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  Northern Tanzania
The northern circuit:
· Serengeti National Park
· The Ngorongoro Crater
· Lake Manyara National Park
· Tarangire National Park
· Arusha National Park
Other parks/areas:
· Kilimanjaro National Park
· Mkomazi National Park
· Rubondo Island National Park
· Lake Natron
· Lake Eyasi
· Lake Victoria
 
 
Destination facts:
Northern Tanzania
Northern Tanzania has a number of good safari parks. The main parks, which are sometimes referred to as the northern circuit, are described below.

These parks are generally accessible, and offer accommodation in lodges, tented camps, and camping.

The Tanzanian parks are generally larger than for example the Kenyan, thus offering larger expanses of wilderness and more stable wildlife conditions within the parks.

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Lion stalking a prey in Serengeti National Park.

Serengeti National Park
Serengeti is one of the world's most famous parks. It is situated between Ngorongoro and Lake Victoria in northern Tanzania, and is the country's second-largest park. As to wildlife, Serengeti is the best park in Tanzania.

Vast grass plains dominate the south, while woodlands broken by hills and rivers cover much of the north. Serengeti is generally rich in species, including elephants, African buffalos and giraffes, and thereto has good populations of lions, cheetahs and leopards. Hippos and crocodiles inhabit the rivers. There are also rhinos, although the population is small and mainly restricted to one area, making Serengeti a Big Five park. Huge herds of wildebeest and zebras, i.e. the migration, can be seen from November/December to June.

Camps and lodges are found in many parts of Serengeti. A normal stay is 2 or 3 nights. The area is both large and good enough for even longer stays by safari-goers that want to focus on Serengeti.

Because of the large size of the park, you may want to choose camps/lodges depending on the season you're going there, to stay in an area where much wildlife can be expected at that time.

Central Serengeti is 6-7 hours by road or 1 hour by air from Arusha, and 3-4 hours by road or 0.5 hours by air from the Ngorongoro Crater. The first half of the road is good tarmac, while the other half is poor bush road.

More about Serengeti
 

Female rhino and her calf in the Ngorongoro Crater.

The Ngorongoro Crater
The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most striking natural formations to be seen. The crater, 20 km/12 mi wide, is the remains from a high volcano that eventually collapsed, leaving a 600 m/2,000 ft deep crater. Today, large numbers of mammals live on the crater floor. These include many species of herbivores, for example elephants, rhinos and gazelles, and a large predator population, including lions, cheetahs, hyaenas, jackals and others. There is also a small population of leopards, making the Ngorongoro Crater a Big Five area.

Lodges on the crater rim offer accommodation, wonderful views, and close access for game viewing on the crater floor. A normal stay is 1 or 2 nights.

The crater is part of a large park called Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The highlands surrounding the crater are good areas for trekking. In the west, on the border to Serengeti, is Lake Ndutu, an area that can be very good for seeing cats and the migration from January to March.

The Ngorongoro Crater is 3-4 hours by road or 0.5 hours by air from Arusha. Most of the road is good tarmac, but the roads on the crater rim and into the crater are poor bush roads. The roads from the crater towards Serengeti are poor bush roads.

More about Ngorongoro
 

Giraffes in Lake Manyara National Park.

Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara is a soda lake on the floor of the Great Rift Valley, just below the western rift escarpment. It is surrounded by a national park that protects the lake, grass plains, acacia woodlands, and a dense jungle-style groundwater forest. The lake itself attracts many flamingos, pelicans and other birds, while the habitats on land are home to a variety of mammals, including elephants (the park has the highest elephant density in Tanzania), giraffes, impalas, African buffalos, lions and many baboons.

Several lodges and camps are found around the northern tip of Lake Manyara, and one to the very south, inside the park. A normal stay is 1 night. The national park is fairly small, though, and it is possible to visit the park en route to the Ngorongoro Crater.

Lake Manyara is 2 hours by good tarmac road or less than 0.5 hours by air from Arusha.

More about Lake Manyara
 

Elephants in Tarangire.

Tarangire National Park
Tarangire has a permanent river and swamps that attract wildlife from the dry surroundings, making this a good area, especially during dry seasons. There is a large elephant population and a variety of mammal species that includes the big cats. The bird life is excellent, as Tarangire straddles the border between a northern and a southern bird zone. The landscape is a mix of woodlands, grass plains, wetlands and riverine vegetation with sausage trees, borassus palms, figs and other trees. The massive baobab trees are common.

Tarangire has fewer visitors than the other parks. A normal stay on a tour to several parks is 1 night. Should you want to visit fewer parks, you may spend more time in Tarangire, as it is quite a large park that offers many areas for game viewing.

Tarangire is less than 2 hours on good tarmac road from Arusha, or 1 hour from Lake Manyara.

More about Tarangire
 

Mount Meru.

Arusha National Park
Most safari-goers don't visit Arusha National Park, despite its proximity to Arusha Town, as the wildlife cannot match that of the parks described above. There is wildlife and good birding, though, and the landscape is varied and pretty, offering forests, plains, lakes and an extinct volcano, Mount Meru (4,566 m/14,980 ft). The park is known for its strong population of black-and-white colobus monkeys. Most mammals are herbivores, including different antelopes, some elephants and many bushbucks.

Arusha National Park may be an interesting add-on for safari-goers that have a day or half a day to spare in or around Arusha Town.

The park is 0,5 hours by road east of Arusha Town. The last part of the road is poor bush road.

More about Arusha National Park

 
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Page updated 8 June 2012