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Zanzibar


The name conjures thoughts of exotic adventure. This island, steeped in culture and history is the perfect place to relax after your safari adventure or just come and relax as a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Zanzibar has something for everyone. The perfect place for diving and snorkelling. A host of other water sports ranging from kite-surfing to wind-surfing or just relaxing in a local dhow. There are historical and cultural tours, a chance to visit the spice gardens that made the island a vital trading port for centuries and earned it the nickname of "The Spice Island". It is also one of the few places where you can view the rare red Colobus monkey.

Zanzibar is actually an archipelago made of several islands, the largest being Unguja (which we usually refer to as the island of Zanzibar). The next largest is Pemba, a few kilometres to the north and best know for its amazing snorkelling and SCUBA diving locales. There are smaller islands scattered around the main island, a few of them with small resorts. The most popular and exclusive of these is Mnemba Island. There is also the eco-resort - Chumbe Island and just a short distance from Stone Town, there is Chapwani Island.

Further to the south of Zanzibar is Mafia Island. Mafia Island is not part of the Zanzibar archipelago but is part of Tanzania and is a popular tourist destination for relaxation, fishing and diving.
  • Selous Game Reserve

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    With a total area of 54,600 square kilometres, the Selous Game Reserve is almost four times the size of Serengeti and slightly larger than the Netherlands. It is one of Africa’s largest game control areas.

    Those visiting the reserve are amazed at the undisturbed beauty and variety of wildlife. Boat trips along the Rufiji River can include sightings of crocodiles and hippopotami as well as hundreds of bird species. Some, such as the yellow crested barbet are generally only found in the southern parks of Tanzania.

    The full range of African wildlife can be found in the reserve. Everything from antelope to zebra, both predator and prey are frequently sighted. The reserve boasts one of Africa’s largest elephant populations.

    Activities include boat excursions, walking safaris, and game drives, often in fully open 4x4 vehicles. More adventurous travellers might consider fly camping for one or two nights.
  • Ruaha National Park

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    At 10,300 square kilometres, Ruaha National Park is Tanzania’s second largest. Located in the southern half of the country, the park is not as frequently visited as those located in the north making it the perfect location for people wanting to be off the beaten path.
    The herbivores of this park, including Grant’s gazelle, lesser and greater kudu, roan antelope, impala and waterbuck face a daily challenge of evading a range of predators including several prides of lions and other cats such as leopards and cheetah. They also face a threat from both the spotted and striped hyena as well as packs of the endangered wild dog.

    Walking safaris are offered in Ruaha giving an exceptional opportunity to experience this true wilderness area on a one to one basis with nature. Naturally, vehicle based game viewing is also possible and the park features an extensive game trail network.

    If you are looking for elephants, Ruaha National Park is the place to be. With more than 10,000 elephants, the park has the largest population of any in East Africa.

    The best time to visit the park is between June and December.
  • Mikumi National Park

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    Mikumi National Park is in a strategic location providing a stop-over on road safaris to Selous, Ruaha and visits to the Udzungwa Mountains. The park is 3,230 square kilometres in size and features the Mkata River and related floodplains that attract an array of wildlife.

    The movement of the resident herbivores – impala, wildebeest, zebra, and buffalo – is closely tracked by the resident carnivores. These being the large lions that will sit atop termite mounds, perched in trees, or using the tall grass as cover. They survey this daily walking buffet waiting for one that catches their eye as being particularly tasty.

    Game viewing is by vehicle or guided walks. Access is generally by road, about a four hour drive from Dar es Salaam. There are also scheduled flights available from Dar es Salaam that continue to Selous and Ruaha from Mikumi.
  • Udzungwa Mountains National Park

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    The Udzungwa Mountains National Park is perhaps one of the least known treasures of Tanzania. Within this park’s 1,990 square kilometres is a hiker’s paradise. A four hour hike in the bush and hills is rewarded with a spectacular view of the Sanje Waterfall cascading 170 metres to forested valley below.

    The closed canopy forest provides a tranquil environment with the sounds from the hundreds of bird species, some only found in this area, creating a symphony of nature. The park is home to six primate species including the red Colobus monkey and Sanje crested mangabey which has only been spotted in this park.
  • Saadani National Park

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    It is said that Saadani National Park is where the beach meets the bush. Saadani is the only park in East Africa to enjoy a beachfront along the Indian Ocean. At 1,062 square kilometres, what this park lacks in volume of wildlife it makes up in variety.

    A vast range of grazers and primates is seen on game drives and walking safaris. They include spotted hyena, eland, sable antelope, giraffe, warthog, black-backed jackal, common waterbuck, reedbuck, hartebeest, wildebeest, yellow baboon, red duiker, greater kudu and vervet monkey. Visitors can also expect to see herds of elephants number as many as 25 and there are a few prides of lions in the park.

    Boat excursions can be arranged along the mangrove-lined Wami River. Here, there is a chance of seeing hippos, crocodiles and an assortment of marine and riverine birds, including the kingfisher and lesser flamingo.

    The beaches of Saadani also form one of the important breeding grounds (and perhaps the largest in Tanzania) for the green turtle. Access to the park is by road from Dar es Salaam (3 ½ hours) or by scheduled and charter flights.
  • Serengeti National Park

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    Perhaps the best known name in wildlife parks, the Serengeti National Park is located along Tanzania’s north-eastern border with Kenya. At 14,763 square kilometres, it is currently the largest national park in Tanzania and along with Kenya’s Masai Mara and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, comprises one of the largest wildlife ecosystems in Africa.

    The migration of more than 1.6 million wildebeest is perhaps the most dramatic feature of this park. The herds enter at the park’s eastern edge around mid January and begin calving in the south of the park in mid February. In April and May, they begin moving northward and large groups split off heading to the west whilst others continue to move north. June and July find the herds spread along the centre of the Serengeti from Seronera westward into Grumeti. In late July and through August the herds begin to come back together, crossing the Grumeti River and Mara River and usually the migration will move to Kenya’s Masai Mara by September.

    The Serengeti is much more than the migration. The resident game is extensive with a variety ranging from the hyrax to the elephant. There are more than 3,000 lions in Serengeti as well as leopards, cheetah and some of the other smaller cats. Grumeti River is best known for the giant crocodiles that are believed to date back to the age of the dinosaurs.

    Birders are thrilled at the site of more than 500 species of birds to be spotted. These range from the majestic eagles to the tiny bee eaters.

  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area

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    The Ngorongoro Conservation Area has long been referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the Natural World”. The area was formed over centuries of volcanic activity dating back more than twenty-five million years. This activity developed after shifts in tectonic plates created a rupture and split in the land that is now the Great Rift.

    There are several extinct volcanoes in the Conservation Area, but perhaps the best know of them is the Ngorongoro Crater. At 102 square miles (264 sq. kms.) on the floor, it is the world’s largest intact and unflooded caldera. The view from the 8,000 foot (2,436 meter) rim is breathtaking.

    At the crater’s floor, some 2,000 feet (610 metres) below, more than 30,000 resident animals carry on the daily struggle of survival. Here, the big five are easily spotted with leopards protecting their kills in trees and massive rhinoceros in search of fresh grass. Cape buffalo are easily spotted with oxpeckers perched on their backs.

    Lake Magadi, the Swahili word for “soda lake”, is at the centre of the crater. It often provides home to thousands of lesser flamingos as well as a variety of other waterfowl. There are also a few hippo pools where the massive hippopotamus spend their time relaxing and keeping cool. Huge bull elephants come to the crater’s floor in search of minerals from the soda lake. The females and young remain behind on the rim.

    The management plan for the Ngorongoro Conservation Area allows for the use of the land by both the wildlife and the indigenous Maasai and other tribesmen that have resided in the area for generations. Visitors often awake to the sound of bells on cattle as they are led by Maasai warriors down the wall of the crater to the floor below. Here the cattle find minerals not available in the grazing areas on the rim.
    The Conservation Area is also home to Olduvai Gorge. Known as “The Cradle of Mankind”, the gorge is the site of the famous archaeological work of the Leakey family including the discovery of Zinjanthropus Bosei or “Nutcracker Man”.

    More adventurous travellers can trek to smaller craters such as Olmoti and Empakai. Some also choose to descend to Lake Natron, passing the still active Ol Donyo L’Engai. In the northern area of the Conservation Area along the border with the Serengeti is Lake Ndutu. This popular soda lake is home to a number of waterfowl including flamingos and is along the wildebeest migration route.
  • Lake Manyara National Park

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    At only 330 kilometres, much of which is taken up by the lake, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the Northern Circuit’s smallest parks. However, its diminutive size is well compensated for by its fascinating ecosystem and abundance of wildlife and birds.

    The lake itself is home to several groups of hippopotamus and species of birds including pelicans and storks. The number of trees in the park’s forest area, fed by underground springs is home to a variety of monkeys and large troupes of baboons.

    Larger mammals including elephants, Cape buffalo, and giraffe can be spotted in the park. Manyara also has a reputation for tree climbing lions. In truth, all lions climb trees and there is a chance to spot this in any of the parks.

    At the foot of the Rift Valley escarpment, the wall forms a dramatic backdrop and border line to the park.
  • Tarangire National Park

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    At 2,600 square kilometres, Tarangire National Park provides variety and excitement. The landscape is dotted with unique baobab trees which have the appearance that they were planted with the roots on top. The trunks of these massive trees often show the scars of damage done by elephants that dig into them with their tusks for the minerals inside. Some of the resulting holes can become large enough for a man to step inside.

    Tarangire is a dry weather park, best visited between June and February. However, game viewing is good throughout the year. The most prominent animal in Tarangire is the elephant. Large herds roam the park in search of fresh grass. As there is such an abundance of grass, the herds are confident of finding food even in the driest months.

    The Tarangire River dissects the park and along it, a variety of animals can be found searching for fresh water. Of particular interest are the rock pythons that can be found lazing in the sun, digesting a recent kill. These large, non-venomous constrictors are among the largest snakes in Africa but the least threatening to man.

    A number of the smaller and less common antelopes can be found in this park along with the usual selection of gazelles and impala. These include the fringe-eared Oryx and unusual long-necked gerenuk.

    Tarangire National Park is most popular with birders and features more than 550 species. Visitors spend days observing hundreds of birds including the spectacular Bateleur eagle or the red-and-yellow Barbet.
  • Arusha National Park

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    In the foothills of Mount Meru, Africa’s fifth highest peak, is Arusha National Park. At 137 square kilometres, it is one of the country’s smaller parks but is a great introduction to Africa’s game viewing.

    A visit to this park often starts with a morning hike in the company of a park ranger. This is a perfect way to recover from a long international flight and is a great opportunity to see wildlife from the ground level vantage point.

    There are some wonderful places to enjoy a picnic lunch in the park. Visitors can also travel to the Momella Lakes for continued game viewing. The park features leopards, giraffe, Cape buffalo, monkeys and baboons. This is also one of the only places where you can find the black and white Colobus monkey.

    The Momella Lodge was featured in the John Wayne classic movie Hatari and remains much like it was during that time. There is also another small lodge in the park. However, the park is only an hour from Arusha itself and closer yet to lodges in Duluti and Usa River.

    Weather permitting; you might also see the snow cap of Mount Kilimanjaro from the park.
  • Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

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    One of the most popular parks in Africa is Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. At 19,336 feet (5,895 metres), Kilimanjaro stands as the highest mountain in Africa.

    Many people attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and most of them are successful. Though the mountain does not require technical gear (ropes, pitons, etc.), it is still challenging and a test of endurance. Climbers need to be in good physical condition and prepared for the high altitudes and thin air.

    There are several routes that can be chosen for the climb. The simplest of these is the Marangu Route. This route generally includes five days on the mountain and accommodations during the climb are in Alpine huts that are shared with up to five participants.

    The more popular routes is the Machame and Rongai Routes which includes six to seven days on the mountain and accommodation is in small two-person tents. Porters will set the camp for you and prepare meals.

    Other routes such as the Shira and Lemosho routes are more demanding physically but are not as busy. Again, these include use of tents.

    The mountain offers a host of ecosystems. The farmlands at the foothills give way to lush montane forest. Here you might spot elephant, buffalo, leopard, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates. As you continue to climb, you enter the moorland area, where a blanket of giant heather is dotted with giant lobelias. Above 4,000 metres, an alpine desert supports little life other than a scattering of moss and lichen. Finally, this gives way to ice and snow, the depth of which can vary on a daily basis.

    Many travellers, not choosing to climb, can still enjoy a day hike on the mountain or a stay at one of the lodges on the foothills.
  • Western Tanzania Parks

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    Katavi National Park
    Katavi National Park is located on the western side of Tanzania between lakes Tanganyika and Rukwa. Within the park’s 4,471 kilometre area you can find the full range of wildlife including the elusive sable and roan antelopes. The park also features Tanzania’s densest concentrations of hippopotami and crocodiles.

    Some 4,000 elephants roam the park and varieties of antelope spend their days trying to avoid becoming a meal for the many lions and spotted hyena. The best game viewing in season is along the Katuma River. One of the most fascinating events that can be seen in Katavi is the territorial struggle of the hippos when the water supply in the pools is low.

    Along with walking and vehicle based wildlife viewing, many visitors visit the tamarind tree thought to be inhabited by the spirit of Kitabi. This celebrated hunter is still honoured by the local tribesmen who leave offerings at the tree in hope of his blessing.

    Mahale Mountains National Park
    Accessible only by charter air service from Arusha, Dar es Salaam and certain parks, Mahale Mountains National Park is one of Africa’s most exclusive areas. The park itself measures 1,613 square kilometres and has an extensive shoreline along Lake Tanganyika.

    The most popular activity in the park is tracking chimpanzee. Most visitors plan at least two days for this activity to be sure that they are able to spend some time observing these amazing primates. Other activities include nature hikes, snorkelling, and fishing.

    Gombe Stream National Park
    Tucked away on Tanzania’s western border at Lake Tanganyika is Gombe Stream National Park. The park was made famous by Jane Goodall’s research into the chimpanzees found there. At only 52 square kilometres, Gombe is Tanzania’s smallest National Park.

    The main attraction here are the chimpanzees. Visitors can arrange daily tracking sessions and spend time observing these amazing primates that are thought to have evolved along a similar path to man. Birders will enjoy a visit to this park as well. There are more than 200 species that have been recorded including the fish eagle and Peter’s twinspot.

    The park is reached by boat from Kigoma. Kigoma can be reached by scheduled flights from Dar es Salaam and charter flights from the Northern Circuit and Arusha. Visitors should plan on staying at least two days for a better probability of seeing the chimps. There is a luxury tented camp in the park.

Telephone: +255 22 212 8161 | Mobile: +255 78 448 8700 | Facsimile: +255 22 211 5096 | © 2013 Lions of Tanzania Safaris & Tours Ltd