With so many parks and itineraries to choose from, safaris to Tanzania are often divided into regional circuits, or groups of national parks whose geographical proximity and topographical variations make up a varied and diverse group. The safari circuits encompass a variety of distances, travel costs and times. To cover two or three circuits on one safari is possible and flying is the easiest way to move from one circuit to another.
The parks and game reserves that make up Tanzania’s northern circuit are easily the most popular and accessible attractions in the country. Most of the destinations are fairly close to each other and has many of Tanzania’s most famous sights, such as Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro are all part of this circuit. Due to the fact that all the parks, towns and attractions are within easy reach of one another, one can tour this entire circuit by vehicle with only a couple of hours in between destinations.
From December to April, the annual wildebeest migration in Serengeti National Park is definitely not to be missed. For hikers, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or the crater of Mount Meru is an adventurous break from game viewing. A longer trek through the Crater Highlands is also a beautiful way to explore northern Tanzania at a leisurely pace. Day-trips from Arusha to Mount Meru and the Momela Lakes, located in Arusha National Park, incorporate short forest hikes and canoeing trips as a break from standard vehicle game drives.
The sheer vastness of southern Tanzania makes for some spectacular game viewing and superb African vistas. The national parks and game reserves of the Southern Circuit are arguably, the hidden treasures of Tanzania, namely Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park, Mikumi National Park, Udzungwa Mountains and Kitulo Plateau. These parks and reserves are enormous, with some of the highest concentrations of animals anywhere in Africa. There are fewer tourists in the south compared to the north, and allows the area to hold true to the tenets of eco-tourism.
The old German boma in Mkomazi is also a historical site of interest.
One of the great attractions of Tanzania is its fantastic 800km coastline with palm fringed beaches of white sand and historic towns of Dar es Salaam, Bagamoyo, Kilwa, Lindi, Mkindani and Mtwara, along with the exotic islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia.
The benefit of the eastern circuit is that it offers visitors based in Dar es Salaam a chance to see the wildlife and scenery the country has to offer without the expense and time involved in flying to Arusha for a longer safari. Parks like Saadani and Mikumi grow in popularity every year, and the Mafia Island Marine Park is fast becoming a hot destination in the Indian Ocean. The national parks, game reserves, and marine parks of the eastern circuit are perfect weekend retreats for guests on business-related trips to Dar es Salaam.
Lying in the Great Rift Valley are the inland lakes, Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika. Two national parks – Gombe Stream National Park and Mahale Mountains National Park – offer the only safe opportunities to see chimpanzees in the wild. Katavi National Park is remote bastion of the wild Africa, the rugged terrain certain to bring adventure and breathtaking experiences. The often neglected shores of Lake Victoria are also a pleasant retreat from the safari circuit and offer boating, fishing, and hiking excursions for visitors who are not content to admire the scenery.