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​National Parks & Game Reserves

Complete Guide to Tanzania National Park & Reserves

Premier Parks and Reserves near Kilimanjaro Region

Kilimanjaro National Park

Kilimanjaro National Park in northern Tanzania is a unique and surprising place. And we're not just saying that. For starters, it's home to the highest mountain in Africa (5,895 m!), yet that mountain rises up out of a vast, relatively flat plain.

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is famous for being the location of the Great Wildlife Migration, which involves two MILLION wildebeests, zebras and antelopes. It's also an extremely large and wild game park, and home to the Big Five of Africa.

Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater is a natural sanctuary for some of the densest populations of large mammals in Africa. Due to its enclosed nature, the Ngorongoro Crater has effectively formed its own ecosystem. A visit to the Ngorongoro is a life time experience.

Tanzania Tourism Profile

Tanzania offers excellent wildlife viewing. There are three different safari circuits, and each one of them alone would make Tanzania a great wildlife destination. The Big Five and most other sought-after safari animals are easily seen. The black rhino is very rare throughout, with the exception of the Ngorongoro Crater.

Wildebeest Migration

The wildebeest migration is one of Africa’s greatest wildlife spectacles. At least two million ungulates – mainly wildebeest, but also zebra and gazelle – move around the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. The wildebeest calving season is also a very special time to visit. The large concentrations of wildebeest and their calves attract many opportunistic predators, and this is a good time to see some action.

Wildlife Highlights

The Serengeti is famous for its abundance of big cats and the highly endangered African Wild Dog is relatively easy to find in Nyerere and Ruaha where their numbers are quite healthy. Gombe Stream and Mahale are Africa’s best chimpanzee reserves.

Best Time for Wildlife Viewing

The Dry season (late June to October) is the best time for wildlife viewing. The Wet season (November-May) is often more beautiful and tourist numbers are lower. The best chance for seeing the wildebeest migration is during June and July. The parks in the Southern and Western circuit are less accessible in the long rains (March to May) and some lodges close in that period.

Tanzania is one of Africa’s best birding destinations. It has one of the largest species lists of any African country: over 1,100, of which over 800 species are resident, and nearly 200 are regular migrants. There are 22 species endemic and thus unique to Tanzania, and a further 43 near-endemic, restricted to Tanzania and neighboring countries only. Migrants are present from November to April.

Endemic Birds

Endemic birds only occur in Tanzania.
  • Ashy starling
  • Banded green sunbird
  • Fischer’s lovebird
  • Grey-breasted spurfowl
  • Iringa akalat
  • Kilombero weaver
  • Loveridge’s sunbird
  • Moreau’s sunbird
  • Mrs Moreau’s warbler
  • Pemba green pigeon
  • Pemba scops owl
  • Pemba sunbird
  • Pemba white-eye
  • Rufous-tailed weaver
  • Rufous-winged sunbird
  • Tanzania seedeater
  • Tanzanian red-billed hornbill
  • Udzungwa forest partridge
  • Uluguru bush-shrike
  • Usambara akalat
  • Usambara eagle owl
  • Usambara weaver

Other Birding SpecialsTreats for Avid Birders

  • Bar-tailed trogon
  • Böhm’s spinetail
  • Broad-tailed paradise whydah
  • Brown-breasted barbet
  • Brown-necked parrot
  • Chestnut-fronted helmet-shrike
  • Golden-breasted starling
  • Green tinkerbird
  • Green-headed oriole
  • Hartlaub’s turaco
  • Lappet-faced vulture
  • Livingstone’s flycatcher
  • Long-tailed fiscal
  • Marsh tchagra
  • Pale-billed hornbill
  • Pallid honeyguide
  • Secretary bird
  • White-headed mousebird

Best Time for Bird Watching

The birdlife in Tanzania is good year-round, but at its best from November to April when the migratory birds from Europe and northern Africa are present. At this time, many resident bird species are nesting and are in breeding plumage. The wettest months are March and April, when parts of the country may experience storms on a daily basis. The Wet season is also the hottest time of the year. This may make it uncomfortably hot on the coast. For wildlife viewing, the dry season is better.

Best Parks for Birding Includes Birding Rating

All the well-known safari parks offer good birding opportunities, and specials can be found pretty much everywhere you go. The often-overlooked Arusha National Park has an amazing diversity of habitats that host an incredible list of 400 species in a small area. Lake Manyara offers a good variety of waterbirds.


The best time to visit Tanzania is during the Dry season, from late June to October, when wildlife viewing is generally at its best. The wildebeest migration in the Serengeti is usually during June and July and the time to see the wildebeest calving is late January to February. The southern and western circuit parks are best visited during the Dry season (June to October), unlike the more popular northern circuit parks that can be visited year-round.

June to October Dry Season

  • June and July are the best months to see the wildebeest migration
  • August to September is the best time to see the wildebeest river crossings in northern Serengeti
  • Animals are easier to spot since they concentrate around waterholes and rivers
  • There are fewer mosquitoes because there is little to no rain
  • Skies are clear and most days are sunny
  • Mornings and nights get cold; it’s recommended to bring warm clothing

November to May Wet Season

  • January-February is the time to see the calving in the southern Serengeti, and  predator action.
  • The scenery is green and beautiful; it’s low season, meaning lower rates and less crowded parks
  • Although wildlife is easier to spot in the Dry season, you’ll still see plenty
  • Migratory birds are present, and bird watching is at its best
  • Except for March, April and May, rains are mostly short afternoon showers and seldom interfere on your trip
  • March to May is the peak of the Wet season
  • Wildlife viewing in Tarangire, Katavi, Nyerere and Ruaha is better during the Dry season

Best Time To Go by Major Park

The Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater offer good wildlife viewing throughout the year. June and July are the best months for seeing the migration, and February is the best month for the wildebeest calving. The dry months offer good wildlife viewing throughout Tanzania. Tarangire and the southern and western circuit parks (including Katavi, Nyerere and Ruaha) are best visited in the Dry season, from June to October.

Tanzania has a pleasant, tropical climate but has large regional climatic variations influenced by several factors, including altitude. The hottest and most humid part of the country is the coast. Other low-lying areas, such as the western and southern parks, are also hot but less humid. The rest of the interior is much milder and cools down significantly at night. Tanzania has a distinct Dry and Wet season.

Arusha’s climate compared to Tanzania’s parks


Arusha is the town closest to the most popular northern parks and has a comparably mild climate. The peak amount of rainfall in April is considerably less in most parks than in Arusha. The Ngorongoro Crater rim receives quite a lot of rain and is very cold during evenings and mornings due to its high altitude (about 2,300m/7,545ft). Lower lying parks, such as Manyara, Nyerere, Mikumi, Ruaha, Gombe, Mahale Mountains and Katavi, are slightly warmer than Arusha.

Dry SeasonJune to October

There is very little rainfall during this period and humidity is very low. It cools off at night; be sure to pack warm clothing because morning game drives in open vehicles will be cold, especially in the northern parks.


  • June, July, August, September & October – Afternoon temperatures are usually between 20°C/68°F and 30°C/86°F and vary greatly according to altitude and location. Most days have a fine, clear sky and sunny weather.


Wet SeasonNovember to May

During most of the Wet season, afternoon temperatures are consistently hot (a bit above or below 30°C/86°F) but it is colder above 1,300m/4,265ft. Mornings are cold in most northern parks due to the high altitude.


  • November & December – ‘Short rains‘ – A period of about a month of short rains which occurs sometime between November and December. Its timing is unpredictable and, in Northern Tanzania, it can even happen in October. The rains will rarely interfere with your safari.
  • January & February – The northern parks and coastal areas tend to have a break in the rainy season. The other parks don’t really experience a dry spell.
  • March, April & May – ‘Long rains‘ – These are the wettest months. It tends to rain heavily almost every day, although not often for the whole day. Humidity tends to be high, especially in the hotter southern and western parks.

Northern Circuit (1 to 2 weeks)

The northern circuit is the most popular circuit in Tanzania. In most cases, you will fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK) near Arusha, the gateway of the northern circuit.


  • Arusha National Park (0.5 to 2 days) has beautiful scenery with Mount Meru as a backdrop and views of Mt Kilimanjaro on clear days
  • Lake Manyara National Park or Tarangire National Park (1 to 2 days each) offer excellent wildlife viewing with a chance of seeing lion
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area (1 to 2 days) where it’s not unusual to see the Big Five in one day
  • Serengeti National Park (3 to 5 days) for top-class wildlife viewing throughout the year and the spectacular wildebeest migration is the cherry on top

Popular add-ons:

  • Zanzibar Island for some relaxing on gorgeous beaches
  • Gombe National Park or Mahale Mountains National Park for chimpanzee trekking
  • Kilimanjaro National Park to climb the mountain



Southern Circuit (1 to 2 weeks)

The ‘off-the-beaten-track’ character of the southern circuit makes for a holistic wilderness experience. It’s an excellent choice for a second safari on which marking off the Big Five is less of a concern. In most cases, you will fly into Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam and fly on by small airplane to Ruaha or Nyerere National Park.


  • Mikumi National Park (1 to 2 days) is very accessible via a sealed road from Dar es Salaam and is an easy weekend getaway or can be visited en route to Nyerere National Park
  • Nyerere National Park (3 to 5 days) lies on the Rufiji River and aside from the usual game drives, boat trips and walking safaris are offered
  • Ruaha National Park (3 to 5 days) is great to see many animals that aren’t easily seen in the north, such as wild dog and several unusual antelope species

Popular add-ons:

  • Zanzibar Island for some relaxing on gorgeous beaches



Western Circuit (1 week)


  • Mahale Mountains National Park or Gombe National Park (2 to 5 days) for the best chimpanzee trekking in Africa.
  • Katavi National Park (2 to 5 days) for excellent wildlife viewing in the Dry season with superb wilderness appeal.

Popular add-ons:

  • Zanzibar Island for some relaxing on gorgeous beaches and/or scuba diving

Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) is situated 50km/31mi east of Arusha, the gateway of Tanzania’s popular Northern safari circuit. The drive from the airport to Arusha takes about 1½ hours*.

Tanzania’s main airport is Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), located 13km/8mi southwest of Dar es Salaam. This is the entry point for visitors to the southern parks.

From Arusha or Dar es Salaam, you can fly or drive between reserves. Some domestic flights out of Arusha will leave from Kilimanjaro International Airport, while others leave from the much smaller Arusha Airport (ARK) located 8km/5mi west of town. However you choose to travel, in most cases, your local tour operator will pick you up from the airport and arrange all further transportation as part of your safari package.

*Driving times are only a rough indication. You should always consider the possibility of significant delays.

Flights & Airlines to Tanzania

Please check Skyscanner to see which airlines can take you to Tanzania and what tickets would cost.



Domestic Airlines & Flights in Tanzania

Domestic and charter flights between parks are usually booked by tour operators as part of the tour package. Domestic flights can be booked with several domestic carriers.

  • Air Tanzania
  • Precision Air
  • Regional Air
  • ZanAir
  • Safari Air Link
  • Coastal Aviation
  • Auric Air
  • Air Excel
  • As Salaam Air


Passport, Visa & Other Entry Requirements

Entry requirements can change, so please contact your local Tanzanian embassy/high commission to verify that the information below is current.

  • A passport is required for all foreign visitors and has to be valid for at least six months.
  • Passports must have a clean and a full visa page for endorsement.
  • Citizens of most countries require a visa. A list of countries that don’t need a visa is available.
  • Visas are best obtained in advance through an official online visa-application portal, but they can also be obtained through your local Tanzanian embassy or high commission.
  • Visas can also be obtained on arrival.
  • When arriving from a yellow-fever-infected country in Africa or the Americas, a yellow-fever vaccination certificate is required.
  • For more information, including COVID-19 related entry requirements (if any), please check the website of your local Tanzanian embassy/high commission or the government travel advisories below:
    • Australia    –
    • Canada    –
    • EU member states    –
    • Ireland    –
    • New Zealand    –
    • United Kingdom    –
    • United States    –

The information on this page is just a general guide and should not be used instead of a consultation with your travel doctor. The government organizations and travel clinics below are trusted resources for complete and up-to-date info about travelers’ health in Tanzania.


Recommended; see websites below for more detailed immunization advice.

Malaria Risk

High risk throughout the country except in high altitude mountains over 2000m including the Ngorongoro Crater rim, Mt. Kilimanjaro and parts of the Eastern Arc Mountains. Most safari parks are high-risk zones. The highest risk of transition is in the rainy season from November to May. See websites below for more detailed advice.

More Info

Staying Safe in Cities and Towns

Most crime in Tanzania is in the cities (as is the case throughout the world). Petty theft and pickpocketing are quite common, but violent crime is very rare. You are unlikely to encounter any problems on a guided tour. Venturing out in the cities unguided is fine as long as you follow a few simple safety precautions: check with your hotel whether the area is safe to walk; only take a bit of cash with you; don’t display any valuables; don’t walk around after dark. For more safety tips that apply to African cities in general:

  • Cities & Urban Areas: Safety Precautions


Other Tips on Staying Safe

Please read the pages below regarding malaria and vaccination information for Tanzania and general travel safety precautions.

  • Tanzania: Malaria & Vaccinations
  • General Travel Safety Precautions

Governments’ Travel Advice

Please use the links below for governments’ travel advice on Tanzania.

Accommodation in Tanzania Northern Tanzania

The Northern Safari Circuit in Tanzania is the most popular route. The Northern Circuit includes Arusha National ParkTarangire National ParkNgorongoro Conservation AreaLake ManyaraLake Natron, and the Serengeti National Park

In each park, there are a number of small, luxury tented camps and lodges. There are also moving camps and fly camps that follow the route of the Great Migration, depending on the season. 

There are some less expensive options in the parks, but Tanzania isn’t a cheap safari destination. The remote location of these lodges, combined with the harsh conditions and resources needed to keep the camps running, means prices are high across the board, and accommodation will almost always be the biggest component of your trip cost.


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