For years, Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and the Serengeti have been Tanzania’s iconic attractions. But, this may well change as the country’s southern and western regions come into their own as tourist attractions.
“Tanzania has taken off again. It’s our biggest destination now in Africa, and it is extremely busy. There’s no recession in the safari business there,” says Mark Nolting, president of The Africa Adventure Company. He recommends beginning with a tour of the north and then heading south via a scheduled charter flight from Arusha to Ruaha National Park or Selous Game Reserve.
Southern Tanzania provides a much wilder safari experience. “You can often be out all day without even seeing another vehicle,” says Chris McIntyre of Expert Africa.
These parks are also relatively far apart, McIntyre warns, so safaris usually fly in rather than drive. Guests will usually stay in a couple of camps, and their activities will be with guides from the camp, rather than a driver-guide who travels around with them.
Finally, in western Tanzania are the most remote of the parks: Katavi National Park and Mahale Mountains National Park. McIntyre says, “Their remoteness is a real draw for old Africa hands, and Mahale is probably the best place in Africa for observing habituated chimps in the wild.”
Selous and Ruaha are the two major game reserves in southern Tanzania. Selous is reportedly the largest game reserve in the world; Ruaha is now the second largest national park in Africa, and home to the largest population of elephants in all of East Africa. In the southwest, Katavi is a must-see.
Nolting says that these camps provide experiences and activities that one cannot find in the northern end of the country. “Selous has game viewing by motorboat and also some quality walking tours,” he says.
McIntyre recommends Katavi and Mahale in the western side, although he notes that they are both rather remote and can be expensive to reach.
Beho Beho is a hidden gem of a property in the Selous Game Reserve. It has eight individual “bandas” with king-sized beds and Zanzibari day beds. The banda can be secured for the night with “tented curtains” or left open as desired.
Each banda has a separate dressing room leading into an en-suite bathroom with twin basins and an open-air shower. Nice eco-touch: Each banda has its own solar panels to heat water for showers. There is an airstrip at the camp, which is less than an hour’s flight from Dar es Salaam. Important: Beho Beho is closed from mid-March to early June each year.
Travel agents should reach out to Joel Crossland, managing director at Africa-Reps (011-44-1932-260-618, [email protected]) with any questions.
Jongomero Camp in Ruaha National Park also has eight tents overlooking a riverbed, although none can accommodate families. Each tent has its own veranda, and the camp is not fenced so that animals can wander through. The camp also has its own airstrip, and is about a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Dar es Salaam. Guests can charter flights with Coastal Aviation directly to Jongomero. Like Beho Beho, Jongomero Camp is closed from mid-March to June. Travel agents should reach out to the Selous Safari Company reservations team in Dar es Salaam (011-255-222-128-485, [email protected]) with any questions.
South African Airways flies to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital, daily from Johannesburg, South Africa. To get to Johannesburg, the airline flies nonstop daily from New York (JFK) and direct from Washington, D.C.
Tanzania requires a visa, which can be purchased at a local consulate or at the airport upon arrival. The cost is $100 for U.S. guests, $50 for Canadians. While Tanzania is not a yellow fever zone, getting a vaccine is a good preventative measure.