Tanzania is one of Africa’s most renowned safari destinations with numerous national parks and game reserves, home to exceptional animal, bird and marine species. The Selous Game Reserve Tanzania’s and Africa’s largest game reserve – covers a staggering 54,600 square kilometres. Split by the largest river in the country, the River Rufiji, Selous is divided into two distinct regions – the northern part offering picturesque vistas whereas the southern section offers bountiful wildlife.
Other wonders include Serengeti National Park, well-known for its annual wildebeest migration, Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, a dormant volcano that last erupted a hundred thousand years ago, and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which offers visitors a remarkable wildlife viewing experience and home to the Big Five in Ngorongoro Crater.
On a typical day on a Tanzania safari you enjoy waking up with the sun, breakfast, an early morning game drive, lunch, rest, afternoon tea, afternoon game drive or cultural excursion, sundowners, dinner and stargazing, with every part of the day an adventure in itself and every moment worth savouring.
Here’s a timeline of a typical day on Tanzania safari to prepare you for the wonders and adventures that are yet to come. Remember though that day-to-day safari activities may change with the seasons and of course camps offer different activity options.
✔ Early Morning: Before 8 am
Generally, you’ll rise with the sun to experience the delights of a morning game drive or a morning bush walk if the camp offers this. Once your safari guide instructs you about the essentials of the trip, grab your equipment such as cameras and binoculars and prepare for a thrilling adventure. These early morning activities offer photographers the perfect light to capture exceptional pictures. This time of the day also offers the chance to see nocturnal species such as the elusive leopards returning after a night of hunting.
Certain locations such as the Serengeti National Park offer a beautiful start to mornings with a hot air balloon safari providing a spectacular bird’s eye view of the rising sun, stunning scenery and wildlife below you, followed by a champagne breakfast in the bush.
✔ Mid Morning: 8 am to 11 am
You return from your morning game drive/walk before the heat of the day to enjoy a delicious, healthy breakfast or brunch. Some safari lodges offer outdoor dining facilities with a spectacular view of the landscape or perhaps a waterhole visited by wildlife so you can enjoy the view and spend time recounting stories of your exciting morning while you eat to your heart’s content.
Once you have satisfied your appetite, you could join a bush walk accompanied by a local guide, who may regale you with stories about their culture. You might also learn about the art of tracking. Alternatively, choose to stay at the camp and relax – enjoying a dip in the swimming pool, lounging about enjoying the view, reading in a peaceful corner, relaxing at the spa.
✔ Early Afternoon: 1 pm to 3 pm
After a bushwalk, you might appreciate a dip in the swimming pool or outdoor shower before you head over to taste the local delicacies at lunch. Most safari lodges offer an extensive menu that includes not only Tanzanian recipes but also Asian, European, and other African dishes.
The hot Tanzania early-mid afternoons can be draining. While some lodges offer afternoon game drives, this activity is planned for late afternoon when the heat is bearable. The early-mid afternoon period provides you with the opportunity to make the most of the safari lodge’s amenities. Although it may not be an ideal time for wildlife viewing, you can certainly participate in cultural excursions such as a visit to a local school or village if that is on offer.
✔ Late Afternoon: 4 pm to 5 pm
As the day cools, you can resume safari activities and head out on a game drive. This is a good time to see animals as they venture out from the shade with the temperature cooling down so you might see animals on the move. If you were to visit the Gombe National Park in Tanzania’s western circuit, you would spend the late afternoon witnessing primates such as chimpanzees, olive baboons, and few species of monkeys. Late afternoons in Tanzania are best reserved for wildlife viewing, be it spotting baby elephants with their mothers or the big cats waking up from their afternoon doze.
✔ Evening: 5 pm to 7 pm
Continue your afternoon game drive into the early evening, usually stopping to enjoy sundowners as the sun sets. This is the most beautiful time of the day to soak up the spectacular scenery, then you head back to dinner before dark. In some national parks, notably Lake Manyara and Tarangire, night drives can be arranged when the safari vehicle’s spotlights will allow you to witness the awakening of the nocturnal species such as hyenas, civet, leopards and bush pigs.
✔ Late Evening: After 7 pm
Once you are back in your safari camp, you can freshen up and prepare to enjoy drinks before dinner’s culinary creations. A Tanzania safari doesn’t just end with a dinner and drinks. It can be so much more: along with other guests gather around the campfire, sharing stories, watching the nightfall and star gazing. Some camps offer the amazing experience of sleeping under the stars, which is a fitting end to a wonderful day.
Safari activities give you the opportunity to experience the African bush with a local guide who is likely to be a font of knowledge, so don’t forget to tip your guide at the end of your stay as well as the other staff working at your accommodation. While you are not required to tip, a show of appreciation is always greatly welcomed and you’ll make their day. Tour operators often provide tipping guidelines so you know how much to tip.
Recommended Reading: Top 15 Tanzania Safari Lodges and Camps
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