Visiting Tanzania has been one of the most profound experiences of my life. If, like me, you love nature and unique cultures then I have no doubts that you’re going to fall in love with the country too!
Boasting a reputation as the greatest safari destination on earth, all of the big 5, home to over 120 incredible tribes & over 500 species of birds, there’s something for everyone.
In this article I’m going to walk you through my ultimate 7-10 day Tanzania safari itinerary. I’ll also give you an idea of how much it will cost and how to find the best safari tour company.
Located in East Africa, Tanzania is politically stable, very tourist-friendly and pretty much everyone can speak English.
Tanzania combines my two favourite things; incredible culture and safaris. I’ve perfected this 7-10 day itinerary to show you the very best that Tanzania has to offer as well as giving you the most ‘bang for your buck’.
On the other hand, for those of you reading this who have budgets the size of an African elephant, I’ve included optional “Rock Star upgrades” such as flying instead of driving when it’s applicable.
I’ve also provided essential guidance on choosing the best safari company.
As part of my research for this Itinerary, I’ve spoken to my favourite Tanzania guides, read through every itinerary I could find and dug deep into my own travel notes to make sure this is the best 7-10 day Tanzania safari itinerary on the planet, not just in terms of places you’ll visit but also the tips and tricks that will make all the difference!
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My Tanzania Safari Itinerary highlights include visiting Serengeti National Park. This is part of Tanzania’s Northern Circuit, and is arguably the world’s greatest national park to go on safari.
The Serengeti has one of the highest densities of predators and one of the only places in the world to see tree climbing lions.
During August and September you can see one of the one of the earth’s greatest wildlife spectacles known as the great migration and in the north of the park at the Mara River you can witness the infamous river crossing.
Also in the Northern Circuit, you’ll visit Tarangire National Park, one of the best places in the world to see the majestic African elephants.
You’ll also visit the mysterious Ngorongoro Crater which resembles the lost world and gives you a once in a lifetime chance to see rare black rhinos in an incredible and unique landscape.
My Tanzania Safari Itinerary will immerse you in the culture of Tanzania by visiting the iconic Maasai Tribe to learn about their culture.
You’ll also take a trip back in time, visiting the Hadzabe (Hazda) hunter gatherer tribe who are one of the last tribes on earth to communicate using a clicking language.
Nearby the Hadzabe you’ll meet the Datoga (blacksmith) tribe and watch them use traditional methods to craft arrowheads and beautiful jewellery out of molten steel.
With the extended 10 day Tanzania safari Itinerary, you’ll spend the last 3 days unwinding on the white sandy beaches of Zanzibar, a small group of islands off the east coast of Tanzania.
In this guide I’m going to share with you my ultimate 7 – 10 day safari itinerary along with typical prices, how to find the best safari company at a great price, and everything you need to know to make your visit a success.
Tanzania Safari Itinerary Map
Zoom in and out of the map using the + and – icon to see more points of interest. Click on a marker to learn more.
- How to find the Best Tanzania Safari Company
- How Much Does a Tanzania Safari Cost?
- Best time to visit Tanzania
- Northern Vs Southern Tanzania Circuit
- Tanzania Safari Itinerary Overview
- Detailed Tanzania Safari Itinerary
- Day 1: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – City of Arusha
- Day 2: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – Tarangire National Park
- Day 3: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – Maasai, Hadzabe & Datoga Tribes
- Day 4: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – Ngorongoro Crater
- Day 5: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – Central Serengeti
- Day 6: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – Northern Serengeti
- Days 7-9: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – Zanzibar
- Final thoughts
- Read More Tanzania Guides
How to find the Best Tanzania Safari Company
There are four ways you can arrange a Tanzania safari Itinerary: self drive (DIY), hotel provided safaris, local safari company and international safari company (located in US, UK etc).
I’ll go into each of these options below and provide guidance on how to go about finding the best safari company for your needs.
If you’re in a rush, the quick answer is that for most people a local safari company will provide the best value and experience. You can get quotes from the local safari companies I use to arrange my trips here: Safaris By Ella
Option 1: Self Drive Safari
If you’re on a budget, or you’re a DIY sort of guy/gal you might be considering a DIY-style self drive safari.
Whilst self drive can work well as a budget option in some African countries such as Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, It’s not ideal for Tanzania.
I went on a self drive road trip around Namibia in 2017 and loved it but I wouldn’t personally self drive safari in Tanzania. Let me explain why with a quick story.
Whilst staying at a lodge on the edge of Ngorongoro Crater, I met a lovely German couple who’d hired a 4×4 to self drive in Tanzania.
Sadly, they’d just discovered that the National Parks only allow specialist safari trucks into the park and thus their 4×4 wouldn’t be allowed in.
The couple ended up having to arrange a safari with a tour company separately at the last minute which meant they ended up paying twice (for the self drive car and also for the safari company).Ella
Either way, whilst it is possible to hire self-drive specialist safari trucks from local safari companies, there isn’t much of a saving if any vs using a safari company to provide you with a truck and guide together.
We also saw a lot of trucks get flat tires in and around the national parks which is indicative of the state of the dirt roads which lead into some of the parks, especially the Serengeti.
If swapping a wheel over whilst being glared at by hyenas and other predators isn’t your idea of fun, self drive might not be the best option for you!
Tanzania is very much geared towards using safari companies who organise everything for you including a safari truck and / driver (usually they are the same person). This makes it slightly more expensive but in my opinion this is a small price to pay for some of the best safariing on earth.
Having an experienced guide also means you get to see a LOT more wildlife vs trying to track it down on your own!
The way I saw it was after paying for flights, accommodation, park fees etc, why would I want to miss out on all the amazing wildlife sightings a good guide can offer, just to save a few dollars by driving myself?
Option 2: Local Safari Tour Company
This in my opinion is the best option for most people – you just need to make sure you choose the right company for your Tanzania safari Itinerary.
Before my first trip to Tanzania, I spent months researching and speaking to local suppliers to find the best of the bunch who could provide fantastic value for money.
With online reviews, I’m always a bit dubious about the integrity of the gushing 5 star reviews especially when reviews for the same company can vary greatly across the different online review sites and online tour operators.
After thorough research, I discovered that some of the most popular local safari companies had become victims of their own success in that they were having to hire sub-standard trucks (we saw a few broken down) and less experienced guides in an effort to keep up with demand.
For this reason I worked with smaller up-and-coming companies who offered the most consistently high levels of service and the most experienced guides.
Due to their low overheads, many small local suppliers only include a small 10-15% margin in their quotes which goes towards their wages and limited business overheads leaving them with 3-5% profit.
In the case of accommodation they usually take this margin from the accommodation rather than from the customer which is one of the reasons why it’s pretty cost effective to work with a small local safari company vs trying to arrange everything yourself.
I discovered that the travel agents & safari companies in the US and the UK typically subcontract their own safaris out to local providers whilst adding their own profits on top.
This allows local suppliers to offer much better pricing vs US & UK-based companies.
You can get free no-obligation quotes from these very suppliers I use to organise my own Tanzania safaris on my website: Safaris By Ella
TOP TIP: The Covid pandemic has taught me to always be prepared for travel disruption. Therefore I would recommend you have suitable travel insurance in place to cover you in case of travel interruption. I pay about $50 extra per year on my annual policy to protect against ‘travel interruption’.
The suppliers on Safaris By Ella typically accept deposit payment by credit / debit card which gives you even more protection.
Option 3: Hotel Provided Guides
Some of the luxury+ hotels in the national parks offer their own safari trucks and tour guides. These are usually group drives which means you’ll share the safari truck with other guests at the hotel.
Although the daily rate is quite expensive, it can be convenient if you plan to spend most of your time in the hotel and only go on the occasional safari and don’t mind sharing.
Option 4: Safari Companies & Travel Agents in the US / UK etc.
Dealing with a travel agent / safari operator in your own country is an option, especially if you have a larger budget.
These operators will usually subcontract your safari to a local tour company who will apply their logos to the truck.
Using a safari company based in your country is a more expensive option as you are now paying for their overheads (offices, staff, marketing etc.) and profits as well as the overheads and profits of the local safari company.
Based on the prices I’ve studied, total safari costs usually work out between 20% to 300% more expensive vs dealing directly with a local operator.
Another issue to watch out for is the communication issue which occurs as your requests have to be communicated to your sales rep who then communicates with the local safari company who then communicates with the local driver / guide.
Safari companies and Travel Agents in the UK / US etc. do however, provide some benefits, they can book international flights for you. In the UK you will be covered by travel package regulations which can provide some assistance if they go bust before your trip. If they book international flights as part of your package, you will be covered by ATOL scheme.
However, in my experience you can protect against these risks yourself when booking directly with local suppliers. My tips would be using your credit or debit card to make payment for the deposit as these typically offer purchase protection.
You can also cover yourself with good travel insurance with travel interruption protection or similar.
There is no substitute for working with a tried-and-tested local supplier such as those on Safaris By Ella
Another benefit of Travel Agents in the UK / US etc. is that they can provide some very high-end services such as chartering a private jet which small local suppliers might not be experienced organising.
Typically Overseas travel agents who specialise in safaris tend to cater to the higher end. From my experience, you typically have to be spending 15,000 USD plus to get their attention and you really need to be spending 50,000 USD + to get their full attention and service. Costs can easily reach $100,000’s.
How Much Does a Tanzania Safari Cost?
Before we dive into the figures, I’ll talk you through the main factors which affect the cost of your Tanzania safari Itinerary. You might also want to read my guide on: Tanzania Safari Costs in 2023/24
The cheapest (but still decent in my opinion) hostels can start at about $20 a night for a double room including breakfast. On the other hand, the luxury+ hotels in Serengeti cost $2,000 per person per night. If money is no object, you can pay over $10,000 per night for a small villa at the aforementioned Serengeti hotel.
Below is a rough guide to Tanzania hotel prices. However, remember it varies a lot based on location and whether you’re inside or outside the park. Prices are per person and exclude overnight park fees.
- Budget (tents & hostels) $10 – 100 PP
- Mid Range: $100 – $250 PP
- Luxury: $250 – 500 PP
- Luxury+: $500 – 1,000+ PP
How You Get Around: Flying is More Expensive Vs Driving
Your transportation preferences can have a big effect your safari cost. I don’t recommend minibuses as they tend to be involved in most accidents.
A safari truck is the best way to get around – safari companies will typically budget around $250-350 per day (when they provide your quote) for a car and driver excluding fuel. You can cover the whole country in a safari truck – there is no need to fly any legs unless you want too other than perhaps going to Zanzibar island. Although, even with Zanzibar, there is the option of a ferry.
If you choose to take a scheduled small propeller plane (pic below) between further away locations such as between north and central Serengeti or from Arusha to Serengeti this increases your costs. For example, flying a leg of the itinerary can cost between $200 to $500 per person one way. It’s perhaps most suited to the elderly who can’t sit for longer drives or those on a very tight schedule.
If you’re a rock-star, chartering a private jet to hop around the country can cost over $100,000 or more specifically $2,000-$11,000 per billable hour. As well as being super pricey, private jets are also arguably not the most environmentally friendly way to go on a safari.
A Group Size of 2 to 5 is Optimal for Costs & Space
The number of people you are travelling with can affect the cost per person by around 10% on average. As you add more people the savings go down e.g. adding a second person might save 20% (as you’re halving fixed costs (such as the safari truck) per person but adding a 7th person might only save 2% for each person.
The cost per person for the safari truck and guide/driver is going to go down the more people who share the truck until you reach a full truck but you will see the biggest difference with 2 – 4 people.
Safari trucks can usually accommodate up to 7 people but that can be a little bit of a squeeze, especially when you’re standing up with the roof open looking at wildlife. I found 4 people to work well but then again I was doing a lot of photography and filming.
Accommodation, which is one of the main costs, is usually charged per person in Tanzania – perhaps because some food is usually included.
Park Fees Vary from Park to Park
Some parks cost more than others e.g. the Serengeti park fees are some of the most expensive (but worth it!) whereas Tarangire National Park, for example is cheaper.
If you spend the night in parks you also have to pay overnight fees (called concession fees) on top of entrance fees (sometimes called conservation fees). You can’t really avoid spending the night in the Serengeti due to the size of the park but it’s easy to sleep outside of the other northern circuit parks if you want to keep costs down.
Sleeping in a camp inside the parks is a great experience and it really connects you to the park and wildlife. Just don’t do what I did and leave half eaten chicken wings from lunch in your tent with wild animals roaming around!
Personal Chef or Catered Accommodation
We had a personal chef for the part of our trip – this allowed us to stay at some un-catered accommodation as well as control over what we ate. Every group at the un-catered accommodation had their own personal chef who travelled with them. All the personal chefs cooked together in the communal kitchen.
Our chef also cooked food for us to take out for picnics in the national parks.
Typically having your own chef will work out slightly more expensive although this is somewhat offset by the lower costs of un-catered accommodation.
In most cases you won’t have a personal chef included in your safari quotations unless you specifically request one.
Below I’ll give you a rough idea of costs based on my experience of setting up Safaris By Ella and speaking at length with various companies in the industry.
There are lots of variables so this is just a rough guide. Although rough, I belive this is much better than having no idea.
As a note: I was very surprised at the low profit margins of most of the local safari operators – I’d assumed they’d be making 30-50% markups. Then again as the cost of living in Tanzania is pretty low for the locals and the amount spent on safaris is relatively high, even at very low profit margins, it makes being a safari operator or guide one of the better paying jobs in the country!
Local Tanzania Safari Companies
Get free quotes from the local Tanzania companies I use to arrange my trips here: Safaris By Ella
Rough guide prices based on my experiences and assumes minimum of 2 peoples
|Comfort Level||Price Per Person Per Day||7 Days||10 Days|
|Economy||From $250 PP||From $1750 PP||From $2,500 PP|
|Midrange||From $400 PP||From $2,800 PP||From $4,000 PP|
|Luxury & Luxury +||From $650 PP||From $4,550 PP||From $6,500 PP|
Below is a rough breakdown of where the money goes for 2-3 people on safari. I’ve explained this further below the image.
Usually over 50% of the safari cost goes towards both your accommodation and the Government for park fees which supports the country and park upkeep. The Accommodation % will vary depending on the specification of your accommodation.
Most small local tour operators only include a 10-15% margin on costs. The margin covers their overheads, marketing, insurance, taxes and licences leaving around 2-5 % for their profit after costs.
The tour operators receive many of the costs such as the accommodation etc. at special trade prices.
This means they will actually take much if not all of their margin from that difference, which means in many cases you won’t actually pay anything for their services in arranging everything.
In most cases I found that accommodation was either the same price or cheaper when arranged by a local safari company compared to booking direct.
In my experience, it’s usually very cost-effective as well as much less hassle to work with a local safari company – you just have to choose a good one.
Overseas Travel Agents in the UK / US etc.
Rough guide prices based on my experiences and assumes minimum of 2 peoples
You can compare this with the local supplier prices above.
|Comfort Level||Price Per Person Per Day||7 Days||10 Days|
|Economy||From $450 – 520 PP||$3,395 PP||$4,850 PP|
|Midrange||From $600 PP||$4,200 PP||$6,000 PP|
|Luxury & Luxury +||From $1750 PP||$12,250 PP||$17,500 PP|
Below is a rough breakdown of where the money goes for 3 people on safari in the Serengeti when using an international Safari Company in your country (US, UK Etc).
Compared to using a local Tanzanian operator you now have a few extra costs which take up to 20 – 30% of the total which is the travel agents overheads and their profit. I’ve also found that International Safari Companies have a tendency to recommend more expensive options including those which pay the highest commission as this increases the total trip cost and thus their commission.
Tips and Other Costs
Recommended tips are typically $10 USD per person per day. Americans reading this will no doubt be used to the tipping culture. For Europeans it can take a bit of getting used to. At the very least, tips for the driver although technically optional are generally expected.
When you visit tribes there is no necessity to tip unless you want to. They do however, usually show you the jewellery they have made and it’s nice to support them by buying a small piece. Costs for jewellery is usually around 30 USD per piece although more elaborate metal jewellery may be more.
Feel free to politely negotiate prices if you wish.
Best time to visit Tanzania
You can visit Tanzania all year round. However, the best time to see Tanzania’s wildlife is during the dry season. The Dry season runs from June to October and includes the peak of the Wildebeest migration.
January, February and November are also good whilst being lower in price
March, June and December are reasonable times to visit.
April, May are in the rainy season and thus have their limitations. However, prices can sometimes be up to 50% less so they are worth considering if you’re on a budget.
You can apply for a Tanzanian visa online here. e-Visa’s are usually processed within 10 days and allow travel for up to 90 days.
Vaccines & Medications
You can find information about recommended vaccinations below:
US citizens Guide to Tanzania vaccines
UK citizens Guide to Tanzania vaccines
Anti-malarial tablets are also recommended for Tanzania.
I also recommend taking a look at the below websites which gives up to date details on any entry requirements and mandatory vaccines:
US Travel State website for Tanzania
Northern Vs Southern Tanzania Circuit
There are two main Tanzania safari routes – the Northern and Southern Circuits.
Although it’s possible to combine both Northern and Southern Circuits into one 3 – 4 week safari, it’s usually better to focus on one or the other at a time.
For this itinerary I’ve focused on the Northern Circuit as this gives you the best safari experience for your money and includes the Serengeti which is quite possibly the best national park in the world for safari.
Below I’ve given a quick overview of both circuits and their pros and cons.
Northern Tanzania Circuit
- Two hour drive from your airport of entry will get you inside Tarangire National Park
- Includes iconic Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Tarangire
- Provides most of the classic tanzania safaris
- By far the most popular of the two circuits
- Famous Great migration & Mara River Cross
- Maasai, Hadzabe and Tribes
- Big Five sightings in Ngorongoro
- Easier to access and more flights
- Starting point is Arusha
- Requires 3 + days
Southern Tanzania Circuit
- A very long drive or an expensive flight in a light aircraft to access the south
- Includes the Ruaha and Nyerere (Selous) National Parks as well as Katavi and Mahale Mountains
- Off-the-beaten-track experiences
- Higher budget required
- Enormous herds of elephant and buffalo
- No cheetahs or rhinos
- Wildlife less used to visitors so more skittish and spread out
- Starting point is Dar es Salaam to fly on to Ruaha and Selous
- Requires 2 weeks +
Tanzania Safari Itinerary Overview
Before getting into the details of what you can expect each day, below is a brief overview of my 7 and 10 day Tanzania safari itinerary.
Click any of the days below to jump to my full notes on that day
Day 1: City of Arusha the gateway to the Tanzania Northen Safari Circuit
Day 2: Tarangire National Park
Day 3: Maasi, Hazabe & Datoga Tribes
Day 6: Journey home (7 day itinerary) Northen Serengeti (10 day itinerary)
Detailed Tanzania Safari Itinerary
Day 1: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – City of Arusha
The flights usually arrive late – I would strongly recommend that you arrange for your safari company to pick you up in their safari truck or use a high-end taxi service. As with most African countries, driving at night is best minimised as drivers often go over the speed limit due to lower police presence at night and visibility is often poor.
On my first visit to Tanzania our first accommodation arranged a taxi for us – it was the tiniest little car I’ve ever seen and the driver seemed to be an aspiring formula one driver.
I watched my life flash before my eyes as he proceeded to conduct countless overtakes, often only nipping back to the other side when cars on the other side were about to hit us head on. Motorbikes on the other side did not require moving back and they had to swerve out of his way
Not to mention he did all this whilst keeping one eye on the TV show playing on little TV screen retrofitted to the dashboard of the car.
If you find yourself in this situation, simply ask them to slow down.
I discussed this with a few locals who confirmed this wasn’t an unusual experience – especially in the small minibuses which frequent the roads. After this we drove everywhere either via safari truck or high-end taxi services – both these options were fantastic and felt very safe.Ella
Overview of Arusha
The bustling city of Arusha is the gateway to the northern Tanzania safari circuit. Most people only spend a day or so here on their way to and from safari.
Arusha and also nearby Moshi are popular with the volunteer crowds as they have a good nightlife.
Things to do in Arusha
Chemka Hot Springs
The Chemka Hot Springs are located between Arusha and Moshi. It takes around an hour to drive there and they are an incredible oasis. You can rent a buoyancy ring when you’re down there to float around the springs. If you’ve the adventurous type, there is a rope swing which allows you to swing into the water from an overhanging tree. It was great fun!
Visit the markets
There are two main markets in Arusha; the Central Market (Soko Kuu) and the Kilombero Market. You can buy a large array of items from the markets including wooden mementos, handmade jewellery and food.
Arusha National Park
You can opt for a driving or cheaper walking safari. Inside the park you can go canoeing on Lake Momella.
Whilst it’s arguably not in the same league as the other national parks you’ll be visiting, Arusha National Park does have plenty of zebras, buffalo, giraffes and the chance to see some predators too such as hyenas and leopards. It’s also possible to spot hippos and elephants.
Tips and Tricks to blend in with the locals in Arusha
As with any busy city, be careful of pickpockets. Be especially careful with your passport.
I always recommend travelling with multiple photo copies of your passport and Visa. When out and about in cities, take 1 photocopy of your passport and visa with you. That way you can leave your main passport locked in the hotel safe.
In busy areas, sometimes people will approach you to offer you guide services or to show you around the city. I decline these offers as they are unsolicited. Be polite and friendly as they are often just good people doing what they can to earn a living from tourism.
I find walking purposefully as though you know where you’re going (even when you don’t!) avoids being approached.
Dress respectfully as it’s a largely muslim country. For example wearing crop tops or short shorts on busy streets will be frowned upon.
It is considered good manners to ask before taking photos of people, even if that means simply holding up your camera and waiting for their nod.
Day 2: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – Tarangire National Park
After breakfast you’ll hit the road for a couple of hours, heading southwest to Lake Manyara at the top of Tarangire National Park.
You’ll go on safari in the park stopping for lunch at one of the two picnic spots: Maete or Silale Swamp.
After an exciting day of safari, you’ll head back up north, over the top of Lake Mayara and then West to Karatu, a small bustling town and one of seven districts of the Arusha Region of Tanzania. With its charming dusty amber roads, Karatu is known as the gateway to the Ngorongoro Highlands. From the northern exit of Taragerie it’s around 1.5 hours drive to Karatu.
Overview of Tarangire National Park
Tarangire is the sixth biggest park in Tanzania at 2,850 square kilometres. The park’s name comes from the Tarangire River which spans across the park and provides a water source for its many inhabitants.
The park is a unique mix of grasslands, woodlands and baobab trees blanketed across the park. There are also swamps and granite rock formations.
Wildlife in Tarangire National Park
One animal comes to mind when you think of Tarangire and that’s the African Elephant – the largest land mammal in the world.
During the peak of the migration from July to October around 5,000 of these huge majestic creators stroll around the park in search of water.
During the dry season you can also see the migration of wildebeests and zebras from the Serengeti.
Tarangire is popular for birding with a reported 550+ species of birds in the park.
There are over 700 lions in Tarangire National Park so if you keep your eyes peeled you’ve got a good chance of spotting a lion or even a whole pride. Due to the high amount of vegetation in the park, there is a good chance the lions will spot you before you spot them!
Other lesser seen predators in the park include leopards and cheetahs which can be spotted patrolling the grasslands or lazing in trees. The park is also home to caracals and the honey badger.
There are some African wild dogs patrolling the park but sightings are very rare.
Other animals in the park include the cheeky vervet monkeys, nobel giraffes, illusive mongooses, troops of baboons, impressive cape buffalo, skitty dik-diks, elands, gazelles and impala.
Tarangire Safari Tips & Tricks
You can spend the night in the National Park but accommodation in the park is more expensive and you also have overnight park fees per person too.
The perfect time to visit is during the dry season from June to October as the migrating animals and short grasses allow for easier sightings.
During the dry season you can spot many animals around Tarangire River.
The biggest herds of elephants can be seen towards the end of the dry season in September and October.
For bird watchers, November – May are a great time to visit to spot birds during the wet period.
Tarangire Safari Video
Day 3: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – Maasai, Hadzabe & Datoga Tribes
Going on a cultural excursion to meet some of Tanzania’s incredible tribes is an opportunity too good to pass up. Nowhere else in Africa can you find this level of tribal diversity.
Visiting the Hadzabe tribe was my joint number 1 Tanzania experience, not to mention one of the most incredible experiences of my life. In case you were wondering, my other joint no.1 experience was seeing the Mara River crossing in the Serengeti.
Morning visiting the Hadzabe Tribe
It’s a 1-2 hour drive to the Lake Eyasi Basin in the Central Rift Valley. The Lake Eyasi Basin along with the neighbouring Serengeti Plateau is Hadzabe’s territory.
The Hadzabe however, are nomadic so locating them is never guaranteed. Your tour company will need to have contacts with a specialist guide who can communicate with the Hadzabe. Often these specialists have lived with the Hadzabe for up to a year to learn to communicate with them.
You’ll travel off road into the bush and if you’re lucky you’ll eventually sight a small cluster of transient huts made from wood and animal skins.
You’ll park up and the specialist guide who has a relationship with the Hadzabe will go over to speak to the chief whilst you wait in the car to request permission for you to visit them.
Once permission is granted, you’ll leave the car and the modern world behind you and enter the world of the Hadzabe. The Hadzabe live like many tribes did thousands of years ago hunting and gathering for food and drinking water from the roots of plants.
You’ll see the Hadzabe way of life, and if you’re adventurous you can join them on a short hunt in the bush.
Next you’ll hop back in the safari jeep and head over to the nearby Datoga Tribe. The Datoga are blacksmiths and trade with the Hadzabe and provide their arrowheads.
Midday visit to the Datooga (Blacksmith) Tribe
At the Datoga Tribe you’ll be greeted by the women of the village who will show you their homes and way of life before leading you over to the men of the village who are blacksmiths and heat metal to craft tools and jewellery.
Afternoon with the Maasai
Finally you’ll drive to the Maasai Steppe Region in the Ngorongoro Highlands and Lake Manyara to meet the world famous Maasai tribe. They usually greet visitors by putting on a spectacular dance with amazing vocals. The men of the village jump as high as they can during the dance. You might be offered the chance to join in.
The Maasai are also nomadic and they will teach you about their way of life and show you their houses and animals including the sacred cows.
After visiting the Maasai it’s a short drive back to Karatu for the night.
Overview of Tanzania’s Tribes
Tanzania is incredibly culturally diverse with over 120 tribes and distinct ethnic groups – each with their own unique way of life.
According to a 2021 survey, the largest tribe in Tanzania is the Sukuma (Bantu ethnic group) which comprises 17.5% of the country’s total population.
The remaining large groups represent under 5% each.
The Sukuma along with the Maasai are Tanzania’s “cowboys,” with a large herd of cows, sheep, and goats.
Below is a quick rundown of the most important 7 tribes and the ones you’ll probably come across during your visit to Tanzania:
1 . Sukuma
The Sukuma are mostly located in rural areas in North Tanzania near Mwanza and Southern Lake Victoria. The tribe is polygynous – meaning that many of the men have more than one wife. Many of the tribe practice Christianity and their primary economy is farming the land and raising livestock.
The Chagga are primarily located on the Southern and Eastern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Famous for their strong work ethic, the Chagga’s are farmers of Millet, bananas and coffee. Many practice christianity and also Islam. Many of the porters assisting travellers up Kilimanjaro are Chaggas.
The Maasai are pastoralist people (sheep and cattle farmers), whose traditional territories stretch from the Rift Valley lakes of Kenya across the Serengeti plains into Tanzania. Like the Sukuma, the Maasai are polygynous – meaning that many of the men have more than one wife. The traditional diet is almost exclusively cattle in the form of meat, milk and blood.
4. Hadzabe (aka Hazda)
Hadzabe (aka Hazda) are one of the last remaining hunter gatherer tribes in the world. They live a simple life, hunting and foraging for food. Typically the men do the hunting and the women and children forage. They are nomadic and move around Lake Eyasi, sleeping in caves and simple nomadic huts.
The Iraqw tribe are originally from Ethiopia. Their ancestors migrated southwards, following the Great Rift Valley, finally settling in Mbulu Plateau, between Lake Manyara and Lake Eyasi. The men are blacksmiths and the women make pottery. They also grow their own food and tend to livestock.Traditionally their houses are built underground to protect their cattle from raids by neighbouring Maasai. Polygamy is accepted but in reality most Iraqw men only have one wife.
The Datoga tribe are one of the oldest tribes in Tanzania along with the Maasai and the bushmen and can be found in Northern Tanzania around the Mayara region. They are semi-nomadic. They are known as a very brave tripe and traditionally, young men had to prove themselves by killing an “enemy of the people”. They are highly skilled blacksmiths and trade their arrowheads and jewellery with other tribes.
The Makonde tribe are responsible for the amazing carvings you see in souvenir shops and stalls in Tanzania. I visited them in Mto Wa Mbu to watch them skilfully carve souvenirs such as model animals from pieces of wood.
Activities with Tanzania’s Tribes
Hadzabe (Hazda) Tribe activities can include:
- Target practise with their bows and arrows
- Tribal dance
- Lighting a fire using traditional methods
- Cooking food over a fire
- Joining them on a traditional hunt for their food
Datgoa (blacksmith) Tribe activities can include:
- Watching the skilled tribe members melt down scrap metal using a very traditional furnace and craft jewellery and tools from the molten metal.
- Viewing inside their houses and how they grind their food.
Maasai Tribe activities can include:
- Witnessing the Massi prepare food from start to finish (not for the squeamish)
- Watching their traditional dance
- Viewing the traditional houses
- Viewing their schools
- Viewing Maasai warriors perform their traditional blood drinking from their cows (the cows are unharmed)
Tips & Tricks when Visiting Tribes
Visiting the Hadzabe requires a special interpreter who’s lived with the Hadzabe for 6 months or more and learns to communicate with them.
The local companies I work with have the necessary contacts to arrange an exclusive Hadzabe visit: Safaris By Ella
Usually at the end of a visit to the tribes, you will be shown some tables with jewellery laid out which the members of the tribe have made themselves.
Prices are typically around $30 per piece. They are not quite as cheap as you would expect but there are quite a few rich tourists in Tanzania which probably lead to inflated prices for souvenirs. If you need to negotiate I find just politely stating the price I’m happy to pay and leaving it up to them to accept or decline works well. I couldn’t resist buying a little something from each tribe to remember the experience and also to support them.
Your tour company will usually have given the tribes some payment as a thank you. In some cases it might be applicable to provide an extra tip to the tribes – your guide can advise you on this. The specialist Hadzabe guide will usually require a tip which on my visit was suggested at $30 per day (in 2022) but this may vary.
Tanzania Tribes Videos
Watch videos of my visits to the tribes
Day 4: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – Ngorongoro Crater
After breakfast you begin the epic drive to the most iconic safari park: the Serengeti. However, you’re in for a real adventure on your way as you must pass through the mystical Ngorongoro Crater. Travelling into the crater is like visiting the lost world – it’s mind-blowing!
It takes around 30 minutes to reach the ridge of Ngorongoro crater from when you begin the descent into the crater. You can spend the morning safariing around the basin of the crater and then continue your journey to Central Serengeti which will take a further 3 hours or so.
As you approach the gateway to the Serengeti you are reminded of the meaning of Serengeti (endless plains) as the incredible flat landscape spans as far as the eye can see in every direction.
You’ll have a safari on your journey into the Serengeti before spending the night in the Seronera area in mid-Serengeti. Most likely your accommodation will be a tented camp. Many of these camps are not like a normal tent, these tents have four poster beds and in some cases wood floors.
Rockstar upgrade: At the very top end the Serengeti accommodation is non-tented and can have infinity pools.
Ngorongoro Crater Overview
Ngorongoro Crater was one of the highlights of my trip to Tanzania. There’s quite frankly nowhere else on earth like it.
The Ngorongoro Crater, part of the wider Ngorongoro Conservation Area, is simply awe-inspiring with the crater rim sitting at an elevation of 2,200 metres. As we began the 610 metre descent into the “lost world” below, I was filled with excitement.
With a reputation as the Eden of Africa, the crater is a massive caldera, formed by the collapse of a volcano over two million years ago, and is now home to a stunning array of wildlife and habitats.
The crater’s unique ecosystem supports a wide variety of animals, including lions, elephants, rhinos, zebras, and many more.
During the night, zebras and elephants gather on the rim while during the day, Maasai herders lead their cows and goats down to the crater floor to graze and drink water.
The name “Ngorongoro” is derived from the Maasai language, and it is said to have originated from the Maasai word “Ngoronkoro,” which means “the gift of life” or “the place where the cow bell rings.”
Wildlife in Ngorongoro Crater
Within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, 115 species of mammals have been identified, with game-viewing mainly occurring in three areas:
- Inside the crater itself
- the short-grass plains west of the Gol Mountains, northwest of Ngorongoro Crater
- the surroundings of Lake Ndutu near the border with Serengeti National Park.
The crater itself is the primary safari destination within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, so we’ll focus on the animals you can see inside the crater. However, if you have time you can also visit the other two locations as well.
The Ngorongoro Crater is the best place in Tanzania to see the endangered black rhinos, although as with all wildlife sightings are not guaranteed.
Keep an eye out in the long grass for carnivores such as lions, cheetahs, hyenas, leopards, jackals, serval cats, and the endangered wild hunting dogs.
The permanent freshwater pools and swamps within the crater are a great place to see Hippopotamuses yawning and farting in their typical fashion.
Resident zebras and wildebeests can be found in the crater that do not take part in the annual migration.
Other non-migratory herbivorous mammals that reside in the Conservation Area include buffalos, waterbucks, warthogs, kudus, and other species of antelope.
With over 550 identified species of birds, some resident and others migratory, the Ngorongoro Conservation area is a bird watcher’s paradise.
Lake Magadi, a salt lake on the floor of the crater, attracts thousands of lesser flamingos and other water birds, while Lake Ndutu and Empakaai Crater Lake are other places to observe various bird species.
Ngorongoro Crater Safari Tips & Tricks
Make sure to visit the viewing spot at the top of the crater for some incredible views. It’s also a great photo opportunity – they also have a restroom.
You can visit all year round as many of the animals remain in the crater permanently.
The dry season between June and September is the most busy with the rainy season between March and May being the quietest time to visit.
If you have extra days to spare and plan to visit the wider Ngorongoro Conservation Area: From December to May (depending on the rains), over one million wildebeests and thousands of zebras and gazelles move south to calve in the short-grass plains around Ndutu.
Ngorongoro Crater Safari Video
Day 5: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – Central Serengeti
You’ll spend the day on a safari in Central Serengeti – widely regarded as the greatest safari destination in the world. Predators are most active early in the morning and late afternoon / evening when it’s cooler.
After a full day of safari, you’ll head back to your camp for the night.
Central Serengeti Overview
For as long as I could remember, the Serengeti, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, had been on my bucket-list as the ultimate safari destination. Finally visiting this vast ecosystem felt like a dream come true, though a part of me wondered if it would live up to its hype. However, I can now confidently say that the Serengeti exceeded all of my expectations.
Covering 30,000 square kilometres, The Serengeti National Park is absolutely huge. To put things in perspective it’s 20x the size of the Masai Mara National Reserve which it joins in the north and by comparison is 1,510 square kilometres.
Wildlife in Central Serengeti
With one of the highest densities of predators in Africa, it’s no wonder that the Serengeti is regarded as one of the best places in the world to observe Africa’s big cats.
The abundance of prey species such as wildebeest and zebras, particularly during the great migration, supports this high concentration of predators.
There is an estimated 3,000 lions and more than 1,000 leopards, as well as cheetahs, hyenas, and African wild dogs
This is a great place to check off all of the big five: Lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhinos. I managed 4 out of 5 on my latest visit to Tanzania, just missing out on seeing the rhinos.
The Serengeti is home to over 500 bird species, ranging from large raptors like eagles and vultures, to colourful songbirds and waterfowl. Many of these species are migratory, with some travelling thousands of kilometres from their breeding grounds to winter in the Serengeti.
Serengeti Tree Climbing Lions
You might be understandably shocked to see a Lion in a tree but sightings are regularly reported in the Serengeti and I managed to spot at least two on my latest visit.
It’s a very special sight to behold as tree climbing lions are only found in northern Tanzania and southern Uganda. You’ll have the greatest chances of spotting one in the Serengeti in part due to the high density of lions.
There are a number of theories as to why Lions in this area climb trees. Our guide told us the behavioural change came about to protect their feet from the wet grass in the rainy seasons.
Other sources suggest that it’s to protect themselves from the constant irritation of insect bites while lazing, escaping charging buffaloes or even to survey their surroundings for a potential meal. The truth is probably a combination of these factors as well as the pure fun and excitement for the younger cubs.
Central Serengeti Safari Tips & Tricks
Keep your eyes peeled for tails hanging down from trees and this is the “tell tale” sign of either a leopard or lion.
The Serengeti is a year-round destination, although the best time to visit depends on what you want to see. The dry season, from June to October, is the best time for game-viewing as animals congregate around water sources. The wet season, from November to May, is the time when the wildebeest migration occurs, offering an opportunity to witness one of nature’s most incredible spectacles.
You can go for balloon safaris over the Serengeti which gives you a great birds eye view of the park. At the time of writing this costs around $595 USD per person.
Central Serengeti Video
Day 6: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – Northern Serengeti
If your safari is 7 days you would now begin the 6-7 hour drive back to Arusha.
Due to the drive time, some people prefer to fly back on a small scheduled plane from the Seregetti Seronera airstrip (SEU) to Arusha Airport (ARK). The cost to fly via a scheduled service is typically around $250-$600 per person with an average flying time of 1.5 hours.
If your safari is 10 days, you will now head up to the North of the Sergetti where it meets the Maasi Mara in Kenya.
Depending on the time of year you can see one of the most famous wildlife spectacles in the world: the Mara River crossing before flying directly to Zanzibar for some well earned relaxation.
The best times to see the migration are late July to August with parts of September and again on their return south, around the last two weeks of October through early November.
It can take 4 hours to drive to the north of the Serengeti – you will usually go out of the park and drive up normal roads to speed up the trip and then re-enter the park in the north.
Rockstar upgrade: You also have the more expensive option to fly from the Seronera airstrip (SEU) in central Serengeti to the Kogatende Airstrip (HTMZ) in the north and meet your guide and car up there. There are daily scheduled flights with Coastal, leaving at 9:30AM and arriving at 10:30AM which cost around $300-400 per person.
Northern Serengeti Overview
The northern Serengeti serves as the backdrop for one of nature’s greatest spectacles – the great migration. During this awe-inspiring event, millions of wildebeest and zebras embark on a perilous journey between Tanzania and Kenya (pr Kenya to Tanzania on their return), braving the treacherous crocodile infested Mara River along the way.
Only the other side of the Mara River is the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
Although I’m sure it does happen from time to time, the Mara River crossing is not quite the bloodbath you see on nature documentaries. The crocodiles haven’t eaten for up to a year and there are millions of wildebeests to choose from so they aren’t about to waste any energy in getting their meal.
During the first crossing of the wildebeests, the crocodiles just watched and all the wildebeests made it to the other side.
Shortly after we moved further down the Mara river and a second bunch of wildebeests started crossing the river. This time one of the weaker wildebeests struggled to get up the other side and decided to return back to the other side. The crocodile seemed interested but kept their distance. Only when the exhausted wildebeest started flailing at the other bank did a crocodile effortlessly pop up and drag it underwater, killing it in seconds.
It was a powerful moment and although sad as it was to see the wildebeest get eaten, the crocodile needed to eat too and the natural selection ensures the wildebeests with the strongest genes go on to breed on the other side.
Wildlife in Northern Serengeti
The distribution of wildlife in the Serengeti can vary depending on the region. In general, the northern Serengeti is known for having a higher density of predators, such as lions, leopards, and cheetahs, due to the large number of resident herbivores like gazelles, impalas, and topis.
Northern Serengeti Safari Tips & Tricks
Allow yourself plenty of time in the north as during the migration sometimes you can be waiting as much as 4 hours to see the wildebeests crossing. Due to my schedule I only had a couple of hours but I got really lucky and within 5 minutes of arriving at the Mara river the first Wildebeests decided to cross! Being heard animals once the first one hops in the crocodile infested river the rest of them usually jump straight in.
Northern Serengeti Video
Video coming soon!
Days 7-9: Tanzania Safari Itinerary – Zanzibar
You should be able to fly from Kogatende Airstrip in the north of Serengeti to Zanzibar. However, check with your safari company regarding current flight schedules.
Despite the flight costs, due to the lack of park fees, spending 3 days relaxing in Zanzibar should bring down your average cost per day vs spending more time in the national parks.
After relaxing in Zanzibar you can fly directly home to most locations.
Zanzibar is an exotic archipelago located off the east coast – as it’s part of Tanzania there’s no need to go through passport control when visiting after your safari.
The term safari and beach has been coined to describe the popular mix of safari followed by a trip to a beach destination such as Zanzibar to unwind.
Zanzibar is made up of two main islands, Unguja and Pemba, and several smaller islands. The island is an exquisite blend of African, Arab, and Indian cultures.
Things to do in Zanzibar
With its turquoise waters, pristine white sandy beaches, and vibrant culture, there is plenty to do in Zanzibar for anything up to a week or two.
Explore Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, which is the old town of the archipelago capital city, Zanzibar City.
Zanzibar is also known for its spice plantations, which produce some of the world’s finest spices such as cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Whilst in Stone Town, head down to Darajani Market to buy some of the spices which made Zanzibar famous.
Your safari company can arrange for a guide to show you around and tell you more about the history of the Old Town if you wish.
There are loads of amazing rooftop restaurants which give you a birds eye view of the city.
Zanzibar has a dark past as hub for the slave trade – you can visit the slave monument and learn more about the it’s history. You can also visit the old slave market and the house of David Livingston who helped to abolish the slave trade.
Zanzibar also hosts three major festivals each year: A music festival called Sauti za Busara, a film festival called The Zanzibar International Film Festival and non profit community festival called The Zanzibar Beach and Watersports Festival.
Make sure to visit some of the local restaurants. As a melting pot of numerous cultures, Zanzibar has some of the best foods in Africa.
There are a number of cooking classes which can be arranged if you’d like to learn more about the local cooking style.
To north of the main Zanzibar island Unguja, where you’ll probably be based, is a smaller island called Pemba Island. Here you’ll find Manta Resort which features the famous underwater room
You can also rent a bike to ride round the island, go horse riding, visit Prison Island (Changuu), book a yoga retreat or have fun with some surfing or kitesurfing.
Zanzibar Tips & Tricks
It is considered good manners to ask before taking photos of people, even if it’s simply holding up your camera and waiting for their nod. Some of the older generation don’t like being photographed.
In the markets and smaller shops you can barter. Start with a low price and then meet in the middle. It’s easy with a bit of practice and part of the culture.
When eating out and above as with the rest of Africa, stick to lower-risk foods and ensure your food is cooked on the spot e.g. avoid buffets where the food has been left out.
If you’re spending a longer time in Zanzibar then I’d recommend a visit to Mafia Island.
Tanzania is an incredibly diverse country and visiting has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. It’s hard to find the incredible culture and wildlife that Tanzania has to offer anywhere else. Whilst I had numerous incredible experiences during my trip to Tanzania, the two that will stay with me the most are my visit to the Hadzabe hunter gatherer tribe and witnessing the Wildebeest crossing the Mara River in North Serengeti.
Tanzania however, is not a cheap country to visit as a tourist, especially if you go there expecting prices similar to that of Asia. There are ways to bring the costs down but it does require a reasonable budget as you can see from my examples in the costs section. The park fees are higher than other safari destinations which reflect the quality of the parks. The higher park fees, has the upside of making them less crowded with safari trucks and thus gives a better wildlife viewing experience.
Tanzania is a once in a lifetime experience and well worth the price.
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