Top Ten Tanzania National Parks
There is not enough room here to put a fully comprehensive list of information about each and every National Park in Tanzania; these descriptions of only ten of our National Parks serves to give a cross-section of what is on offer.
1. Katavi National Park: In 2001 the Serengeti had 100,000 visitors; in contrast the Katavi National Park in the remote and almost inaccessible west of Tanzania had only 83 visitors. The only other people you are likely to meet in this park are other guests and the staff at the one [tented] lodge in the one million hectares of this park. This is the personification of the term ?well off the beaten track?. It is famed for its huge herds of buffalo up to four thousand in a single herd.
2. The Serengeti: As you stand on the southern grass plains, you experience the vastness of this park and witness one of the greatest concentrations of plains animals left on earth. The Grunmeti Western Corridor stretches almost to the shores of Lake Victoria, and is an important part of the migratory routes. Lobo Northern Woodland is where the wildebeest move from June-December to feed on the longer grasses that persist in the area. Seronera in the central Serengeti, with year-round water, this is perhaps the most reliable area in the park to view wildlife.
3. Ngorongoro Crater is a true marvel and I believe unique in Africa; it is located between the lake Manyara National Park and the Serengeti. It was formed from an ancient volcano that erupted and then collapsed into the crater we see today. The crater floor is spread across one hundred square miles and is home to many thousands of animals. Ngorongoro Crater enjoys a year round water supply and so nearly all animals remain here as permanent residents.
4. Tarangire National Park, deserves a closer look than in normally receives from visitors. It has a high Elephant population and an amazing bird life and anyone keen on bird watching will be well rewarded. In the dry season, many animals come to the Tarangire River as this river never dries and continually has water on offer to the thirsty.
5. Lake Manyara National Park is home to millions of flamingos, pelicans, storks and other bird life, as well as many hippos that can be observed at close range. Hot springs trickle into the shallow waters. Lake Manyara?s famous tree-climbing lions are another reason to pay this park a visit, along with the largest concentration of baboons in Tanzania.
6. Arusha National Park: This lovely park is set between the peaks of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro. Its area is only 53 square miles and therefore tiny when compared to the vast Serengeti or the huge Selous. The Park is as outstandingly beautiful as it is small and can be visited easily from the nearby town of Arusha. The highlands of this park are forested with the peak of Mount Meru rising above the forests to dominate the area.
7. Ruaha National Park is where eastern and southern African have met together and many species of fauna and flora overlap. In the dry season, July to November, the river is an excellent place for observing large numbers of game including lions, leopards, hunting dogs, giraffe, waterbuck, eland and warthogs. This park is remote, unspoiled, untamed and rarely visited. With few lodges and tourists in the park, each group on safari has the impression of having the whole of Africa to themselves.
8. Gombe Stream &The Mahale Mountains are a mixture of grass, woodlands and forest, although it is mostly forest with the majority of its mammals being primates. These forests are lush and green rising up to 15,000 meters above the waters of Lake Tanganyika. With over twenty years of research, the chimpanzees have become habituated to humans. However, this does not make it easy to find them. Trekking through the forest, which can be quite dense, with steep and often slippery sloping terrain, can be strenuous, dirty work. It is well worth it though to get to see the chimpanzee in their natural habitat. You must expect to walk for three or four hours per day in search of these primates.
9. Udzungwa Mountains: Also known as the Galapagos Island of Africa: this park was created primarily for the protection of flora rather than fauna. There are no roads in the park and you have to be prepared to do lots of hard hiking; indeed this is a hiker?s paradise. Many regard the Udzungwa forests to be among highest-ranking destinations for bird watching in Africa. The Udzungwa hosts animals that are found in most Tanzanian parks including elephants, buffaloes, lion and leopard; also including the African wild dog, which is only found in Southern Tanzania. However, most of these are not present in large numbers. A park ranger and/or guide must accompany all hikers.
10. Saadani is where the bush meets the sea. This colorful clash of ecosystems is found nowhere else along the coast of East Africa. Imagine this is the place where the hippopotamus compete with coral reefs, lions roar at the surf and baboons race along the beach. Your hotel room not only looks out over the African bush but it also has a sea view! Walking safaris are allowed in the forest and on returning from your walking safari to your hotel - take off your boots ? and have a refreshing walk in the surf; this park also boasts a special night walk trail.
About the Author: For further information on Kilimanjaro, Tanzania and the islands of Zanzibar see http://betheladventure.co.uk using tourism to fund community initiatives focused on the education of the young and the medical care for the whole family. Using tourism to change lives.