SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
The park covers 14,763 sq km of endless rolling plains, which reach up to the Kenyan border and extends almost to Lake Victoria. The park is flourishing with magnificent wildlife, so great for a safari. An estimated 3 million large animals roam the plains. People of the Maasai Tribe called it Siringitu – ‘the place where the land moves on forever.’ The Serengeti is known as one of the best wildlife sanctuary in the world.
Two World Heritage Sites and two Biosphere Reservates have been established within this area. It’s unique environment has enthused writers, filmakers as well as numerous photographers and scientists. The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth, the main characteristics of climate, flora and fauna have hardly changed in the past million years.
The Serengeti boasts large herds of antelope including Patterson’s eland, Klipspringer, Dikdik, Zebra, gazelles, lion, impala, leopard, cheetah, hyena and other larger mammals like the rhino, giraffe, elephant and hippopotamus. Nearly 500 species of birds have been recorded in the park. The Serengeti is an opportunity for one of the best game-viewing in Africa.
Lake Manyara National Park, which encompasses an area of 330 sq.km, of which 200 sq.km is lake, was proclaimed a game reserve in 1957 and registered three years later as a National Park. The park is situated between the 600 m high escarpment of the Great Rift Valley and Lake Manyaraand is 130 km from Arusha.
Thus, it can be visited on a day excursion from this centre. At the Southern end of the park are hot Sulphur Springs known as Majimoto. Further along the forest the area opens up into woodlands, grassland, swamps and beyond, the soda lake itself.
Nestling at the base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment, the park is recognized for its incredible beauty. Wildlife at Lake Manyara is not restricted to birdlife only. Many game animals such as Buffalo, Elephant, Giraffe, Impala, hippo and a great variety of smaller animals also inhabit the park.
Lake Manyara is also renown for its tree-climbing lions which spend most of the day spread out along the branches of acacia trees six to seven metres above the ground. The park contains the most pachyderms per km sq. in Tanzania. As visitors enter the gate, they pass into the lush forest, home to troops of baboons and blue monkeys. Buffalo and hippo lurch in the adjacent Hippo Pool. The vegetation eventually merges into flat topped acacia woodland where, in the heat of the day entire prides of lion can be seen stretched on the branches of these trees – a habit prevalent to Manyara lions.
Along with these amazing tree-climbing lions there are the usual browsers and grazers as well as the curios-looking banded mongoose. Two thirds of the park is dominated by the slightly alkaline lake which is home to a huge variety of waterbirds.
More than 400 species of bird including flamingo, pelican, red billed quelea, storks, sacred ibis, cormorants and Egyptian geese can be sighted in this area. Other species of birds include the African spoonbill, lesser flamingo, white pelican and white faced duck.
Lake Manyara National Park is 130 km west of Arusha and the drive takes about two and half hours. The entrance to the park is off to the left of the Great North Road at Makuyuni. From here there is a track that goes past the lake and through the village of Mto wa Mbu to the park entrance.
ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK
Arusha National Park is covering 137 sq. kilometres and lies between the peaks of Mountain Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru and ascends from 1500 metres at Momella to 4566 metres at the summit of Mount Meru. Established in 1960 the park had contained Ngurdoto Crater and Momella lakes, until 1967 when Mt. Meru was made part of the Park.
The flora and fauna varies with the topography, which ranges from forest to swamp. The best time for visiting is during the dry season from July-March. The best months to climb Mount Meru are June-February (although there are some rains in November). On clear days magnificent views of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru can be seen from almost any part of the park. The best views of Mt. Kilimanjaro are from December-February.
The Park is only 25 kilometers East of Arusha, 58 kilometers from Moshi and 35 kilometers from Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA). It is the nearest National Park to both Arusha and Kilimanjaro International Airport and is thereby and easy day trip. From the main road between Arusha and Moshi it is about 10 kilometers to reach Ngurdoto Gate.
The Park contains a diverse resident population of herbivores, primates and predators including black and white colobus monkeys, baboons, elephants, giraffes, buffalos, hippos, leopards, hyenas, waterbucks, wart hogs and a wide range of antelope species. No lions in the park although you can see leopards if you are lucky.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the crown of Tanzania. With an altitude of 5,895m (19.340ft), it is the highest peak in Africa, the highest freestanding mountain in the world, and one of the largest volcanoes. The base of the immense mountain has a diameter of about 70 km. On a clear day its impressive formation can be seen from more than 160 km away, and although it is only three degrees below the Equator, the peak is permanently covered with snow and ice. Elephants, leopards, lions and colobus monkeys are among the residents of the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. The encircling rain forests ensure the fertility of the lush, lower lying countryside, where the Chagga cultivate their coffee, maize and bananas.
Mount Kilimanjaro can be climbed most of the year, although it is inadvisable during the rainy season during April and MAp, and during the short rains during November. The summit of Kilimanjaro is definitely a challenge, and there are risks involved, but it can be reached by any reasonably fit person who enjoys hiking. Accomplishing reaching the summit will be an experience of a lifetime! The youngest person to make it was seven years old – the oldest seventy-eight!
RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
Ruaha National Park has recently been combined with the Usanga Game Reserve making the largest National Park in Africa covering over 15,000 sq km. This new park itself is at the heart of a much larger ecosystem covering over 40,000 sq km. The highlights of a trip to Ruaha is watching the huge elephant herds (the greatest concentration in Africa) gathered around the mighty Ruaha River; the lifeblood of the park.
Ruaha is a visually stunning park with an undulating plateau about 900m with occasional rocky outcrops and mountains reaching heights of 1900m. Running though the park are “sand rivers” which dry up completely in the dry season and act as roads for the game to move from waterhole to waterhole.
Although the eastern camps get full during the high season, Ruaha does not experience visitor numbers like its more illustrious neighbours in the north of the country. Large sections of the park are unexplored and during much of the year you will have the place to yourself.
We recommend spending a minimum of three days at Ruaha. Ruaha National Park is a good place for seeing Lion, Buffalo, Elephant and Painted Dog (African Wild Dog). Grants gazelle, ostrich and cheetah may be seen on the plains.
For bird enthusiasts, the park offers over 465 species. The rainy season from January to June is particularly spectacular as the normal abundant birdlife is enhanced by numerous migrant species.
MIKUMI NATIONAL PARK
This relatively small (3230 sq km) National Park lies 300 km west of Dar-es-Salaam and is the closest park to the capital. It is nestled between the Uruguru mountains to the East and the Rift Valley escarpments to the Southwest. Even though this is a small park, there is a border with the Selous Game Reserve, allowing movement of game and therefore Mikumi benefits from the highest game densityof the entire conservation area, while still being easily accessible. Mikumi National Park is composed primarily of the Mkata River flood plain, this is surrounded by gently rolling hills covered in miombo woodland
Although less spectacular than some of the more illustrious Tanzanian National Parks, Mikumi still offers a good safari experiencewith typical flora and fauna of East Africa. There is a rich variety of bird species as well as large numbers of giraffes, buffaloes and elephants and close to the waterholes lions, leopards and hippos. Furthermore you can see zebras, wild dogs, pythons, hartebeest, wildebeest, elephants, impala, warthog, eland and other antelope. Several observation towers enable you to view the park in its entirety.
Udzungwa Mountain National Park, has a total area of 2,000km². It contains the greatest altitudinal range of forests in East Africa – the eastern escarpment is the only place in East Africa with unbroken forest cover from lowland forest communities at below 250m above sea level, through intermediate types, to mountain communities at over 2,800m. Because of such a wide range in altitude and habitat types, Udzungwa National Park has one of the highest numbers of species endemism worldwide. Udzungwa National Park is located 65 km south of Mikumi National Park.
With no roads entering Udzungwa National Park it is a paradise for hikers and backpackers alike. Numerous breath-taking day-hikes can be organized along with multiple day excursions into the dense rain forest or onto the high plateau. One beautiful trek is up to the Sanje River Waterfall, which plunges for 170 metres through the forest to the valley below. The view from the top is magnificent!
Udzungwa National Park supports a diverse, large mammal community including elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, african wild dog, eland, waterbuck and sable. Six species of primate are found here and two are endemic, the Iringa (Uhehe) Red Colobus monkey, and the Sanje Crested Mangabey, which was discovered in 1979. There is also a rich small bovid community including good numbers of Red, Blue and Abbots duikers, and bushbuck.
Udzungwa has the richest forest bird habitat in Tanzania. Several endemics has just been discovered recently (including a new species of francolin and the Rufus-winged sun bird).
The dry season occurs from June to October, when it is best to visit. During the rainy season from March to May visits are not recommended
RUBONDO ISLAND NATIONAL PARK
Rubondo Island, in the southwest of Lake Victoria,is Tanzania’s tenth National Park and the only one in Lake Victoria. The 240 square km island provides a unforgettable experience for visitors, including the main island and 11 smaller islets, combining the breathtaking natural beauty of a forest refuge with the relaxing tranquility of sandylake-shore beaches.
The Island is some 28 km in length along the north-south axis and between 3 and 10 km wide. Lake Victoria covers 68,000 square kilometres and is the largest lake in Africa and the second largest in the world – comparatively it is twice the size of The Netherlands.
Rubondo Island boasts a unique diversity of flora and fauna. Only here can the visitor be sure of seeing Sitatunga and have the chance of observing small gangs of chimpanzees. Other mammals frequently seen include hippos, otters, bushbucks and vervet monkeys. Rarer sightings are genet, colobus, marsh mongoose and suni antelope (dikdik).
Rubondo is a paradise for bird-lovers, with nearly 430 species documented on the island. The diversity of habitats, from open woodland to papyrus swamps and evergreen forest, together with its geographical location in the heart of Africa, attracts numerous resident and migrant species. The islan dhas an abundance of herons, storks,egrets, ibises, cormorants, kingfishers, flycatchers, bee-eaters, hornbills and birds of prey, including the highest density of fish eagles anywhere in the world.
SAADANI NATIONAL PARK
Saadani National Park was only gazetted in 2003 and is the only park in Tanzania with ocean frontage. The park itself is unique to the rest of east Africa combining a variety of ecosystems including bush, beach and river.Some of the animals do come down to the beach and you can occasionally see some in the surf.
The park has plentifull game including giraffe, hartebeest, waterbuck, wildebeest, buffallo, hippos and crocodiles. It is also possible but harder to see lion, leopard and sable antelope.
Game drives in the park are rewarding as are boating safaris along the Wami River, at the river estuary the salt pans are filled with flamingos and the river is a birder’s paradise.
To the north of the park is a green turtle breeding beach which is currently supported by the lodges in the park. All our guests who visit Saadani find it a special and unique place and is a good alternative to end a safari here rather than on a typical beach holiday.
KATAVI NATIONAL PARK TANZANIA
Remote and rarely visited, the Katavi national park is a pearl among the national parks in Tanzania. Tanzania third biggest national park lies in the remote southwest of the country, close to Lake Tanganyika, in a remote Rift Valley arm, which ends in the shallow, dark expansion of the Rukwa lake. It has a higher density of mammals than any other Tanzanian National Park. Rivers groan with hippopotamus and crocodiles, and schattered over the plains are great herds of buffaloes, with up to 1000 animals in one group.
The largest part of Katavi is covered Miombo Forest, which offers protection to large, but shy groups of Elen, black horse and Sable Antilopes. The actual point of attraction for animal observers is however the Katuma river with its washing levels, to which the seasonal lakes Katavi and Chada belong. During the rain time these sumptuous, swampy lakes attracts innumerable water birds, and they nourish of Tanzania highest accumulations of hippos and crocodiles.
Katavi is most impressive during dry season, when the lakes and rivers are almost dry. Many animals, including 4000 elephants, then concentrate at the few water holes. But Katavis most spectacular animal experience are the hippos. Toward the end of the dry season you might see up to 200 hippos into a deep river pool, rivalry between the male animals.
The park head office in Sitalike is 40 km south of Mpanda. Charter flights are offered from Daressalam or Arusha. Dring dry season the park can also be reached on road, from Mbeya (550 km) and Kigoma (390 km).
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