Updated: June 15, 2023
Considered one of the top safari destinations in Africa, Tanzania is home to breathtaking scenery and outstanding game viewing, and having answers to frequently asked questions is essential to the safari planning process.
Contrasting topographies intertwine perfectly to create a vast and intriguing safari canvas, with flamingos painting Lake Manyara pink and the Serengeti bursting with wildlife. Knowing how to navigate the circuit as a senior, a family, or guest with mobility issues ensures a quality safari experience.
With topics such as when to visit, how to get there, and what to pack addressed by safari experts, understanding how a safari works, what is involved before and during, and what key points to consider when booking, ensures an unforgettable safari adventure.
Consider no less than seven days to explore and enjoy a Tanzanian safari, with the country’s northern circuit representing the main and most famous safari parks. Each game park invites you to spend no less than two nights to fully enjoy the magic of wildlife encounters and incredible accommodation experiences. If you are looking for a longer safari journey, then extending the length of your trip to include the southern parks of the Selous or Ruaha will round off a spectacular Tanzanian wildlife wonder.
The northern circuit is Tanzania’s most popular safari route. Four contiguous national parks provide very distinctive safaris and it is easy to connect them on a multi-day overland tour. Starting out of Arusha, you would spend a couple of nights at either Tarangire National Park or Lake Manyara, before continuing on to the Ngorongoro Crater. The Crater can be explored in one day and accommodation is usually set outside the reserve. Ending a northern circuit safari in the famous Serengeti is a highlight.
The southern parks are great for visitors who want to get away from the crowds or extend their safari experience by exploring other regions. Travel times are longer and the infrastructure isn’t as good as it is in the north. However, parks like Mikumi, Ruaha, and Selous, are among Africa’s most untouched and underrated treasures. Safari flights provide a very fast and direct connection between parks in the north and south, making it possible to combine the regions on a seven- to 10-day trip.
For those looking for even more adventure and perhaps second- or third-time safari-goers, western Tanzania is completely off the beaten track and best for chimpanzee trekking, notably in the Mahale Mountains and the quieter regions of Katavi National Park.
Let us not forget that Tanzania is home to the mesmerizing Mt Kilimanjaro and guests can choose to simply drive by and take it all in from a distance or climb the mountain via various routes, either as a pre- or post-safari adventure.
What better way to relax after a Tanzanian safari than to spend some time on the white beaches of Zanzibar. Located offshore in the Indian Ocean, the island presents a fabulous cultural history and combines perfectly with any Tanzanian and or Kenyan safari destination.
Most Tanzania safari activities are taken in an enclosed vehicle, usually a 4x4, seating only six guests, with large windows and a pop-up roof. Game experiences are quality and your guide will be easily heard as he updates you and answers your questions along the way. Some private lodges do offer open 4x4 vehicles and there are also a few options where you can rent a vehicle for sole use. Off-roading is not allowed in Tanzania, so your game drives will be along main roads, with the option to stop and marvel at wildlife along the way.
For early-risers, why not experience your safari from above in a hot-air balloon. Walking safaris and night safaris, plus a boating safari in the south, round up the full array of activities to be enjoyed in Tanzania’s magnificent safari parks. Cultural encounters can be added to all itineraries, the most famous being a visit to a Masai village.
Wildlife encounters are never guaranteed, but Tanzania is best-known for its spectacular wildlife experiences, most notably for cat sightings. There is an abundance of lions, leopards, and cheetahs that is hard to rival anywhere else. It helps that these predators have such easy access to so much prey, meaning you may witness hunts.
Tanzania is home to a huge number of animals and sightings can vary day to day. You may see 50 elephants marching together, dozens of giraffe, or hundreds of baboons around a single tree. In the Serengeti, thousands of wildebeest and zebra gather for the annual migration around the end of October, a truly incredible show to witness.
Timing plays a big part too. If the Big Five or an abundance of wildlife in few sightings is your safari goal, then you would want to visit during the drier, winter months of July and August. Birders should make their way to Tanzania in January and February, when the short rains bring life to the vegetation, new life is born, and birdlife is prolific.
Learn more: Top 12 Animals of Tanzania and Where to See Them
The daily experience on a Tanzanian safari will depend on which park you are in. In larger parks like the Serengeti and Ruaha, you will most likely spend the entire day exploring the savannas and grasslands, with a packed lunch to enjoy in the bush. In smaller parks, the itinerary is more like that in other safari countries, with separate morning and afternoon activities separated by lunch and downtime at the camp.
Both camps and lodges offer a quality, luxury safari accommodation experience, with special touches, delicious cuisine, and a serene ambience, with only architecture being the main difference. In general, camps have canvas walls, affording the chance to hear the sounds of the bush at night much more clearly. Lodges present a solid structure and are usually bigger, allowing for more facilities, such as swimming pools, larger dining and outdoor areas, and more rooms.
Three nights will give you two full days to experience the wildlife spectacular of the specific safari destination you are experiencing at that time. While the Ngorongoro Crater can be explored in one full day, you may want to consider spending three or more days in one or various lodges and camps in the Serengeti. If visiting the Selous or Ruaha, give yourself a minimum of two full days to traverse these scenically different safari destinations.
July and August are popular months to visit Tanzania, with reserves and parks teeming with wildlife as the vegetation is low and animals gather at waterholes, making game viewing that much better. The green season brings rain showers, lush vegetation, and abundant birdlife. Choose your ideal time to travel and let a Zicasso travel expert design an itinerary that suits your safari needs and embraces the key highlights of that time of year.
Learn more: Best Time to Visit Tanzania
Tanzania’s long dry season takes place from June to September. These cooler months rarely see a drop of rain. No humidity makes visiting comfortable and the mild days and cooler nights offer an incredibly serene safari experience overall. During October and November, Tanzania experiences what are known as the small rains. Some welcome rainfall enlivens the landscape and both the heat and humidity rise. However, there is never enough rain to interrupt a safari program.
The green season runs from December to March, which are the hottest months, and notably the best time for bird lovers and those who want to witness new life in the bush, as the days experience longer rainfall which cool things down and offer a lush safari experience. April and May see the long rains. Intense storms and often torrential rainfall dominate most days. Many driving trails become impassable and most camps close down.
Dry seasons provide the best game-viewing conditions as there is less vegetation and animals come out in search of water. Your guide will know where to look for them. With views for miles at this time of year, it is easier to spot elusive species such as leopard or see a herd of elephants in the distance on a sunset-backed ridge. Rainy months create green seasons and while the growing vegetation may make game-spotting a little challenging, this is a beautiful time of year because the parks receive fewer visitors and wildlife such as birds is prolific.
The great migration is a year-round event, so it is possible to witness the movement of large groups or, as they are called, confusions of wildebeest and zebra making their way from one place to another. During the dry season of December to March, herds gather in the southeastern Serengeti to calf, then move up to the northern Serengeti during April and May, eventually crossing the Mara River into Kenya’s Masai Mara around July and August. Animals return to Tanzania around the end of October and November, putting on one of the best shows on Earth.
Kilimanjaro International (KIA) is the best airport to use if you are flying in for the northern circuit or if your safari starts anywhere in northern Tanzania, such as the Serengeti. Arusha (ARK) is another gateway to consider to connect a Tanzanian safari with some time in other east African countries or Zanzibar. If your safari takes place in southern Tanzania, consider flying into Dar es Salaam (DAR).
Both Kilimanjaro and Dar es Salaam airports offer direct flight connections to various major airports in Europe, with connections to other east and southern African countries. Zanzibar offers a few international connections and some flights out of the Serengeti, which works really well when looking to combine a safari experience with some downtime on Zanzibar’s white beaches.
Safari flights are also essential for any itinerary that combines the north and south, and connections with Zanzibar. These flights are in light aircraft and hop between different parks and airstrips, dropping passengers off at various destinations. There are tight weight restrictions of 33lbs and luggage should be in soft-sided bags. The schedules are set and usually pretty on track.
Zicasso Flights is an international air-ticketing service that eliminates the stress of finding and booking the right flights for your upcoming vacation. By employing the same personalized service you can expect from planning a trip with Zicasso, our competitive flight pricing, 24x7 service and support, and complimentary consultation of routing vs. pricing with an expert flight specialist make finding the perfect flight for your trip effortless.
Tanzania is deemed a safe country, with a stable government and no military involvement. You will always be accompanied by a guide and it is rare to spend any significant time in urban areas. However, pay attention to your surroundings when in cities and markets, and general safety guidelines in hotels and lodges, such as using your safe to lock things away.
Regarding wildlife, it is important to respect the regulations imposed by guides and camp staff, as there are no fences separating people from animals. These usually include not walking anywhere alone away from the camp and not getting out of the safari vehicle unless instructed that it is safe.
Certain ground-handlers provide vehicles and guides to assist clients with mobility issues navigate the safari circuit. Vehicles are adapted to accommodate guests who require a wheelchair to get around and, in general, ease of entry for all safari-goers is considered. Lodges and camps offer specific rooms that are adapted to accommodate guests with mobility issues. Working with your Zicasso safari specialist will ensure your mobility needs are met.
Tanzania is in a malaria zone, so travelers are encouraged to take anti-malarial medication. The risk is lower in areas like Ngorongoro Crater due to the high altitude and cool temperatures, and the cooler, drier months, malaria concerns are generally low. Precaution is advised, of course. You do not need a yellow fever certificate to enter Tanzania from a non-risk country, as dictated by the CDC. However, if you are considering combining your Tanzanian experience with a safari in other east African countries such as Kenya or Uganda, you will be required to have that before being allowed entrance into Tanzania.
It is highly recommended that you obtain travel insurance once you have locked your dream safari adventure in place. Coverage for the unexpected is key and embarking on your journey with that peace of mind is a smart move. To get a quote, visit our travel insurance page.
Light clothing, both in color and material, is ideal, with a light jacket for the evenings. You will want to consider taking gloves and a scarf for the early morning starts if traveling in winter. No hiking boots are required, so packing comfortable walking shoes is perfect. Most domestic flights have a strict 33lb per person luggage limit and require soft-sided bags to be used, so it is key to keep that in mind.
The north of Tanzania is family-friendly and you can easily experience lots of different animals and parks over a week-long northern circuit itinerary. As safari vehicles are enclosed and only take six guests at most, transferring between parks is comfortable and there is the possibility to stop along the way as needed. Safaris almost become private and for those with older children, there will be more accommodation choices as not every lodge accepts children under 12 years of age, or not at all. Some lodges and camps offer a children’s program, where kids get to learn to be junior rangers and creatives in the kitchen.
The most important consideration for seniors is pacing, followed by an awareness of safari locations and surroundings. Extending an itinerary by two or three nights can make a big difference to your comfort and enjoyment of a wildlife experience in a safari park or reserve that doesn’t require too much traveling to get to or is easily connected to another park, city, or beach. Communication with your Zicasso travel planner and the team on the ground will ensure your safari is smooth sailing.
Sipping champagne while you watch the sunset or dining in a private spot in the bush epitomizes romance and luxury. The Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater set a scene for an intimate and unique time away from the hustle and bustle, and with private vehicle options, hot-air balloon rides, and wildlife spotting second to none, there is absolutely no doubt that Tanzania is an ideal honeymoon destination.
This captivating country offers incredible journeys for everyone and experiences throughout that will not disappoint. Tanzania offers a quality safari adventure, whether for a romantic getaway, a family uniting under the watchful eye of Africa’s wildlife, or simply exploring the northern circuit, with some beach time at the end. Having the answers to your pre-safari questions helps ease your mind and get you started. Your Zicasso safari specialist will work with you to plan it all. Start your safari by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.