Destinations

Southern safari

A safari in the south will be a memorable and fantastic experience for first time travellers as well as the more demanding, returning travellers. The area offers some of the most untouched and authentic safaris that Africa has to offer. Unlike any other area in Tanzania, the parks in south can be combined so that you get to experience every kind of topography; ranging from savannahs only interrupted by lonesome Acacia trees and wildlife, through dense bush and rainforest, to the magnificent view from the top of the Uluguru mountains.

These areas offer the most variety of all our destinations within Tanzania, a trip to the south can take you on game-drives, boat safaris, walking safaris, hiking, monkey and butterfly safari and to top it all off – you are always close to an airstrip with some of the cheapest flights (from inside parks) out to Zanzibar.

The South has our absolute recommendation for all safari and game-viewing experiences.

Overall short review

- Best value
- Topographical variety
- Untouched and unspoilt
- Authentic
- Few tourists
- River safari

Selous Game Reserve

The largest park in Selous is defined as a Game Reserve, this lets us take you off-road and into the wilderness to come as close as you possible can to undisturbed wildlife. Large numbers of elephants, black rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles live in this immense sanctuary, which measures 50,000 km2 and is relatively undisturbed by human impact. Although you can’t expect to see shy animals like black rhinos and cheetas around every corner, this place has plentyful of them! In the northern area of Selous, maintained as purely a game-viewing area, there are good chances of seeing lions, giraffes, elephants, the Greater Kudu and Eland antelope and the endemic wild dog.

I don’t think we have had a safari in the Selous without including a boat safari on the Rufiji river, main wildlife to be spotted on a boat safari are hippos, crocodiles and birds. There is nothing quite as astounding as seeing one of the worlds prettiest sunsets, accompagnied by the grunts of hippos and chrips of some of 440 registered species of birds in the Selous.

The park has a variety of vegetation zones, ranging from dense thickets to open wooded grasslands. Safaris are mainly driven in the denser parts, but this is also what makes the safari so special – you never know what lies around the next corner. And yes, there are several other parks in Africa with denser grasslands, but they normally have a 2 lane ”highway” going through them, not the Selous. There is a dirt road to let you know the general direction that you are going – but we prefer to take you off-road and into the natural habitats of the wildlife (they don’t even care!).

The Selous is the largest conserved area in the world, the entire Selous ecosystem spans over 90.000 km2 and includes several national parks and stretches into Mozambique. Over half of this is defined as the Selous Game Reserve.

The Selous never fails to impress us, and is highly recommended for any kinds of travellers!

Information

  • Fame: Medium
  • Price: Low
  • Value for money: High
  • Seclusion: High
  • Accessiblity: Car, airplane
  • Speciality: River safari, Wild dog
  • Suits for: Families, Pairs, Groups
  • Safaris: 4x4 car, boat, walking, hot air balloon

Climate table for Selous G.R.

selous

Mikumi National Park

Often referred to as a "Serengeti in miniature", this national park offers the classical and long stretched savannah, only interrupted by a lonesome Acacia tree every now and then. In other words; The image that most people see in their heads when you mention safari and Africa in the same sentence.

Mikumi is the fourth largest park in Tanzania and offers abundant wildlife. With a size over 3200 sq. km. this park can be enjoyed all day long, and offers fantastic sunsets. The cheetah can't be seen here, but combine this park with Ruaha and your chances are as high as they can be! It is also usual to combine this park with Selous and Udzungwa for what is probably Africa's most diverse safari, both in form of activities, topography and wildlife.

The best months to visit Mikumi really depends on what you prefer, June - October is the dry season, the vegetation is low and the animals are easier to spot. October - Januar is the "wet" season, you might get a little dribble and the humidity rises a bit, but everything is lush and green (an you can still spot tons of wildlife!).

Mikumi has not yet received the fame and recognition it deserves (from the masses of tourists), luckily – we say. There are far fewer tourists in Mikumi than most other parks with its topography, and if you tell your driver you would like to explore the wooded hills in the south, there are none. Just you and the nature. Most people stick to the central loop in this park, but if you have more than a half day safari our advice is to also check out the southern Mikumi.

Information

  • Fame: Medium
  • Price: Low
  • Value for money: High
  • Seclusion: Medium-High
  • Accessiblity: Car, airplane
  • Speciality: Savannah and elephants
  • Suits for: Families, pairs, groups
  • Safaris: 4x4 car, walking

Udzungwa Mountains National Park

Many underestimate the beauty and richness of the Udzungwa Mountains, true – there are no predatory mammals that lurks in the woods and no lonesome Acacia trees on vast savannahs. What Udzungwa has to offer is very different; Closed-canopy forest-covered mountains that reach over 2000 meters in height, Africa's tallest free falling waterfall (Sanje Waterfalls, 170 meter drop), a mesmerizing view from all plateaus, over 400 species of birds (of which four are endemic) and it's even home to the Iringa Red Colubus and Sanje Crested Mangabey. The two latter are primates that are also endemic to Udzungwa.

It is also well known for its hiking routes, offering several trails that takes all from 5-6 hours and up to 5-6 days to complete! We normally recommend the Sanje Trail, a short and quite intense route that takes you up to the Sanje Waterfalls. On the private hike you have your own guide who tells you about all the medicinal plants, herbs and trees that are on the trail that are being used by the locals even today! He is also adept at spotting the primates and birds that live in the forest. Although Udzungwa has over 400 species of birds, on our recommended trip you will see fairly few of them. The trees are around 30 meters tall which makes spotting small birds quite a hard task! Closer to ground you still have the occasional bird, but you will see many variations of butterflies.

On your way up (or down) you can take a swim in one of the many natural pools that the waterfalls create, so don't forget to bring appropriate clothing and a towel. At the top of the Sanje Waterfall you enjoy a packed lunch and can enjoy the magnificent view. If you only have 2-3 days on safari we would probably advice to skip this, but if you really want to visit this place even with few days on safari, we will gladly set it up for you!

Information

  • Fame: Low
  • Price: Low
  • Value for money: High
  • Seclusion: High
  • Accessiblity: Car
  • Speciality: Waterfall, trekking, monkeys, butterflies, medicine-vegetation
  • Suits for: Families, pairs, groups
  • Safaris: Walking

Ruaha National Park

Ruaha is the largest National Park in Tanzania with its 20,226 square kilometres (7,809 sq mi).

The name from the park is derived from the Great Ruaha River stretching 475 km (300 mi). The park is situated in the southern highlands, in the very heart of the country. If you drive straight from Dar es Salaam it would take close to one day. This is not however recommended, and customers who travel to Ruaha by car, is advised to stop for a one day safari in Mikumi, a cultural visit in Morogoro or a hiking trip in Udzungwa on their way to Ruaha. If you have a fly-in safari, you can either fly direct from Dar (about 2,5 h) or it can be combined with a fly-in safari to Selous.

Ruaha is a truly spectacular park, with great overviews. The landscape is diverse and consists of large plains, hilltops, bush and the most important and at heart of it all, The Great Ruaha River! In the wet season (Jan-Apr) it is an flowers and birds (more than 450 species). In the dry season it is probably one of the best places in the world to spot large mammals and predators. If the most important thing for you is to see predators like lions, leopard and even cheetahs, this is definitely your park.
Actually 10% of all the 25 000 lions left in Africa live in Ruaha! Although it can be hard to spot, cheetah is not a rear site, and leopard spotting is actually quite common. Ruaha is also famous for it´s large population of elephants (estimated to around 10 000). But apart from this there is a great diversity and a possibility to see all big (and small) mammals except from the rhino.

Due to the secluded area the park is situated in, it costs a little bit more than the rest of the Southern areas and also compared to some parks up north. This being said –it is worth every penny! Tanzania Explorer rank Ruaha as the nr. 1 park in Tanzania and one of the absolute best safari places in the whole of Africa.  All camps, lodges and accommodation in Ruaha are top-notch in our eyes. You will not find any “budget” or low mid-range lodges here, which makes the experience even better.
We give Ruaha top score and is the most recommended park!

Information

  • Fame: Low, but rising
  • Price: Medium to high
  • Value for money: Extreme
  • Seclusion: High
  • Accessiblity: Car, airplane
  • Speciality: Predatory animals, lion herds and topographical variation
  • Suits for: Families, groups, pairs.
  • Safaris: 4x4 car, walking and night safari

Climate table for Ruaha N.P.

ruaha

Northern safari circuit

If you have ever seen anything about wild animals in Africa on your television – it's probably filmed here! The northern area has the most famous parks in the world for game-viewing. There is no other place in Tanzania where the animal density is as high as here, but to be honest, the same goes for tourists.  Although you can spot almost every animal in Tanzania in this area you don't get the same "contact" with the animals as in the south or west, mostly because of all the other vehicles cramped up in a tight herd to get a glimpse of a lion.

We mainly recommend the North for first-timers or in combination with a trek up Kilimanjaro. If you time your trip right (and depending on destination) you can see the speciality of this area – the great migration. Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra and buffalo stampeding through rivers and savannah's, all to make sure they have access to the food and water they need to survive the year. The great migration can be read more about in the section for Serengeti

Overall short review

- Most famous destinations
- High density of animals
- The Great Migration
- Quite expensive
- Better road standards
- Least secluded

Serengeti National Park

The highly regarded and well renowned Serengeti. It is almost hard to describe this park, it's a huge park with an enormous diversity and -amount of animals. The Serengeti is most famous for the Great Migration and it's classical never-ending savannah. The Serengeti Ecosystem is roughly 25,000 sq. km (the size of the neighbouring country Rwanda), this includes the Maasai Mara in Kenya (1,500 sq. km.) and the Serengeti N.P. at almost 10x the size (14,700 sq. km.) amongs other smaller areas and buffer zones. The Serengeti National Park is divided into three main areas:

Serengeti Plains: The mental-image most people have of Africa; Long, almost treeless plains packed with wildlife. The migration passes through from December to May.

Western Corridor: Black clay/swampy savannah close to Grumeti River, housing Nile crocodile amongst others. The migration passes through from May to July.

Northern Serengeti (bordering to Kenya): Open woodlands and hills. The migration passes through from July to November.

Combine Serengeti with the Ngorongoro Crater and you have a combination of the two most renowned safari destinations in the world! Personally we prefer the southern areas as they have far lesser tourists, but they also have a bit lower density of animals, so for first-timers or travellers trekking up Kilimanjaro these areas are fantastic (NB: the south is also magnificent for first-timers, and far cheaper!).

"I still remember the feeling of seeing The Serengeti for the first time: It was everything I dared to dream about and then some! Unfortunately, for me as a wildlife photographer, it did not satisfy my needs for «elbow space», leaving me with many "half-car, half-lion" images. A park with fewer tourists would be my next destination"
- Fred, Tanzania Explorer Partner and wildlife photographer

Information

  • Fame: Extreme
  • Price: High
  • Value for money: High
  • Seclusion: Low
  • Accessiblity: Car, airplane
  • Speciality: Endless savannah, high animal density
  • Suits for: Everyone
  • Safaris: 4x4 car, hot air balloon, walking and night safari

Climate table for Serengeti N.P.

serengeti

Ngorongoro Crater National Park

Imagine the world's largest inactive, intact, unfilled volcanic caldera and spanning 19 km. across. Now fill it up with almost every animal Tanzania has to offer. What you're picturing actually exists, and is known as the Ngorongoro Crater. This National Park is one of the most famous in Africa, and with good reason. Few animals ever get in or out of the crater, with exception of the migrating wildebeest and zebras. This has led to inbreeding of the craters population, especially lions (as they don't take too kindly on new males), in despite of this the population is surprisingly healthy and large.

The crater is also home to a few black rhinoceros, visiting the crater on your safari in the northern Tanzania will maximize your chances of seeing these shy, large mammals. We rarely recommend more than a total of one day in the crater, due to several factors: The park fee is 3-4 times more than any other park (greatly increasing the cost), the crater will seem surprisingly small when driving in a vehicle and let's face it; there will be a lot of tourists. If it is of interest we can recommend stopping by the Olduvai Gorge. This is one of the most important paleoanthropological (the study of ancient humans) sites in the world. There has been found evidence of ancient human ancestors as far back as 2 million years – about the time when the crater last erupted (so no need to worry!).

On your drive to (or from, depending on route) the crater you will stop to have a breathtaking view of the area from atop the craters rim. Make sure you have charged your camera's batteries, the view is truly one of a kind!

Information

  • Fame: Extreme
  • Price: Very high
  • Value for money: High
  • Seclusion: None
  • Accessiblity: Car (or fly and land outside)
  • Speciality: Everything about it
  • Suits for: Everyone
  • Safaris: 4x4 car

Climate table Ngorongoro N.P.

Ngorongoro

Lake Manyara National Park

This national park offers something very unique, although little in size; If you're there at the right time (just after the rain seasons) the lake is packed with beautiful flamingos. If you are lucky you get to see the tree-climbing lions this park is very famous for, this habit is extremely rarely seen in the southern Serengeti as well. You can also spot different kinds of primates and the park offers great bird-viewing. Giraffes and dik-dik (a small antelope) are also common to see. It's size is only 330 sq. km., of which nearly 200 sq. km. is the lake when the water levels are high.

Driving into the park you have to keep your eyes peeled, dense bush and tall trees creates a very good and safe hiding place for animals further down the food chain. This means that you may stop abruptly if your driver spots something in between the vegetation. If you are going, or have been on safari in Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater, this will surely be a pleasant change of pace, having to actively look for animals together with your guide. This is not a park you stay several days in, we normally recommend a half day, as we think the remaining time is better spent getting to the Ngorongoro Crater (or on the way home from it, depending on route). However, if you would like an entire day and get to drive through the whole park, we will happily arrange it for you! For shorter safaris with as little driving as possible, a full day in Lake Manyara N.P. combined with a couple days in Tarangire N.P. will give you a great safari experience, with satisfying variation both in topography and animals diversity.

We feel the need to emphasize that Lake Manyara can offer both OK and incredible safaris, this is because of large variations in both animal type and density depending on season. As no seasons are the same we hope you take this into consideration and account, especially if you would like an entire day there.

Information

  • Fame: Medium
  • Price: High
  • Value for money: Medium
  • Seclusion: Medium
  • Accessiblity: Car, airplane
  • Speciality: Tree-climbing lions, flamingos, primates
  • Suits for: Everyone
  • Safaris: 4x4 car, night safari

Tarangire National Park

Tarangire is also a underestimated park, although almost as expensive as The Serengeti, and with many visitors, this national park offers some things few other parks have. Lions are common, large population of elephants, a river running consistently with water (even through the drought) and topographical variation unlike the other northern parks.

Visiting this park in the end of May or start of June will let you see it all lush and green, but there might still be a few raindrops in the air. This parks prime is from June to October, with an increasing tension between the animals getting a sip of water from the Tarangire River. This is the only river in the area that always has water, so it is a critical and life-depending source for most of the animals in the park.

If you're climbing the majestic Kilimanjaro and would like a short safari too, this park is a great, short-travel alternative, and in combination with Lake Manyara a full-worthy safari experience. If you plan for 5-6 days of safari or more we can recommend stopping in this park for a half-day safari on your way to the Ngorongoro Crater.

Again we feel the need to emphasize that also Tarangire can offer both good and incredible safaris, this is because of large variations in both animal type and density depending on season. As no seasons are the same we hope you take this into consideration and account. Let it also be said that we have personally had very good experiences in Tarangire!

Information

  • Fame: High
  • Price: High
  • Value for money: Medium to high
  • Seclusion: Low
  • Accessiblity: Car or airplane
  • Speciality: Large herds of elephant, Tarangire River
  • Suits for: Everyone
  • Safaris: 4x4 car, walking and night safari

Western safari circuit

Not so well known amongst regular travelers, the Western Tanzania offers the most luxurious accommodations and highest standard service – with an appropriate price tag. Being driven to the west from Dar es Salaam takes at least two days, so accessing this area is best done by air. The two main national parks offer each their speciality, but in sense of wildlife parks like Ruaha, Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater offers far better and more varied game-viewing. It is possible to drive from Dar es Salaam, but be prepared for a back-aching trip over two-three days. A possible route (without game-viewing underway) is:

Day 1: Dar es Salaam - Ruaha/Iringa (overnight)Day 2: Ruaha/Iringa - Mbeya/Sumbawanga (overnight)Day 3: Mbeya/Sumbawanga - Katavi (short safari depending on choice of overnight location).

Based on the driving route above we would recommend to extend the trip and add a few days of safari underway, this will give you a less strenuous trip and doesn't cost a lot extra, it will be your safari guide driving you from Dar es Salaam. The drive from Mbeya to Katavi is about 550 km and is often described as “tough, but spectacular”.

We can recommend the western parks if you want to really indulge yourselves in luxury and all that follows, but be prepared for an expensive trip! If money is no object and you want a ultra-exclusive trip (i.e. with family, business associates or a honeymoon) this is the right place for you.

Overall short review

- Most luxurious
- Most expensive in total
- Fly in/fly out
- Chimpanzees in Mahale
- Lake Tanganyika

Katavi National Park

Unlike anything, or anywhere, Katavi is a destination with remnants of Tanzania. This is one of the very few parks that really let you feel that you're exploring and discovering a new place, before anyone else. It is so packed with wildlife that it is questioned if it surpasses the Ngorongoro crater in animal density (and for those who already have been there – we needn't say more!).

The travel to this park, being as expensive as it is, scares off the majority of the first (and second) -timers. Not only does this make the park more exclusive and remote, but there are far less tourists than in almost any other parks. With only three permanent camps, all permitting maximum 12 visitors each, it is guaranteed that you will see more game than people. The entire park area is almost 4,500 sq. km. large, and is the third largest park in Tanzania. In comparison The Serengeti is 14,700 sq. km., over three times as large, but has over 350,000 visitors every year. Katavi is estimated to have 1,200-1,500 visitors every year, just shy of 0,005% of what Serengeti has.

This is one of the best parks to see predators hunting, the amount of lions and buffalo makes for quite the spectacle when they set off into furious duels, with theirs lives as stake. Game-viewing in general is very good, the Katavi National Park has an abundancy of crocodiles and hippos, large numbers of zebras, elephants and lions and the occasional leopard. Truly a park that offers most of the animals one expects to see. Expect to see more action as the drought increases, the shrinking waterholes forces animals down to the rivers and tension starts to rise. We recommend visiting from June to October, as October is the peak of the dry season.

Information

  • Fame: Medium
  • Price: Very high (considering getting there)
  • Value for money: High
  • Seclusion: High to extreme
  • Accessiblity: Airplane, car
  • Speciality: Seclusion, remoteness and exclusivety
  • Suits for: Experienced safari travelers with a high budget
  • Safaris: 4x4 car, walking and airplane safari

Climate table for Katavi N.P.

katavi

Mahale Mountains National Park

It's hard to know where to start when it comes to this park. This mountain park is the best place in all of Africa for a chimpanzee safari (even better than Gombe), in addition it is bordering to Lake Tanganyika with a massive percentage of endemic fish. A jaw-dropping 98% of the Tanganyikan cichlid species and 59% of non-cichlid fish are endemic to this lake, totaling at over 240 kinds of fish. It's the worlds 2nd largest, -deepest and -longest freshwater lake, divided to four countries (Tanzania possesses 46%). In other words; For fresh-water snorkeling and diving it is amongst the very best!

Accessing the park is a journey in itself, it is only accessible by boat – which takes you straight to your lodge. The boat departs from Ikola or Kigoma, depending on where you are. If you have just been on safari in Katavi the closest is Ikola.

Most people come to Mahale Mountains for its exceptional chimpanzee treks. Finding the chimpanzees can have you trekking all day, but this is very depending on season. They come further down the mountain to search for food later in the season. Unfortunately, but understandable, the time you have with the chimpanzees is limited to one hour each day, but there is much more to find in Mahale! Crocodiles, hippos and other primate species are common as well as many birds. The best season for chimpanzees is from the start of June to October.

If you are lucky and find the chimps quickly, do not worry about what to do the rest of the day; You can go kayaking, birdwatching, snorkeling or diving, fishing or enjoy a barefoot walk on the pristine beaches.

The water in Lake Tanganyika is so clear that by it self, it should be a reason to visit this diamond of a destination.

Information

  • Fame: Medium
  • Price: Very high
  • Value for money: High
  • Seclusion: Extreme
  • Accessibility: Boat
  • Speciality: As Katavi + chimpanzees and beach
  • Suits for: Experienced safari travelers with a high budget
  • Safaris: Primarily walking safari, also diving/snorkeling

Eastern safari circuit

In the east of Tanzania there are especially two parks that is worth visiting if you're not going to visit the more famous safari destinations found in either the north, west or south. Eastern parks are smaller and offer less diversity of animals, but still has become famous for each their speciality.

If you don't want to embark on a several day safari and would like to move around as little as possible, these parks offer good game-viewing experiences within a short distance of both Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar's Stone Town.

Overall short review

- Smallest parks

Jozani Chwaka National Park

Zanzibar Island's own national park houses primates (both endemic and not), butterflies, bush babies and even an endemic species of a smaller leopard – now believed to be extinct. The extinction of the Zanzibar Leopard has led to a boost in population of smaller animals. There are still some predators left in larger numbers, like the Servaline Genet. This is a small leopard/cheetah looking, feline-behaving animal, that is related to the mongoose. These are very shy and hard to spot, they'll see you, but don't expect to see them.

The endemic primates, butterfly and birds are the main reason to visit this 50 sq. km. national park. The Zanzibar (Kirk's) Red colobus monkey is the primary attraction, but other primate species like Sykes monkey are commonly found. The Chwaka Bay's sea grass beds, lined with mangrove forest, are good breeding grounds for birds and marine wildlife.

Visiting this park and the close-by butterfly museum are great wildlife attractions on Zanzibar – besides the diving and fishing that can be read more about in the chapter about Zanzibar.

Information

  • Fame: Medium
  • Price: Low
  • Value for money: Medium
  • Seclusion: Low to medium
  • Accessiblity: Car
  • Speciality: Endemic primates and butterflies
  • Suits for: Everyone
  • Safaris: Walking safari

Saadani National Park

As one of the few national parks in Tanzania with its own beach and shoreline, this park has become famous for its hatching green sea turtles and the possibility of seeing lions taking a stroll on the beach. The chances of seeing lions on the beach is very small, so do not travel to this park in hopes of seeing just that. That being said, this park offers four of the big-five: Lions, elephants, buffaloes and leopards. Maasai giraffes, Lichtenstein's hartebeest, common waterbucks, blue wildebeests, bohor reedbucks, common and red duikers, Dik-Diks, yellow baboons, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, black-and white Colobus monkeys, civets, mongooses, genet cats, porcupines, sable antelopes, warthogs, hippos, crocodiles, nile monitors are also found in the park.

As you probably can guess the timing is critical for viewing the hatching and "race of survival" for the green sea turtles, and as it changes every season we can not guarantee that you will see it. The best months for viewing this is from June through December, and they normally hatch at night. Still unlikely, there are better chances of seeing a female laying her eggs – a very special experience for those lucky few who have seen it!

Covering rougly 1,100 sq. km. this park should not be visited more than two days (including the drive to and from Dar es Salaam), so combining this park with others on the mainland is not recommended. Our advice is to only visit this park if you are in the area and don't have time to go to some of the more famous parks.

Saadani also offers dhow sailing, snorkeling, diving and village tours.

Information

  • Fame: Low
  • Price: Low
  • Value for money: High
  • Seclusion: Low to medium
  • Accessiblity: Car
  • Speciality: Beach and green sea turtles
  • Suits for: Everyone
  • Safaris: 4x4 car, walking safari, snorkeling

Climate table for Saadani N.P.

Dar Saadani

Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

Normally referred to just as Kilimanjaro or Mount Kilimanjaro, this mountain will take your breath away – practically speaking! It reaches 5,895 meters into the Tanzanian skies and with its flat top has gotten the fitting nickname "The Roof of Africa". This is the world's tallest free standing mountain! Kilimanjaro has many routes that takes you to the top, but at this altitude you're best off not rushing it. Shorter routes like Marangu (nicknamed Coca-Cola route) have a low percentage of summiteers, you simply don't get the same acclimatization when rushing up the mountain, and it's no fun walking in a queue either. Therefor we simply do not offer this route, we do not feel that it justifies the experience and price of such a trek and the route does not satisfy our company's philosophy – to have the best experience you possibly can have in Tanzania.

There are several factors to take into consideration when contemplating whether to do it or not (these are thoroughly explained in our "How to prepare for Kilimanjaro" document that you receive with a suggested itinerary): Age,

The trek is not to be taken lightly, choosing the right route and length of trip will be crucial for your success. Tanzania Explorer crew and staff have trekked the mountain and has first hand experience – invaluable in our opinion.

We could go on and on about the staggering beauty and views from the mountain, or about the skies that are so clear you can see The Milky Way with your own eyes, but we would rather you get a personal opinion from one of us. Find the route that suits you best below or let us help you choose.

Tanzania Explorer always strive to give our customers the best price on everything that we offer, but not at the expense of safety and success rate, especially on Kilimanjaro. We therefor use some of the most experienced guides and operators on our climbs. This will affect the price, but for this kind of trip you should not go for the cheapest option, chances are that the price is reflected in the trips outcome.

PS! We offer trekking on all routes on Kilimanjaro, but strongly recommend one of the three below – based on personal experience!

Climbing/trekking routes

Overall short review

- A tough challenge
- "Once in a lifetime"
- Mind-blowing views
- Needs preparation
- Pricy, but worth it
- Combine with safari/beach

Rongai route

We have enjoyed unimpeded success along this more quiet and exclusive route, with many climbers enjoying its benefits, and with rates of success that exceed alternative routes. This is the only route that starts from the north of Kilimanjaro, on the border to Kenya.

Together with our guides and operators we have calculated several different Rongai routes. The optimal choice amongst the several variations of the Rongai Route, will vary and depend on the office’s and your guide’s joint assessment of anticipated crowding at any particular camp, or along a section of route. Other factors such as the varying availability of water at camps along the route, the physical condition and pace of the climbing group and of course, the weather are also taken into consideration.

At first, before testing out new routes, Rongai had one of the worst success rates of all the routes, but is now the most successful route we have – to this day only one trekker has not made it to the top because of altitude sickness. This shows how important the experience and knowledge of your guides are, make sure you do not go for the cheapest option (unless it is also the best!) just to save a few hundred dollars. For most people this is a once in a lifetime experience, don't let it go to waste.

Below is an example of what a possible 7-day trek on Rongai looks like, please note that this can change without notice as our operators always look for even more secluded and optimal routes.

Day by day

DayFrom ViaToDistance (KM)Dailty altitude peak
1Rongai gateDirectlySimba camp62,650 masl.
2Simba camp2nd caveKikelewa cave83,600 masl.
3Kikelewa caveDirectlyMawenzi tarn64,300 masl.
4Mawenzi tarnAcclimatization trek3rd cave84,500 masl.
53rd caveDirectlySchool Hut54,700 masl.
6School HutGilman's Point, Uhuru Peak and Kibo HutHorombo hut205,895 masl.
7Horombo hutDirectlyMarangu gate203,700 masl.
Total:73

Information

  • Fame: Low to medium
  • Price: Medium
  • Length: ≈ 77 kilometers
  • Days: 6-7
  • Suits for: Trekkers wanting the most secluded route
  • Starting difficulty: Medium to hard
  • Speciality: Mawenzi Peak (a 2nd summit, in addition to Uhuru)

Machame route

The route begins in the south west of the mountain and proceeds steeply north over two days, until reaching the edge of the Shira Plateau at 3,900 meters. From here it drops 50 meters to Shira Camp where it joins the Lemosho and Shira routes onwards to the summit. From Shira Camp the view of the west, over the jagged peaks forming the southern edge of the Shira Plateau, is phenomenal at sunset.

We usually take acclimatization excursions a couple of hundred meters upwards to ensure a better night’s sleep and improved acclimatization.

The Machame Route tends to be our most popular choice, the topography of the route is very conducive to good acclimatization and the likelihood of reaching the summit on this route is amongst the highest on the mountain.

Day by day

DayFromViaToDistance (KM)Daily altitude peak
1Machame gateDirectlyMachame camp112,980 masl.
2Machame campDirectlyShira camp53,840 masl.
3Shira campLava TowerBarranco camp114,630 masl.
4Barranco campBreach wallBarafu camp9,54,680 masl.
5Barafu campStella Point and Uhuru PeakMweka camp155,895 masl.
6Mweka campDirectlyMweka gate8,53,100 masl.
Total:60

Information

  • Fame: Medium to high
  • Price: Medium
  • Length: ≈60 kilometers
  • Days: 6-8
  • Suits for: Those who dreamed about the classical ascend
  • Starting difficulty: Medium
  • Speciality: Lava tower

Lemosho route

The Lemosho Route is a very beautiful and unspoiled 7 or 8 day route that sometimes offer sighting of wild game along the forest section. For those seeking a quiet route away from the crowds it clearly a superior option for the first two days of trekking. Thereafter however, the route is precisely the same as the Machame Route.

The trek begins at Londorossi Gate, located in the western base of mountain, within its lush, fertile rainforest. The route heads across the Shira Plateau, before circling along the southern circuit halfway around the mountain, exposing the climber to great views from all angles. The approach to the summit is made from the east, and the descent follows the Mweka trail. With this route, your chances of reaching the “Roof of Africa” are very high.

Day by day

DayFromViaToDistance (KM)Daily altitude peak
1Londorossi gateDirectlyForest camp62,750 masl.
2Forest campShira ridgeShira 1 camp83,600 masl.
3Shira 1 campOptionalShira 2 camp143,850 masl.
4Shira 2 campLava TowerBarranco hut73,940 masl.
5Barranco hutGreat BarrancoBarafu hut94,600 masl.
6Barafu hutStella Point and Uhuru PeakMweka camp175,895 masl.
7Mweka campDirectlyMweka gate113,100 masl.
Total:72

Information

  • Fame: Medium
  • Price: Medium
  • Length: ≈ 72 kilometers
  • Days: 7-8
  • Suits for: Those seeking the most scenic route
  • Starting difficulty: Low
  • Speciality: The scenery!

Islands and beach

Tanzania seems like an endless country of "the worlds best", firstly the safari-destinations, then Mount Kilimanjaro and now to the world famous beaches and islands this country has. We'll also mention the fishing, diving, kite surfing, sailing and hospitality; which also happens to be amongst the worlds best. Getting to the islands is done by air or boat, depending on both budget and time.

Chalk white coral beaches, average water temperature of 28 degrees centigrade, a gentle breeze, palm trees, teeming wildlife and all-day sunshine are perfect descriptions for these islands for the majority of the year. Whether you like to relax on the beach and have a lazy vacation or embark on expeditions every day, you can.

The three mentioned islands all offer unrivaled, unique experiences and could be visited on the same vacation, giving three different impressions of what Tanzania has to offer. Clearly this would be very expensive, and is therefor not recommended. The largest island Unguja (Zanzibar) is the most complete destination of the three.

The main island Unguja is often referred to as Zanzibar, but in fact Zanzibar is the name of the entire archipelago, including Pemba and several other, smaller islands.

Overall short review

- Pristine white beaches
- Loads of activities to choose from
- Incredible diving/snorkeling
- Extreme luxury or budget
- Remoteness or party-factor
- Rich history
- Recreational and relaxing
- Spice tours, dolphin safari, turtle island

Zanzibar (Unguja)

By far the most popular and well know island on the east coast of Africa, Zanzibar is a “must” for your first time visit to sub-equatorial Africa. Unguja, which is actually the correct name for the island is a semi autonomous part of Tanzania. The island also referred to as the Spice Island, is probably one of the most historically interesting places in Africa. Zanzibar has something for all. If you get tired of laying at the beach or the numerous activities above and below the surface, there are plenty of activities to attend.

Jozani Forest national park, the reptile park, turtle shelters, spice tours, village tours and cultural visit to Stone Town –the historical part of Zanzibar Town which is the capital and the only “city” on Zanzibar. For a complete list, take a look at the next chapter which includes numerous activities to attend. Some people choose different islands to visit because they might have heard Zanzibar is a very “touristy” island. Correct and not correct at the same time. Just as the different safari-options of the mainland; some areas are “touristy”, other not so much. And this is where our recommendation comes in.

The northern part of the island called Nungwi, has probably some of the finest beaches on the African continent, and perhaps in the world. This of course, attracts tourists from all around the world, and encourages the growth of touristy resorts which we tend to not recommend. And in turn, creates higher prices. The eastern part however, has far less tourists, with the result of less commercialized areas, more authentic smaller resorts and very few “beach-boys” / salespeople.

The “draw-back” of the east coast, is that it is a bit more affected from tide than the northern part. During mid-day you might have to walk a bit to take a swim in the ocean. But you will always have the pool available. Despite of this, we feel that this is a great area to explore and relax for your beach vacation. There are a numerous great places/areas along the east coast, which will make your stay on Zanzibar magical!

Information

  • Fame: High
  • Price: Low to very high
  • Seclusion: Low to high
  • Speciality: Spice tours, dolphin-safari, historical Stone Town visit
  • Suits for: Everyone of all ages and interests

Climate table for Zanzibar (Unguja)

zanzibar

Pemba

Located in the northern part of the coastline, this would be considered the most “remote” of the island options. Known as the “Green Island” in Arabic, is one of 3 main islands forming the Zanzibar archipelago. The population is thought to be a little over 400 000.

Great beaches and fantastic diving-options (especially for the advanced divers), and also the home of Manta Resort, where you are able to sleep 4 meters below the surface! Although it comes at a price –what an experience it is. The island has limited activities and cultural activities/experiences unless you want to spend your time diving in this fantastic area.

The island is the most expensive of the 3 island-options. Suitable for those who want an extraordinary underwater experience, who don’t require a lot of “out of water”/beach activities, and with a little in their pockets to spend on the beach vacation.

Information

  • Fame: Medium
  • Price: High
  • Seclusion: High
  • Speciality: Diving, beaches and underwater room
  • Suits for: Pairs, groups, families and seniors

Mafia Island

The name "Mafia" originates from the Arabic word morfiyeh, which means meaning "group" or "archipelago", or from the Swahili word mahali pa afya, meaning "a healthy dwelling-place". The small island that has about 20 minor villages with the total population of about 40 000 people, is located to the southeast of the Tanzania coast. A small romantic island with only a few accommodation possibilities available. Famous for its whale sharks!

Hit the right season and you can have some of the most incredible underwater experiences with the largest fish is the sea! Like Pemba, it’s not too many activities to attend to out of the water, but plenty of fantastic diving and snorkeling opportunities. Mafia Island’s cultural and historical element would be Chole Island and its ruins which date back to the time of the sultan of Oman. Chole Bay, Mafia's protected deep-water anchorage and original harbor, is studded with islands, sandbanks and beaches.

Ideal for a romantic “get-away”, and ideal for whale shark enthusiasts and divers in all categories! Can also be combined with Zanzibar for a diverse and varied island experience!

Information

  • Fame: Medium
  • Price: Medium to high
  • Seclusion: High
  • Speciality: Beaches and remoteness
  • Suits for: Pairs, families who want a relaxing vacation