Wild, Wilder, Wildest – Tanzania

December 20th 2019  |   Tanzania  |  by   Francis Naumann
wild Tanzania

Wild – The Serengeti

The Serengeti is one of the best known wildlife habitats on the planet thanks to numerous film and TV documentaries and the efforts of some immensely dedicated conservationists. It is truly wild, with one of the world’s greatest populations of large mammals strewn across an area similar in size to four or five English counties.

Lions on the lookout near Namiri Plains Camp

Lions on the lookout near Namiri Plains Camp

Stretching over 130 miles from the Kenya border and the Masai Mara in the north to Lake Eyasi in the south, and close to 100 miles from the Ngorongoro Crater Highlands in the east to Lake Victoria in the west, its open grass plains provide the sustenance for the colossal amount of wildlife. There are ranges of hills, two great rivers running west to Lake Victoria, granite inselbergs known as kopjes – often clad with fig trees and sansevieria, and a good refuge and lookout for cats – and plenty of open acacia woodland providing elephant and giraffe with food.

Thanks to the popularity of the great wildebeest migration this wonderful reserve can sometimes feel like London at rush hour, but if you escape the migration frenzy you will see excellent and more varied wildlife in very beautiful surroundings with hardly anyone else spoiling the view. Wayo Kogatende Green Camp, Namiri Plains and Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp are good examples of camps in remote locations which never get overrun by migration seekers. Enjoy walking, drives in open vehicles, and wonderful wildlife viewing.

Watching the wildlife from Wayo Kogatende Green Camp

Watching the wildlife from Wayo Kogatende Green Camp

Wilder – Ruaha National Park

Despite being Africa’s third largest National Park, dwarfing the mighty Serengeti in scale, this wonderful wildlife area is relatively unknown.  Two hours by air from Dar es Salaam, it has the greatest biodiversity of any of Tanzania’s wildlife reserves. It’s a magnificent place, feeling properly wild and remote, and receives fewer visitors in a year than the Serengeti has each week.

Enjoying the scenery in Ruaha National Park on a wildlife drive from Jabali Ridge

Enjoying the scenery in Ruaha National Park on a wildlife drive from Jabali Ridge

Ruaha’s varied landscapes include rugged escarpments, sand rivers, and grass plains in addition to the Great Ruaha River which forms one boundary. This is also a tree-lovers’ paradise with great stands of baobabs, mighty fig trees, river courses lined with stately palms, and so many more. This beautifully mixed habitat is home to one of Africa’s largest lion populations, as well as a healthy number of wild dogs, leopard and hyena. With big herds of buffalo, plenty of elephant and giraffe, it’s a properly wild and exhilarating place for a safari.

Walking safari from Kwihala

Walking safari from Kwihala

In addition its wildlife, phenomenal birdlife and beautiful trees, Ruaha is an excellent destination for anyone who wants some adventure. Walking safaris for an hour or two or a week or more, night drives, and fly-camping are all on offer here. Climbs up the escarpment are also a great way to clear the lungs, and the reward might be to cool off under a waterfall. Among our favourite places to stay here are Kigelia Camp, Kwihala Camp, Ikuka Safari Camp, and Jabali Ridge.

Enjoying the pristine wilderness at Ikuka Safari Camp

Enjoying the pristine wilderness at Ikuka Safari Camp

Wildest – Katavi National Park

More than a quarter of Tanzania – an area similar to the entire UK – is protected wildlife country.  It’s perhaps no surprise then that there are plenty of reserves almost entirely unknown outside a few true Africa experts. Among these is Katavi, nearly four hours’ flying time from Arusha and so far from anywhere else that it feels as if it could be in another country.

Classic tented accommodation at Chada Katavi

Classic tented accommodation at Chada Katavi

It’s a wonderland of floodplains, palm forests, acacia woodland, dense riverine forest, grasslands, swamps, rivers, and massive amounts of wildlife and birds; the variety and biodiversity here is astonishing. Better still, we can almost guarantee that you will not see any other vehicles during a safari here. Bordered on the east by a mountain range, its 4,500 square km of savannah is filled with big herds of buffalo, masses of hippo and crocs, lion, kudu, giraffe, zebra and plenty more.  It really is Africa at its primeval finest, where you can imagine nothing has really changed since Livingstone and Stanley travelled through the region.

Crocodile sheltering from the heat in Katavi. Chada Katavi

Crocodile sheltering from the heat in Katavi. Chada Katavi

Stand and watch herds of buffalo spread across the floodplain, see families of elephant wander slowly across a seemingly endless plain and crocs sheltering from the heat in caves that they dig into the river bank, drive all day and see no one else.  The freedom offered by Katavi is enhanced by the scarcity of visitors, and all day drives, night drives, walking safaris, bush breakfasts, and fly-camping are all on offer. Fly-camping here is especially rewarding, as guests usually spend the night on Paradise Plains, an aptly named expanse of well-watered grassland fringed by swampy ground and lined with palms, tamarinds and fig trees.  Accommodation options are few and far between but that’s no matter since we’d be hard pushed to suggest anywhere above the quite simply wonderful Chada Katavi, much loved by all those who are lucky enough to visit this delightful park.

Wonderful wildlife viewing from Chada Katavi

Wonderful wildlife viewing from Chada Katavi

Any questions on holidays in wild Tanzania?

If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday in Tanzania, whether to the Serengeti, Ruaha, Katavi or any of the other wonderful reserves here. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of Tanzanian holiday. If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

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