A Beginner's Safari Guide to Tanzania

A good travel guide doesn’t replace the advice and assistance from one of our Africa Safari Experts, but it does equip you to be an active and informed decision-maker in planning your Tanzania safari.

In this guide, we focus on the tips and insights that will help you make the most of your time and money.

Location: Where is Tanzania?

Tanzania is the second largest country in East Africa and one of the continent’s stalwart safari destinations. It lies on the idyllic Indian Ocean coast and shares borders with other incredible safari destinations like Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

Top Experiences in Tanzania

1. Excellent Year-round Game Viewing

Game drive with Serengeti Pioneer Camp.

Tanzania is home to a great diversity of wildlife, fascinating cultures and natural, scenic beauty. It’s a dream destination from the classic, sweeping savannah of the Serengeti to the flamingo-lined shores of Lake Manyara, world wonder Ngorongoro Crater and Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa’s highest mountain).

It also offers bucket-list experiences that like chimpanzee trekking in the rainforests of Mahale and Gombe, and game viewing in the far-flung wildernesses of Katavi, Ruaha and Selous.

Tanzania’s best wildlife safari destinations are:

Destination Why Go
Ngorongoro Crater
  • Best place in Tanzania to see the Big 5
  • Incredible cliff-top lodges
Tarangire National Park
  • See huge numbers of elephant, buffalo and giraffe (June to October)
  • Fantastic bird watching – over 550 species
Lake Manyara National Park
  • Boat safaris
  • Excellent bird watching, especially flamingos
  • Spot tree-climbing lions
Ruaha National Park
  • Undiscovered and off the beaten path
  • See the biggest elephant herds in East Africa
  • Superb predator sightings, especially wild dog
Selous Game Reserve
  • Remote, raw and phenomenally wild
  • See animals in very large numbers – elephant, buffalo, hippo and giraffe
  • Home to rare wild dog
Mahale Mountains National Park
  • Trek for chimpanzee in remote mountains
  • Sunset boat cruises on Lake Tanganyika
Serengeti National Park
  • Witness the Wildebeest Migration
  • High density of big game like elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and giraffe

It’s worth noting that Tanzania combines beautifully with other safari destinations in East Africa like Kenya (home to the Masai Mara), and Uganda and Rwanda (exhilarating gorilla trekking adventures).

2. The Wildebeest Migration

Without a doubt, Tanzania’s greatest wildlife attraction is the annual Wildebeest Migration, which sees almost two million wildebeest and zebra follow seasonal rains across the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem each year. Tanzania hosts the lion’s share of the Migration – two main events take place in the Serengeti:

  • The mass calving season when almost a quarter of a million babies are born in the southern Serengeti.
  • The dramatic Grumeti River crossings.

If witnessing the Migration is on your bucket-list, then knowing when to go is all-important:

3. Bush-and-Beach Holidays

The view from Kilindi Zanzibar.

Tanzania offers superb safari-and-beach combinations, thanks to its long tropical coastline and coral-fringed islands. You can easily fly from a safari camp after breakfast and be on a powder-soft beach in time for sunset cocktails.

Tanzania’s top tropical islands are:

  • Zanzibar – one of the world’s most romantic honeymoon destinations.
  • Mnemba Island – a private island holiday paradise.
  • Pemba Island – among the world's best diving sites.
  • Mafia Island – swim with migrating whale sharks (about October to April).

The Best Time to Go to Tanzania

Deciding when to visit Tanzania depends entirely on what it is that you want to experience.

Peak game viewing in Tanzania is in the dry winter season (about June to October). This is the ideal time to explore the Serengeti, Ngorogoro Crater and Lake Manyara because game is concentrated around water sources. The Wildebeest Migration river crossings also take place between July and October. If you’d prefer to avoid high season crowds, we recommend combining Ruaha and Selous with a beach break on the coast or heading to Lake Victoria to combine chimp trekking in Mahale and Gombe with game viewing in the Katavi.

The Migration's river crossings occur between July and October.

During low or Green Season (about November to March), there are baby animals everywhere, the days are deliciously hot, the dust is settled by afternoon thundershowers and, best of all, you’ll enjoy the very best value for money and crowd-free game viewing. Game viewing is still excellent after the short rains in November but, for the best value, travel before 15 December to avoid the Christmas crowds (and prices!).

For keen photographers, this quiet period offers very special advantages: expect lush green landscapes rather than the dull browns of winter; dramatic cloudy skies rather than winter’s endless pale blue skies; and much more relaxed game viewing conditions, which means more time to get that winning shot.

Although Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania, the best views are actually from next-door Kenya.

The best time to summit Kilimanjaro is between July and October or between January and March – which makes it easy to combine a mountain trek with both game viewing and relaxing on a tropical island.

Combine your big game safari with Tanzania’s islands between August and October. We don’t recommend the coast or islands during the long rains from March to May when it’s very wet and humid.

Budget: What Does a Tanzania Safari Cost?

Tanzania is a wonderful safari destination for the whole family.

It’s always tricky to give exact costs for a Tanzania safari, as there are variables that influence costs:

  • The time of year you travel.
  • The level of comfort you prefer at accommodations.
  • Whether you drive or fly between destinations.
  • Extra activities – like hot-air ballooning, spa treatments and cultural tours – that you’d like to add on.

At Go2Africa, we don’t sell one-size-fits-all safari packages. We prefer tailor-making safari itineraries that match your unique travel wishes and budget. That being said, here are some ballpark figures for a Tanzania safari, with transfers and accommodation included on a price-per-person-per-night (PPPN) basis:

4-Star Comfort 4-Star Luxury 5-Star Luxury
Low High Low High Low High
$450 - $600 $500 - $650 $700 - $1050 $850 - $1200 $1100 $1650

Note: the above amounts are guidelines only. If you’re considering a Tanzania safari, get in touch with one of our Africa Safari Experts for accurate costs that match your personal needs and travel wishes.

Why We Love Tanzania

Go2Africa's Bonita on safari in the Serengeti.

It’s easy to fall in love with Tanzania’s rich cultures, big game attractions and natural beauty. As safari experts, what we value most about this country is the old-school service, the authentic safari style and the level of luxury you’ll experience here. Not to mention the incredible game viewing in Tanzania’s heavyweights like the Serengeti!

More About Tanzania

Ready to Go?

Chat with someone who’s been there – get in touch with one of our Tanzania safari experts: