If it is African wildlife, exotic beaches and an exhilarating hike up Mt Kilimanjaro you are after then Tanzania is the perfect country for a self drive safari. Tanzania is a huge country and can take days to drive from one end to the other so allow plenty of time.
Game parks are what Tanzania is most famous for. Tanzania boasts the world renowned Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater in the north and Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park in the south, as well as smaller game parks in the north like Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park and Arusha National Park.
Major roads, although there are few, linking towns and cities are mostly good tar. However the smaller arterial roads going to and from the national parks are often rough badly maintained dirt roads. The very reason why most tourists prefer to fly to places like Selous and Ruaha as the roads can become impassable in the wet. The road between the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater is also a rough dirt road and although approximately only 100kms it can take up to 4 hours depending on the conditions.
The Serengeti National Park is a haven of wildlife and if you are lucky you won’t have to travel far to spot a plethora of game with a large concentration of animals near the area of Seronera which is also home to a number of public campsites. Our advice is stick to the side tracks as these are often in better condition than the main road through the centre of the park. The Serengeti is well known for large prides of lions, cheetah, elephant, eland, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, various antelope as well as hyena and jackal. You have to be very lucky to spot Rhino who prefer to stay well away from tracks in dense wooded areas.
The Ngorongoro Crater is a major draw card however it has been seriously overrun by tourists over the past decade and much of the animals have relocated to outside of the conservation area. The hefty entrance fees of USD$50 per person and a whopping USD$200 per vehicle is hard to justify when there are so many other fantastic options in Tanzania.
In what is called the Northern Circuit there are also the brilliant game parks of Tarangire, Lake Manyara and Arusha National Parks. These small parks offer brilliant game viewing with stunning scenery and are well worth adding to the list of places to visit.
If you have time, the right 4WD vehicle, and don’t mind roughing it then a self drive safari to Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park is highly recommended. Avoid during the rainy season as you will probably find yourself spending more time digging your vehicle out of deep bog holes than exploring the parks. Expect travelling to these parks to be tough and a challenge for both driver and vehicle. However, those making the effort will be rewarded with exceptional game viewing with very few other vehicles to this wild underdeveloped piece of Africa. Camping is the cheapest option or for those not keen on camping can stay in one of the few luxury lodges scattered throughout.
Most travellers will head to the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania. Zanzibar is a favourite for its gorgeous beaches, historic town of Stone Town and vast range of accommodation options. Although you can put your vehicle on a ferry to Zanzibar it is really not justified if you intend on staying for only a few days, a better option is to leave your vehicle on the mainland and catch a ferry or plane to the island. You can hire a vehicle or motorbike in Stone Town if you feel the need to explore the small island from top to toe.
Although we love Zanzibar there are a number of other beach options for the intrepid traveller. Near Zanzibar is the island of Pemba, with far less tourism it is raw and exotic offering tropical beaches with very few tourists. There are far less accommodation options on Pemba adding to the feel of being on a deserted tropical island away from the crowds found on Zanzibar. For those not wanting to leave the mainland the coast of Tanzania is home to several beach paradises near the towns of Pangani and Bagamoyo which lay north of Dar es Salaam and Ras Kutani to the south each offering beautiful long white beaches, warm tropical waters and unique historical features.
Climbing to the peak of Mt Kilimanjaro is very popular not only with mountaineers but for those looking for a challenge, and what a challenge it is! At a staggering 5,895m (19,300ft) it is the highest peak on the African continent. There are a number of routes to choose ranging from 7 to 10 days the most popular being Machame, Rongai, Lemosho and Marangu, the best route to choose depends on the time of year and level of challenge you are after.
Tanzania is vast with much on offer and a country we visit on a number of our multi country self drive safaris.