Seemingly limitless, Tanzania stretches from the sun-drenched Serengeti to the shadow of snow-capped Kilimanjaro, from its white-sand coastline to the wild southern shores of Lake Nyasa. Huge skies curve over sprawling plains studded with game, an azure ocean laps over colourful reefs, and the welcome is as warm as the African sunshine.
The sheer size of this striking country has been a blessing for its wildlife. There’s more than enough wilderness here to set aside a great deal for conservation areas, game reserves and national parks – more than 100,000 square kilometres worth. The wild, riverine landscapes of Selous, the largest uninhabited area in Africa, are home to some of Tanzania’s last remaining black rhinos while Ruaha, with its ancient baobab trees, harbours the largest elephant herds on the continent. In turn, compact but crammed full of birds and game – including tree-climbing lions – Lake Manyara is one of Tanzania’s most charming reserves, its waters glimpsed through the rose-tinted feathers of a thousand flamingos.
Then of course, there’s the Serengeti and the incomparable Ngorongoro Crater. The first is the stuff of every safari fantasy, not least during the Great Migration when wildebeest in the tens of thousands thunder through its plains and rivers. Not to be outdone, Ngorongoro is like no other national park on earth, a sunken crater teeming with wildlife where it’s possible, likely even, to see the Big Five in a single day.
But there’s much more to Tanzania than just the big-game icons of its inland parks. On the coast, flashing shoals of tropical fish flit through turquoise waters, and turtles clamber out on to sand turned silver in the moonlight. The coastline here is long, still plied with dhows and lined with swaying palms and the gentle, hospitable Swahili culture. The island of Zanzibar condenses all these into an intense hit and a heady fragrance of spice from the plantations that the island is famous for, mixing in a touch of Arabia in its whitewashed towns. It’s a winning combination, and one that makes Tanzania such a draw for honeymooners. Whether it’s a private-island getaway or a safari stay in a luxury treehouse, you’ll be well looked after.
The Serengeti is possibly the most famous national park in the world. And, its Great Migration is a special highlight, when thousands of wildebeest and zebra make their tumultuous way here from Kenya’s Masai Mara. However, wildlife peppers the plains year round, with both predator and prey seen against the classic African backdrop of acacia-studded savannah. Floating above it all in a hot air balloon renders it all the more romantic.
The dramatic sunken caldera of the Ngorongoro is a self-contained safari paradise. Its sheer sides rise to 600 metres in places, keeping out the world and keeping in the incredible concentration of wildlife. It’s one of the best places in Africa to see some of the rare black rhino that remain, as well as lions and the rest of the Big Five – buffalo, elephant, leopard and rhino – alongside hundreds of bird species, including its iconic flamingos.
The very name Zanzibar conjures spice-scented sea breezes and the excitement associated with a trading past. Stone Town, the capital, is an intoxicating and unique blend of architecture that draws on Arabic, Indian, European and African styles. Turning out, plantations fragrant with cloves and cardamom cover the island while shockingly white beaches and warm blue sea surround it. And, luxurious and refined resorts make the most of the romance of it all.
The Maasai have lived amid the Serengeti and Ngorongoro for at least 200 years. The scarlet hues of their shukas and their traditional spears are almost as much a part of the landscape as the thorn trees on the savannah. At Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and in the Serengeti, it’s possible to visit boma villages and local schools, watch women making exquisite beadwork, take guided walks with warriors and witness centuries-old customs at their most authentic.
Wildlife-studded landscapes that stretch away into the far horizon, and a long and tropical coastline have made Tanzania the perfect place for world-class lodges to pitch their luxury tents and suites. At Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, guests stay among the branches of an ancient forest while at the Serengeti’s Grumeti Tented Camp, canvas-chic accommodation is strung along the river with views of the Great Migration. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge provides a rim-side view over the great caldera, and just off the coast off Zanzibar, Mnemba Island offers a fabulous private-island experience.
Tanzania’s sheer size allows for a great diversity of national parks beyond its Serengeti and Ngorongoro headliners. It’s easy to lose the crowds and find the animals here, especially in Selous on the southern safari circuit, one of the largest game reserves in Africa. Also on the southern route, and also vast, Ruaha has riverine and woodland habitats bristling with wildlife, while the mountains of Mahale in the west shelter chimpanzee in their wooded slopes.
Highlights of Tanzania and Zanzibar
15 days from £5,615 pp incl. flights
Discover Tanzania’s stunning natural world of iconic landscapes and thriving wildlife on an all-inclusive fly safari before ending with some ultra-luxury indulgence on Zanzibar’s white sands.
11 days from £6,070 pp incl. flights
Tanzania offers some of the world’s best safari experiences, combined on this itinerary with the finest in all-inclusive stays. You’ll take in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and flamingo-dotted Manyara Lake with touring and flights included throughout.