Tanzania Overview

Tanzania is anything but low-key: it plays host to the plains of the Serengeti, the Great Migration, the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Maasai. Despite the big names, it’s often the smaller details that remain in the memory – the fiendishly good fusion of Arabic, Swahili and Indian cuisine; an eye-opening bushwalk with a Maasai guide; a glimpse of an endangered wild dog in the little-visited south; the silhouette of a dhow at sunset. This land has attracted travellers for centuries – and it will be sure to attract many, many more in the years to come. Find out more in our Tanzania travel guide.

Our top Tanzania holidays

Tanzania Selous safari holiday & Zanzibar

From £2150
10 days ex flights
Off-the-beaten track safari experiences & paradise beaches

Tanzania safari and Zanzibar beach holiday

From £3995 to £6950
13 days ex flights
Your tailor-made Tanzania safari & Zanzibar beach holiday

Luxury Tanzania safari and Zanzibar beach holiday

From £3400
13 days inc UK flights
Selous safari then relax on beautiful Zanzibar

Best time to go to Tanzania

The best time to visit Tanzania is when two million animals make the precarious Mara River crossing in June and July – and drier weather means you’ll see more wildlife around waterholes. Outside those months you can still track the migration elsewhere in the Serengeti. January and February bring fewer vehicles and greener landscapes after the short rains. You’ll see baby wildebeest… and more predators. The heaviest rains fall from March to early May, which freshens up the landscape but can cause some travel disruption – with many lodges in the remote south closing during this time. Read more about the best time to visit Tanzania.
Tanzania temperature and rainfall chart

Map & highlights

The north of Tanzania is dominated by the Serengeti, a vast plain which sweeps all the way up to Lake Victoria. Nearby is the Ngorongoro Crater – thought to be the remains of a giant collapsed volcano – which practically erupts with wildlife. You’ll also find Lake Manyara, which is famous for flamingos. Mount Kilimanjaro sits right near Tanzania’s border with Kenya, and if you head south you’ll reach Selous Game Reserve – a treat for wildlife watchers willing to go off the beaten track. With the Big Five ticked off, head to the beach: Zanzibar, the island off the coast, has the best.
Lake Manyara

1. Lake Manyara

Twitchers will love this national park with its charismatic flamingos – just one of the 380 species of birds to have been recorded in these lake, forests, shrub and grasslands. Lions also take advantage of the park’s abundant greenery – the lions here are one of the only known groups to climb trees, making them particularly photogenic. Wildebeest, hippos, giraffes, baboons and zebras also thrive here – along with huge herds of elephants.
Mount Kilimanjaro

2. Mount Kilimanjaro

‘Kili’ is the highest mountain on the continent, standing at a (literally) breathtaking 5,895m high. Several routes cross its chilly barren slopes up to the ice fields and three volcanic cones at its summit – finally reaching its highest point, Uhuru or Kibu Peak. Some 23,000 people attempt to climb Kili each year, but it remains a formidable challenge and, ultimately – for those who do reach the roof of Africa – a rewarding one.
Ngorongoro Crater

3. Ngorongoro Crater

This is a giant, 25km-wide bowlful of 30,000 animals – including massive bull elephants, elusive leopard and black rhino. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the easiest place to see the Big Five year-round – hence the high number of vehicles. The crater’s Olduvai Gorge is home to some of the world’s oldest human remains – including a 1.75 million year old skull – which has shaped our understanding of evolution.
Selous Game Reserve

4. Selous Game Reserve

The Serengeti gets all the glory, but the little-visited Selous is actually even larger – with the wildlife numbers to match. Thousands of elephants, buffalo and antelopes roam the park, along with rare and beautiful wild dogs – not usually seen in the north. A boat cruise on Lake Tagalala gets you up close to hippos, crocodiles and birds. The massive space and handful of lodges mean you’re far more likely to see wildlife than tourists.
Serengeti

5. Serengeti

The kind of place where you’re going to find yourself humming Toto’s “Africa”; the Serengeti needs almost no introduction. It is the stuff of African legend, the savannah traversed by a million wildebeest – zebras and gazelles in tow – during the world’s greatest migration. At 15,000km2, Tanzania’s oldest park has space for lodges and camps to suit all tastes, plus Big Five game drives, walking safaris and even cyclists.
Zanzibar

6. Zanzibar

Zanzibar embodies the spirit of “exotic”; an enticing mélange of Middle Eastern, Indian and Swahili culture and food, spice tours, and dhows pushed along by the tradewinds. Explore the alleyways of UNESCO-listed Stone Town, then escape to a tranquil resort, framed by white sand and the deep blue of the Indian Ocean. Diving, kayaking and boat tours allow you to discover the weird and wonderful marine life up close.

Safari holidays

The biggest reason to go to Tanzania is for its safari holidays – and there are many places across the country for close encounters with the natural world. The north of the country is the most visited. Here, you’ll find the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara (a lesser-known haven for birdwatchers) all relatively close to each other. Fewer people go south to the enormous Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park. Tanzania has a well-deserved reputation for providing luxury trips, but there are ways to go on safari inexpensively – especially if you join an overland tour or combine game viewing with volunteering.

Serengeti

Umbrella thorn acacias spread their canopies above a plain which stretches as far as the eye can see. A big name in big game viewing, the Serengeti comprises a large area of northern Tanzania and spreads into southwestern Kenya. There’s a national park and several game reserves where you can see the Big Five, as well as some of the biggest herds of wildebeest and plains game in the world. Over 1.7 million wildebeest move through the Serengeti in search of good grazing during the Great Migration. July and August are peak season for seeing them in the northern Serengeti.

Climbing Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the continent, and you don’t need to be a mountaineer to get to its summit. The ascent – accounting for acclimatisation because of the high altitude – can be spread out over eight days, though there are five-day treks too. Climbers camp out on the mountain and porters carry their equipment, food and water. It’s a serious achievement to get to the top, requiring good fitness and training, and it’s often best to take a longer trek so that you can spend a good amount of time getting used to the altitude.

More holiday ideas

Serengeti wildlife safari, Tanzania migration

From US $2304 to US $4117
6 days ex flights
Explore off road in the world famous Ndutu area
Tailor made

Selous safari and beach holiday in Tanzania

From £2850
14 days ex flights
A safari in Selous followed by time spent on a small island

Exciting family holiday in Tanzania

From £3000 to £4500
13 days ex flights
A family holiday for all ages including the best of Tanzania

Selous safari & Mafia Islands diving holiday

From £3220
13 days inc UK flights
Africa's largest game park

Community volunteering in Tanzania

From £600
14 days ex flights
Have fun helping people help themselves
Small group2021: 10 Jul, 24 Jul, 25 Jul, 8 Aug, 9 Aug, 23 Aug

Tanzania safaris, northern circuit

From £2340 to £2940
7 days ex flights
Serengeti, Ngorogoro and Tarangire at a leisurely pace
Tailor made
Quote. The secret to a great holiday is that it's great for everyone - you, local communities and nature.
Tourist and Masai

More about Tanzania

Travelling with kids in Tanzania

Children will be entranced by a family holiday in Tanzania. It usually starts with a safari and finishes with some time by the ocean – take a short flight to the island of Zanzibar to find the best beaches. Given the driving involved, safari holidays are best suited to children over the age of seven or eight who won’t get fidgety waiting for the animals to appear (though you won’t wait long in wildlife-rich places like the Ngorongoro Crater). Older children and teens might be interested in something more active – you could consider a cycling holiday.

Types of holidays

The most popular way to see Tanzania is on a safari holiday. The country is well-known for sophisticated game viewing trips and the best way is via game drives in a safari vehicle. You can go on safari as part of a small group holiday. Joining a group trip is also great if you’re looking to climb Kilimanjaro, cycle, or go on a longer overland tour. Tailor made holidays to Tanzania can be made around your requirements, and if you want to splash out on a big-ticket trip, there are a vast selection of luxury lodges and classy camps.

Where to go in Tanzania

We think that the best place to go in Tanzania might be Selous Game Reserve. Not only is it four times bigger and far less visited than the Serengeti, but there’s more chance of seeing wildlife, including endangered African wild dogs. Safari done and dusted, you could relax on a beach for a bit before heading home – head into the Indian Ocean and you’ll encounter the Zanzibar archipelago. From the beaches here, you’ll see dhows skimming across the horizon and fish being caught for Stone Town’s market. It’s definitely worth leaving the beach to see the island’s capital.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Tanzania or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
[Safari holidays: Hu Chen] [Serengeti: Hu Chen] [Climbing Kilimanjaro: Ben Spoelhof] [Travelling with kids in Tanzania: CatherineMarie] [Types of holidays: Robson Hatsukami Morgan] [Where to go in Tanzania: Odd Fellow]
Photo credits: [Page banner: Atosan] [Safari holidays: Hu Chen] [Serengeti: Hu Chen] [Climbing Kilimanjaro: Ben Spoelhof] [Travelling with kids in Tanzania: CatherineMarie] [Types of holidays: Robson Hatsukami Morgan] [Where to go in Tanzania: Odd Fellow]