Where to go on your Southern Tanzania Safari
There are several safari destinations you can explore on your Southern Tanzania Safari that will reward you with an amazing true wilderness holiday experience irrespective of whether you are traveling alone, as a family or a group of friends / students. Below we have highlighted some of the national parks and game reserves you can visit.
- Selous Game Park
- Ruaha National Park
- Saadani National Park
- Udzungwa Mountains National Park
- Kitulo National Park
- Kilwa Ruins
- Safari destinations in Southern Tanzania explained
SELOUS GAME RESERVE
Named a World Heritage Site in 1982 by United Nations, Selous Game Reserve (now Nyerere National Park) is the biggest wilderness area in the world and one of the most virgin wildernesses on the African continent. The game reserve covers an area of 54,000 sq mile making it bigger than Switzerland. It covers six percent (6%) of the total land surface of Tanzania. it can easily be accessed from Dar es Salaam.
River Rufiji together with a number of its streams run through the Game Reserve, and these in addition to other habitats such as swamps, lakes, forests, open grasslands, Miombo woodlands and acacia offer a safe refuge to different wildlife including large predators, grazers and birds.
The northern part of Selous Game Reserve is the most scenic area and habitat to most of the wildlife. This section is also the only part in the park which can be accessed by tourists due to its game viewing opportunities. The reserve is neighbored by Udzungwa Mountains National Park, the Kibasira swamp as well as Mikumi National Park.
Selous Game Reserve is mainly now being used for photographic safaris with a purpose of protecting and conserving wildlife despite the fact that it was originally established for hunting adventures. But something to note is that hunting is still allowed in a number of sections within the reserve.
According to the last census, approximately 60,000 elephants were recorded to be living within the reserve which is more than half of all the elephants living in Tanzania. They usually move in smaller groups led by Queens so it is very rare seeing them in large groups. During your visit to the Selous Game Reserve one can enjoy game drives or boat safaris on River Rufiji which is a habitat to very many hippos, crocodiles and elephants normally seen on the river’s banks.
The Birdlife is very impressive here with more than 430 bird types recorded here. Our guides usually have bird books with them though very serious birders are advised to carry their own birding book. The Game Reserve also has the biggest number of endangered African wild dogs in the country despite the fact that they are very hard to see. Whatsoever your interest is, a visit to Selous Game Reserve will allow you to see different wildlife in their natural homes with very few tourists around you.
RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
Ruaha National Park is Tanzania’s second biggest National Park. It is accessible by a small plane from Dar Es Salaam, Serengeti, Mbeya Arusha as well as Iringa but you can also opt for a ten hours’ drive from Dar Es Salaam passing through Mikumi National Park. Flying in to Ruaha NP is an experience itself as you can see much wildlife from the runway; and grazing herds of zebras and giraffes like to run as the planes land.
Game viewing is best during the dry months of the year as remnant water pools of River Ruaha which normally floods in the wet season attracts all kinds of wildlife like different types of antelopes, other grazing animals and several predators that trail to them hunt down. This rough semi-arid bush land is also home to about 10,000 elephants. Ruaha is very well known for the resident kudus which are a large antelope specie having long strong horns. The male larger kudu are mostly seen in June during their breeding period. Visiting Ruaha will also offer you a chance to see prides of lions that stalk the savannah as well as leopards and cheetahs normally on the lookout for their next hunt.
As you explore the park, you will definitely enjoy hearing and viewing a wide range of multi-colored birds each having their own different call.
If wild flowers, bird watching and scenery are your thing, the wet season starting from January through April is the best time to visit but for the rest of Tanzania, the excellent time to visit and see big mammals as well as predators is during the dry season which runs from mid-May to the month of December.
You can join walking safaris or longer day treks and also visit the Isimila stone-age ruins which are among the most significant historical sites on the African continent. There is a remarkable variety of lodging which includes tented camps, designated campsites, self-catering bandas, and a lodge by the riverside.
MIKUMI NATIONAL PARK
The landscape of Mikumi National Park is comprised by the Mkata floodplains and the park is neighbored by the Rubeho and Uluguru mountains. it is home to all kinds of wildlife including the large predators and the numerous grazers including antelopes, elephants, zebras and giraffes. The park is most famous for its tree climbing lion population. Mikumi is also home to over 400 different and colorful types of birds so it’s a must visit destination for bird lovers.
Tourists who have never taken a safari to southern Tanzania yet have limited time but want to see wildlife within its natural habitat; we recommend that you take a day’s safari to Mikumi National Park. During this, you can view antelopes, elephants, wildebeest, giraffes, elands and zebras as well as the killer hunters for example wild dogs, lions, black-backed jackals and leopards. Mikumi National Park is also a perfect safari destination for bird lovers as it is a habitat to over 400 birds.
SAADANI NATIONAL PARK
Saadani National Park is the only wildlife safari destination in the whole of East Africa where you can view wild animals on or close to the beach. It combines good opportunities of seeing wildlife with the beautiful coastal vista and pristine beaches on the Indian Ocean.
Saadani can be visited on a day trip but we also encourage you to spend a night at the Saadani River Lodge so that you combine a boat safari into your trip to enjoy all the opportunities of seeing most of the wildlife.
Udzungwa Mountains is a home to a wide range of animals and plants and biodiversity is the ring word when it comes to it. The park supports different wildlife for example big cats, elands, African wild dogs, bushbucks, elephants and buffalos as well as 6 types of primates including 2 species which are exclusive to this part. The mountainous landscape is covered in a lush rainforest that has up to 40% of the plant life of Tanzania and animals many of which are exclusive to this area.
The park has many historical and cultural sites and also holds an abundant natural beauty and biodiversity. The World Wildlife Fund is working on this site to preserve the biological and cultural heritage. When it comes to accommodation, Tourists can stay at either a private campsite, the waterfall lodge or in a lavish tented camp.
Kilwa Heritage site is among the archeological sites in Tanzania that includes the amazing remains of what previously was a very big city. It was a major trading place for the Swahili people on the coast in the 11th Century trading beads, ivory, textiles, precious metals and spices on the coast and inside the country.
Our professional guide will bring the varied and rich history of Kilwa Heritage site to life as he details you about it all. It also holds a great history for the colonialism and slave trade.
KITULO NATIONAL PARK
Kitulo National Park is a botanists’ heaven having rich volcanic-soils popular for its stunning floral life which includes protea, beautiful orchids as well as lilies among others. Tourists visit mainly because of the birds, flowers and butterflies though a few mountain elands and reedbucks wander its grasslands. Kitulo NP is an earthly paradise locally referred to as ‘God’s Garden’.
You can get here by road if you are prepared for an adventure and have very much time though the best option is to fly here. We can set up a camp for you at one of the campsites inside the park or you can stay in a luxury tented camp when visiting. There are basic hotels at Mpanda and a rest house in Sitalike.
Are There Day Trips from Dar Es Salaam?
Yes. There are 2 distinctive and very unalike National Parks that are very easy to access and are possible to be explored in just one day starting from Dar Es Salaam. These are the Mikumi National Park and the Saadani National Park.
SAADANI NATIONAL PARK
Neighboring the Indian Ocean, Saadani National Park is the only wildlife reserve in the whole of East Africa where the beach and bush meet. With several miles of white sand beaches running along its coastline, you are more likely to see lions or elephants on the beach than any people sunbathing.
Saadani National Park is usually visited for a game drive, walking or boat ride safaris with grazing animals normally viewed including warthog, elephants, buffalos, waterbuck, velvet monkeys, giraffes and so many others.
The shores of the Park are some of the last big green turtle breeding sites on Tanzania’s mainland though they are hardly seen during day time. Near to River Wami or on a boat trip there is a good gamble of seeing crocodiles, hippos and various water birds like flamingoes and kingfishers.
ZANZIBAR ISLAND DAY TOUR
Taking a day trip / tour to Zanzibar offers a very diverse safari experience allowing holidaymakers to learn more about the remarkable history and culture of this spice island and also experience the tasty Swahili cuisine. The tour will comprise of a city tour in stone town to see the historic architecture, the vibrant bazaars and colorful market. After enjoying a pleasant traditional lunch, we shall visit a spice plantation to sample and learn about the various spices.