Tanzania’s Northern Safaris Circuit

These parks exist for one general purpose and that is to protect the amazing variety and abundance of wildlife in them, both resident and seasonal – and most of all, the world’s largest annual migration of wildebeest and zebra. Although this part of the world has become increasingly busy as a result of its reputation, it is still possible to escape the crowds and find a quiet corner if you know where to go.

Where is Northern Tanzania?

A northern Tanzania safari should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. The Serengeti National Park’s Great Migration is one of the most amazing wildlife spectacles in the world, whilst safari on the Ngorongoro Crater floor of the extinct volcano at Ngorongoro is a game viewing environment that has no equal. Towering above it all is Kilimanjaro, the worlds highest freestanding mountain and arguably Africa’s toughest challenge. Away from the tourist hotspots, quieter parks such as Tarangire National Park offers superb for game viewing yet often overlooked to their more famous neighbours. The Rift Valley Lakes of Eyasi and Natron are the home of Hadzabe tribes and the breeding grounds for the largest flocks of flamingo on earth. For many people, a Northern Tanzanian safari is the very best safari of all.

Tanzania’s northern safari circuit is the most celebrated safari area in Africa. Home to the world-famous Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, and the lesser known parks of Lake Manyara and Tarangire, the sheer concentration of Africa’s big game in this area is phenomenal.

Most itineraries to this region are designed around the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, with the Serengeti’s Wildebeest Migration and immense predator concentrations as the main attraction, not to mention the Ngorongoro’s big five experience. The area is also home to a variety of different cultures including the Maasai and the Hadzabe, as well as being one of the most scenically striking and diverse parts of the continent.

Northern Tanzania Safari or Southern Tanzania Safari?

Should you safari in the north or the south of Tanzania, and how long should you spend on safari? This is the first and most important decision you need to make. The northern safari parks are very different to those on the Southern Tanzania Safari and there are advantages and disadvantages to each:

The parks in southern Tanzania are more remote, however easier to get to with daily flights from Dar and no stopovers required. The camps in the south are better value for money than those in the north, tend to be more intimate, and offer various activities including walking, boating and fly camping. Game viewing is in open-sided vehicles, which enhances the viewing experience. The south favours the shorter safari and beach combination and therefore offers a quick, cheap and very rewarding experience with hardly any other visitors.

By contrast, in the north the majority of parks require closed sided vehicles, do not allow walking (except in select camps) or boating safaris, and in most cases the areas are very crowded and not so ‘wild’. Most of the camp and lodge options are large and characterless, but if your budget permits and you know what you are doing, you can find the small tented camps which are tucked away from the busy areas. However, the rewards in the north are the big five, the Great Wildebeest Migration and the spectacular scenery – but do watch out for higher prices generally and poorer value for money at the low- to mid-range.