Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit
The Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit is the ultimate wilderness experience, the area is home to some of the purest remaining tracts of bush in Africa boasting several national parks and reserves.
Tanzania’s southern parks offer an authentic bush experience without the tourist minibuses. The majority of accommodations are at the high end of the price range because they are intimate and cater to small groups. Camps in Southern Tanzanian offer a variety of different ways of seeing the wildlife – Boat safaris on lakes and rivers, passing crocodiles and hippos, walking safaris, Dinning and sleeping in the open out under the stars are just some of the exhilarating activities you can get.
There are two ways of reaching the southern national parks, depending on the parks, and where you are arriving from, If from Dar es Salaam, you can go by car to Mikumi or Julius Nyerere National Park (it takes up a part of Selous Game reserve) by car, but from anywhere else in Tanzania you would need to fly on of a number of a small aircraft. The Fly-in safaris are popular, using light aircraft between the parks and camp are popular, but also makes the southern parks a little more costly, except for Mikumi and Julius Nyerere National parks take up part of Selous Game Reserve. Flying allows quick and easy access to the remote camps. Once at the camps, guides will use 4WD vehicles and boats to get you around the parks.
Amongst seasoned safari-goers, names such as Selous (JULIUS NYERERE NATIONAL PARK TAKES UP PART OF SELOUS), Katavi and Ruaha bring deep emotions and respect to their minds, and at the same time, the beaches and coastline of Southern Tanzania are either world-famous or unexplored. The south is about the remote location, small intimate bush camps and the incredible wilderness adventure.
When is it time to visit the Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit:
The best time to visit the parks in Southern Tanzania is said to be during the dry season (June – November) but the parks are amazing all year round, though in the dry season the roads are more passable and easier to get around, it all depends on your urge for adventure.
Parks and Reserves in Southern Tanzania
Julius Nyerere National Park (It now takes up a part of Selous Game Reserve)
You can easily today access Julius Nyerere National Park by road as the roads have been upgraded towards the park from Dar es Salaam. Julius Nyerere National Park is one of Africa’s largest National parks and takes up part of the largest game reserve in Africa, a world heritage site, and you can often spend a whole day driving without seeing another vehicle. The birdlife is immense with more than 440 bird species, and you will see elephants, buffalos, zebras, cheetahs, lions, leopards, hyenas, black rhinos, impalas, wildebeests, African wild dogs, hippos and crocodiles. The Julius Nyerere National Parks (Selous’) lakes and channels offer amazing boat safaris and walking safaris and are very popular. It is possible to do night drives in Selous Game Reserve.
Mikumi National Park
Mikumi National Park is accessible from Dar es Salaam and can be a stopover if you are travelling west to Ruaha National Park. Mikumi National Park borders Julius Nyerere National Park (Selous) and shares its abundant wildlife including lion, giraffe, buffalo, eland, African wild dog, elephant, zebra, wildebeest and many more. The park is sometimes seen as less than other parks but it is an amazing park that deserves a lot more acknowledgement for its wildlife and plains. The open horizons and abundant wildlife of the Mkata Floodplain can be enjoyed on game drives and guided walks.
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha is a remote, large National Park that has the largest elephant population of any Tanzanian national park though it has declined drastically (read more here about protecting the Elephant and wildlife of Tanzania). The dramatic scenery rolling hills, large open plains, groves of baobabs and the Great Ruaha River. You can witness spectacular game viewing along the river during the dry season, but you will see plenty of wildlife all year round. Game species widespread to the south include the buffalo, zebra, Defassa Waterbuck, impala, giraffe, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, roan and sable antelope. Ruaha is one of the few places where you can see both greater and lesser kudu. Ruaha has a rich birdlife with more than 520 species sighted in the park. Bird watchers should visit Ruaha from mid-November to March when migrating birds are sighted.
Add-ons to the Southern Circuit
The southern parks have a lot more than just these focused parks, and we will be listing and updating this information, as we can and writing more about them in our blogs.
- Udzungwa Mountains National Park is a beautiful park just a two-hour drive from Mikumi and is famous for its endemic plants, it boasts over 400 species of birds and animals and also for its waterfalls, especially the 170 meters high Sanje Waterfall. The Iringa red colobus and Sanje Crested Mangabey are only found in Udzungwa. An excellent network of beautiful forest trails is a magnet for hikers.
- Saadani National Park is not really a Southern Park but it can be a great 1-day safari from Dar es Salaam with a combination of bush and beach. Situated on the Indian Ocean, Saadani is easily accessible from Dar es Salaam by road, but you can also fly into the park from other parks. Boat safaris and walking safaris are popular and you will see lions, elephants, giraffes, buffalo, warthog, hippos, crocodiles, greater kudu, eland, sable antelope, yellow baboon and vervet monkeys.