Tanzania is endowed with a wealth of natural attractions. The country is home to some of the legendary safari parks and reserves. From the Iconic Mount Kilimanjaro National,Arusha National Park,Lake Manyara National Park,Tarangire National Park,Ngorongoro crater and Serengeti National Park that are all found in the northern part of the country, to other incredible conservation areas such as Selous Game reserve and Mikumi. Tanzania takes conservation seriously and it has devoted to national parks and reserves the largest swathes of land to conservation than any other country in the world.
The country has effectively managed its National parks and reserves by focusing on provision of quality holiday in Tanzania rather than mass tourism.A safari inTanzania’s National parks and reserves offers arguably the most scintillating game-viewing opportunities in Africa attracting thousands of tourists from different countries annually.
Tanzania is a treasure trove of adventure and excitement and nothing in Africa quite compares to its natural beauty.The country is endowed with stunning, epic landscapes, and animals more ‘real’ than you can ever imagine or hope to see first-hand at a zoo, as a whole Tanzania, remains unchallenged for its ability to draw thousands of tourists into the natural world like no other.
With so many wonderful national parks to choose from, in fact it would be quite hard to truly rank these places of natural wonder, especially as one’s experience is often so determined by the lack of Mother Nature. Nevertheless, none of the National Parks and reserves found in Tanzania will disappoint and hopefully after visiting one of them, it will only encourage you to visit another and then another and then another.
Kilimanjaro. The name itself is a mystery wreathed in clouds. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans. Or it might not. The local people, the Wachagga, don’t even have a name for the whole massif, only Kipoo (now known as Kibo) for the familiar snowy peak that stands imperious, overseer of the continent, the summit of Africa.
Kilimanjaro, by any name, is a metaphor for the compelling beauty of East Africa. When you see it, you understand why. Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 metres – to an imperious 5,895 metres (19,336 feet).
Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors
from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination.
And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates.
And their memories.
But there is so much more to Kili than her summit. The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic.
Even before you cross the national park boundary (at the 2,700m contour), the cultivated footslopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates. Higher still lies the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias.
Above 4,000m, a surreal alpine desert supports little life other than a few hardy mosses and lichen. Then, finally, the last vestigial vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.
About Kilimanjaro National Park
Size: 755 sq km (292 sq miles).
Location: Northern Tanzania, near the town of Moshi.
What to do
Six usual trekking routes to the summit and other more-demanding mountaineering routes. Day or overnight hikes on the Shira plateau. Nature trails on the lower reaches.
Visit the beautiful Chala crater lake on the mountain’s southeastern slopes.
When to go
Clearest and warmest conditions from December to February, but also dry (and colder) from July-September.
Huts and campsites on the mountain.
Mahale national Park in Tanzania is located in the far West of the country.Famous for Chimpanzee tracking,the Park lies on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and would stake its claim as one of the most exceptional destinations on the continent. It is the best chimpanzee viewing and tracking in Africa and a host of other activities that make this a destination in it own right,set deep in the heart of the African interior, inaccessible by road and only 100km (60 miles) south of where Stanley uttered that immortal greeting “Doctor Livingstone, I presume”,is a scene reminiscent of an Indian Ocean island beach idyll.
Silky white coves hem in the azure waters of Lake Tanganyika, overshadowed by a chain of wild, jungle-draped peaks towering almost 2km above the shore: the remote and mysterious Mahale Mountains.
Just like Gombe national Park which is in the north of Mahale Mountains,it is home to some of Africa’s last remaining wild chimpanzees: a population of roughly 800, habituated to human visitors by a Japanese research project founded in the 1960s.
Tracking the chimps of Mahale is a magical experience,that will take away your breath away.. The guide’s eyes pick out last night’s nests – shadowy clumps high in a gallery of trees crowding the sky.The are signs that can give you indication of where to track the Chimps,scraps of half-eaten fruit and fresh dung are valuable clues, leading deeper into the forest. Butterflies flit in the dappled sunlight.
After an hour or so of tracking the chimpanzees in Mahale you then suddenly find yourself in their midst as they continue preening each other’s glossy coats in concentrated huddles, squabbling noisily, or bounding into the trees to swing effortlessly between the vines.
The area is also known as Nkungwe, after the park’s largest mountain, held sacred by the local Tongwe people, and at 2,460 metres (8,069 ft) the highest of the six prominent points that make up the Mahale Range.While chimpanzee tracking is the highlight of visiting Mahale National Park, the slopes also support a diverse forest fauna, including readily observed troops of red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys, and a kaleidoscopic array of colourful forest birds.
While in the area, it also possible to trace the Tongwe people’s ancient pilgrimage to the mountain spirits, hiking through the montane rainforest belt – home to an endemic race of Angola colobus monkey – to high grassy ridges chequered with alpine bamboo. Lake Tanganyika has impossibly clear waters,it is one the world’s longest,second-deepest and least-polluted freshwater lake – harbouring an estimated 1,000 fish species – you take a bath on this Great Lake before returning as you came, by boat.
About Mahale Mountains National Park
Size: 1,613 sq km (623 sq miles).
Location: Western Tanzania, bordering Lake Tanganyika.
What to do
It is advisable to at least spend two days in the Park, hiking and tracking the Chimpanzees,other activities can be camping safaris; snorkeling and fish for your dinner.
When to go
The dry season which falls between May-October is the best for forest walks,however no problem in the light rains of October/November.
The same rules for chimpanzee tracking at Gombe Stream also apply at Mahale
Unlike the famous National Parks found in Northern Tanzania that forme what is Known as Northern Tourist Circuit Katavi National Park is Isolated, untrammelled and seldom visited, the park is what you would call a true wilderness, giving the few intrepid souls who make it there a thrilling taste of Africa as it must have been a century ago. Katavi National is currently the countries’ third largest national park.It is located in the remote southwest of the country, within a truncated arm of the Rift Valley that terminates in the shallow, brooding expanse of Lake Rukwa.
Large part of Katavi National Park supports a hypnotically featureless cover of tangled brachystegia woodland, which is home to substantial but elusive populations of the localised eland, sable and roan antelopes. But the main focus for game viewing within the park is the Katuma River and associated floodplains such as the seasonal Lakes Katavi and Chada. During the rainy season, these lush, marshy lakes are a haven for myriad waterbirds, and they also support Tanzania’s densest concentrations of hippo and crocodile.
During the dry season, when the flood waters retreat, that’s when Katavi truly comes into its own. The Katuma, reduced to a shallow, muddy trickle, forms the only source of drinking water for miles around, and the flanking floodplains support game concentrations that defy belief. A big number of around 4,000 elephants might converge on the area, together with several herds of 1,000-plus buffalo, while an abundance of giraffe, zebra, impala and reedbuck provide easy pickings for the numerous lion prides and spotted hyena clans whose territories converge on the floodplains.
The Park’s most singular wildlife spectacle is provided by its hippos. Towards the end of the dry season, up to 200 individuals might flop together in any riverine pool of sufficient depth. And as more hippos gather in one place, this leads to an increase in male rivalry, resulting in bloody territorial fights that are an everyday occurrence, with the vanquished male forced to lurk hapless on the open plains until it gathers sufficient confidence to mount another challenge.
About Katavi National Park
Size: 4,471 sq km (1,727 sq miles).
Location: Southwest Tanzania, east of Lake Tanganyika.
The headquarters of the Park is at Sitalike a distance 40km (25 miles) south of Mpanda town.
What to do.
Walking, driving and camping safaris.
The Park was named after the legendary hunter Katabi.While in the park you might be interested to visit the tamarind tree,near Lake Katavi that is thought to be inhabited by the spirit of the legendary hunter – offerings are still left here by locals seeking the spirit’s blessing.
When to go
The dry season (May-October).
During the rainy the roads within the park are often flooded and therefore impassable.,but may be passable from mid-December to February
An excited whoop erupts from deep in the forest, boosted immediately by a dozen other voices, rising in volume and tempo and pitch to a frenzied shrieking crescendo. It is the famous ‘pant-hoot’ call: a bonding ritual that allows the participants to identify each other through their individual vocal stylisations.
To the human listener, walking through the ancient forests of Gombe Stream, this spine-chilling outburst is also an indicator of imminent visual contact with man’s closest genetic relative: the chimpanzee.
Gombe is the smallest of Tanzania’s national parks: a fragile strip of chimpanzee habitat straddling the steep slopes and river valleys that hem in the sandy northern shore of Lake Tanganyika.
Its chimpanzees – habituated to human visitors – were made famous by the pioneering work of Jane Goodall, who in 1960 founded a behavioural research program that now stands as the longest-running study of its kind in the world. The matriarch Fifi, the last surviving member of the original community, only three-years old when Goodall first set foot in Gombe, is still regularly seen by visitors.
Chimpanzees share about 98% of their genes with humans, and no scientific expertise is required to distinguish between the individual repertoires of pants, hoots and screams that define the celebrities, the powerbrokers, and the supporting characters.
Perhaps you will see a flicker of understanding when you look into a chimp’s eyes, assessing you in return – a look of apparent recognition across the narrowest of species barriers. The most visible of Gombe’s other mammals are also primates. A troop of beachcomber olive baboons, under study since the 1960s, is exceptionallyhabituated, while red-tailed and red colobus monkeys – the latter regularly hunted by chimps – stick to the forest canopy.
The park’s 200-odd bird species range from the iconic fish eagle to the jewel-like Peter’s twinspots that hop tamely around the visitors’ centre.
After dusk, a dazzling night sky is complemented by the lanterns of hundreds of small wooden boats, bobbing on the lake like a sprawling city.
About Gombe Stream National Park
Size: 52 sq km (20 sq miles), Tanzania’s smallest park.
Location: 16 km (10 miles) north of Kigoma on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania.
What to do
Chimpanzee trekking; hiking, swimming and snorkelling;
visit the site of Henry Stanley’s famous “Dr Livingstone I presume” at Ujiji near Kigoma, and watch the renowned dhow builders at work.
When to go
The chimps don’t roam as far in the wet season (February-June, November-mid December) so may be easier to find better picture opportunities in the dry (July-October and late December) to safeguard you and the chimps.
Allow at least 2 days to see them – this is not a zoo so there are no guarantees where they’ll be each day.