Tanzania is home to some of Africa's most renowned national parks, as well as the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro. Curiously, Kilimanjaro does not “rise above the Serengeti” as popularized by the Toto hit “Africa”, although both are iconic features of Tanzania. Many visitors will travel to Tanzania for safaris or other wildlife viewing adventures. Visitors will be drawn to the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar and the unique islands of Pemba, Mafia, and Zanzibar.
Why visit Tanzania?
It is safe to travel to Tanzania. It has been historically a stable country with a lot of natural beauty, amazing wildlife, beautiful beaches, charming old towns, archaeological sites, and geological wonders.
The most well-known of Tanzania's safari areas, and often acting as the link between the extraordinary experiences that the country has to offer, is the legendary Serengeti National Park. Its endless plains are home to abundant wildlife and host the annual Great Migration, which sees over a million wildebeests and zebras. This amazing spectacle, known as the Greatest Show on Earth is a constant procession through the Serengeti, crossing the border to Kenya's Masai Mara, and back again. This endless cycle of life-and-death amazes both first-time visitors and avid safari fans.
Home to the Big 5 and Unique African Wildlife
Tanzania is home to the largest concentration of wildlife in Africa. There are more than 1000 bird species that can be spotted in Tanzania. Some of the most precious national parks and game reserves in the world are located in Tanzania, including the Selous Game Reserve. This reserve is home to over 120,000 elephants, 160,000 buffalos, and 2000 rhinos. Selous also has large numbers of wild dogs, crocodiles, and hippos.
Zanzibar & Islands
The Great Migration
The Great Migration is one of Africa's most remarkable wildlife experiences. This incredible spectacle is a once-in-a lifetime experience that you will never forget. It involves a million wildebeest traversing the Serengeti plains in search of fresh grass, while avoiding predators and crossing dangerous rivers.
The Great Migration & When to Visit
The Great Migration refers to the annual 600 mile (1,000 km) clockwise movement of approximately 1.5 million wildebeest, 250,000 zebras, and 400,000 Thomson gazelles through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem as part of their search for water and green pastures. The movement of the migration is determined by the seasonal rain patterns which may vary from year to year, but the path of the migration remains essentially the same.
December – April
Southern and Eastern Serengeti
Usually some time in November the rains begin in Tanzania and the parched landscape of the southern and
eastern plains of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem spring to life.
The availability of water and the nutrient-rich short grass plains coaxes the animals to depart the North Serengeti and begin their annual southbound trek. The massive herds typically occupy the southern and eastern plains from December to April.
A note on February: The wildebeest have evolved to synchronize their calving, with majority of the female wildebeests giving birth within a three week period in February as a survival strategy. The birth of up to 500,000 calves during this period makes it impossible for the predators to hunt and kill them all, giving the majority of the wildebeest calves good chance at avoiding predation. Due to the wildebeest calving, February is peak season on the southern plains. If you plan on traveling during February, book your accommodations 6 – 8 months in advance to ensure availability.
May – June
Central and Western Serengeti
At some point in May, the rains cease and the dry season sets in. The short grass plains quickly dry up and with no permanent water source, the Great Migration is forced to slowly begin their north-westerly trek following the Seronera and Mbalageti Rivers through the Central Serengeti from May to June.
May is the mating season of the wildebeest. Expect to see fierce competition between the males as they battle to win the right to mate as they trek through the Central Serengeti.
By mid-June, the Great Migration will be in the Western Serengeti, also known as the Western Corridor. The highlight here is the Grumeti River, home to some of the largest Nile crocodiles in the world. At this point, they have not eaten since the previous year, and patiently waiting for the Great Migration to bring them their next meal.
July to November
By July, the massive herds are heading to the North Serengeti. The famed Mara River crossing will begin in July and throughout August to October the Great Migration will remain the North Serengeti. The Mara River is the most serious obstacle for the Great Migration in its 600 mile (1,000 km) trek.
Tens of thousands of stampeding wildebeests and zebras will frantically cross the turbulent muddy waters teeming with enormous Nile crocodiles. Thousands will perish in the panic and confusion. It is a dramatic sight to behold. The herds will cross back and forth across the Mara River several times depending upon periodic rain showers.
By November, the rains have started in the southern Serengeti and the herds will quickly move vast distances in a day to reach their southern pastures where the whole cycle starts over again.