You’ll get to meet the majestic Maasai in northern Tanzania.

Best Northern Tanzania Safaris

Home to the Great Wildebeest Migration, it’s no surprise northern Tanzania is one of Tanzania’s best safari regions. While the migration more than lives up to the hype, what keeps people coming back is the myriad other activities, landscapes and wildlife moments that can be enjoyed there.

Serengeti National Park is of course the jewel in the crown, and the spectacle of tens of thousands of wildebeest advancing inexorably towards the Grumeti River, seemingly unfazed by the danger of lion or crocodile attack, makes for compelling viewing. For a different perspective, try a hot-air balloon ride over the herds, which has the added attraction of a full-on champagne breakfast in the bush when you land.

While the migration is all about the triumph of will and life, a visit to Olduvai Gorge will cause you to reflect on our own journey as a species. This is where some of the oldest hominin fossils have been found, along with evidence of early tool making.

The ‘prehistoric’ theme continues at Ngorongoro Crater, where an extinct volcano serves as a natural sanctuary for endangered species. Driving down into the crater feels like going back in time, and it’s one of the best places to spot black rhino.

For a change of pace, northern Tanzania is the birthplace of the ‘slow safari’ concept. Take a deep breath, and relax with a walking safari, or an excursion to Lake Manyara to see its clouds of gorgeous pink flamingos.

When to Go

This is a wonderful time to visit northern Tanzania, with the vegetation initially lush after the rains, but then dying back, making the wildlife that much easier to see. Temperatures are cooler (although the days are warm and sunny). With the wildebeest herds assembling to make the perilous crossing of the Grumeti River, this is the busiest time of the year here. Tarangire is a great option now, with locally migrating wildlife concentrating along the Tarangire River, or take in the tree-climbing lion and beautiful seasonal waterfalls at Lake Manyara.

The long dry spell between the rains sees the vegetation cycle being repeated: lovely green grass immediately after the rains subsequently starts to wither. As food and water become scarcer, game concentrates around waterholes, making wildlife viewing particularly easy in January. Wildebeest calving in January and February on the southern Serengeti short-grass plains means a glut of kills – it’s the best time for predator action. Away from the Serengeti, this is an ideal opportunity to see resident game in the Ngorongoro Crater and at Lake Manyara, and birders will enjoy spotting migratory species.

These are perhaps not the ideal times to visit northern Tanzania as they represent the two peaks of the wet season – the long rains in April and May; the short rains in November. This does mean however that you’ll be sharing the game reserves and national parks of northern Tanzania with far fewer people, and there’s still plenty to see. During the long rains, the Great Wildebeest Migration moves north in the Serengeti, through Seronera towards the Western Corridor, while in November the herds return from the Masai Mara.

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