The name alone is likely to conjure up images of spice markets, palm-fringed beaches and white-sailed dhows on a turquoise sea – and happily the reality doesn’t disappoint. Lying only a short distance off the Tanzania coast but at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Zanzibar has long been at the centre of the Indian Ocean experience in East Africa and a Zanzibar holiday is a sensory experience par excellence.
Go on spice tours, taste local dishes and walk the cobbled streets of the capital’s old quarter Stone Town, now a World Heritage Site buzzing with colourful back-street markets and local flavours. And then of course there are the Zanzibar beaches: perfect for anyone who simply wants to enjoy a lazily luxurious beach vacation – Zanzibar and its outlying islands are home to some of the finest beaches in East Africa as well as a number of its best dive sites.
You won’t want for somewhere to stay either: one of the world’s most romantic honeymoon destinations, Zanzibar has accommodation that ranges from luxury beachfront cottages to exclusive boutique hotels and elegant spa resorts; parents on the other hand will be delighted by Zanzibar’s family-friendly hotels and safe-swimming beaches.
Accessible from travel hub Dar es Salaam and combining easily with top Tanzania safari destinations such as the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, Zanzibar can be part of a safari and beach tour or as a stand-alone holiday.
Browse our tried-and-tested holiday itineraries and our recommended Zanzibar accommodation or just contact one of our specialist consultants for assistance with planning the perfect holiday to Zanzibar.
Zanzibar offers an enchanting blend of luxurious beach life and age-old cultures. Perfect for honeymoons and romantic escapes, this tropical island combines easily with an East African safari.
Few safari destinations deliver the same experience as the Ngorongoro Crater. There are bigger and wilder parks but if you want some of the easiest and most rewarding game viewing in East Africa, an Ngorongoro Crater safari won’t disappoint.
A can’t-miss destination on Tanzania’s star-studded Northern Safari Circuit, the Ngorongoro Crater offers a classic Big 5 safari experience in the unique setting of an ancient volcanic caldera. Home to some 30 000 animals, the crater’s surprisingly diverse habitats are revealed on an Ngorongoro safari on all-day guided game drives; the scenery is spectacular, predators are abundant and it’s not unusual to see the Big 5 in a single day.
There’s amazing accommodation perched right on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, offering some of the best views in Africa, if not the world. Staying at these prime-location lodges will put you first in the queue to drive down to the crater floor in the morning but for more affordable Ngorongoro safari accommodation in an equally tranquil and not much less scenic setting, head for the town of Karatu, set some 20km south from the crater in the green rolling hills of the Karatu Highlands.
Here you’ll find several excellent lodges, some set on working coffee plantations and offering a range of additional activities that aren’t so accessible to visitors staying on the rim of the crater. Activities range from game drives to nearby Lake Manyara and local bird watching to cultural visits and mountain biking.
A hassle-free, ideal destination for first-time safari visitors and families, the wide range of resident wildlife and the ease with which the animals can be observed makes an Ngorongoro Crater safari an obvious choice for wildlife photographers too. The romantic cliff-top lodges provide the perfect base for a Ngorongoro honeymoon, while visitors who want to maximise their Tanzania safari experience will find that the Ngorongoro Crater combines seamlessly with the Serengeti, Tarangire and Lake Manyara
The ultimate safari destination? If you want to see Africa’s wildlife at its most extravagant, a safari in the Serengeti is hard to beat. Home not only to the world’s greatest concentration of wildlife but also its most spectacular natural migration, the Serengeti National Park is Tanzania’s flagship conservation area and must-do centrepiece of the Northern Safari Circuit.
Known as ‘The Land that Moves on Forever’, the Serengeti’s unmistakable African setting will resonate with travellers on their first trip to Africa as well as old safari hands. Its vast rolling grasslands give a soul-stirring feeling of space and support hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra as well as buffalo, elephant, giraffe and many gazelle and antelope species; red-robed Maasai tribesmen watch their grazing cattle warily – no prizes for guessing that the Serengeti is a big cat – and a photographer’s – paradise.
Contiguous with Kenya’s Masai Mara, the Serengeti’s pleasant climate and abundance of resident wildlife ensures that it is an excellent year-round game viewing destination but it is of course the great wildebeest migration that attracts most attention. Between November and August the herds are on the move in the Serengeti, providing visitors with some of the continent’s most astonishing game sightings and predator-prey interactions – guided game drives and hot-air balloon safaris enable you to witness this phenomenon first hand.
And you won’t want for comfort either: with everything from exclusive Serengeti honeymoon retreats to mobile tented camps and family-friendly lodges on offer, Serengeti safari accommodation is wide-ranging and of a very high standard but you’ll need to book early for the best located lodges during the wildebeest migration. Remember however that the Serengeti’s adjoining private concessions offer limited visitor numbers as well as activities such as night drives and guided nature walks that are not available in the main park.
Browse our extensive range of Serengeti tours and safaris or simply contact one of our consultants and plan a tailor-made itineraries centredaround this once-in-a-lifetime destination.
Remote, raw and filled with wildlife, the Selous is Africa’s largest game reserve. Yet unlike the iconic destinations of Tanzania’s Northern Safari Circuit, it remains relatively unknown to outsiders.
The sheer scale of the Selous Game Reserve is difficult to imagine. Nearly four times the size of the Serengeti, this massive conservation area is home to Africa’s Big 5 and all the top predators – lion, wild dog, cheetah, leopard and spotted hyena. And the animals are present in large numbers too: a Selous safari is fantastic for sightings of large elephant and buffalo herds as well as healthy populations of hippo, giraffe and sable antelope.
Phenomenally wild and beautiful, the defining feature of the Selous Game Reserve is the great Rufiji River which creates a series of interconnected lakes and palm-fringed channels. The river teems with wildlife: Jurassic-size crocs bask on sunny sandbanks, elephants browse on swampy islands, storks and spoonbills patrol the shallows, and exposed mud banks are covered in crimson clouds of carmine bee-eaters. Consequently, many Selous safari lodges lie on or near the river and offer boat safaris along with game drives in open-top vehicles.
You can also expect some adventure. The Selous isn’t subject to the restrictions that govern Tanzania’s other national parks so along with game drives and river cruises, visitors can go on guided walking safaris that last anything from a few hours to a couple of days with a night of rustic fly-camping. There’s not much that can beat the thrill of being on foot in big game country but you’ll be in the company of armed rangers and expert guides.
The best time to visit the Selous is during the June to October dry season when wildlife congregates around permanent water. A fly-in destination, this virtually unexplored reserve is rarely visited in isolation so we recommend combining a Selous safari with a stay at Ruaha or Katavi – the other savannah parks in South Central Tanzania equally as wild as Selous – or Mahale National Park, a pristine rainforest reserve on Lake Tanganyika, complete with chimpanzees, forest birds and dazzling clouds of butterflies.
Browse our range of Selous tours and safaris or simply chat to one of our Africa Experts and they’ll tailor-make a safari to your specifications; you can even add on a beach holiday on Zanzibar or laid-back Mafia Island – just ask us how.
Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”.
The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience.
From the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle-like groundwater forest where hundred-strong baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside, blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees, dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows, and outsized forest hornbills honk cacophonously in the high canopy.
Contrasting with the intimacy of the forest is the grassy floodplain and its expansive views eastward, across the alkaline lake, to the jagged blue volcanic peaks that rise from the endless Maasai Steppes. Large buffalo, wildebeest and zebra herds congregate on these grassy plains, as do giraffes – some so dark in coloration that they appear to be black from a distance.
Inland of the floodplain, a narrow belt of acacia woodland is the favored haunt of Manyara’s legendary tree-climbing lions and impressively tusked elephants. Squadrons of banded mongoose dart between the acacias, while the diminutive Kirk’s dik-dik forages in their shade. Pairs of klipspringer are often seen silhouetted on the rocks above a field of searing hot springs that steams and bubbles adjacent to the lake shore in the far south of the park.
Manyara provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s bird life. More than 400 species have been recorded, and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in one day. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large waterbirds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.
Located slightly off the main safari route, Tarangire National Park is a lovely quiet park in Northern Tanzania that is most famous for its elephant migration, birding and quiet authentic safari atmosphere. The majority of travellers to the region either miss out Tarangire altogether or venture into the park for a matter of hours leaving parts of Tarangire virtually untouched.
With a game viewing area that is roughly ten times the size of nearby Manyara and a concentration of game that is exceptional from July through to October, this seasonal Tanzania safari park is a little gem on the Northern safari circuit, especially if you love elephants!
Tarangire is the surprise package on the Northern circuit. Often overshadowed by the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire has immense concentrations of game in the peak months and a fraction of the visitors that go to any of the other Northern parks. The game viewing here from July through to October is superb and the atmosphere and habitat is completely different from the other parks. Tarangire is surprisingly large giving visitors the quietest game viewing environment of all the parks in the region. The South of Tarangire, is especially quiet, and lodges such as Swala and Olivers Camp are the perfect place to explore this remote area, and to really get away from any other travellers. Overall, a superb little park that offers great value compared to its neighbours and a seriously good option for getting away from it all.
During the dry months the concentration of animals around the Tarangireriver is almost as diverse and reliable as in the Ngorongoro Crater. However, the ecosystem here is balanced by a localised migration pattern that is followed by the majority of game that resides in and around the park. As a result, Tarangire is a park which is superb in season but questionable out of its good months. Elephants are the main attraction with up to 3,000 in the park during the peak season months. Peak season also sees good numbers of wildebeest and zebra as well as giraffe, buffalo, Thompson’s gazelle, greater and lesser kudu, eland, leopard and cheetah. The real prizes in the park are dwarf mongoose, oryx and generuk but viewings are very rare. Tarangire is one of Tanzania’s finest birding destinations.