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Destinations / Northern Tanzania

Northern Tanzania Safari Circuit - the richest game viewing region in East Africa with one of the highest concentrations of game parks in Africa!

The Northern Safari Circuit region is Tanzania's top tourist area, and for good reason. This scattering of reserves close to the Kenyan border plays host to the annual migration and incorporates Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro and all of the top game parks of Tanzania. Fly into Arusha, Kogatende or Kilimanjaro Airport and head straight for the bush, in what is essentially the international epicentre for the traditional big five, game viewing safari experience.

Northern Tanzania Safari Circuit includes sereval top Tanzania National Parks;

  • ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK
  • TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
  • LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK
  • NGORONGORO CRATER
  • SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK

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 flamingos, 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) distant.

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. Its peaks and eastern footslopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbor, 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 high 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.

About Arusha National Park

Size: 552 sq km 212 sq miles). Location: 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 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

Walking and driving safaris with numerous picnic sites. Three or four day Mt Meru climb – a good acclimatization for Kilimanjaro.

When to go

To climb Mt Meru, June-February although it may rain in November. Best views of Kilimanjaro December-February.

Accommodation

Two lodges, two rest houses, camp sites, two mountain huts inside the park; more lodges at Usa River outside the park and many hotels and hostels in Arusha town.

Day after day of cloudless skies. 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 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.

About Tarangire National Park

Size: 2850 sq km (1,096 sq miles).

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, game drives. 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.

When to go

Year round but dry season (June - September) for sheer numbers of animals.

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, 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 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, 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 favored 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 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 waterbirds 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 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, picnicking, bush lunch/dinner, mountain bike tours, abseiling and forest walks on the escarpment outside the park.

When to go: Dry season (July-October) for large mammals; Wet season (November-June) for bird watching, the waterfalls and canoeing.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is a huge area containing active volcanoes, mountains, archeological sites, rolling plains, forests, lakes, dunes and of course, Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge.

The views at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater are sensational. On the crater floor, grassland blends into swamps, lakes, rivers, woodland and mountains – all a heaven for wildlife, including the densest predator population in Africa.

The crater is home to up to 25,000 large mammals, mainly grazers – gazelle, buffalo, eland, hartebeest and warthog.

You will not find giraffe as there is not much to eat at tree level, or topi, because the competition with wildebeest is too fierce, nor will you find impala. The crater elephants are strangely, mainly bulls. There are a small number of black rhinos here too. The birdlife is largely seasonal and is also affected by the ratio of soda to fresh water in Lake Magadi on the crater floor.

In the northern, remote part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, you will find Olmoti and Empakaai Craters, Lake Natron and Oldoinyo Lengai, Mountain of God, as named by the Maasai. Lake Natron is the only known breeding ground for East Africa’s flamingoes.

The ruins of a terraced stone city and complex irrigation system lie on the eastern side of Empakaai – the Engakura Ruins. Their origins are a mystery as there is no tradition of stone building in this part of Africa. Olduvai Gorge Olduvai, more accurately called Oldupai after the wild sisal in the area, is the site of some of the most important fossil hominid finds of all time – “Nutcracker Man” or Australopithecus boisei who lived 1.75 million years ago – by Leaky There is a small informative museum located at the visitor center. The gorge is a treasure trove of archeological sites filled with fossils, settlement remains and stone artifacts. Lecture tours are offered.

Activities: Vehicle photographic safaris, Walking safaris through out the conservation area, Visit the Elephant caves in the NCA forest reserve, Walk through the crater rim, lake Ndutu, crater highlands walks guided by Maasai, cultural safaris.

Features: Ngorongoro Crater, Gol mountains, Nasera rock cave paintings, Olduvai gorge the cradle of mankind, crater highlands, Oldmoti crater, Empakaai crater, woodland, grass land, plains and bush, resident elephant, black rhino, buffalo, lion, hyena, leopard, cheetah, zebra, wildebeest, waterbuck, warthog, wild pig, giraffe, dik dik, sykes (blue) monkey, vervet monkey, baboon, birding, python.

Accommodation: Luxury lodge accommodation around the crater rim, luxury tented camps and lodges in Ndutu area, public camping on the crater rim and B2B mobile camps with donkey or vehicle support for walking safaris through out the NCA.

Best time to visit: Year round for the crater, for walking safaris, June – early Oct and Dec through to March, Nov – Dec in areas surrounding the NCA good chances of coming across the migration and many plains game wildlife.

A million wildebeest... each one driven by the same ancient rhythm, fulfilling its instinctive role in the inescapable cycle of life: a frenzied three-week bout of territorial conquests and mating; survival of the fittest as 40km (25 mile) long columns plunge through crocodile-infested 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, also a world heritage site and recently proclaimed a 7th world wide wonder, 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 scuffle around the surfaces of the park’s isolated granite koppies. A100 varieties of dung beetle have been recorded, as have 500plus 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 flecked with wildflowers. And there are also wooded hills and towering termite mounds, rivers lined with fig 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, focused unswervingly on its next meal.

About Serengeti

Size: 14,763 sq km (5,700 sq miles).

Location: 335km (208 miles) from Arusha, stretching north to Kenya and bordering Lake Victoria to the west.

Getting there: Scheduled and charter flights from Arusha, Lake Manyara and Mwanza. Drive from Arusha, Lake Manyara, Tarangire or Ngorongoro Crater.

What to do: Hot air balloon safaris, walking safari, picnicking, game drives, bush lunch/dinner can be arranged with hotels/tour operators. Maasai rock paintings and musical rocks. Visit neighbouring Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano and Lake Natron's flamingos.

When to go: To follow the wildebeest migration, December-July. To see predators, June-October.

Our ITINERARIES & OFFRES

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    Our 3-day African safari, which specifically include the Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Crater & Tarangire National Park has been designed to offer you a short but intense Tanzanian Northern Circuit safari experience.

  • 4 Days Budget Safari

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    Our 4-day African safaris, tours, travel and trekking packages, specifically include the Serengeti National Park and the world famous Serengeti plains.

    It is one of our more popular safari tours and is most frequently.

  • Big 5 Safari

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    Our 5-day African safaris, tours, travel and trekking packages, which specifically include 2 nights in Serengeti National Park, have been designed to offer you more time in the Serengeti to witness the wildebeest migration.

    You will experience the excitement of game viewing.

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    The Marangu route is one of the most popular routes to the summit of Kilimanjaro. This could partly be as a result of the fact that the Marangu is the least expensive route, but more so, perhaps the fact that it is possible to do the Marangu route in 5 days, thereby getting to the summit one day earlier.

  • 7 Days Bushmen Safaris

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    This cultural experience is one of the most sensitive cultural encounters available in the world today. The essence of Hadzabe & Maasai culture can be summed up in one word: Harmony.

    They live in harmony with each other, nature and themselves.

  • 16 Days Overland Adventure

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    Are you looking for a group to join? Overland adventure group is open for those who are looking for amazing adventure…. The aim of this great adventure is to discover nature and its beauty, from Kenya to Tanzania and Zanzibar.

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