Northern Circuit





The parks and game reserves that make up Tanzania's northern circuit are easily the most popular and accessible attractions in the country. All the big names of mainstream Tanzanian safaris are located in the north, from the plains of the Serengeti to the lofty peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro. On a northern circuit safari, most safari companies and independent travelers depart from Arusha. Lake Manyara National Park and Tarangire National Park are little more than three hours away and are often incorporated as part of a longer safari. The most visited part of the northern circuit is the Ngorongoro Crater, where wildlife graze and hunt in one of the largest volcanic craters in the world.

If you are travelling from December to April, the annual wildebeest migration in Serengeti National Park is definitely not to be missed. For hikers, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or the crater of Mt. Meru is an adventurous break from game viewing. A longer trek through the Crater Highlands is also a beautiful way to explore northern Tanzania at a leisurely pace. Day-trips from Arusha to Mt. Meru and the Momela Lakes, located in Arusha National Park, incorporate short forest hikes and canoeing trips as a break from standard vehicle game drives.

Serengeti National Park

An essential destination on Tanzania safaris is Serengeti National Park, the country's largest and most famous reserve. With 5,700 square miles of plains stretching as far as the eye can see, the Serengeti is home to one of the most diverse wild animal populations on Earth.

The park is also one of the best places on the continent to view lion prides. Safari guests traverse the Serengeti in four-wheel-drive vehicles to spot buffaloes, cheetahs, leopards, rhinos and more. For breathtaking sights of the game as they stir at dawn, some tour operators provide the option of an early morning hot-air balloon ride over the plains.

Lake Manyara National Park

Positioned in northern Tanzania, Lake Manyara National Park is known for its scenic surroundings. With dense forests, bush plains, cliffs and hot springs, the diverse land gives rise to abundant wildlife. Impalas, elephants, giraffes and the world's largest concentration of baboons inhabit the park, which is also known for its tree-climbing lions. Bird-watchers can gaze upon nearly 400 species, including thousands of pink flamingos and yellow-billed storks.

Game drives, canoeing (when the water levels are high enough), cultural tours, forest walks and mountain bike tours are just some of the activities to partake in while at the park.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Known as "Africa's Eden," the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the greatest density of wildlife found on any Tanzanian safari. It features the world's largest unbroken caldera -- a crater formed by the collapse of an ancient volcano. The Ngorongoro Crater spans 102 square miles encompassing grasslands, swamps, forests and lakes, and it contains approximately 25,000 large animals.

Safari participants descend nearly 2,000 feet into the crater to observe large herds of zebra, wildebeest, gazelle and their predators. You may even see rare black rhinos grazing by the lakes. The area also contains the Olduvai Gorge, where famed archaeologists and anthropologists Mary and Louis Leakey discovered nearly 2-million-year-old bones and tools from what some believe were the earliest humans.