Tanzania is the perfect stage for both epic natural events and intimate shared moments.

Luxury Safaris in Tanzania

Tanzania is Africa writ large – the sheer scale of the country gives you an incredible feeling of space and freedom, and especially in the more remote areas, evokes a sense of exploration and discovery. Tanzania is the perfect stage for both natural events on an epic scale, like the fabled Great Wildebeest Migration, and also for intimate shared moments. I’ve always enjoyed the contrast between the rugged landscapes and the opulence of the camps and lodges on a luxury Tanzania safari.

To tell you all about Tanzania is to tell a tale in three parts – or an opera in three acts. The opening scenes take place in northern Tanzania on the sea of land that is the Serengeti, a boundless swathe of savannah that links with Kenya’s Masai Mara and trembles beneath the hooves of the herds. Also factor in the ‘lost world’ of the Ngorongoro Crater (for unforgettable sightings of black rhino with volcanic cliff walls as a backdrop) and the bulbous baobabs and plodding pachyderms of Tarangire.

The second act is a sensuous interlude on Tanzania’s Indian Ocean islands. Exploring Zanzibar, you’ll be seduced by the scents of spices as you are drawn into the maze of Stone Town, and captivated by the undersea beauty of the Mnemba Atoll. Here, swimming with wild dolphins will set your soul soaring, as will watching the sunset from a dhow.

The climactic third act is set in the remote game reserves of southern Tanzania: untrammeled wilderness areas that will delight your inner adventurer. The best of the activities here carry an authentic echo of Victorian exploration, whether fly camping, exploring the glittering Rufiji Delta by boat or sleeping in a treehouse.

When to Go

After the rains of April and May, the vegetation is lush at the outset of the dry season, but gradually dies back, making wildlife easier to spot. Temperatures are delightful – warm days bracketed by cooler mornings and evenings. This is the best time of year to visit the southern parks, or to experience a chimpanzee safari at Mahale Greystoke. The Great Wildebeest Migration arrives in the Serengeti in June and July, so this area can become a little crowded – but you can always escape to the Indian Ocean islands of Zanzibar, Benguerra or the Quirimbas.

Short rains in November refresh the savannah, but are followed by a dry spell which withers the grasses again, prompting incredible congregations of game at waterholes. Synchronised wildebeest calving on the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti in January and February represents a bonanza for predators – and wildlife photographers. With the parks less crowded, it’s also a great opportunity to concentrate on resident wildlife in the Ngorongoro Crater and the flamboyant Great Rift Valley Lakes flamingo. Humidity on Zanzibar climbs from February, so visit in December and January.

Tanzania experiences two rainfall peaks each year: the short rains in November, and the long rains in April and May. The rains – and the resulting new grass growth – are of course the main drivers of the Great Wildebeest Migration. During April and May, the herds move north within the Serengeti, through Seronera and towards the Western Corridor. November sees the wildebeest return from the Masai Mara into the northeastern Serengeti. It’s worth noting that exact rainfall periods – and migration patterns – can of course vary from year to year.

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