Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park has a rich variety of wildlife, but don't expect the same game-viewing experience you'd find in other national parks of Tanzania's northern circuit. Despite being a small park, common animals include giraffe, Cape buffalo, zebra, warthog, the black-and-white colobus monkey, the blue monkey, flamingo, elephant, and lion. Leopards are present, but rarely seen. Birdlife in the forest is prolific, with many forest species more easily seen here than elsewhere on the tourist route - Narina trogon and bar-tailed trogon are both highlights for visiting birders, whilst the range of starling species provide somewhat less gaudy interest.

Tarangire National Park

Tarangire River is the primary source of fresh water for wild animals in the Tarangire Ecosystem during the annual dry season. The Tarangire Ecosystem is defined by the long-distance migration of wildebeest and zebras. During the dry season thousands of animals concentrate in Tarangire National Park from the surrounding wet-season dispersal and calving areas. It covers an area of approximately 2,850 km² (1,100 square miles).

The park is famous for its density of African bush elephants and baobab trees. Visitors to the park in the June to November dry season can expect to see large herds of thousands of zebra, wildebeest and cape buffalo. Other common resident animals include waterbuck, giraffe, dik dik, impala, Common eland, Grant's gazelle, vervet monkey, banded mongoose, and olive baboon. Predators in Tarangire include African lion, leopard, cheetah, caracal, honey badger, and African wild dog.

The park is home to more than 550 bird species. Tarangire is also famous for the termite mounds that dot the landscape. Those that have been abandoned are often home to dwarf mongoose.

Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park is one of Tanzania’s smaller parks and, although many safari itineraries skip it, we highly recommend you make the detour. The dramatic western escarpment of the Rift Valley forms the park’s western border. To the east is the alkaline Lake Manyara, which covers one-third of the park, but shrinks considerably in the dry season. During the rains, the lake hosts millions of flamingos and other birdlife.

While Manyara lacks the raw drama of other northern circuit destinations, its vegetation is diverse, ranging from savannah to marshes to evergreen forest (11 different ecosystems in all) and it supports one of the highest biomass densities of large mammals in the world. Elephants, hippos, zebras, giraffes, buffaloes and wildebeest are often spotted. Leopards and hyenas are also here. Lake Manyara is also home to a famous population of tree-climbing lions.

Ngorongoro Crater

Pick a superlative: amazing, incredible, breathtaking…they all apply to the stunning ethereal blue-green vistas of the Ngorongoro Crater. But as wonderful as the views are from above, the real magic happens when you get down inside and drive among an unparalleled concentration of wildlife, including the highest density of both lions and overall predators in Africa. This is one of Africa's premier attractions and this world-renowned natural wonder is deservedly a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The property has global importance for biodiversity conservation due to the presence of globally threatened species, the density of wildlife inhabiting the area, and the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and other animals into the northern plains. Extensive archaeological research has also yielded a long sequence of evidence of human evolution and human-environment dynamics, including early hominid footprints dating back 3.6 million years.

Serengeti National Park

Few people forget their first encounter with Serengeti National Park. Perhaps it's the view from Naabi Hill at the park's entrance, from where the Serengeti's grasslands appear to stretch to the ends of the earth. Or maybe it's a coalition of lions stalking across open plains, their manes catching the breeze. Or it could be the migration of wildebeest and zebra in their millions, following the ancient rhythm of Africa's seasons. Whatever it is, welcome to one of the greatest wildlife-watching destinations on earth.

The 14,763 sq km Serengeti is also renowned for its predators, especially its lions. Cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and jackals are on the hunt here, too, feasting on zebras, giraffes, buffaloes, gazelles, topis, elands, hartebeests, impalas and more. It’s also an incredible birdwatching destination, with over 500 species to spot. A few black rhinos around Moru Kopjes offer a chance for the Big Five, although they’re rarely seen.