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Tanzania & Zanzibar
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Let me just add that we ended up by thinking that this was the best trip we've ever had. &Beyond was spectacular on every level. Combine them with the wonders of Tanzania ... my new favourite place on earth (with my new favourite people) and one does get a glimpse of heaven.

(The Rogers Family, May 09)

Tanzania & Zanzibar

TANZANIA is the largest (land area) among the East African countries and has a spectacular landscape with three distinct regions. The Islands and the coastal plains to the east; the inland saucer-shaped plateau; and the highlands.

The mountains in the northeast include Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak. To the north and west are the Great Lakes of Victoria and Tanganyika (Africa's deepest lake and known for its unique species of fish). Central Tanzania comprises a large plateau, with plains and arable land. The eastern shore has picture perfect sandy beaches, stunning offshore diving sites, and mysterious mediaeval ruins. There is also the magical “spice island” of ZANZIBAR lying just offshore.

Tanzania is a safari destination without peer. The statistics speak for themselves.
An unparalleled one-quarter of its surface area has been set aside for conservation purposes, with the world-renowned SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK and incomprehensibly vast SELOUS GAME RESERVE heading a rich mosaic of protected areas that collectively sustain an estimated 20 percent of Africa’s large mammal population. Arusha, Katavi, Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Ruaha to name a few.

SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK.
Tanzania's oldest and most popular national park, a world heritage site, the Serengeti is famed for its annual migration. Some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson's gazelle join the wildebeest on trek for fresh grazing. Yet even when the migration is quiet, the Serengeti offers the most scintillating game-viewing in Africa: great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant’s gazelle.

The spectacle of predator versus prey dominates the Serengeti. Golden-maned lion prides feast on the abundance of plain grazers. Solitary leopards haunt the acacia trees lining the Seronera River, while a high density of cheetahs prowls the southeastern plains. Almost uniquely, all three African jackal species occur here, alongside the spotted hyena and a host of more elusive small predators, ranging from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful serval cat.

NGORONGORO COSERVATION AREA
The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world's greatest natural spectacles, its magical setting and abundant wildlife never fail to enthrall visitors. It borders the Serengeti National Park to the north and west and lies within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which covers more than 8 000 square kilometers (3 100 square miles) of pristine African wilderness.
Housing four distinct habitats which are home to 25 000 animals it offers excellent year-round game viewing, including the phenomenal Great Migration of tens of thousands of zebra and wildebeest across the Serengeti.

THE MIGRATION
At the heart of the Serengeti ecosystem lies an ancient phenomenon that is the largest movement of wildlife on our planet!
Here is a simplified explanation of how the rain drives the migration. The southern plains of the Serengeti are very fertile but they need rains to ripen the grass for a massive population of grazers.
The "short" and light rains fall in November and December (sometimes as early as October) and draw the migration rapidly south from Kenya's Maasai Mara down the eastern side of Tanzania's Serengeti into these sweet short-grass plains.

The animal exodus begins between January and March in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation area where the calving season brings forth a record of 500,000 new calves. Enormous herds of wildebeest and zebra can be seen grazing on rain ripened grass. The wildebeest and other grazers settle in the southern plains during these months - usually the best time to see the migration in Tanzania.

In April and May the "long" or heavy rains set in and the depleted southern plains are less attractive than the long grass plains up in the western corridor and the migration has started moving north (westerly) again.
Large river crossings on the Grumeti and Mara Rivers occur as the migration heads back into Kenya's Maasai Mara - the season dries out and fresh grazing and water can be found in the far north. The Mara is usually at its best in August, September and October.
Now if only the rains fell on cue!

The Migration is also not a continually forward motion. They go forward, back and to the sides, they mill around, they split up, they join forces, they walk in a line, they spread out, they hang around. You can never predict with certainty where they will be; the best you can do is to suggest likely timings, based on past experience - but you can never guarantee the Migration a hundred percent. It is driven entirely by standing water and grazing, and created by local weather conditions. IF everything is right then, there is utter and extraordinary chaos as the herds struggle to get to the other side of a major river filled with crocodiles.

SELOUS GAME RESERVE
The park is named after Englishman, Frederick Courtney Selous - conservationist, hunter, explorer and author, whose adventure books on Africa became best sellers in Victorian England. Enter Africa's largest protected area uninhabited by man, a massive stretch of land where Tanzania's greatest population of elephants wander in an area bigger than Switzerland!

The Selous is a World Heritage Site. Here you can experience a safari in absolutely wild and unspoiled bush, most safari camps being positioned in the top 20% of the reserve. The park varies from rolling grassy woodlands and plains, to rocky outcrops cut by the Rufiji River, lifeblood of the park, whose tributaries form a network of lakes, lagoons and channels.
Selous contains about one third of all the wild dogs in the world. Their need to roam vast areas and their formidable hunting skills have caused many to be shot by farmers, but here in Selous they have boundless woodlands and savannahs in which to roam. The Rufiji River attracts huge numbers of wildlife especially in the dry season while the black and white colobus monkeys live in the riverine forests.
In the dry season an ancient migration of elephants takes place between the Selous and Mozambique's Niassa Game Reserves. This is one of the largest natural trans-boundary eco-systems in Africa and at the last consensus it was estimated that 64,400 elephants roam the two parks, with 84% on the Tanzanian side.

THE GREAT LAKES
The Great Lakes of Africa are a series of lakes in and around the geographic Great Eastern African Rift. They include Lake Victoria the second largest fresh water lake in the world in terms of surface area, and Lake Tanganyika the world's second largest in volume as well as the second deepest and Lake Nyasa lying in the south. These lakes are home to amazing birdlife including massive flocks flamingoes.

It is hard to define a country with so many unique and diverse highlights. Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, Lake Tanganyika, Serengeti, and Selous. The greatest movement of wildlife on this planet! Maybe one can only say it in a single word, a word visitors will hear a dozen times daily, no matter where they travel in Tanzania, or how they go about it, the smiling, heartfelt Swahili greeting of “Karibu!” – Welcome!

 
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