How to Plan Your Dream Safari in Tanzania: 8 Easy Steps

By Cindy | Updated Apr. 16, 2024

Tanzania, known for its breathtaking natural beauty and rich wildlife, is a premier safari destination. From the vast plains of the Serengeti to iconic Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania offers a wide array of safari experiences for adventurers and nature enthusiasts.

However, a successful safari requires careful planning. In this article, we'll guide you through the essential steps to plan a satisfying safari in Tanzania.

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1. Choose the Right Time for Your Safari

Tanzania safari

In general, the ideal time for a Tanzania safari is during the dry season, which typically extends from June to October. During this period, wildlife congregates around water sources, creating optimal conditions for game viewing.

It's worth noting that this period coincides with the high season for safaris in Tanzania. The country's major parks, such as the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lake Manyara, are bustling with activity.

If you'd prefer to avoid the high-season crowds, we recommend visiting between January and March when the weather is generally mild and dry, and most of the safari crowds are notably absent.

If you're keen on witnessing the Great Migration, the calving season occurs around January and February, but river crossings are more likely to take place between July and October.

The dry season is also an excellent time for hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro and enjoying a post-safari retreat on the pristine beaches of Zanzibar.

See more on The Best and Worst Times to Visit Tanzania.

2. Select Your Safari Destinations: Regions and National Parks

Tanzania safari

Choosing your safari destination in Tanzania is a pivotal decision as the country is divided into three primary safari regions: the Northern Circuit, the Southern Circuit, and Western Tanzania. Traveling between these areas could be a logistical challenge, so many visitors opt to focus on one region for their safari adventure.

The Northern Circuit: The Northern Circuit, home to popular parks like the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, offers abundant wildlife but can be crowded, especially during the Great Migration.

The Southern Circuit: If you prefer tranquility and an authentic experience, head south to parks like Selous and Ruaha. Wildlife is more challenging to spot, but you would rarely encounter other tourists.

Western Tanzania: Western Tanzania is for adventurous travelers seeking great wildlife experiences, including chimpanzee trekking in the Mahale Mountains, in remote and less-visited parks like Katavi. It's a hidden gem for seasoned safari enthusiasts.

For first-time travelers, we recommend a safari in the northern parks, which include the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire, Manyara, Arusha, Lake Natron, and Lake Eyasi.

But how do you select the right national parks among so many choices in the Northern Circuit (if you don't have enough time to cover them all in your trip)? Here is what you could expect in each of the national parks.

  • Best wildlife viewing — Central Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire
  • The Big Five — Ngorongoro, Central Serengeti
  • Wildebeest migration (the Great Migration) — Central, North, West, or South Serengeti based on the time of the year
  • Birding — Tarangire, Central Serengeti, Lake Manyara
  • Cultural tours — Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara
  • Scenic hikes in nature — Ngorongoro, Arusha National Park
  • Add-on tours, such as canoeing — Lake Manyara, Arusha National Park; hot-air balloon ride — Serengeti, Tarangire; night game drives — Manyara, Tarangire, etc.
  • Easy/short-trip road access — Tarangire, Lake Manyara
  • Specific wildlife, such as elephants — Tarangire, flamingoes — Lake Natron, rhinos — Ngorongoro, etc.

Whichever region or national park you select based on your interests and requirements, our experienced Tanzania specialists would personalize a trip that is well-designed and hassle-free.

3. Select the Right Accommodation

tazania safari

When selecting the right accommodation for your African safari, there are several important factors to consider.

First, take your budget into account as the cost of a safari lodge could vary depending on the location and amenities. A mid-range lodge costs $500 to $800 per room per night.

Additionally, think about your preferred style and comfort level. Do you envision a traditional bush lodge or the luxury of a large canvas tent? Your accommodation choice should align with your personal tastes as you would be spending a significant amount of time there.

Think about the wildlife you want to see as the lodge's location within a reserve or national park would influence the species and landscapes you encounter.

Last, consider the amenities you desire, such as Wi-Fi, family-friendly options, outdoor showers, pools, and unique experiences, such as sky beds and treehouses.

Feel free to reach out to our experts for firsthand insights and professional recommendations.

4. Decide How Many Days to Spend on Safari in Tanzania

tanzania safari

Your wildlife safari experience possibilities vary depending on the duration of your trip:

  • 3 to 5 days: This option offers a quick taste of a wildlife safari, covering a couple of national parks.
  • 6 to 8 days: For a more comprehensive experience, consider visiting all the top parks — Serengeti, Ngorongoro, and Tarangire.
  • 9 to 11 days: This time frame allows you to explore the top parks at a more relaxed pace.

Based on our experience, we recommend a minimum of 10 days for your first trip to Tanzania. A 10-day itinerary could strike a satisfying balance between an enriching safari experience and some leisurely beach downtime.

For instance, you could embark on a 10-Day Tanzania Classic Safari, featuring 1 night in Arusha, 5 nights on safari (covering the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire), and 3 nights in Zanzibar.

If you have approximately 2 weeks to spare, you could further enhance your safari adventure. With this extended duration, you could participate in additional activities, such as walking safaris, balloon rides, cultural tours, extending your stay in safari lodges, or even including Mount Kilimanjaro in your itinerary.

Consider a 14-day Tanzania safari for inspiration, comprising 1 night in Arusha, 7 nights on safari, 2 nights at Mount Kilimanjaro, and 3 nights in Zanzibar.

For an exceptional Eastern Africa safari experience, you could also combine the best of Kenya and Tanzania. A suggested itinerary could include 5 nights in Kenya and 8 nights in Tanzania.

If you have a more limited time frame of up to 7 days for your Tanzania tour, we recommend focusing entirely on the safari and skipping Zanzibar.

For more sample itineraries, you can visit our dedicated pages, such as 10 Days in Tanzania and 2 Weeks in Tanzania. Alternatively, you can contact our travel specialists and we'll tailor a fulfilling tour that's uniquely designed to meet your specific requirements, including the length of your vacation.

5. Consider Your Budget

tanzania safari

Providing precise costs for a Tanzania safari could be challenging due to various influencing factors. To offer you some general price estimates for a Tanzania safari, including transfers and accommodation on a per person per night (PPPN) basis, we've outlined the following categories:

  • Comfortable 4-star: US$500–700
  • Luxurious 4-star: US$800–1,300
  • High-end 5-star luxury: US$1,200–1,800

Most accommodation is all-inclusive, covering your meals, snacks, beverages, and, in most cases, alcoholic drinks. Additionally, activities, such as game drives, walking safaris, and cultural village visits, are typically part of the package.

In these remote areas, where hospitality standards are exceptionally high, logistics are complex, often leading to a guest-to-staff ratio of more than 5 to 1. Some lodges even offer services like laundry, allowing you to travel with minimal luggage and maximum convenience.

When planning your safari budget, consider the following key factors:

  • The time of year you plan to travel. Prices tend to be higher during the peak seasons (July to October and late December to February), followed by the mid-season (June and November to mid-December), and lower during the low season (March to May).
  • Your preferred level of comfort in accommodation.
  • The national parks you choose and the length of your stay. Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area may not be as affordable as other Tanzania parks, such as Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara National Park.
  • The size of your party. Larger groups could benefit from reduced per-person costs, such as an average of about $250 per person per safari day for a party of six sharing a vehicle.
  • The mode of transportation between destinations, whether you opt to drive or fly.
  • Any additional activities you wish to include, such as hot-air ballooning, spa treatments, or cultural tours.

At Global Highlights, we understand that one-size-fits-all safari packages may not suit your unique travel preferences and budget. Get in touch with one of our Africa safari experts who can craft a tailored safari itinerary that aligns perfectly with your specific desires and budget.

6. Choosing Between a Private and a Group Safari

tanzania safari

When planning a safari in Tanzania, choosing between a private or group safari is a pivotal decision.

On a group safari, you would share the safari vehicle and guide's services with a maximum of six people and the itinerary would not be customizable, with fixed daily timings throughout the tour. Group safaris are generally more cost-effective, offering savings of about 40–50% for solo travelers and approximately 15–20% for couples compared to private safaris.

For those seeking added comfort, convenience, and the flexibility to set their own schedule, private safaris are the preferred choice. We particularly recommend private safaris for travelers with children, families, seniors, or wildlife photographers, as they provide a greater degree of flexibility to cater to your specific needs.

Our expertise lies in crafting private tours. Feel free to reach out to us and, together, we can design a safari that's perfectly tailored to your interests and requirements.

7. Consider Getting Around in Tanzania

Tanzania has a well-developed domestic aviation network, with airports in major cities and tourist destinations. Domestic flights are a convenient option for covering long distances quickly. Common flight routes include Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, and other key safari destinations.

Regarding safaris, aside from the traditional ground-based options, those with limited time can explore fly-in safaris. These involve taking small charter planes to reach remote parks and game reserves quickly. Among the most sought-after destinations are the Serengeti, Selous Game Reserve, and Ruaha National Park.

These fly-in safaris are particularly ideal for travelers in search of an exclusive and distinctive safari experience in Tanzania.

8. Check Out the Visa Policy and Documents Needed

Tanzania extends its visa-on-arrival option to numerous nationalities, including visitors from the USA, granting a 90-day stay.

For added convenience, travelers could opt to secure an e-visa before their journey, streamlining the entry process.

If you are arriving from a region with a potential risk of yellow fever transmission, it may be necessary to provide proof of yellow fever vaccination. It's advisable to verify the most current requirements through the World Health Organization (WHO) or a travel health clinic.

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