I'm not 100% sure if the dry season is the best time to visit Serengeti National Park. There are fewer animals and the landscape is more arid, yet along the central zone (Seronera), we saw cheetahs, leopards, lions, zebras, gazelles, impalas, crocodiles, vultures, marabou storks, hippos, hyenas, buffaloes, elephants, and more. The best part was when several groups of elephants approached us. They went behind our car in groups of 20 to 30 to enter the river next to us. They went in to cool down and cover themselves with mud and then got out to let the next group in. We stopped counting once a hundred elephants had passed us and more were still arriving.
The park is amazing, but be prepared that it's wilderness, not a nature documentary. There is plenty of downtime between sightings. The experience was complete and we slept in campsites within the park. We could see elephants, zebras, hyenas, warthogs, mongooses, baboons and buffalo from the campground. If you go to the bathroom at 4 in the morning with only your flashlight everything becomes an adventure!!!
While the Ngorongoro National Park is known for its wildlife, its scenery really impressed me. From the hotels, found on the edge of the crater, there are impressive views, as well as from within the crater itself. The good thing about this park is that, being a crater, the animals don't tend to leave the surroundings, therefore you are almost guaranteed to catch a glimpse of nature. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979. It is about 20 kilometers in diameter and 600 feet high. The Maasai have permission to go to pasture with their flocks, although it's a reserve, they must enter and exit the crater daily.
Our first day on safari in Tanzania they took us to Tarangire National Park. It seems that it's much less important than the Serengeti or the Ngorongoro, but we were still impressed by the proximity to the animals.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, along the Serengeti, is one of the most beautiful places in Tanzania. The world's largest volcanic caldera supports an ecosystem with the highest density of wildlife on the African continent which makes this a unique place. In just 300 squared kilometres you will find giraffes, elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, antelopes, hyenas, zebras, lions, leopards, cheetahs to name but a few. Being able to see the big five here is not too difficult a task. In addition to its splendid landscapes, what struck us was to discover how in such a small place such a superb ecosystem has been created. This scene of incredible beauty gave us an unforgettable memory of Tanzania. A word of advice - avoid visiting the park during the months of December to April, as it is the lag period in the wet season and the crater roads are impassable.
The Udzungwa Mountains are in central southeastern Tanzania, around 250 km southwest of Dar Es Salaam, a few km from Selous Game Reserve. It spreads over 1,900 km ². It was established in 1992 and was one of the last protected areas created in Tanzania. Its altitude ranges from 250 meters to 2,576 meters above sea level. The Udzungwa mountains are, after the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the only national park in Tanzania that has rainforest lands that extend continuously from the low lands to the heights of the parks. It has one of the highest density of birds in all Africa. The park is the only one in Tanzania that holds eleven species of primates. The park is also home to animals such as the elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, several species of duiker, bushbuck, bushpig, badgers, civet cats, hippos, gazelles sabers, Saltrock, pangolin, mongoose, squirrels, badgers and others. In the middle of this wealth of fauna are the Udzungwa Falls. They are spectacular,
The only national park in Tanzania that has rainforest land continuously from its lower levels to the higher elevations of the park. You find everything, from smaller plants, such as the Saint paullia, up to 30 m trees such as Sterculia appendiculata or toxicaria Antiaris. 2500 different species of plants, among which there are 160 medicinal plants.
The Mikumi National Park is located in eastern Tanzania, some 100 kms south of Morogoro and 280 km west of Dar Es Salaam. It is next to the Selous Reserve and a few kilometers from the Udzungwa Mountains National Park. The wildlife includes monkeys, lions, leopards, panthers, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, zebras, hipos, etc. Approximately 360 different species of birds have been spotted. The park is very popular and is easily accessible from Dar Es Salaam. It is specially equipped for bird watching. Greenery includes the miombo forest which is dominated by Brachystegia spp. The Combretum-Terminalia forest is common between the hills and the plains along the river. In this lower part dominated by Acacia spp, Adansonia digitata baobab and Sterculia appendiculata and the top of gallery forest and riparian dense scrub along rivers Mgoda, Kikobogo and Mkata. The ebony Dalbergia melanoxylon, Sclerocarya caffra, Cassia abbreviata flabellifer and Hyphaene Borassus Ventricosa, Balanites aegyptiaca and Ficus spp are all very close to each other. They are common and important to elephants and baboona. A truly unforgettable experience.
The Selous Game Reserve is the largest in Tanzania, although only 10% is open to tourists, the rest of the park is private open only to hunters. Despite or because of this it is an important conservation area with over half the population of Tanzanian elephants found here. It also has one of the largest populations of African hunting dogs.
We stayed at the Sand River Lodge. This offers the usual welcoming camp hosts, great food, game drives and sundowners but also has a number of unique features.
The main restaurant area is on the river so the daily hippo show can be enjoyed over lunch. Boat safaris are also part of the standard package, a breakfast of bacon and egg sandwich whilst watching the crocodiles on the opposite beach is hard to beat. Evening fishing is also great fun, I caught a squeaker but the tiger fish got away. There are natural hot springs nearby and a dip can be included as part of a game drive. The accommodation is in open-fronted Bandas allowing a bedroom safari with sunbirds attaching mirrors, squirrels in the bathroom, geckos on the walls, the calls of the bush babies and monkeys after biscuits. The lodge also has plunge pools which can be enjoyed during the afternoon siesta.
On the game drives a wide range of wildlife can be viewed however it is the bird life that makes the park outstanding. Favorite sightings African skimmers, watching giraffes drinking and warthog antics.
Ruaha is the largest national park in Tanzania. Only a small part of the park is visited as in some parts the bush is very dense and there are tsetse flies. The park is dotted with the iconic baobab trees and birds and animals lurk in every bush, often a pride of sleeping lions.
This is a great park to visit if you like elephants. In the evening they come down to the sand rivers in large numbers to drink by digging down to the water with their trunks. Watching the baby elephants trying to learn this trick from the adults is fascinating.
We enjoyed a number of close encounters with leopards. On one game drive our guide spotted a leopard at the base of a baobab tree. We sat transfixed as the leopard crept towards a group of gazelle with young. We watched the twitching ears above the stems of the grass as a young gazelle came within a paws reach. Then the leopard walked off with leaving the gazelles to graze in safety. This seemed strange behavior until we looked up and spotted a headless aardvark on a branch in the baobab tree, presumably the leopards breakfast. Our guides were really excited as this was their first ever sighting of an aardvark. When we passed the spot later in the day the tree was full of vultures and maribou stalks on the ground finishing off the carcass.