How To Plan A Safari In Tanzania Northern Circuit

How To Plan A Safari In Tanzania Northern Circuit : A Comprehensive Guide : The Northern Circuit is unquestionably one of Tanzania’s most popular tourist destinations because it includes many of the country’s top wildlife locations. Along with the more obscure Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara National Park, it also includes the famous Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Another underutilized park, Arusha National Park, is located close to the hub of the safari industry in Arusha, at the entrance to the Northern Circuit.

For good reason, the Tanzania Northern Safari Circuit is a popular choice for first-time travelers to Africa. It boasts breathtaking scenery, first-rate lodging, and exceptional chances to see wildlife, including the yearly Great Wildebeest Migration. We’ve put together this quick guide to introduce some of the parks you can visit on the Northern Circuit and the best time to go in order to assist you in planning the best safari in Africa.


Serengeti National Park

One of Tanzania’s best-known wildlife destinations is the Serengeti National Park, which serves as the setting for the Great Wildebeest Migration. It has savannah, woodlands, and riverine forests covering more than 14,000 square kilometers, and it is renowned for having dense populations of large predators.

The Serengeti National Park is one of the best places to visit if you want to cross all the “Big Five” off your bucket list, in addition to having large populations of lions, cheetahs, and leopards. During the annual migration season, there are also prodigious numbers of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles, not to mention hippos, impalas, and Masai giraffe. Along the Grumeti River’s lush forests live vervet monkeys, olive baboons, and black-and-white colobus, and the park is home to more than 500 different species of birds.

The park also has some of the best lodging in all of East Africa, including opulent Serengeti lodges and seasonal camps where you can see wildlife right outside your door. You can experience its captivating landscapes from the air during a once-in-a-lifetime hot air balloon safari, in addition to daily game drives and guided walks.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Tanzania’s most picturesque landscapes can be found in this UNESCO World Heritage-listed conservation area, which is centered on the breathtakingly beautiful Ngorongoro Crater. Along with the “Big Five,” gazelles, blue wildebeest, Grant’s zebra, hippos, spotted hyenas, and East African wild dogs all live within the natural enclosure provided by the crater walls.

You can visit the wildlife-rich Ndutu Lake area, which is renowned for its cheetah and lion sightings, or you can see thousands of flamingos gathered in the shallows of Lake Magadi. The Ngorongoro Highlands are a fantastic place to go bird watching, with more than 500 species of birds recorded there, many of which migrate here to refuel on their protracted journeys from Asia and Europe.

With a variety of lodging options grouped together along the crater rim, daily game drives are the primary method of exploring the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The region is home to the “Cradle of Mankind” at the Olduvai Gorge, where one of the earliest known specimens of the human genus was discovered, in addition to its abundance of wildlife.

Tarangire National Park

One of the lesser-known treasures of the Northern Circuit is Tarangire National Park, which sprawls across lush river valleys, granite ridges, and acacia woodlands. It is named after the Tarangire River, which runs through its center and serves as a source of water for large numbers of wildebeest, zebras, and antelopes. Tarangire has been home to up to 3,000 elephants at any given time, in addition to giraffes, buffalos, and Thompson’s gazelles. Generics and Oryx are occasionally seen, as are leopards and cheetahs.

Tarangire National Park Fees 2023/2024
Tarangire Game drives

In contrast to the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tarangire National Park is less crowded, which makes it the perfect destination for an off-the-beaten-path safari experience. You can take advantage of a much quieter environment and close encounters with wildlife rather than compete with other jeeps for the best viewing angle.

In addition to the daily game drives, visitors to Tarangire National Park enjoy walking safaris to get a closer look at wildlife without the hum of a jeep. You can also go on an overnight fly-camping excursion for a memorable evening under the endless African sky.

Lake Manyara National Park

Despite its diminutive size, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the most beautiful wildlife destinations in Africa and was called “the loveliest I had seen in Africa” by Ernest Hemingway. Around its centerpiece soda lake, it encompasses evergreen forest, savannah, and marshlands over a distance of about 50 kilometers along the base of the Rift Valley escarpment.

With its close-quarters game viewing opportunities, Lake Manyara National Park has one of the highest biomass densities of large mammals in the world. It is also home to Masai giraffe, wildebeest, and zebra, as well as large families of elephants and unusual tree-climbing lions, as well as buffalo, gazelles, and hippos that can be seen swimming in the lake. The sight of the tens of thousands of flamingos that congregate along the lake’s shores during the rainy season is perhaps the most well-known Lake Manyara experience. Within the park’s boundaries, more than 400 different bird species have been identified, and baboons and blue monkeys are also common.

You can spend a few hours on game drives exploring Lake Manyara because of its small size. To experience a night safari and see some of Lake Manyara’s nocturnal species, along with an unforgettable bush dinner under the stars, as part of a Tanzania safari package, it is worth staying a few extra days.

 Arusha National Park

Arusha is a small but impressive national park that is frequently used as a starting point for visitors traveling the Northern Circuit. It is dominated by the peak of Mount Meru. With landscapes ranging from lush highland forests to the grasslands surrounding the Ngurdoto Crater and the shallow, alkaline Momella Lakes, it is conveniently located close to Arusha, the center of the world’s safari industry.

Giraffes, Cape buffalo, and zebras are among the many species of wildlife that can be found in Arusha National Park. The forests are also home to blue and black-and-white colobus monkeys, and flamingos are frequently spotted wading in lake waters. One of the park’s highlights is its abundant birdlife, which includes rare sightings of the Narina and Bar-tailed Trogons. Mount Meru is also a popular hiking location with stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro, which is nearby.


In general, the dry season, which lasts from June to October, is thought to be the ideal time to take a private safari through Tanzania’s Northern Safari Circuit because the sparser vegetation and fewer water sources make it easier to spot wildlife. Fewer mosquitoes around the camps and lodges in the evenings due to the sunny skies and low rainfall make it ideal for going on game drives.

Although you can anticipate a lot of crowds in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro (and higher accommodation prices as a result), June and July are the best months to go on a luxury safari in Tanzania on the Northern Circuit if you want to see the wildebeest migration in full swing. Alternatively, you can schedule your trip for August to see the famous Mara River crossing.

Northern Tanzania experiences its wet season from November through May, when the grassy plains turn a lush and picturesque green. However, the brief afternoon showers shouldn’t prevent you from traveling throughout the area, and you’ll be treated to breathtaking bird watching as migratory birds converge from Europe and Asia.

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