What to pack for an African safari holiday
6th May 2023
Think Tanzania and you think Serengeti, the definitive safari destination and home to the Great Migration. But the appeal doesn’t end there, as Tanzania has a whole lot more to offer in the shape of an iconic mountain calling you to its peak, the dreamy beaches of Zanzibar and a clutch of parks and reserves all boasting a unique perspective on the mesmerising wildlife of Africa. We’ve spoken to our wonderful local partners and, with the help of their expertise, have pulled together a selection of the best things to do in Tanzania.
Every year the wide open plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya tremble with the beat of millions of hooves as around two million animals including wildebeest, zebra and gazelles follow the rains through the region, ever searching for fresh green pastures. The animals are on the move for much of the year, so whenever you travel there will be something exciting to see, whether it’s the calving season (around January to March in the southern Serengeti), or when they are on the move north (around April to June) and crossing treacherous crocodile infested waters in their thousands at the Grumeti and Mara rivers (June and July).
From July to October the huge herds move between the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara continuously searching for the greenest pastures, before heading south into the Serengeti again between November and December ready for calving. The Great Migration is a defining moment of African wildlife, and one of the most powerful natural spectacles to witness in the planet.
There’s something in the air in Zanzibar. A certain magical dreamlike quality that lulls you into a happy state of relaxation almost as soon as you arrive. Maybe it’s the gentle lapping of the turquoise Indian Ocean on the pearl-white shores of the island, or maybe it’s the atmospheric lanes of historic Stone Town. Perhaps it’s the distinctive and intriguing local culture, or the heartfelt smiles of the islanders…
It is certainly a special moment as you lie back in a perfect cove with whispering palms overhead, watching the dhows potter across the hundreds of shades of aquamarine shimmering out to sea. If all that down time becomes too much, there’s lots to keep you busy on the island too. Snorkelling and diving are prime distractions, and with visibility of up to 30 metres and a constantly warm water temperature, there’s no excuse not to explore the submarine world of Zanzibar’s waters.
The best time to visit Zanzibar is either from June to October, when the rainy season of March to May has ended and the weather is pleasant and dry, or from the end of December until February (as there is another short rainy season from November to December).
Tanzania has much to offer keen wildlife spotters, and boasts some of the world’s most celebrated wildlife reserves at the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. From the impressive apex predators and herds of ungulates to the wonderful birds, Tanzania’s wildlife is nothing short of incredible.
See rhino, hippos and cheetah in the densely populated crater at Ngorongoro, or watch lions on the prowl in the Serengeti. Then there is the wonder of Tarangire, with its 6,000 strong elephant population, baobab trees and impressive scenery; plus the often overlooked southern parks, where the wildlife is just as awe-inspiring but there are far fewer people. The possibilities for safari in Tanzania are almost endless, making it one of the best countries anywhere for wildlife encounters.
A tough climb it may be, but the reward of sitting astride the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is worth the exertion. The views over what seems like all of Africa are amazing, and after all that hard work you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. Don’t be fooled into thinking the simple silhouette of the mountain means it’s a simple stroll to the summit – it’s a demanding climb and gets steep towards the top.
There are a few different routes to consider and each has their pros and cons, but the most important thing is to take it steady, allowing several days, and to ensure you are at peak fitness. This is a demanding mountain – the highest in Africa – which requires preparation and training to climb safely. Fitness and proper rest will enable your body to acclimatize gradually to the altitude, and will make the difference between a slog and a rewarding trek. Our local partner company in Tanzania are experts at leading expeditions up the mountain – Simbo grew up in its foothills – so you couldn’t be in safer hands if this is something you wish to do.
There are abundant opportunities to browse for souvenirs in Tanzania, and local markets all over the land offer a great opportunity to see local life in action. In Zanzibar, Forodhani night market springs into action in the early evening, and specialises in food. Peruse the various seafood treats on offer and put a delicious meal together from the various vendors, each with their own speciality. Makonde ebony carvings from southeastern Tanzania make wonderful souvenirs, and you can find gifts for all budgets, from spoons and kitchen utensils to huge warrior figures of startling intricacy.
Craft markets are great for keen bargain hunters, are there is more room for haggling at markets than in permanent shops. Look out for carved soapstone, colourful Kanga cloths and woven textiles, often sold directly by the creator. Make sure you avoid buying anything of animal origin, and don’t forget to leave a corner of your suitcase empty so you can transport all your beautiful souvenirs home with you.
Make it happen
Tanzania is brimming with potential adventures, and offers amazing diversity as well as world class safaris. If you like to mix it up on holiday, this could be the destination for you. Our expert Tanzanian local specialists can craft your bespoke itinerary around your requirements, tailoring your unique trip around your passions, whether you want to scale Kilimanjaro, spot all the best wildlife or relax on beautiful beaches. Simply get in touch with them to start planning your perfect holiday to Tanzania. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.