Wildlife Reserves & Parks

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National Parks

Tanzania National Park safari on Tanzania’s northern circuit game parks, includes the following Tanzanian National Parks:

  • The Serengeti National Park
  • The Ngorongoro Crater Game Park
  • The Tarangire National Park
  • The Lake Manyara National Park
  • The Arusha National Park

These great information guides include detailed maps of these National Parks, park descriptions, route descriptions for each game park, safari and tour information, as well as the location of the game lodges and camps within these National Parks

Serengeti Plains National Park

Serengeti Plains National Park Guide

Serengeti facts

The Serengeti National Park is the most popular and subject of more books, television documentaries, pictures, photos and lions-of-the-serengetidigital images on African wildlife animals, than any other African national park. Hosting the annual wildebeest migration across its grassy plains – arguably the world’s greatest wildlife animals spectacle – this park is without a doubt a defining image of East Africa and more specifically Tanzania.

The Serengeti Park in Tanzania covers an area of 14 763 sq km, but the greater Serengeti – roughly 30 000 sq km in extend, incorporates several other reserves, notably the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Kenya’s Masai Mara National Park. The park is a picturesque grassland of awesome beauty and size. Derived from the Masai phrase “Siringet” meaning “endless plain”, the Serengeti Plains ecosystem is defined by an ancient migration route, followed annually by around two million animals.

The national park can be divided into 3 major wildlife animals vegetation areas: In the south-eastern area are the open grasslands, to the north the open woodlands and in the west a mosaic of grass- and woodlands. The lion is one of this African park’s main attractions, as there are about 2500 of these animals in the Serengeti Plains ecosystem. This is the biggest concentration in the world of Africa’s largest predators. Please refer to the map below, and images for further details and safari information guide on this awesome and picturesque wildlife national park in Tanzania.


A series of weathered granite outcrops called kopjes are scattered around the park, one that contains African rock paintings, while another features a mysterious “rock gong”. Most of these fascinating granite kopjes are miniature wildlife ecosystems, providing shade and drinking water in pools, left in the rock after the rains. The Moru Kopjes are the most frequently visited kopjes by tourists, in the park. Please refer to the map below, photos and images for further details and safari information guide in this regard.

Safari routes

The Serengeti African Park can be divided into four distinctive topographical areas:

  • The southern park area, which features the Serengeti plains and its kopjes.
  • The central park area also referred to as the Seronera area where most of the campsites and some of the lodges are located.
  • The western corridor, a wedge of land along the Grumeti River, which reaches to within 8km of Lake Victoria.
  • To the northern corridor, which links up with the Masai Mara in Kenya and, which is used by most of the animals during the up and down migration periods.

Each area warrants at least a half day safari, meaning that two to three days is the ideal minimum to see a bit of everything the park has on offer.

Ndutu Lake Area Guide: Between December and May each year, this area becomes very special, as many wildebeest calve in and start their annual migration from this area. The short grass plains also feature an abundance of gazelle, before the annual migration. A small seasonal lake, Lake Ndutu (or Lagarja) surrounded by beautiful acacia trees, is without a doubt, the main attraction of the area. A number of giraffes reside in the area around the lake, which is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, supporting a rich bird life, including a great number of pink flamingos.

Moru Kopjes Guide: The Moru Kopjes (meaning “old” in Masai) are set further north on the migration path. These Kopjes display some interesting geological formations made up of ancient granite, which were left standing after centuries of erosion and weathering. The area offers some good wildlife viewing year-round, due to the presence of drinking water for the African animals. The kopjes are favourites among many big cats, including lion and leopard. Rainwater gathers in the rocky clefts, providing much needed drinking water for a great variety of animals. This makes the kopjes particularly good for spotting wildlife in the dry seasons – including lions, which like to lie in wait on animals coming to drink! Look for the natural shelter used by Masai cattle herders about half a century ago, which is daubed with rock paintings.

Simba Kopjes Guide: The kopjes are named after the lions, which frequently use these kopjes to just lie and bath in the sun. You may also see baboon, giraffe and some interesting birds in this area.

Serengeti Plains Guide: The rolling landscape of the Plains appears endless and is only rarely broken by the occasional hippo-of-the-serengetikopje. Conspicuously missing from these open plains are trees. The cornerstone of the park’s wildlife ecosystem is without a doubt the Serengeti Plains.  It is these grasses rich in minerals, which are essential in many animal’s diets especially during lactating, which explains the reason why more than eighty percent of the wildebeest population give birth on these plains. The Plains are a hive of activity just after the annual and seasonal October to November rains – when the new grass is sweet – and the animals take full advantage of the short-term spurt of growth. These short-grass plains will however quickly deplete with the onset of the dry season, as no permanent water source exists here.

Seronera Valley Guide: The area is located in the southern-central area of the national park. The area features several kopjes and many watercourses and rivers, providing for some of the best wildlife safari viewing in the park. The riverine forest along the Seronera River, is rich in African wildlife and offers excellent opportunities to view hippo wallowing in the river. There are a large number of drivable circuits in the area of which the Seronera River Circuit and the Kopjes Circuit are the most rewarding. The Visitor Centre close to the Seronera Wildlife Lodge and public campsites, is well worth a visit after a morning’s game drive. This nicely designed centre offers some interesting wildlife displays, a gift shop selling information leaflets and route maps of the area. The centre also has a shop where cold drinks and snacks can be purchased, as well as a picnic area and an interesting information trail, winding up and around a nearby kopje.

Western Corridor Guide: This corridor is a 50 km wide strip of land following the Grumeti River from just west of Seronera area, all the way up to Lake Victoria. The area offers some unique wildlife safari and topographical viewing, which include rivers, valleys, hills and floodplains – in stark contrast to the southern Serengeti Plains landscapes. The perennial Grumeti River and its fringing belt of riparian woodland dissect this beautiful corridor. This area receives the annual migration between May and July, which is the best time to visit this area . During this time, the animals attempt to cross the flooded Grumeti River, where lions and crocodiles lie and wait for the weak and injured! The corridor does however also support a substantial size of non-migratory animals, like the ever-present predators, giraffe, eland, hartebeest, huge hippos and impala, which cluster along the river. The wooded riverbanks are home to a population of black-and-white African colobus monkeys, and in the river you can see huge crocodiles (up to six meters in length), which spring into a vicious feeding frenzy, when the migration moves through.

Northern Serengeti / Lobo Area: The Lobo Hills are probably the most conventional scenic section of the park, with all beautiful-serengetiits rolling hills and massive granite outcrops. The area supports a rich variety of resident animals and it has retained a tangible wilderness character, interrupted annually by the passing wildebeest migration parade. The safari game viewing is very good and you can follow game for long periods without seeing any other vehicles – truly on of the forgotten corners of the park. The exceptionally large lion prides are a unique feature of this area. As you move north into this area, the vast expanses of grassland plains dramatically disappear, as acacia woodland bush and thick scrubs take over. The undulating nature of the landscape makes it easy to spot animals from a distance. The wildlife changes too and it is in this area, that visitors are most likely to see elephants. The higher ground area of the Lobo Kopjes, provide fantastic views of the migration, when the animals head north for Kenya, during July to September or return again during November and December each year. There is a nice game-viewing circuit to the east of the Lobo Wildlife Lodge, whose waterholes attract a variety of wildlife. Non-migrating game like elephant, buffalo, lions, zebra and gazelle can be viewed in this area all year round.

Hot air balloon safaris

Another very popular option to gain a bird’s-eye view of the wildlife below, is from a hot-air balloon safari . An early morning departure, gentle lift-off, the lush rolling expanse of the Serengeti plains below, and a romantic champagne breakfast to complete this very special and unforgettable park experience. Find information and pictures at this link: Hot air balloon safaris.

Animals of the Serengeti

Even with the migration up in the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya, the Serengeti National Park contains a substantial population of African plains animals including buffalo, giraffe, warthog and a wide range of antelopes like impala, bushbuck, waterbuck, dikdik, reedbuck, and the massive eland. The elephants also tend to be migratory and a large number move down south towards the Tarangire National Park area. But probably the most memorable of the park’s animals is its thriving predators, which include the more than 3000 lions and whose males have unique and characteristic black manes, a great number of cheetahs, leopard, as well as over 8000 spotted hyenas.

When to visit the Serengeti on safari

The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, provides for an unforgettable and remarkable African wildlife safari experience and can be enjoyed throughout the year. The rainy seasons (March to May and October to November) may affect road conditions, but this does not usually provide a serious problem. The wildebeest migration normally takes place between April and June, while the wildebeest are usually concentrated in the southern Serengeti during the calving season from December to May. From December to February the park is at its busiest, and to a lesser extend during July to August. The park is however massive and it will not get anything like the congestion experienced in the Ngorongoro during the same periodes. Short rains fall November to mid December in Tanzania and the long rains are from March to the end of May. By September and October the bulk of the migration is concentrated in the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya, but even during this period there’s plenty of wildlife to see, including thriving lion prides and large clans (up to 80 members) of hyena. Visit the ‘Wildebeest migration guide‘ for more detailed safari information, photos and images regarding this great wildlife spectacle.

Serengeti safari lodges and camp sites

There are several tented camps and lodges of various standards available inside and around the park. Visit the ‘Serengeti lodges and campsites‘ page for full details, information on and pictures, photos and images of all the lodges and campsites offered in our itineraries in and around the Serengeti African Park in Tanzania.

Ngorogoro Crater Guide

Ngorongoro crater facts

The Ngorongoro Craterbeautiful-ngorongoro-crater – the name has an almost mystical ring to it, conjuring images of a giant wildlife-filled volcanic caldera, where the big five and many other animals roam. But there’s even more – the Ngorongoro Conservation Area also encompasses mountains, lakes, forests and wide-open African plains! With the world-famous crater at its hart, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area covers an area of 8300 sq km. This African wildlife area was previously part of the Serengeti National Park, but due to the grazing needs of the animals of the local Masai, the area was reclassified as an African wildlife conservation area in Tanzania.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area as a whole has much to offer but the jewel in its crown is, without a doubt, the eponymous crater – an area of 265 sq km, which is 610 meters deep and 19 km across. The rim of the crater is an astounding 2286 meters above sea level. The floor contains a small soda lake, called Lake Magadi and it is estimated that 30 000 animals are living in the crater, making it the most intensive safari game viewing area on earth! It was therefore very fittingly declared a World Heritage Site in 1978. A visit to Tanzania is simply incomplete without a safari visit to the park. Please refer to the map below for further details, pictures, photos images and information on this magnificent and picturesque park.

Olduvai Gorge

Located within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the Olduvai Gorge. It is here at Olduvai Gorge that Dr. Louis Leakey and family discovered the remains of Homo Hablis or “handy man”, regarded as mankind’s first step on the ladder of human evolution, proving his theory that man had his origins in Africa. But many more fossils have been discovered here at Olduvai Gorge, including those of prehistoric elephants, giant horned sheep and enormous ostriches. Footprints of humanoids believed to be three million years old have also been discovered at Olduvai Gorge. A fascinating museum houses replicas and actual artifacts found on site at Olduvai Gorge, which makes the site worth a safari trip during your stay in this area.

Ngorongoro crater animals

The park is one of the most densely crowded wildlife areas in the world and is home to an estimated 30,000 animals. There are no giraffe, topi or impala in the park – they probably find it to difficult to negotiate the crater rim cliffs and there is also insufficient grazing for large herds of antelope, inside the park. However the park teems with wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, aggressive pack hunting hyenas and resident lion prides. Supported by a year round supply of water and fodder, the park supports a vast variety of animals, which include impressive herds of wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, eland, warthog, hippo, giant elephants and a small population of black rhino. Another big draw to this picturesque park is it dense population of predators, which include lions, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs and the ever elusive leopard, which sometimes requires a trained eye to spot.

Ngorongoro crater photography

It is the setting of the park that makes wildlife viewing and photography in the caldera so extraordinary and rewarding. The steep walls of the crater, often falling into indigo shadows, create a spectacular backdrop for your pictures, photos and digital images. But it is the animals that are the stars in all the pictures. They are varied and abundant, many are remarkably tame and habituated to the safari vehicles. They are also generally out in the open, where they are easily photographed.

Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park background

lake-manyara-national-parkLake Manyara National Park is one of Tanzania’s most dramatically located African wildlife animals areas, consisting of a shallow soda lake (covering two-thirds of the park) at the foot of the Great Rift Valley’s western escarpment. Lake Manyara National Park’s varied shoreline contains a wide variety of habitats, which include lush groundwater forests, a swampy fan delta, acacia woodlands and a small grassy plain. This varied habitat attracts a wide variety of wildlife animals, including one of Africa’s largest concentrations of elephants, and the algae growing in the lake, attract large flocks of flamingos. This African National Wildlife Park therefore supports a great variety of animals. Lake Manyara’s main safari attraction is its rich bird life, its tree-climbing lions and its hippos and other animals, which can be observed here, at very close range. In his book “The Green Hills of Africa” Hemingway describes his African animals trophy hunting expeditions into the African Lake Manyara National Park area, which used to be prime wildlife animals hunting country many years ago. The national park is very picturesque but the dense groundwater forest areas can make spotting animals more difficult – but undoubtedly an exciting safari adventure. It is therefore a good idea to visit the game park at the start of your safari, before you become to jaded with wildlife. A day trip is sufficient to see most of the parks sights and animals. Please refer to the map below for further details, and safari information guide on this awesome and picturesque wildlife game park in Tanzania.

The agricultural and fresh produce market town of Mto Wa Mbu, is situated next to the entrance of the Lake Manyara National Park. The enormous amount of groundwater pouring through the rock of the escarpment in this area, has created the ideal habitat for fresh produce and the local farmers grow everything ranging from bananas to maize. The town is a souvenir hunters paradise, harbouring thousands souvenir salesmen – ready to pounce at the slightest invitation. Mto Wa Mbu, which literally means “mosquito creek”, is very malarial, so make sure you put on lots of insect repellent.

The lake

Wherever you drive in the Lake Manyara National Park – the lake is never far away. The water is slightly alkaline, even though fresh water rivers, streams, and escarpment springs mainly feed the lake. A diverse collection of water birds like pelicans, storks, cormorants, geese and ducks all congregate in abundance around the shores of Lake Manyara, and at certain times of the year the lake hosts thousands of flamingos. Please refer to the map below for further details, and safari information guide on this awesome and picturesque wildlife reserve in Tanzania.

Sightseeing at Lake Manyara

sightseeing-lake-manyaraAfter entering the Lake Manyara National Park, the visitor is surrounded by the “ground water forest”. This unique forest area resembles a tropical rain forest, but the vegetation is mainly supported by an underground water supply instead of an abundant rainfall as in the case of rain forests. This unique forest provides an ideal wildlife habitat for the African blue monkey, bush and waterbuck, the nocturnal aardvark as well as the vervets, the favorite prey of the leopard. The forest, which produces an abundant number of wild fruits and figs, is a great attraction for the majestic African elephant and the few remaining black rhino in the park. The Hippo Pool located in the Simba River, not only attracts these 3000kg animals, but many of the parks nearly 400 species of birds, including the predatory fish eagle, which lives in and around the Hippo Pool.

Further south, between the Msasa and Bagayo rivers, the ground water forest changes into a flat-topped acacia woodland – the home of the notorious tree-climbing lions of Lake Manyara. Grass feeders and browsers like impala, zebra, giraffe and elephant are also common in this area. Further south, past the Bagayo River, an area most notable for its majestic baobab trees, lays Maji Moto Ngogo a fresh but hot water spring (40°C). Near the end of the park a second set of hot water springs, Maji Moto bubbling around (60°C) can be seen – a good place to boil your eggs for lunch!

Lake Manyara’s Tree Climbing Lions

Lake Manyara’s most visible predators, and also its prime tourist attraction are lions, famous for their habit of climbing trees. Why the lions of Lake Manyara National Park and not those of nearby Serengeti and Ngorongoro spend so much time in trees remains a mystery. The acacia (umbrella trees) woodlands south of the Msasa River, do however provide an ideal spot for the Lions to retreat to, in the heat of the day.

Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park background

arusha-park-tanzaniaThe Arusha National Park, a small (137 sq km) but beautiful African park, is the closest Tanzanian National Wildlife Park to both the famous “safari town” of Arusha (29 km), as well as the Kilimanjaro International Airport, thus making it ideal for day safaris, even from Moshi (65 km). Not only is the wildlife in the Arusha National Park abundant, but it is also one of the most beautiful and topographically varied game reserves in Tanzania. The African Arusha National Park’s three most significant features include the rugged Mount. Meru (Tanzania’s second highest peak at 4566m), the notably different coloured Momela Lakes, and the 3km wide Ngurdoto Crater, which was formed about fifteen million years ago! The varied and beguiling animals and flora found in this game reserve are mainly determined by the different altitude and geography of these 3 “zones”.

Mount Meru

Mount Meru, the fifth highest African mountain forms part of the Arusha National Park, and is a recommended 4-day climb. One of Africa’s most rewarding climbs, offering spectacular scenery, and guaranteed wildlife animals encounters on its forested slopes. The summit cone features a stunning asymmetric caldera complete with an ash cone in the crater. The cone in itself, makes a climb to the summit worthwhile. Climbs should be booked in advance, as an armed game reserve ranger of the Arusha National Park must accompany climbers. You are invited to contact us should you require more detailed information on climbing Mt. Meru.

Ngurdoto Crater

This crater, located inside the Arusha National Park and stretching 3 km’s across, is a steep-sided bowl, surrounded by riverine forest, while the crater floor is a lush swamp. The crater with its many visible animal trials, provides a natural sanctuary to many African animals, including elephant, African buffalo, a variety of monkeys and baboons, as well as birds like hamerkop, spur-winged geese and herons. It is however unfortunately prohibited to descend down to the bottom of the crater. To the west of the crater lies Serengeti Ndogo or “Little Serengeti”, consisting of an extensive grassland plain and it is one of the few places in the game reserve, where Zebra can be encountered.

Momela Lakes

The Momela lakes, also located inside the Arusha National Park, are shallow alkaline lakes and are made up of seven lakes, being big Momela, small Momela, El Kekhotoito, Kusare, Rishateni, Lekandiro and Tulusia. All seven lakes are mainly fed by separate underground water sources. Due to the varying mineral content of these underground sources, each lake supports a different type of algae growth, resulting in uniquely differently colored lakes. Because these lakes are alkaline, the water is not utilized by animals for drinking, but they do however attract a wide variety of African bird life, particularly flamingos.

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