Armand and Michaela Denis introduced the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti to television viewers back in the 1950s with their black and white wildlife documentaries ‘’On Safari’’. In those days, few people could contemplate being able to go there themselves. These two iconic places in Tanzania began to attract huge numbers as soon as long haul travel became so much easier. They remain the two most popular places for wildlife viewing in Tanzania but there are many more.

They form part of just one of the four safari circuits within the country. All of which have much to recommend them. A closer look at these circuits will help you choose which one you would like to visit, or the order in which to visit them if you want to experience them all.

Northern Circuit

  • Arusha National Park is just a short distance from the town of Arusha, a popular starting point of this circuit for those travellers arriving at Kilimanjaro International Airport. While Kilimanjaro can be seen in the distance, it is Mount Meru which dominates this small park. There are no lions and only a few elephants. However, you may have the chance to see leopard and hyenas, which are fairly common. Buffalo, giraffe, warthog and zebra populate the park with flamingos likely in the Momela Lakes.
  • The Ngorongoro Crater within the Conservation Area of the same name is the real jewel of Tanzania. The Crater was formed millions of years ago but the volcano is long since extinct. The Crater covers 264 square kilometres and sits 600 metres below the surrounding land. The wildlife could be described as a ‘’captive audience’’ though there is a little movement in and out of the steep-sided crater. All Africa’s main species can be found within the Crater except for giraffe and impala. It is a diverse place with grassland, forest and lakes and with some many prey species around, predators are plentiful with lions completely unconcerned by safari vehicles.
  • The Serengeti Plain and neighbouring Masai Mara in Kenya are the sites for the greatest migration in Africa as wildebeest and zebra constantly seek out new grazing. Estimates suggest that 1.5 million wildebeest and 250,000 zebras take the journey with predators following their prey. While April and May are the months when the greatest movements should take place, the rains can be unpredictable, so the migration is too. However, the Serengeti’s magic means that wildlife enthusiasts will get many amazing experiences from their time in this vast region of almost 15,000 square kilometres. Jeeps are expected to stay on the well-established tracks to avoid causing ecological damage, but the abundance of wildlife ensures that it is cameras at the ready all the time.
  • Lake Manyara is known for its tree-climbing lions. They may not be as agile as leopards because they are much heavier but a photograph of a lion up a tree should get pride of place in your album. The shallow lake covers a little under 500 square kilometres with the dry land section of the National Park being a further 200 square kilometres. Flamingos frequent the soda lake while the common prey species that the lions seek out include zebra, wildebeest, dik-dik, warthog, impala and buffalo. Lake Manyara is also renowned for its birdlife with the raptors a major attraction.
  • Tarangire National Park completes the circle. Its name comes from the river that passes through the Park. One of its attractions is that it is likely to be far less crowded than other regions on this circuit. ‘’Crowded’’ is relative because of the vastness of the circuit. The River is a great source of water in the dry season between June and November when herds arrive in the Park to drink. Elephants are a highlight in Tarangire which is also known for its baobab trees.

The Northern Circuit is the most popular of the four circuits in Tanzania because of the likelihood of seeing Africa’s ‘’Big Five’’ – lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and the ever increasingly rare rhino (Ngorongoro is the most likely place for that.) –  along the way.

Experience the Northern Circuit with our 5 Days Safari Tanzania tour to Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and Serengeti National Park.