Perhaps you already know where you want to go for your safari experience, whether it is the North or South of Tanzania.

Zebra spotting on a game drive in Tanzania

For most of us though, the first step is figuring out just what type of safari we are interested in, where we want to go, and what we want to see.

This ultimate Tanzania safari guide will help you properly prepare for the best possible adventure.

Picking Your Perfect Tanzania Safari Location

So the first thing you want to do is ask yourself the following questions to narrow down the choice of your perfect safari location.

  • What do I want to see?
  • What safari activities interest me?
  • What time of year can I travel?
  • Who am I travelling with?
  • What can I afford?

What Do You Want to See?

If this is your first time going on a Tanzania safari, ticking off the Big Five is an absolute priority. The Big Five refers to the most iconic large mammals of Southern and East Africa – which includes lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant.

Family of elephants crossing the road in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

For the highest chance of seeing the Big Five, consider booking your safari at a Tanzania safari lodge in the Serengeti National Park or the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, both in the northern circuit. Ruaha National Park, in the southern circuit of Tanzania, is a great alternative option.

If you would like to watch predators in action – East Africa’s annual Great Migration river crossings is a good bet, as the vast herds of migrating wildebeest and zebra attract hungry predators.

What Safari Activities Interest You?

Traditional morning and afternoon game drives are offered in all of Tanzania. The northern circuit is known for its classic safari experiences, with early morning and afternoon game drives being the norm.

Walking safaris and night drives are permitted in Tarangire and some parts of the Serengeti, but they are far less common.

Stiegler's Gorge scenic flight, Selous

Morning and afternoon game drives, walking safaris with expert guides, and night drives are all standard in both Ruaha and the Selous Game Reserve. Selous specialities include boat trips down the mighty Rufiji River and fly camping expeditions.

Who Are You Travelling With?

If you are looking for a location that caters for honeymooners, couples or single travellers – Tanzania is a great option.

Kids enjoying a family safari

However, if you’re travelling with kids you might want to look for an area in Tanzania that caters to children and has more kid-friendly activities.

What Can You Afford?

There are a lot of factors that go into a Tanzania safari cost, such as location, time of year, and level of comfort – but there are some general guidelines to follow for your Tanzania safari budget.

Attempting to plan your safari on your own is not always less expensive or even possible. For your itinerary, you will need your agent’s specialized knowledge of ground handlers, light aircraft schedules, and transfer companies in many places.

Small tourist plane in the Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

  • When you use an agent, you get a single ‘all-inclusive’ price. Your agent will have access to room availability, special deals, and other factors that will enable him or her to create an entire itinerary and the perfect Tanzania safari guide – including international flights – with a single cost, eliminating any “surprises.”
  • The more privacy and exclusivity you desire, the more money you will spend. But you can still have a good time in a less opulent setting; this is where your agent’s knowledge and experience come in handy.
  • Overland travel is one of the most cost-effective ways to see Africa. You spend a lot of time on the road and must travel in groups, but many overland trips provide comfortable lodging in no-frills lodges.
  • Package deals are not always less expensive. A Tanzania safari tailored to your personal budget will allow you to save and splurge where you and your agent believe it is necessary. A package deal or scheduled departure tour binds you to a specific itinerary and a fixed price.
  • Because of the favourable rand-dollar exchange rate, South Africa remains one of the most affordable safari destinations. The rainbow nation is an excellent ‘introduction’ to safari for first-time visitors to Africa. However, it also provides excellent rewards for seasoned safari-goers.

Should You Do the Northern or Southern Circuit of Tanzania?

You will not have a worse or better experience depending on which circuit you choose on your African safari. Both Tanzanian itineraries are fantastic safari destinations, and each has something to offer everyone.

In the end, it all depends on what one wants to take away from their Tanzania holiday experience. So here is the ideal Tanzania safari guide on which circuit you should choose.

Northern Circuit  – Pros

The majority of the well-known game viewing Tanzania safari tours and safari camps are located in the north. Such as the Serengeti National Park, and maybe even the Ngorongoro Crater.

Mara river crossing during the wildebeest migration

Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks are also part of the Northern game-viewing circuit.

The great wildebeest migration – which includes over 2 million wildebeests and zebras – is in full swing here, following the rain for nutrient-rich grass.

In the northern circuit also lies Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest natural caldera, with an ecosystem that includes open savannah, wetlands, and a forest.

Northern Circuit – Cons

Depending on the time of the year and chosen area of visit, one is likely to get traffic from other safari vehicles in the same region.

Serengeti is super popular, and attracts plenty of tourists on a Tanzania safari, so it might get a bit crowded.

Depending on the sighting, you can expect to share your experience with quite a few other people.

Southern Circuit – Pros

The Southern Circuit is not as busy as the Northern Circuit. The very positive side of this is that one gets to share their Tanzania safari experience with much fewer tourists, providing a greater feeling of exclusivity.

Lions laying in grass at Ruaha National Park

The South also offers excellent connections to the Main hub Dar es Salaam, making it a lot easier to connect to international flights.

Southern Circuit – Cons

The downside is that you won’t find wildlife in the same large numbers as in the Serengeti, making it more challenging to find the big five animals in one area.

One would have to travel to other places to see that, which is why we don’t recommend it for someone who hasn’t been on safari yet and still wants to see the big five.

Giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and elephants drinking at a local waterhole

The Southern Circuit is the best experience for someone who has seen the big five and knows what animals they would like to see.

If you’re visiting Tanzania for the first time, or even if you’ve never been on a safari before, we highly recommend the Northern Circuit. Wildlife expectations are much higher here, including the big five animals, predator cats and more, immersed in world-famous national parks.

Wildebeest crossing at the Grumeti river

If you’ve been to Tanzania before or want to experience a Tanzania safari in less crowded areas, the southern circuit is the obvious choice.

Tanzania is a beautiful country to explore and go on safari. It is undoubtedly one of our favourites. You will have the time of your life, whether it is your first safari or even your ninth.

Best Time to Visit Tanzania

There is no best time for a safari in Tanzania! The Serengeti is surrounded by the Great Migration, which can be easily followed.

The Mara River crossing takes place in June and July, and the dry season brings more animals to the waterholes.

Blue wildebeest crossing the Mara river

After the rainy season, January to February brings fewer cars and greener landscapes; wildebeest give birth and predators are plentiful.

The cooler months of June to August are perfect for those looking to escape the sweltering African sun.

Mount Kilimanjaro is icy all year, but the Indian Ocean coast is warm, so you can escape there to warm up.

Best Tented Camping Options in Tanzania

A big part of planning the best safari in Tanzania is obviously booking the best accommodation. Here’s 4 of our favourite tented camps in the country.

  • Asanja Grumeti

Asanja Grumeti is a luxury tent camp located in Serengeti’s western corridor, which hosts the most incredible wildlife spectacle in East Africa.

Fire in the bush at night | Photo credits: Asanja Grumeti

The Asanja Grumeti camp is open all year. This area attracts spectacular wildlife, including a lion pride that stays close to the camp.

  • Serengeti Safari Lodge

Serengeti Safari Lodge in Banagi, 3.7 minutes from shop, has a sun terrace. The property is 3.1 minutes away from Ballon House (After Hours). On-site private parking is available for a fee.

Lodge in the Bush | Photo credits: Serengeti Safari Lodge

Guests can dine at the on-site restaurant. The hotel also provides packed lunches.

  • Ole Serai Luxury Camp

Ole Serai Luxury Camp, located in Serengeti National Park between Rongai Hills and Nyaroboro Hills, provides free WiFi. Hikes and game drives are available to guests. The accommodation has a spa, a lounge, and a fully stocked bar.

Luxury glamping in Tanzania | Photo credits: Ole Serai luxury camp

A fan is provided in each guest room. Each unit has a seating area, a private entrance, private veranda, and a viewing platform.

  • Zawadi Camp

Zawadi Camp offers accommodation with a sunset view restaurant and bar, free WiFi, and a 24-hour front desk in the heart of the Serengeti National Park, 15 minutes from Serengeti Visitor’s Center Seronera.

Tented camp in Tanzania | Photo credits: Zawadi camp

Each of the six tented camps has its own private bathroom with hot water. Breakfast is served either continentally or à la carte at the tented camp.

Dinner barbecue is also available at Zawadi Tented Camp. This property has a shared lounge, and guests can go on a Tanzania safari experience nearby.

The camp is situated in the Kemarishe Hills, right next to the great animal migration, and is only a 30-minute drive from Seronera Airstrip and 3.7 miles from Retima Hippo Pool.

We hope you enjoyed our ultimate Tanzania safari guide, and that you feel much more prepared when planning your next African safari.