Tanzania – The Northern Safari Circuit

Tanzania – The Northern Safari Circuit

Safaris have become virtually synonymous with East Africa these days, and few places can lay claim to have as rich a tapestry of beautiful wildlife as Tanzania. Names such as the Serengeti and Ngorongoro have become bywords for abundant herds, prides, troops, flocks (you name it) of Africa’s astonishing array of animals in their natural habitat, and our fortune of being able to bear witness to them.

I went on Tanzania’s world-famous safari circuit as part of an expedition to Tanzania with my workplace, a girls’ School in London. The primary purpose of this trip was to build a library for a School near Moshi, but with our mission accomplished there we had time afterwards to explore the beautiful country that is Tanzania, and to go on a safari was undoubtedly top of the group’s ‘to do’ list!

This being an expedition all about personal development, a big part of it was getting by on a limited budget. This meant having to make certain compromises – we were there during the peak dry season too – and the main one was we didn’t get to go the Serengeti…

But we did get to visit the Ngorongoro Crater. Famed as one of the world’s largest unbroken calderas, even if there were no wildlife here the setting would be stunning. The soaring walls of the crater rim are draped with lush vegetation, and the wide open spaces of the grassland below on the crater floor shimmer with crystal-clear lakes, the biggest of which is home to thousands of flamingos. Undeniably, the overall spectacle is best appreciated from above, be that at the official viewpoint or on the drive descending in to the arena.

Having said that, the sheer density of wildlife makes the crater what it is, and earns its UNESCO heritage stripes (no Zebra-related pun intended). The wildlife only revealed itself to us gradually, with the odd teaser of a perched vulture here, and a grazing warthog there, but soon we beheld multiple packs of Zebras, Wildebeest and Buffalo. The lions are the things most people come to see, and we weren’t disappointed there either; perhaps the only small disappointment was that we only saw one of the crater’s famed black rhinos in the hazy distance.

The crater is not actually a National Park, as humans still reside here in the form of Maasai tribespeople. We saw one or two on the drive down, where our guide gave us a fun fact – the name ‘Ngorongoro’ comes from the sound of the cattle bells that ring from the herds that the Maasai shepherd through the crater.

As the name implies, Lake Manyara National Park has a vast lake swept across most of its surface area, and fittingly enough wildlife can be spotted grazing around it. This park admittedly lacks the drama and scope of Ngorongro – and the Serengeti, no doubt – but it does have two draws that Ngorongro doesn’t – a greater number of elephants (we spotted one or two hiding in the trees there, but no more) and giraffes.

It’s also easier to spot monkeys and baboons here – indeed, we were greeted by some when sat outside the park gates, waiting to cut through the red tape associated with safaris in general. One monkey even briefly jumped inside our jeep through the passenger door, carelessly left open by…er, me, when I stepped out of the vehicle to stretch my legs. Needless to say, the girls inside the vehicle were not impressed with me…

Last but not least, Tarangire National Park is a somewhat underrated park slightly further to the south. As well as having a particularly high concentration of elephants (plus plenty of lions, wildebeest and zebra), this park is good for bird watching. It also arguably has the best woodland of the three, with the baobab trees taking pride of place as a particular highlight.

The Northern Safari circuit is definitely a rewarding experience for anyone with even a slight interest in the wildlife and nature of Africa, and our group thoroughly enjoyed experiencing it. The only thing that would have enhanced it even further would have been a visit to the stunning Serengeti – something to try and fit in next time, perhaps!

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34 Comments

  • Sabs

    February 6, 2017 at 7:26 pm Reply

    Tanzania looks amazing! Such an abundance of wildlife!
    Sabs recently posted…How to have fun and learn at the same time: Redberry Farm near George in the Garden RouteMy Profile

  • Polly

    February 6, 2017 at 8:02 pm Reply

    That giraffe’s expression is really cracking me up! What a wonderful experience for you and all the students as well.

    • Joe

      February 6, 2017 at 11:41 pm Reply

      Thanks 🙂 Yes, it’s a bit of a classic giraffe pose, caught in close up!

  • Naomi

    February 6, 2017 at 9:26 pm Reply

    I’d ever go on a safari in Africa it has to be in Tanzania. Everything just looks so big and grand and wide. I didn’t know there were that many monkey to spot! I need to learn a lot more before I can go on a safari. Lol

    • Joe

      February 6, 2017 at 11:42 pm Reply

      It is probably the quintessential Safari destination, but I’m sure other countries in the East and Southern Africa region would dispute that claim! The monkeys are definitely fun to spot, and perhaps don’t get as much coverage as they deserve 🙂

  • Stephanie Frias

    February 7, 2017 at 5:07 am Reply

    This looks like a once in a lifetime trip. My daughter was just asking me today if we could go to the zoo to see elephants and giraffes. And to the Circus to see a tiger jumping through a ring of fire! Oh dear, I said…no, we won’t see animals like that.We’ll just have to go see them in their natural habitat. Unfortunately, none of the said animals are found in South America where we live. Looks like Africa is in our future!

    • Joe

      February 7, 2017 at 7:11 am Reply

      Africa is the very best place to see such wildlife in their natural habitat, yes, and is a beautiful country in your own right. Your daughter will realise this when you are able to take her there! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Kevin Wagar

    February 7, 2017 at 6:41 pm Reply

    This looks like such an incredible experience! I have dreamed of an African safari for a long time. It looks like Tanzania is a perfect place to start!

    • Joe

      February 7, 2017 at 8:16 pm Reply

      I can think of no better place 🙂

  • kelsi

    February 8, 2017 at 3:11 pm Reply

    This looks so cool!! I’m not really up for trekking to Africa at this point in life, but my husband is all over it, lol!

    • Joe

      February 8, 2017 at 6:34 pm Reply

      Sounds like it would be the perfect romantic gift for him…though if you don’t get to go yourself then it would be a rather expensive one!

  • Revati

    February 9, 2017 at 4:39 pm Reply

    Safari experiences can be so addictive! I’ve only just been turned on to them in the past couple of years, and I’m constantly wanting to go back to the jungles. Africa is definitely high on my list! And more so Tanzania now!

  • Lara Dunning

    February 10, 2017 at 2:48 am Reply

    Great details. Everyone I’ve talked to that has gone on a safari has loved it. I’ve been to Africa, but not in safari country. One of these days!

    • Joe

      February 10, 2017 at 6:14 am Reply

      It’s certainly worth doing – the definitive experience in many African countries, in fact 🙂

  • Suruchi

    February 10, 2017 at 8:29 am Reply

    I am not an animal lover. But certainly want to experience safari at least once. That giraffe picture is a great one. And you mentioned you can spot a lion too, I feel that will be an open mouth moment for me.

  • Siddhartha Joshi

    February 11, 2017 at 7:15 am Reply

    It’s wonderful you could visit Tanzania for work and also managed to do the safari! I have been there a few times, but no luck with safari so far 🙂

    Lovely pictures too Joe!

    • Joe

      February 13, 2017 at 6:52 am Reply

      Yeah it’s not a bad job to have! Thanks for your kind words 🙂 Hope you do get to go on safari one day…

  • Joanna

    February 11, 2017 at 9:40 am Reply

    I would love so much to go to any country in Africa and go on a safari. It looks like such an exotic things to do, for someone like me who hasn’t been there yet. Its so amazing that you got to see lions in the wild and also giraffes. And Tanzania has so much to offer, from stunning beaches to safaris like the one you did.

  • Parampara

    February 11, 2017 at 11:11 am Reply

    I’ve been wanting to visit Tanzania for a while, hopefully this year! I really hopeI am as luck to get such terrific sightings on a safari as you! Would love for some tips and recommendations as well!

    Parampara-Parichay
    http://awaradiaries.com

    • Joe

      February 13, 2017 at 6:50 am Reply

      I would say pick your safari supplier very carefully as that will make or break your experience. You want someone who will get you there early for prime dawn viewing opportunities, have good vehicles and knowledgeable guides! 🙂

  • neha

    February 12, 2017 at 3:49 am Reply

    A national park with a lake means even more diverse lifeforms would be thriving here. I have heard a lot about the national parks of Tanzania. Can’t wait to be there and experience it all myself. Your pictures are so tempting
    neha recently posted…Our royal stay at the Lodge at Wah, PalampurMy Profile

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    February 13, 2017 at 2:18 am Reply

    All these wild animals roaming freely in their own habitat is the best thing I have seen all day today. When everyone here is obsessed with cuddling dogs I really look forward to stroking the zebras mighty in the black and white coat.

    • Joe

      February 13, 2017 at 6:48 am Reply

      If only we were allowed to touch the animals…;-)

  • Emily

    February 13, 2017 at 12:19 pm Reply

    Amazing photos – there’s so much wildlife there! The crater looks truly awesome. When my kids are old enough to fully appreciate it I’d love to take them here. I hope they grow up to love wildlife as much as I do…
    Emily recently posted…Christians and Crusaders: Along the King’s Highway, JordanMy Profile

  • Rashmi and Chalukya

    February 13, 2017 at 3:00 pm Reply

    Wildlife Safari is one main reason we would want to visit Africa and Tanzania definitely have that vibe. Exploring the wildlife in jungles the natural habitat is something very interesting and fascinating. You seem to have spotted a lot of those wonderful creatures in dry season We wonder it should have been in peak season. We really hope to make to it sometime soon in future.
    Rashmi and Chalukya recently posted…Bookmark these Beautiful Sunset Spots in India for your Next TripMy Profile

  • Abhinav Singh

    February 13, 2017 at 4:11 pm Reply

    Wow. I am a bigtime wildlife enthusiast. I want to catch the great migration in African wildlife reserves one day. I hope soon.

  • Shane Prather

    February 13, 2017 at 6:17 pm Reply

    Wow, embarking on an African Safari has been a dream of mine for years! The animals all looks majestic roaming the grasslands.

  • Jitaditya Narzary

    February 14, 2017 at 4:39 am Reply

    Tanzania is a paradise for animal lover! Especially it is great to see that you got such a clear closeup of the Lion and the Giraffe. It is very also great that you are helping out a school.
    Jitaditya Narzary recently posted…Vibha Krishnamurthy: A Crusader of HopeMy Profile

  • Samarpita Sharma

    February 14, 2017 at 12:25 pm Reply

    OMG, you made my dream trip. The moment I opened this page, my eyes were stuck on the first pic of the post. Tanzania has been a childhood dream and all these pictures you have posted tugged my heart’s strings. Loved reading the post!
    Samarpita Sharma recently posted…10 Road Trips You Must Take In 2017!My Profile

  • Indrani

    February 14, 2017 at 1:17 pm Reply

    A safari experience in Africa is high on my list. Your pics and descriptions have added fuel to that desire. The animals seem so unmindful of visitors and their cameras. How far were you? The giraffe portrait amazes me.

    • Joe

      February 14, 2017 at 6:40 pm Reply

      Yeah they’re pretty used to people! The giraffe was probably about 20 yards away, but I went for maximum zoom. They would vary the distance they kept from us, usually!

  • Carmen's Luxury Travel

    February 15, 2017 at 8:04 am Reply

    Going on a safari is definitely on my bucket list! Tanzania looks like a beautiful part of the world. Great post, thanks for sharing 🙂
    Carmen’s Luxury Travel recently posted…Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards announces its 5th Annual Gala CeremonyMy Profile

  • Jon Bailey

    March 7, 2017 at 2:43 am Reply

    Wow you’ve been to some cool spots!

  • Therie

    April 22, 2017 at 6:40 am Reply

    Serengeti would have been AMAZING for sure! But this makes an incredible experience too, though I would love to see the Big Five!
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