lake
Manyara and Mwanza. Drive from Arusha, Lake
Manyara, Tarangire or Ngorongoro Crater.
Hot air balloon safaris, Maasai rock paintings and
musical rocks. Visit neighbouring
Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano
and Lake Natron’s flamingos.
To follow the wildebeest migration, December-July.
To see predators, June-October.
The Serengeti National Park is included in the 4 days, 5 days and 6 days
safari options and you'll be accommodated at the adventurous
Ikoma Bush Camp