Stalk the stalker, watch it pounce upon its prey, see millions of animals crossing a river, track gorillas, live in the wild and discover unusual species while you’re at it. A wildlife safari is one of the biggest charms of any African adventure and Tanzania is perhaps the best country for a journey into the wild. Tanzania’s national parks are designed to suit all kinds of interests, preferences and comfort levels, and you can be rest assured that there is a safari which is perfect for you.

But before you embark on your safari adventure, you need to make one of the biggest decisions – which park to visit and which park to leave out. Serengeti or Ngorongoro feel like the most obvious places to be, but it is equally possible that you have a much better time in one of the lesser-known parks.

Love Exploration Safari recommends you to ask yourself the following questions as they should help you zero in on the best national park in Tanzania.

  • When do you plan to visit Tanzania?
  • Which animals attract you the most?
  • Do you prefer crowds or wish to explore the park without having to come across other tour groups?
  • Game drives, hot air balloons, fly camping, walking expeditions into the wild – which of these attract you the most?
  • Would you like to watch a few predators or thousands of game animals?
  • What kind of accommodation are you looking for?
  • Are you a budget traveler or are you searching for luxury?

Below we are listing highlightslowlights, and facts about some of the top national parks in Tanzania:


Home to the Great Migration, Serengeti National Park easily makes its way into most bucket lists. This fascinating park presents all kinds of ecosystems which allows it to host a variety of plants, birds and animals. The sheer diversity makes it one of the most unique national parks in Africa. Over the years, Serengeti National Park has attracted people from all walks of life, including movie stars, celebrities, writers and poets, and it easily ranks as one of the most coveted safari destinations in Africa.

Lioness with her cub


  • Home to the Great Migration
  • Authentic game viewing opportunities
  • Hot air balloon safaris
  • One of the best destinations to spot African predators
  • Excellent accommodation options


  • The park is very crowded during peak season
Serengeti National Park Facts
Number of annual visitors:+350,000
Size:13,250 sq. km.
Altitude:3,737 feet to 7,133 feet
Common Animal Sightings:Wildebeest, giraffe, gazelle, big cats, elephant, zebra, eland, topi, kongoni.
Best Season to Visit:June to July and January to February
Nearby Attractions:Ngorongoro Conservation Center, Lake Natron, Tarangire National Park


Formed millions of years ago, the Ngorongoro Crater closed off its borders to man with the help of walls that rose to heights of 400 to 600 meters. As a result, nature was allowed to run free here and create some of the most exotic species of plants and animals that the world has ever seen. This is one of the few places where you can see the Big 5 in a single day and it also hosts the endangered black rhino.

Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis) grazing in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania


  • Year-round wildlife viewing
  • Watch the endangered black rhino
  • Excellent accommodation
  • Explore the Maasai culture by visiting a traditional village
  • See the Big 5 in a single day


  • Expensive
  • Very crowded during peak season
Ngorongoro Crater Facts
Number of annual visitors:400,000
Size:8,228 sq. kms.
Altitude:3,310 feet to 1,959 feet
Common Animal Sightings:Black rhino, wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, elephant, topi, buffalo, cheetah, lion, spotted hyena, leopard, golden jackal, bat-eared fox.
Best Season to Visit:June to September
Nearby attractions:Serengeti National Park, Empakaai Center, Mount Kilimanjaro


Think of Lake Manyara as a mini Serengeti. The place is very small in size, and a majority of the area is covered by the lake itself, but it still hosts as many as 11 ecosystems and a vast and varied wildlife. The groundwater forest surroundings at Lake Manyara offer a much-needed break from African savannahs. Tree-climbing lions are the superstars here, but predator sightings are difficult. A close encounter with hundreds of elephants is the next best thing.

A closer look at tree climbing lions in Lake Manyara National Park


  • Night safaris, hiking and trekking available
  • Tree-climbing lions
  • Splendid bird-watching opportunities
  • See elephants from up close
  • Breathtaking natural beauty
  • Wildlife is usually concentrated in certain pockets


  • Very crowded during peak season
Lake Manyara Facts
Size:330 sq. kms.
Altitude:3,127 feet to 4,741 feet
Common Animal Sightings:Baboon, flamingo, elephant, wildebeest, giraffe, blue monkey, buffalo, water-buck, impala, warthog, zebra, klipspringer, Kirk’s dik-dik, lion, leopard.
Best Season to Visit:July to October
Nearby Attractions:Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Center


Tarangire National Park isn’t located on the main safari route, and is less crowded than most other national parks in Tanzania. The park is 10 times larger than Manyara and its game tends to be incredibly concentrated during peak season. The park is also known for its breathtaking baobab trees and stunning natural beauty.


  • Night safaris and walking safaris available
  • Excellent accommodation options
  • Concentrated wildlife viewing opportunities during dry season
  • Breathtaking scenery


  • Animal sightings are difficult during wet season
  • The park tends to get crowded during peak season
Tarangire National Park Facts
Number of Annual Visitors:160,000
Size:2,850 sq. kms.
Altitude:3,222 feet to 5,400 feet
Common Animal Sightings:Elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, eland, impala, gazelle, hartebeest, buffalo, wildebeest and giraffe.
Best Season to Visit:July to October
Nearby Attractions:Arusha, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Center, Lake Manyara National Park


Selous Game Reserve represents the largest uninhabited area in the continent, and this alone makes it worth visiting. The large untouched expanses of land showcase nature at its beautiful best. The reserve also presents the best bush vibe in Tanzania. Selous Game Reserve is one of the two destinations used by elephants for their annual migration, and if watching millions of wildebeests isn’t possible, you can go for the next best thing, watching thousands of elephants at Selous.


  • One of the few destinations in Africa to see wild dogs
  • Elephant migration Boat safaris available
  • Excellent wildlife viewing opportunities during dry season
  • Lion sightings are common
  • One of the best destinations to see wild dogs
  • Excellent accommodation


  • Hunting allowedMalarial area
  • Animals are scattered during wet season
  • Compact wildlife viewing circuit
  • Animal sightings are difficult during wet season
  • The park tends to get crowded during peak season
Selous Game Reserve Facts
Size:47,665 sq. kms.
Altitude:118 feet to 4,793 feet
Common Animal Sightings:Elephant, wild dog, crocodile, black colobus monkey, hippo, antelope, bushbuck, sickle-horned sable, reedbuck, waterbuck and curly-horned greater kudu.
Best Season to Visit:June to November
Nearby Attractions:Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar


The largest national park in Africa might not come with a world-famous reputation, but it certainly presents the wildest encounters for those who know what to look for. Ruaha National Park is most famous for its fascinating beauty, ancient baobab trees, picturesque river and dramatic scenes and it offers incredibly exciting game viewing experiences to its visitors.

Cheetah hunting
in Ruaha National Park


  • Fly camping trips
  • One of the best destinations to see wild dogs
  • Guided treks
  • Unusual antelope species
  • Doesn’t get crowded


  • Remote location
  • Lack of proper low-budget accommodation
  • Animals sightings are difficult during wet season
Ruaha National Park Facts
Number of Visitors:20,000
Size:10,300 sq. kms.
Altitude:2,362 feet to 6,188 feet
Common Animal Sightings:Giraffe, greater kudu, sable antelope, lesser kudu, zebra, impala, bushbuck, buffalo, hartebeest, gazelle, waterbuck, elephant, lions, black-backed jackals, cheetahs, leopards, spotted hyenas and African wild dogs.
Best Season to Visit:June to October
Nearby Attractions:Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar


Gombe Stream National Park may be small in size, but its attractions pack a punch. The park is famous all over the world because of its connection to Jane Goodall and her pioneering research on chimpanzees. Chimpanzee tracking expeditions are an obvious highlight, but one can also expect to see several species of primates here. Gombe presents a trail system which lets visitors penetrate deep into the forest and enjoy some of the best views of the African bush.


  • Home to Jane Goodall’s research
  • Chimpanzee sightings are common
  • Hikes available
  • Exclusive and uncrowded


  • Accommodation is limited
Gombe National Park Facts
Size:52 sq. kms.
Altitude:2,516 feet to 5,269 feet
Common Animal Sightings:Chimpanzee, vervet monkey, olive baboon, blue monkey, red colobus monkey, white-tailed monkey, bushbuck, bushpig and leopard.
Best Season to Visit:July to October
Nearby Attractions:Ujiji, Mahale Mountains National Park


Katavi is remote, very remote, and reaching the park requires a lot of effort. This alone dissuades most travelers from visiting Katavi. However, take the first step and the park does its bit to ensure that you never have to go home disappointed. Katavi presents untouched wilderness and it is common to run across more predators than humans while you’re here.

Hippopotamus in Katuma river in Katavi National Park


  • Game safaris and walking expeditions available
  • Spectacular hippo viewing opportunities
  • Exclusive and uncrowded
  • Unusual species of antelopes


  • Limited accommodation
  • Very difficult and expensive to get to the park
  • Animals are scattered during wet season
Katavi National Park Facts
Size:4,471 sq. kms
Altitude:2,677 feet to 5,361 feet
Common Animal Sightings:Eland, sable, roan antelope, hippo, buffalo, reedbuck, giraffe, impala, zebra, duikers, elephant, lion, leopards and wild dog.
Best Season to Visit:June to October
Nearby Attractions:Ruaha National Park


Mahale Mountains National Park may be ignored by most tourists visiting Tanzania, but those wanting to get closer to their closest genetic relative, the chimpanzee, simply have to visit the Mahale Mountains. The park presents the best chimp tracking experience in Tanzania and visitors also fall in love with its stunning beauty. Better yet, Mahale Mountains is home to some of the glittery sand beaches that Africa is so famous for.

A chimpanzees walking in Mahale Mountains National Park


  • Excellent place to see chimpanzees
  • Hiking expeditions available
  • Exclusive and uncrowded
  • Fishing and kayaking available
  • Walking tours available
  • Spectacular beaches


  • Very difficult to get to
  • Limited accommodation
  • Expensive
Mahale Mountains National Park Facts
Number of Visitors:1,000
Size:1,613 sq. kms.
Altitude:2,484 feet to 8,117 feet
Common Animal Sightings:Chimpanzee, red colobus monkey, antelope, red-tailed monkey, blue monkey, warthog, bushbuck, hippo, crocodile and leopard.
Best Season to Visit:May to October
Nearby Attractions:Nkungwe, Kigoma


Mkata Floodplain, the star attraction at Mikumi National Park, has often been compared to the great Serengeti because of its amazing diversity and concentrated wildlife. This alone makes Mikumi worth visiting. The park is also popular for presenting stunning photo ops and large herds of game animals.


  • Good animal sightings during dry season
  • Perfect for weekend getaways
  • Excellent accommodation
  • Guided walks available


  • Animals are scattered during wet season
  • Single road circuit
  • Lack of wilderness appeal
Mikumi National Park Facts
Size:3,220 sq. kms.
Altitude:653 feet to 4,131 feet
Common Animal Sightings:Hippo, zebra, giraffe, elephant, impala, wildebeest, spotted hyena, buffalo and lion.
Best Season to Visit:June to October
Nearby Attractions:Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Selous Game Reserve

We also have prepped the Wildlife Safaris in Tanzania – A Love Exploration Safari Guide, a guide that focuses on Tanzania and helps you understand what to expect and how to move forward.