Tanzania has some of the most iconic safari destinations. The Rift Valley, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti are all on the so-called Northern Safari Circuit and enjoy many thousands of visitors. So is it really possible to holiday here in quiet areas away from the crowds? If you follow some simple rules, it is.
1. Don’t follow the herds
The wildebeest migration follows an annual cycle seeking out the best grazing. They head to the north of the Serengeti between June and October and to the south from December to March.
The Serengeti has fantastic resident wildlife even when the herds are elsewhere. So head north in our Winter and south in our Summer. You’ll see a rich diversity of animals and few other people – game viewing at its finest.
2. Stay on the east of the rim
The Ngorongoro Crater is both scenically beautiful and a wildlife haven. Its open plains make game viewing relatively easy and the variety of species make it a rewarding experience. Most visitors descend into the Crater in the morning down the western ‘descent road’. They stay for the day and then exit on the southern ‘ascent road’ in the afternoon.
The smarter safari goer stays on the east of the Crater rim and follows a traditional safari day with a morning and afternoon game drive. Not only do you start and finish your drives in an area with fewer visitors, but your timings mean you avoid the busier times of day.
3. Visit the south of Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park offers visitors a variety of habitats with forests, open grasslands, rocky cliffs and lake frontage. In turn these mean a rich diversity of animals and birdlife. For most a visit here is a short one, crammed into a day’s drive between Arusha and the Ngorongoro Crater. That only allows a brief game drive in the north of the park and misses out many of the interesting sectors.
The astute will stay in the south of the park, or in a nearby lodge that allows an entry via the southern gate.
4. Stay south, way south
Access to the northern wildlife reserves is easy. A road runs between Arusha and the Serengeti, and in fact onward to Lake Victoria. This means easier access for more people.
In contrast the reserves of the south, Selous and Ruaha, are typically fly-in destinations only. While the wildlife is excellent and more safari activities, such as walking and boats, are possible, visitor numbers are way lower.
5. Mainland coast, not Zanzibar
With fine white sandy beaches, clear blue seas, an evocative name, and historical links to Freddie Mercury, what’s not to like about Zanzibar. There’s lots to like, but the well informed head north or south from Dar Es Salaam to Tanzania’s mainland coast. Typically mainland properties sit on their own, offering miles and miles of beach with no need to share with anyone else.
A safari in Tanzania won’t disappoint, but if you get it right it’s likely to be ‘the best holiday ever’. Take one or more of these tips and you’ll see Tanzania away from the crowds and get a sense of satisfaction a standard tour just won’t provide.