National Parks in Tanzania

From the towering snow-capped mountains to the Great Rift Valley, to the sub-tropical beaches and forests, Tanzania is an incredibly biodiverse safari destination. Featuring a magnificent and awe-inspiring plethora of landscapes, this East African country’s spectacular National Parks are one of the reasons why it is one of the top 5 African safari destinations. In some of these National Parks, travelers are attracted to the incredible wildlife encounters while in others it is the hiking experiences and birding tours.  Here’s our pick for the top 10 National Parks/Reserves in Tanzania to include on your Tanzania safari itinerary.

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti tops the list of Tanzania’s National Parks for its classic wildlife experiences. It is found in the Northern side of the country and has existed since 1951, hence making it one of the oldest Parks in the country. This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers over 5700 square miles and is home to cheetahs, elephants, Rhinos, jackals, lions, spotted hyenas, Masai giraffes, leopards, buffaloes, zebras, wildebeests, Hippos, gazelles, to mention but a few. It is popular for hosting the wildebeest migration in addition to offering hot air balloon tours, game drives, bush walks, and birding tours.

Arusha National Park

This is one of the rarely-visited National Parks in Tanzania, yet it is very accessible from Arusha, the Safari Capital of Tanzania. This spectacular Park also covers areas of Mount Meru and is situated on the Northeastern side of the country. It was gazetted in 1960 and extends for only 53 square miles. Some of the commonest wildlife species in this small Park are elephants, warthogs, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, Cape buffaloes, zebras as well as isolated leopard populations.

Tarangire National Park

Situated in the Manyara region of Tanzania, Tarangire is another spectacular yet rarely-visited National Park in Tanzania and covers an area of 1100 square miles. This Park’s landscape is marked by River Valleys, granite ridges, swamps, grasslands, woodlands, and baobab trees. It was gazetted in 1970 and boasts high concentrations of elephants as well as baobab trees. Also expect to see banded mongoose, Cape buffaloes, Olive baboons, Defassa waterbucks, Rothschild giraffes, cheetahs, lions, elands, honey badgers, zebras, and wildebeests among others.

Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park sits between the Great Rift Valley and Lake Manyara and extends for about 125 square miles that include a Lake surface of 89 square miles. Gazetted in 1960, it is home to over 350 bird species and wildlife that include Black Rhinos, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, genets, bat-eared foxes, black-backed jackals, leopards, African golden cats, honey badgers, mongoose and lions among others. Activities to enjoy in this Park are game drives, boat rides, fishing tours, and bush walks.

Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park covers an area of 7809 square miles that includes parts of the former Usangu Game Reserve and significant wetlands hence making it one of the largest Parks in Tanzania. It derived its name from the mighty Ruaha River that drains through the southeastern border of the protected Area and is home to African buffaloes, East African cheetahs, Hippos, African wild dogs, spotted hyenas, lions, giraffes, sable antelopes and leopards among others.

Kilimanjaro National Park

Found in the Kilimanjaro region and about 190 miles south of the Equator, Kilimanjaro National Park is home to Africa’s highest peak at 5895 meters above sea level. This Protected Area was gazetted in 1973 and covers an area of 652 square miles. While its unmatched mountaineering experiences are the main reason tourists visit this Park, it is also home to lots of tree hyraxes, leopards, red duikers, elephants, black and white colobus monkeys, bush babies, Cape buffaloes, grey duikers and so much more.

Mikumi National Park

At 1250 square miles in area, Mikumi is the 4th largest National Park in Tanzania and sits close to the Morogoro area. This Park came into existence in 1964 and borders the Selous Game reserve in the south hence forming an outstanding ecosystem. This Park is divided by the A7 highway and this divides the Park into two slightly different environments. The animals to see in this Park ate reticulated giraffes, Hippos, Masai giraffes, zebras, Olive baboons, wildebeests, impalas, lesser and greater kudus, buffaloes, elephants, and elands among others.

Nyerere (Selous) National Park

At 11,928 square miles, Nyerere is the largest National Park in Tanzania and is recognized for being one of the largest wildlife Sanctuaries in the World. It is part of the rarely-explored southern circuit and was established in 2019 hence making it the newest Park in the country. The Park is drained by River Rufiji, the largest River in the country and home to lots of hippos and crocodiles. Other wildlife species here are spotted hyenas, African wolves, zebras, lions, Rhinos, wildebeests, and elephants among others.

Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Mountains National Park is found in the Kigoma region, along the Eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika, and derived its name from the Mahale Mountains range within its territory. This 1650-square-kilometer park was gazetted in 1985 and is known for sheltering the country’s highest-known population of Eastern chimpanzees. It is also one of the few places where chimpanzees and lions co-exist. Other wildlife species in this Park are red-tailed monkeys, red colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, buffaloes, Roan antelopes, yellow baboons, Masai giraffes, African wild dogs, elephants, and blue monkeys, to mention but a few.

Besides these stunning National Parks, Tanzania is also home to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was named after the Ngorongoro Crater, the World’s largest intact Caldera. This Park was established in 1959 and covers an area of 3202 square miles. It is known as one of the seven natural wonders of Africa and is a haven to lions, wildebeests, Black rhinos, leopards, hartebeests, wildebeests, wild dogs, cheetahs, zebras, common elands, spotted hyenas, serval cats, and gazelles among others.

Other National parks in Tanzania are Gombe Stream National Park, Kitulo National Park, Ugalla River National Park, Mkomazi National Park, Saanane Island National Park, Rubondo Island National Park, and Katavi National Park among others.

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