Important Facts About Tanzania Safaris

Tanzania is a large African country with over 25% of its land surface area set aside as some form of protected area – national park, game reserve, and wildlife management area for the benefit of wildlife and conservation. Safari-goers benefit from this extensive and diverse wildlife estate, which is accessible in its entirety to anyone with a reliable 4×4 vehicle.

There are few – if any – other African safari destinations where nature lovers can experience enormous herds of buffalo and elephant, giant tuskers, the world-renowned wildebeest migration, the Eden-like Ngorongoro Crater, habituated chimpanzees, swimming with whale sharks and dolphins, and climbing Africa’s highest mountain all within the confines of a single spectacular country.

Tanzania is an iconic Africa. Where the snowclad summit of Mount Kilimanjaro surveys the plains of the Serengeti, wildlife abounds in staggering numbers. This is the site of one of the world’s most remarkable natural spectacles: the annual Great Migration when nearly two million wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle traverse the savanna in pursuit of water and new grass. Predators like lions and cheetahs stalk in their wake. Farther south, in Tarangire National Park, vast herds of elephants outnumber people. With some of the continent’s greatest concentrations of wild animals, Tanzania is duly famed as a top safari destination

The Serengeti tops most Tanzania safari itineraries. A Masai word meaning “endless plains,” this protected ecosystem sprawls across 10,000 square miles. With a network of rivers ensuring year-round water, the region is incredibly rich in wildlife, though specific experiences, such as the Great Migration, vary with the seasons. Exceptional safari opportunities exist in the private reserves adjacent to Serengeti National Park, many of which are the exclusive domain of the camps we use. In addition to classic destinations like Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire, famed for its elephants and baobabs, Tanzania offers vast, little-visited reserves such as Ruaha and Selous, true wilderness with striking scenery where you’ll encounter droves of animals but few other visitors. Mahale Mountains National Park on Lake Tanganyika is home to some of Africa’s last wild chimpanzees. For the perfect finale to your safari adventure, add a few days to relax on the beaches of Zanzibar

History and Economy

In many ways, Tanzanian history is the history of humankind. Fossils found at Olduvai Gorge, one of the world’s premier archaeological sites, suggest that Tanzania has been settled by hominids for over 2 million years. Iron Age migrations from West Africa were followed by European and Arabian merchants, missionaries, and slavers, and by the mid-1800s Zanzibar had become the centre of the East African slave trade. Colonised first by the Germans and then the British, independence came peacefully to mainland Tanganyika in 1961. The addition of Zanzibar in 1964 created the modern state of Tanzania.

Rich in mineral wealth and natural gas, Tanzania’s economy is nevertheless dominated by agriculture, which employs 75% of the workforce and accounts for half the country’s GDP. Tanzania’s main exports include gold, coffee, tea and cotton. But it’s tourism, increasing in importance year after year, that is the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner.

People and Culture

Some of Tanzania’s 120 ethnic groups make up the African population, with a significant number of Asians, Arabs, and Europeans too. Even with this mix of identities, Tanzania has long promoted a harmonious national culture, one that is based on a subtle but strong social code of courtesy and respect. English and Swahili are the official languages.

Landscape and Wildlife

Lying between the two arms of the Great Rift Valley, Tanzania’s huge central plateau is bounded on the west by Africa’s great lakes, the north by mountains (including Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak), and the Indian Ocean in the east. Most of the country is covered in grassland, open woodland, and savannah, but significant pockets of rainforest exist in remote mountain ranges this is important to know during your tanzania safaris.

Home to 20% of Africa’s large mammals, Tanzania is one of the continent’s premier game viewing destinations. More than 25% of the country is given over to conservation and several Tanzania animal reserves rank among the biggest in the world. Most visitors head for northern Tanzania, where the most famous and accessible animal reserves are. But it’s in south and central Tanzania where you’ll find huge, virtually unvisited savannah and rainforest reserves that deliver genuine off-the-beaten-track safaris.

Tips for Planning Your Tanzania Safari

  1. Plan your timing carefully: if you want to see the Wildebeest Migration on your safari or enjoy the best beach weather in Zanzibar, make sure your itinerary matches your travel wishes.
  2. Book early for high season: Tanzania’s sought-after safari destinations and well-located camps at Wildebeest Migration hotspots get booked out early, often a year in advance.
  3. Choose your activities: Morning and afternoon game drives are standard safari activities, but excursions like night game drives, guided bush walks, and hot-air balloon safaris are only allowed in certain areas or camps.
  4. Expect other visitors in the high season: Tanzania’s heavyweight national parks like the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire can attract a lot of visitors from about June to October. Consider visiting during the low or Green Season (about November to March) if you want to escape the crowds and still enjoy great game viewing.
  5. Go private: If you want exclusivity, then head for one of Tanzania’s private reserves. The accommodation is superb, game viewing is as good as the main parks, and extra safari activities (see number 3) are occasionally offered.


Religious belief is strong in Tanzania, with Christianity and Islam dominating. Most Muslims live on the coast and in Zanzibar; visitors should be aware of the conservative nature of these destinations – especially Stone Town – and dress and behave accordingly.

Tanzanians are renowned for being friendly and harmonious people, however, it is courteous to ask permission before photographing people this is important to take into consideration during your tanzania safaris

Money and Spending

Tanzania’s unit of currency is the Tanzanian Shilling, but our advice is to use US Dollars only during your Tanzania safaris – and in cash: credit cards and traveler’s cheques (although accepted in most establishments) incur transaction fees. ATMs are found throughout the major towns and cities in Tanzania, but not in the national parks and game reserves.

Note: US Dollar bills printed before 2006 are not accepted in Tanzania.

Tipping lodge staff and drivers/guides are customary for good service on a Tanzania safari but check first to see whether a service charge has been added to your bill. Tipping is always in addition to the price quoted by your operator and the amount varies depending on the size of your group, the level of luxury of the safari, and whether you thought an exceptionally good job was done. When traveling in the major Tanzania cities, a 10% tip is customary in restaurants and bars when a service charge is not included.