The Wanderlust Guide to the best of Tanzania

Is Tanzania Africa's ultimate destination? It's got really wild wildlife, huge skies, the continent's highest mountain and its spiciest island... Plan your visit now

3 mins

It’s not just the migration that’s great in Tanzania – though the wildlife (and specifically the game of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater) is what draws most visitors, there’s much more to discover in this diverse East African nation.

Roam around the old streets of Stone Town and relax on the palm-fringed beaches of Zanzibar; spot birds around Lake Victoria or chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains National Park; dive the clear waters around Mafia island; or climb Africa’s mightiest mountain, Kilimanjaro – all 5,895m of it.

Tanzania’s north doesn’t have the monopoly on wildlife: Selous Game Reserve, south-west of Dar es Salaam, is Africa’s largest protected area, with varied habitats – plains, rivers, forests and lakes bustling with hippo, elephant, lion, buffalo, wild dog and black rhino. Add in the fascinating relics of ancient trading kingdoms at Kilwa Kisiwani, and it’s clear that Tanzania offers a kaleidoscope of experiences to discover.

Lion cubs (Shutterstock)

Lion cubs, Tanzania (Shutterstock)

Searching for a safari?

Well, in Tanzania, you’ll be spoiled for choice. From the Serengeti in the north to Selous Game reserve in the south, there are any number of options for you to witness East Africa’s stunning wildlife.

For a more intimate encounter, Lyn Hughes recommends getting down on ground level and camping amongst the wildlife in Maasai country. Sure, you’ll be probably be woken by a lion pacing around your tent in the early hours of the morning. But think of the stories you will be able to tell...

Will Gray, on the other hand, suggests the south. It’s home to one of the largest reserves in the world, it's wilder and, best of all, wonderfully people-free.

Or why not support a new community conservation project that encourages locals to take control of game management and the animals are yet to become habituated to non-threatening visitors? Paul Bloomfield dropped by the Wami-Mbiki Wildlife Management and found himself stalking wary animals across rolling grasslands, acacia stands and riverbanks.

More information

The Wanderlust guide to the best of African Safaris – The Wanderlust Team

On safari in Tanzania's Maasai country – Lyn Hughes

Safari in southern Tanzania – Will Gray

The hunt for sustainability in Tanzania – Paul Bloomfield

Great Migration (Paul Goldstein)

The Great Migration

It’s one of nature’s greatest spectacles: the mass migration of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle, from the southern plains of the Serengeti, north to the Masai Mara, past a variety of predators determined to feast upon them. It’s the ultimate safari, witnessing the drama of life and death played out on the plains of Africa, and Michael Woods offers hard-won advice on how to best experience this amazing event.

Ideally, you’ll find yourself in a prime position overlooking the Grumeti and Masai Rivers for the arrival of the herds heading north to the Masai Mara in August. But if you can’t, don’t despair. The migration is a 12-month affair, with each stage offering unique wildlife experiences in different parts of the country. With that in mind, Will Gray has put together a handy month-by-month guide to the Great Migration, telling you where you need to be at any given time of the year and what you can expect to see.

More information

The Great Migration, Tanzania – Michael Woods

Great migration calendar: 12 months, 12 ways – Will Gray

On top of Kili (Abhimanyu Bose)

Climbing Kili

At 5,895m, Kilimanjaro is the world's highest peak that you can climb without technical skills. In many ways it is the Everyman’s mountain, with reassuringly benign nicknames for it’s easier routes convincing non-mountaineering types that they too, can conquer one of the world’s loftiest peaks. After all, if Gary Barlow and Cheryl Cole can do it, how hard can it be?

The truth of the matter is that nearly 50% of the people that attempt to climb Kilimanjaro don’t reach the peak. Sarah Baxter beat those odds and tells you how you can too, first in her account of her climb and in a useful Q&A where all your questions are answered. You might want to check out Henry Stedman’s piece on what a typical climb involves and Jeremy Gane’s article, Kilimanjaro explained. Jeremy has summited Kili 21 times, so he knows what he is talking about.

Finally, Abhimanyu Bose lists the five things he wishes he’d known before climbing Kilimanjaro. He made it to the top, but if he had been forewarned, things could have gone a lot smoother.

More information

Everyman's mountain? Climbing Kilimanjaro – Sarah Baxter

Kilimanjaro Q&A – Sarah Baxter

Kilimanjaro: a typical climb – Henry Stedman

Kilimanjaro explained – Jeremy Gane

5 things I wish I'd known before climbing Mt Kilimanjaro – Abhimanyu Bose

Maasai women (Shutterstock)

Masai women in Tanzania (Shutterstock)

Capturing it all on film

A visit to Tanzania is made up of amazing moments, many of which will never be repeated. Whether that is reaching the top of Kilimanjaro, a kill on the plains of the Serengeti or the moment the first wildebeest enters the waters of the Grumeti River, they are moments you are going to want to capture.

A veteran of over 1,000 game drives, Wanderlust Contributing Editor Paul Goldstein has spent over a year of his life following the Migration and has put together 15 top tips for making your Great Migration images memorable.

If it’s inspiration you’re after, then look no further than the photos taken by our readers on their travels in Tanzania. They are truly amazing.

More information

Top 15 tips for taking Great Migration photos – Paul Goldstein

Readers' photos of Tanzania

Giraffes in the Serengeti (Shutterstock)

Giraffes in the Serengeti (Shutterstock)

Everything you need to know

Ready to start planning your trip? Our Tanzania Travel Guide is the place to start. Make sure you drop by the Tanzania Essential Info page as well, for more everyday (but equally vital) information. And we’ve rounded up the latest travel news from Tanzania too.

If you have a particular question about Tanzania, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or check out the questions that have already been asked about Tanzania. The answer to yours might already be there.

More information

Tanzania Travel Guide – The Wanderlust Team

Tanzania Essential Info – The Wanderlust Team

Latest Travel news about Tanzania

Forum posts about Tanzania

Community content about Tanzania

Maasai man looking across the Serengeti (Shutterstock)

Maasai man looking out across the Serengeti (Shutterstock)

Ready to go?

Here’s a selection of fantastic tours offered by our partners. From all-inclusive safari adventures and relaxing spice island getaways to journeys that combine both, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.

More information

Our Trip Finder can help you find adventures in Tanzania

Main image: Elephants in Kilimanjaro National Park (Shutterstock)

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