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Best National Parks in Tanzania

May 17, 2018

| By: Mwajabu Sultan |

Tanzania features numerous contrasting attractions, from the world’s highest free-standing mountain – Mount Kilimanjaro to several national parks and the white sandy beaches of Zanzibar.  There are so many national parks in the country and they feature varied landscapes, mind-blowing spectacles and abundant wildlife. Each national park is a great choice for a safari adventure in the country. Let’s take a look at the best national parks in Tanzania in no particular order. Each is worth a visit and will make for a memorable holiday for you and your friends or family.

Serengeti National Park

Located at the northern end of Tanzania, the Serengeti is one of the most popular national parks in Tanzania. It is well-known for the impressive spectacle, the migration of millions of wildebeest, accompanied by other animals every year. The animals migrate to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya seeking new pastures. The national park occupies about 15000 sq. Km of savannah, grasslands and woodlands.  It has the highest concentration of large predators including leopard, cheetahs and lions. With crocodile and hippo-filled rivers, thorny umbrella Acacia trees, over 500 bird species, kopjes, the Big Five, this park is a dream safari destination.

Fun Fact: The wildebeest migration attracts as many as 1.7 million wildebeests! It’s really a wonder!

Ruaha National Park

Located right in the middle of Tanzania, it is the largest national park in the East African country. While more remote than the popular parks of the country, Ruaha presents a rewarding wilderness experience in an untamed African bush experience. It is one of the best parks to see wild dogs and unusual antelope species, a good share of elephants, the picturesque Great Ruaha River which is the lifeline of the park, ancient Baobab trees, and over 430 bird species.

Tarangire National Park

Located in Northern Tanzania, this park is known for its authentic safari atmosphere, and it is home to Tanzania’s largest elephant population. The park features awe-inspiring natural beauty, century-old baobab trees, open grass plains and a wide range of bird and animal species. The best to visit the park is between August and October when the wildlife is most concentrated and this makes for great game viewing and breathtaking scenery.

Fun Fact:Tarangire Park is home to three endangered animals: the tiny Ashy Starling, the towering greater kudu and the fringe-eared Oryx with its graceful horns. These three animals are found nowhere else in the country.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a renowned national park, home to Ngorongoro crater, the largest unbroken volcanic caldera in the world. The park features the Big Five and a wide range of wildlife species including the endangered black rhino. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it boasts a variety of exciting activities including game drives. During game drives, you will likely also encounter Grant’s gazelle, hippos, elands, buffalos, zebra, wildebeest, warthogs, hartebeest, waterbuck, and Thomson’s gazelle. You can also explore the Maasai culture in the traditional villages around.

Fun Fact: Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the places where you can see the Big Five in one day.

Mahale Mountains National Park

Named after the Mahale mountain ranges in the vicinity of its borders, this park is tucked in the remote West and is absolutely magical albeit less known. This also makes it exclusive and non-crowded and is one of the best places for Chimp tracking. It also houses Tanzania's densest population of primates: the red colobus, yellow baboon, blue, red-tailed and vervet monkeys. It is also home to a breathtaking lakeshore to complete the already magical offering.

Gombe National Park

Located in the western Kigoma region of Tanzania, it is one of the smallest parks in the country. The majority of wildlife here is primates, and it features a variety of activities including the Chimpanzee tracking expedition which is the highlight of this park. The Gombe stream is perfect for a nice, chilled out safari walk dipping in one of the main streams around the park. You will also spot bushbucks, leopards in the dense forests, palm-nut vultures and fish eagles among other wildlife.

Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park boasts a tremendous diversity of animals and habitats. It is located in the Arusha and Manyara regions of Tanzania. Here you will sight tree-climbing lions, flamingos, a good number of elephants, some of the largest Baboon troops amongst other animals. You can also go on cultural tours, canoeing, forest walk and mountain biking. Bird watchers will find it more rewarding in between November and June.

Fun Fact:Lake Manyara National Park was the setting for the earliest Tarzan films.

Katavi National Park

Best in the dry season, KataviNational Park is home to the Defassa waterbuck, giraffes, thousands of zebras, impalas, hartebeest, wild dogs, spotted hyenas amongst others. It is found in the West of Tanzania and it is one of the most beautiful parks in the region. It’s a must-visit destination for birdwatchers; you will spot crested cranes, open-billed and saddle-billed storks, spoonbills, paradise flycatchers, and pink-backed pelicans, African golden orioles, as well as pennant-winged nightjars. The park is spectacular for hippo viewing opportunities too.

Selous Game Reserve

Named after hunter and explorer Frederick Courtney Selous, this park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It houses a healthy number of hippos, buffalos, impalas, zebras, wildebeests, bush backs, elands amongst other animals. Over 440 bird species can be found here too. Selous is also one of the few places one can spot wild dogs and lion sightings are common. Boat safaris to view elephant migrations are also a spectacular activity to do at Selous Park.

Mikumi National Park

Found in the West of Morogoro region, this park offers stunning scenery and a laid-back game viewing experience. The Mkata food plain is the star attraction in this park and the best place to spot lions as they lazily survey the vast herds of impalas, buffalo, zebra, and wildebeests roaming the grasslands. There is also a large eland population and African wild dogs too. Close to the entrance gates, hippos wallow in pools which are also a beautiful sight to see.

 

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