Arusha, known as the Safari Capital of Northern Tanzania, is a bustling city at the foot of Mount Meru, the continent’s fifth tallest mountain. It has a temperate climate with long rains between April and May and short rains in November, making it a lush oasis and a year-round destination.
It is a city of contrasts where traditionally-dressed herders heading to the markets intersect with town traffic and where gallery browsing and shopping or restaurants, clubs, and WiFi naturally transition into a wilderness experience.
There is plenty to do in Arusha as you navigate streets between the historic, traditional and new architecture.
Visit the Cultural Heritage Centre for African Art or gemstone centres and wander around the sculpture gardens. The Tanzanite Experience will give you insights into the history and mining of these exclusive Tanzanian gems and at the Shanga Centre for disabled artists you will be amazed by glasswork, beadwork, jewellery and handmade clothing.
Then take stock at The Clock Tower in the heart of town. Urban legend says this was erected to mark the middle-point of the British empire. It’s untrue, but a great story nonetheless.
The markets are vibrant chaos and offer products and everything from fish, fresh produce and meat to fabrics, arts and crafts, electronics and home goods. Be prepared to haggle and stay alert to pickpocketing opportunists.
Break from the bustle to the Burka Coffee Estate to learn the steps of coffee production from harvest to tasting; or take a hike or cycle in the Arusha countryside; take time to birdwatch; or explore Arusha National Park – and possibly even climb Mount Meru.
The domestic Arusha Airport has daily flights from numerous local destinations and national parks, while Kilimanjaro International Airport receives flights from local and international airlines. Major Airlines include KLM, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Kenya Airways.
Lake Eyasi is a remote area of stark beauty in Tanzania’s Rift Valley tucked between the Ngorongoro highlands in the North, the Kidero Mountains in the East, and the Alipi Escarpment in the West. Surrounded by ridges and ancient baobabs, the area has been home to the Hadzabe people for millennia. They are among the last people practising a hunter-gatherer lifestyle – and explorers will have a rare insight and an encounter with their culture.
Visitors can experience a respectful interaction while being escorted by Hadza guides to a lakeside camp with fly tents that allow for a 360° view of the African night sky and to weathered granite outcrops, many of which have eroded into other-worldly shapes. Climbing the ridges is a favourite pastime, as is exploring the Rock Art sites.
Excellent birding year-round is found on the Kisima Ngeda Camp grounds, at Lake Eyasi and in the woodlands. The Palearctic migration between October and April brings thousands of birds to the region.
Explorers also have a chance to meet the fierce Datoga herders who share this remote landscape with the Hadza. They wear traditional clothes and colourful beadwork, and the women traditional scar and tattoo their faces.
The hills and woodland around Lake Eyasi make game spotting difficult but being guided by the Hazda and learning to see the land as the Hadzabe do, visitors will find plenty of wildlife spoor – and a profound respect for their abilities to thrive in this demanding territory where their livelihood depends on their hunting skills.
Since this is not a wildlife area, there is little seasonality here other than the effect of the shifting seasons on the Hadzabe.
Daily flights land at Manyara airport which is a 2-hour drive to Kisima Ngeda Camp. If travelling by car, Kisima Ngeda Camp is 1-hour drive from Karatu. Roads are accessible year-round.
The Eastern Serengeti is a landscape of sweeping grassy plains dotted with granite outcrops and sliced by meandering river valleys. An all-year destination, it is one of the remotest regions of the park and is home to Africa’s largest concentrations of big cats. It is ideal for photographers and adventurers who want a safari off the beaten track.
Highlights include the bird migration from October to April, the Wildebeest migration between December and May, the Thomson Gazelle migration between March and May; and the dry season between June and September offers unrivalled big-cat viewing.
Weathered granite outcrops, that attract wildlife, dominate the grassy landscape and give visitors unique photo opportunities, as do the seasonal and perennial swamps, rivers and waterholes scattered throughout the region.
The Soit Le Motonyi region draws wildlife photographers for spectacular Lion and Cheetah sightings. Visitors also flock here to view the Wildebeest migration between October and November until May before moving North to fresh pastures. Thomson gazelles move into the area from March to May, also attracted by the green grazing spots.
In addition to the big cats, game viewers are likely to see Eland, Topi, Hartebeest, Giraffe, Ostrich and Warthog. It is also one of the best places in Africa to see smaller and rarer carnivores and insectivores such as Serval, Caracal and all three species of Jackal, Aardwolf and Honey Badgers.
Birdlife is diverse. Raptors are common, owls roost in shady crevices in the outcrops and bustards trod through the long grass. The Palearctic migration brings in flocks of White Storks, Eagles, Harriers, Kestrels, Swifts and Swallows, among others.
The region offers epic walking safaris that traverse the wilderness zones and hot air balloons rise from the Eastern Serengeti plains and drift westwards to allow for a bird’s view of the breath-taking landscape.
Daily flights land at the Seronera Airstrip in the middle of the Serengeti from Arusha and other local airports and national parks. Expect between a 1.5-hour to 2-hour drive to the remote camps that operate in the area.
An area of great scenic beauty, the northern Serengeti is a vast area of lush rolling hills covered in thick vegetation, cut by meandering river valleys and interspersed with grassy plains. From July to October, herds of Wildebeest and Zebra fill the northern Serengeti where they brave the hostile water of the Mara River in search of greener grass on the opposite bank.
The region is vast and suited for the adventurous and those preferring a safari off the beaten track. It is ideal for Wildlife Photographers following the Migration that attracts not only the Wildebeest and Zebra but also predators.
Perennial rivers and springs support large populations of resident wildlife and walking safaris are on offer for explorers to traverse the wilderness zones; or hot air ballooning that lifts from the Banks of the Mara River and drifts over the migrating herd.
Apart from the herds of Zebra and Wildebeest that dominate the landscape between July and October, the species most likely to be seen in the Northern Serengeti are Elephants, Buffalo, Impala, Topi, Hartebeest, Giraffe, Lion, Cheetah and Warthog.
Inhabited by pods of hippos and large ancient-looking Crocodiles, the meandering Mara River is the heart and lifeblood of the Northern Serengeti. And the hilly ranges with their rocky ridges are adorned with towering trees, making them superb viewing sites for Leopard.
Birdlife is as diverse and the wildlife, with many Serengeti endemics present. Green Pigeons, Orioles, and Hornbills feed on the many fruiting figs, water birds claim the many river courses and during Migration, visitors will be treated to many sightings of raptors and vultures.
Daily flights land in the Kogatende airstrip at the north of the Serengeti from Arusha and many other local airports and national park airstrips. It is a 1.5-hour drive to the remote Esirai Camp.
The grassy plains, studded with granite outcrops extend endlessly across to the horizon and serve as a nursery to herds that will make the great journey north. From December to May each year, herds of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle arrive to calve. By February, the young take their first steps on the savanna and also risk become prey to Lion and Cheetah.
This area is superb between December and May. After the rain, it transforms into a natural Eden of flowering meadows and grasses. From June, as water sources are reduced to dusty flats and the grasses die off, the wildlife moves northward in search of greener pastures.
Remote and quiet, the Southern Serengeti attracts photographers and adventurers to view the gathering herds of wildebeest where hundreds of thousands of calves might be born within three weeks, making this is world’s largest mammalian birthing event.
Apart from the Lion and Cheetah, species likely to be seen are Grant’s and Thomson Gazelles, Giraffe, Eland, Ostrich, Bat Eared Fox, Spotted Hyena, Jackals and Warthog. Raptors are common in the area, Owls roost in shady crevices in the outcrops and Bustards trod through the long grass. The Palearctic migration between October and April flood the region with visiting birdlife. Among the more visible are flocks of White Storks, Eagles, Harriers, Kestrels, flocks of Swifts and Swallows, Terns and Flamingos.
Visitors can take a balloon ride for a bird’s eye view of the migration, enjoy picnics on the rocky outcrops and visit Olduvai Gorge and the Cradle of Man.
Daily flights land at the Seronera and Ndutu airstrips from Arusha and other local airports and national parks airstrips. It is a 1.5-hour drive from both airstrips to Esirai Camp.
Tarangire is famous for its vast herd of 4 000-strong Elephant and large Buffalo herds. Its rugged and diverse landscape, that provides an unparalleled safari experience all year round, including woodlands where gnarled trees stand like sentinels – none more so than the ancient Baobabs.
Designated by the Maasai community, Randilen is a community wildlife management area of 327 km², which extends organically from Tarangire National Park’s north-eastern boundary and is run along strict ecological principles benefiting both wildlife and the community.
In the dry season between July to October, wildlife is concentrated around the few water sources, particularly the Tarangire River Valley. During the green season, wildlife moves into the surrounding hills that come alive with lushness, flowering blooms, epic skies and exuberant wildlife.
Aside from Elephant and Buffalo, species most likely to be seen Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Impala, Lesser Kudu, Eland and Warthog. Among the predators are Lion and Leopard, as well as Jackals and Mongoose.
The woodlands are ever alive with birdcall and specially so at Olkeri Camp. Local species include the Yellow-Collared Lovebird and Ashy Starling. There are parades of Eagles, Vultures, Hawks and Falcons and the Palearctic migration between October and April boosts the birdlife even further. African Rock Pythons can sometimes be seen in the swamps.
South of the Orkeju Sand River is a remote and wildlife-rich region that offers visitors the freedom of walking safaris, night game drives and even Baobab-top sleepouts. And there is nothing like fly camping to enable you to reach the wildest and most remote places and a 360° view of the African night sky.
Escorted by Maasai guides in their traditional red clothing and beadwork, explorers can gain special insight into the traditional culture of these people who share the habitat with the Elephant and the Lion.
There are daily flights at the Kuro airstrip from Arusha and other local airports and national park airstrips. It is a 1.5-hour drive from Kuro to Olkeri Camp.