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Northern Circit

Northern Tanzania is arguably the greatest safari area in all Africa. The combination of spectacular wildlife, awesome volcanic scenery and the indigenous tribes-people is unique.

The proximity of parks in the region means that safari here is usually done as a road trip. Safari here tends to be quite long trips and relatively adventurous given all the road miles, but the breadth and depth of the experience is absolutely unbeatable.... a carefully planned safari can also deliver a good deal of wilderness.

Arusha is a great little town. Dramatically set below Mount Meru, it has a real frontier atmosphere, with safari Landrovers, big trucks and cranky old taxis fighting for space on the dusty roads. Arusha is the safari hub of northern Tanzania, the base for treks on Kilimanjaro and safaris into Tarangire, Manyara, Ngorongoro, Serengeti and Natron.

Most people will stay overnight on their way through, but actually Arusha can be treated as rather more than a transit stop. Around the town are shamba farms and lovely shady coffee plantations where places such as Moivaro Lodge or Arusha Safari Lodge are very pleasant to hole up and acclimatise for a few days, especially after a long journey.

The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safarigoers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours.

The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colourful turacos and trogons – the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.

Lake Eyasi is a scenic lake at the base of a steep section of Rift Valley escarpment just to the south of the Ngorongoro Crater. At first glimpse Eyasi appears very similar to Lake Manyara, but in reality the absence of significant groundwater means that it is far less able to sustain serious game populations.

Lake Manyara National Park is small park is sandwiched between the Rift Valley escarpment and the large sodiforous Lake Manyara. It is a pretty location, with a good range of game, including giraffe, elephant, baboon and the rarely seen tree-climbing lion.

These days the park suffers both from encroachment of the fast growing settlement and from heavy drive-by safari traffic in its northern sector. We therefore tend to skip Manyara on most of our high season trips in favour of wilder areas beyond.

That said, the remote southern sector remains a decent area for safari, which is also accessible to guests overnighting at the exclusive Manyara Tree Camp or at the other extreme, camping in at Manyara Bivouac.

Lake Natron is one of the most dramatically scenic places in Africa. The combination of the Rift Escarpment, a huge active volcano and a multi-coloured soda lake, in a landscape populated by Maasai is entrancing.

Ideal location to take a break if you are coming from Ngorongoro North. And if you are fit and foolhardy enough to get up at midnight to climb the great Oldonyo Lengai, then you will be rewarded with probably the best one day trek in Africa.

The Ngorongoro Highlands ... a dramatic range of volcanic mountains that straddles the Rift Valley escarpment to the south and east of Serengeti ... is probably one of the most beautiful safari areas in East Africa.

The reason that most people come is to visit one of Africa's most impressive natural wonders ... the Ngorongoro Crater.

Away from the crater the highlands are much more remote and contain some superb hiking and trekking. To cross these huge landscapes on foot in the company of Maasai 'morani' is about as cool as it gets.

Serengeti is the mother of all parks. It is also a seasonal of parks, with its enormous herbivore migration passing annually through each area like an enormous voracious lawnmower. Being in the right place at the right time is very important. Please let Discover Zanzibar help you to plan your safari so that you can have the best experience.

Unsurprisingly Serengeti gets a very high numbers of visitors, most of whom are flocked together into central areas. But this is a very big park and well capable of delivering very high quality wilderness experiences to the more discerning traveler.

Tarangire Park is well known for it’s elephants. During the dry season Jun/Dec especially, elephant mass along the river in enormous numbers and viewing is amongst the finest in Africa.

During the green season Jan/May, the park is beautiful, still has reasonable game and very low visitor numbers, making for a very accessible and high quality safari experience.

The park contains some of the best small camps in the region, such as Oliver's Camp and Nomad Tarangire Camp, withSwala Camp just behind those.

Olduvai Gorge is an archaeological site located in the eastern Serengeti in northern Tanzania within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The gorge is a steep sided 4 to 8- kilometre (30 mile) long ravine, which forms part of the Great Rift Valley. It is situated on a series of fault lines which, along with centuries of erosion, has revealed fossils and remnants of early humankind.