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Tanzania National Parks, the Custodians of the National and World Heritage Areas, established in 1959, and countrywide all national parks are under control and supervision of Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA), the parastatal organization responsible for managing the country’s 21 National Parks. As a trusteeship, Tanzania National Parks Authority has the mandate to manage all areas designated as national parks in the country in a way that ensures an appropriation balance between preservation and use. Its main function is to conserve the habitat, scenery, Flora and Fauna of the parks for the enjoyment and the benefit of the current and the future generations of Tanzanians to come as well as overseas visitors. National parks as like other protected areas in Tanzania serve as a conservational, educational and recreational purposes. One of the major aims of national parks had been to reap economic benefits emanating from international tourism. Each of Tanzania’s National parks offers something unique – from the alpine landscapes of Kilimanjaro to the bush meeting the sea in Saadani National Park. And with excellent transport links within Tanzania, it is easy to combine several parks in one safari.


The Udzungwa Mountains are almost unearthly. An enchanted forest of leafy glades, freckled with sunshine, where fungus, lichen, moss and ferns ingratiate themselves into every damp crevice, it is at once both vivid detail and larger than life. A new variety of African violet was discovered in the shelter of a 30 m high tree. It is a hothouse, nurturing species found nowhere else on earth, a secret bank account of precious genetic stock.  Of its 12 types of primates, two are endemic – the Iringa Red Colobus Monkey and the Sanje – Crested Mangabey, not discovered until 1979. Four previously unknown birds, including the Rufous – Winged Sunbird and a new species of the partridge – like francolin, make this Tanzania’s richest forest bird habitat and among the three most important bird conservation areas on the continent. One of East Africa’s great forests, this undisturbed habitat undoubtedly has new treasures yet to reveal. A link in the chain of Africa’s eastern arc mountains, Udzungwa is made for hiking and climbing on trails through the rainforests and along the escarpments. The plateau is a natural tower top, with views of sugar plantations against a patchwork of grassland and mountain forest extending over 100 km. But the centerpiece is the Sanje River, which reinvents itself into a spectacular waterfall, plunging 170 m through the forest to land in a mist in the valley below. Visit Udzungwa year around, but be prepared for rain any time.


During Tarangire’s dry season, day after day of cloudless skies seem to suck all moisture from the landscape, turning the waving grasses to a platinum blonde, brittle as straw. The Tarangire River is a mere shadow of itself, just a trickle of water choked with wildlife: thirsty antelope and elephant have wandered hundreds of parched Kilometers to Tarangire’s permanent water source. Herds of elephant three hundred strong dig in the damp earth of the riverbed in search of underground springs, while wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, and gazelle mingle with rare species such as eland and oryx around each shrinking lagoon. Python climb into the shade of the trees that line Tarangire’s massive southern swamps and hang there like giant malignant fruit, coils neatly arranged over the branches in a perfect sphere. Tarangire is the dry season enjoys the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem. Tarangire’s huge herds of elephant rival the park’s gigantic, squat baobab trees as its most celebrated feature – ancient matriarchs, feisty young bulls and tiny, stumbling calves are ever present to fascinate visitors with their grace, intelligence and majesty. The best time to visit Tarangire for wildlife viewing or walking is the dry season, from June to October.


Each year more than six million hooves pound the legendary Serengeti’s endless plains. Triggered by the seasonal rains, more than a million wildebeests, 200,000 zebras, and 300,000 Thomson’s Gazelles gather to undertake their long trek to new grazing lands. The wildebeest rutting season is a frenzied three weeks long bout of territorial conquests and mating, followed by survival of the fittest as the 40 km long columns plunge through crocodile infested waters on the annual exodus north. Replenishing the species is the brief population explosion that produces more than 8,000 calves a day before the 1,000 km pilgrimage begins again. Tanzania’s first and most famous park, the Serengeti, is renowned for its wealth of leopard and lion. The vast reaches of the park are a hiding place for the endangered Black Rhino and provide a protected breeding ground for the vulnerable cheetah, alongside the Serengeti’s thousands of other diverse species, from the 500 varieties of bird to 100 different types of dung beetle. After the rains, the Serengeti’s magical golden horizon is transformed into an endless green carpet, flecked with wild flowers. The famous plains are interspersed with wooded hills, towering termite mounds, monumental rocky kopjes, and rivers lined with elegant acacia trees. To search for the at times elusive wildebeest migration, visit the Serengeti from December to July. To see predators, June to October are the best months. For the best chance of finding the migration, allow a minimum of three days, – longer if possible.


Saadani National Park is the perfect union of beach and bush. Located just 70 km north of Bagamoyo and immediately accessible by paved road from Dar es Salaam, Saadani has recently become a fully protected national park and is a popular day – trip from beach resorts scattered along Tanzania’s northern coast. The Wami River, which passes through Saadani National Park and empties into the Indian Ocean, hosts a large population of hippos, crocodiles, flamingos, and many other large bird species. Elephants have been rumored to be seen bathing and playing on Saadani’s beach, especially in the early hours of the morning. A good choice for visitors in Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar who don’t have time for longer Safaris to visit more remote parks around the country. Saadani is easily visited for a day trip or over a weekend.


Rubondo Island is tucked into the corner of Lake Victoria(NYANZA), the world’s second largest lake, an inland sea sprawling between three countries. Rubondo provides protection for fish breeding grounds, while tilapia and the rapacious Nile Perch, some weighing more than 100 kg, tempt recreational fisher – folk with challenging sports fishing and world record catches. But Rubondo is more than a water wonderland. Deserted sandy beaches nestle against a cloak of virgin forest. Papyrus swamps host the secretive Sitatunga, a shaggy, aquatic antelope, and the dappled bushbuck. Rubondo is a birder’s paradise, with the Malachite Kingfisher’s azure brilliance competing with the paradise flycatcher’s glamorous flowing tail. Rubondo is home to African Fish Eagles and is a global stop over for hundreds of migratory birds, as well as a sanctuary for sweet smelling wild jasmine and 40 different species of orchid. Ninety percent of the island is covered with humid forest, the remainder ranges from coastal grassland to lakeside papyrus beds. A number of indigenous mammal species – hippo, bushbuck, genet, and mongoose – share their protected habitat with introduced species such as chimpanzee, elephant, and giraffe. Rubondo’s wildflowers are at their best from November to March. For migratory birds, visit December to February.


Ruaha National Park, the second largest national park in Tanzania, is a place where game viewing can begin the moment the plane touches down. A pair of giraffe may race beside the airstrip, with a line of zebra parading across the runway in their wake as nearby protective elephant mothers guard their young under the shade of a baobab tree. Wildlife in Ruaha is concentrated along the great Ruaha River that is the park’s lifeblood. Waterbuck, Impala and the world’s most southerly Grant’s Gazelle risk their lives for a sip of water as predators watch on. The shores of the Ruaha are a permanent hunting ground for lion, leopard, jackal, hyena and the rare and endangered African wild dog. Ruaha’s more than 8,000 elephants are recovering strongly from ivory poaching during the 1980s and the remain the largest population in East Africa. Ruaha is the only protected area in which the flora and fauna of eastern and southern Africa overlap, leading to fascinating combinations of wildlife – both Greater and lesser Kudus live here, as do Sable and Roan Antelope.


Set below the verdant slopes of the spectacular Usambara and Pare Eastern Arc Mountain ranges and overseen by the iconic snow – capped peak of Kilimanjaro, Mkomazi is a virgin breathtaking beauty exhibiting unique natural treasures and an immense sense of space. All this adds to the fulfilment of enjoyment visitors can expect. Mkomazi National Park provides a much needed and beautiful bridge between the northern parks and coastal attractions. Every day, thousands of people pass within a few kilometers of Mkomazi on one of Tanzania’s busiest highways. These and northern circuit safari – goers are invited to discover the treasures of this wedge of hilly semi – arid savannah – home of large herds of giraffe, eland, hartebeest, zebra, buffalo and elephant. Mkomazi is a vital refuge for two highly endangered species, the charismatic Black Rhino and sociable African wild Dog, both of which were successfully reintroduced in the 1990s. Nomadic by nature, African wild Dog might be seen almost anywhere in the park, but Black Rhino are restricted to a fenced sanctuary, ensuring their safe keeping for future generations enjoyment and prosperity.


Forming the northern borders of Africa’s biggest game reserve – Selous (Currently, J. K. Nyerere National Park) –  Mikumi is one of the most popular of Tanzania’s national parks, the most accessible part of a 75,000 square Kilometer (47,000 square mile) wilderness that stretches almost to the shores of the Indian Ocean. The main feature of the park is the Mkata flood plain, along with the mountain ranges that border the park on two sides. Open grasslands dominate the flood plain, eventually merging with miombo woodland covering the lower hills. The woodland is the favorite hunt of the lion, sometimes perching high in the trees to keep their feet dry from the sticky black mud of the wet season. Observation towers above the tree line  allow panoramic views of the plain which is home to formidable herds of buffalo. Mikumi’s elephants are more compact than those in the rest of the country, but still a formidable sight when viewed close up. The rains swell the park’s population of birds to more than 300 species as European migrants seek refuge in mikumi, joining resident stars like the Lilac – Breasted Roller. Mikumi’s road network provides visitors with easy game viewing drives and there are hippos, zebra, giraffe, hartebeest and wildebeest in abundance. The park is accessible all year round.


Like its northern neighbor Gombe, Mahale Mountains National Park is home to some of the last remaining wild chimpanzees in Africa. Around 1,000 of these fascinating animals roam the rainforest of Mahale, a chain of dramatic peaks draped in lush vegetation reaching to Lake Tanganyika’s beaches far below. Visitors are led on guided walks in search of the chimps, following clues such as the previous night’s nests, or scraps of half – eaten fruit and fresh dung. Once found, the chimpanzees preen each other’s glossy coats in concentrated huddles, squabble noisily or bound effortlessly into the trees, swinging nonchalantly through the vines. Visitors can also trace the Tongwe people’s ancient pilgrimage to the mountain spirits, trekking through enclaves of rainforest to grassy ridges chequered with alpine bamboo. After a hot walk in the forest, the clear waters of the lake, home to 250 species of fish, beckon for a refreshing swim. The best time for forest walks in Mahale is during the dry season, from May to October.


Tucked below the majesty of the Rift Valley Wall, Lake Manyara National Park consists of a thin green band of forest, flanked by the sheer 600 m high red and brown cliffs of the escarpment on one side and by the white – hot shores of an ancient soda lake on the other. This wedge of surprisingly varied vegetation supports a wealth of wildlife, nourished by the streams flowing out of the escarpment base and waterfalls spilling over the cliffs. Acacia woodland shelters the park’s famous tree climbing lions, lying languidly among the branches in the heat of the day. Feeding in the undergrowth or dozing in the dry riverbeds is the country’s densest populations of buffalo and elephant. Deep in the south of the park, hot springs bubbles to the surface as hippo wallow near the Lake’s sedge lined borders. The park’s dazzling variety of birds includes thousands of Red – Billed Quelea flitting over the water, pelicans, cormorants and the pink streaks of thousands of flamingos. Manyara is the perfect location for an active safari canoeing on the lake or mountain biking and abseiling outside the park’s borders. The dry season (July to October) is the best for large mammals, while the wet season (November to June) is best for bird watching, waterfalls and canoeing.


The great mountain of Kilimanjaro is a metaphor for the compelling beauty of East Africa. Rising in absolute isolation, at 5,895 m (19,336 feet), Kilimanjaro is one of the highest walkable summits on the planet and a beacon for visitors from around the world. Just three degrees south of the equator, Kilimanjaro’s great peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi are nonetheless covered all year round with snow and ice. Most reasonably fit and properly guided climbers can experience the triumph of reaching the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, warm clothing and determination. Those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater (Kilimanjaro is a dormant, but not extinct, volcano), will have earned their climbing certificates and their memories. There is, however, so much more to Kilimanjaro than the summit. A journey up the slopes takes visitors on a climatic world tour, from the tropics to the arctic. The grassy and cultivated lower slopes turn into lush rainforest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo and antelope. Higher still, heath and moorland, covered with giant heather, becomes a surreal alpine desert and, finally, there is ice, now and the biggest view on the continent. December to February is the warmest and clearest time to visit, with July to September being colder but also dry. It is wet in the rainforest from April to June and during November.


Kitulo, which has only fairly recently become a fully protected park, is situated on the Kitulo Plateau, which forms part of Tanzania’s southern highlands. The area, which is known locally as the “garden of God”, provides a home for a wide variety of wildflowers such as balsams, bellflowers, honey – peas, irises, lilies and orchids.


Jozani Forest, a conservation project aimed at preserving some of the last indigenous forest on Zanzibar island, lies at the heart of Jozani – Chwaka Bay National Park, straddling a narrow belt of land linking the east and west coat of the island. It is the largest area of nature indigenous forest on Unguja (Zanzibar Island), and home to possibly the island’s most famous and photographed resident, the Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey (Kimapunji). The diverse range of natural habitats to be found in the national park supports a variety of rare, endangered and endemic species, including the Ader’s Duiker, as well as Sykes Monkeys, Bushbabies, African civet, giant elephant shrews, and chameleons as well as more than 100 species of brightly colored butterflies and around 83 species of birds. South of the forest, a thin long creek juts in from the sea, and is lined with mangrove trees. A marvelous boardwalk has been constructed, so you can easily and harmlessly go deep into the mangrove to experience this unique ecosystem Jozani – Chwaka Bay National Park makes an excellent day – trip wherever you are staying on the island, though the best time to go is in the dry season, from July to February, when there is little chance that the forest will be flooded.


Katavi National Park in western Tanzania is remote and wild, a destination for the true safari aficionado. The name of the park immortalizes a legendary hunter, Katabi, whose spirit is believed to possess a tamarind tree ringed with offerings from locals begging his blessings. Despite being one of the largest park, Katavi sees relatively few visitors, meaning that those guests who arrive here can look forward to having this huge untouched wilderness to themselves. The park’s main features are the watery grassy plains to the north, the palm – fringed Lake Chada in the south – east, and the Katuma River. Katavi boasts Tanzania’s greatest populations of both crocodile and hippopotamus. Lion and leopard find prey among the huge populations of herbivores at Katavi –  impala, eland, topi, zebra and herds of up to 1,600 buffalo wander the short grassy plains. The rare, honey – colored puku antelope is one of the park’s richest wildlife viewing rewards. A kaleidoscope of birds’ flit across the riverbanks, swamps and palm groves while flotillas of pelican cruise the lakes and elephants graze waist – deep in the marshlands. Katavi is best visited in the dry season between May and October, December and February.


Arusha National Park, often overlooked in favor of its more famous neighbors, is in fact a treasure, a rich tapestry of habitats, teeming with animals and birds. From the lush swamps of the Ngurdoto Crater to the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes and the rocky alpine heights of Mt. Meru, the terrain of the park is as varied as it is interesting zebras graze on the park’s red grasslands, and leopards lurk next waterfalls in the shadowy forest. More than 400 species of birds, both migrant and resident, can be found in Arusha National Park alongside rare primates, such as the Black – and – White Colobus Monkey. The rewarding climb up Mt Meru passes through forests of dripping Spanish moss and rises to open heath, spiked with giant lobelia plants. Delicate Klipspringer antelope watch the progress of hikers from the top of huge boulders, and everlasting flowers cling to the alpine desert underfoot. Once astride the craggy summit, the reward is a sight of neighboring Mt Kilimanjaro, breathtaking in the sunrise. The best time to visit Arusha National Park is during the dry season from July to November, or after the short rains from December to March. The best months to climb Mt Meru are June through to February, with the best views of Mt Kilimanjaro seen from December to February. The park lies just 25 km east of Arusha and is a rewarding day trip from Arusha or Moshi – Kilimanjaro Region.


Gombe Stream is among of the smallest of Tanzania’s national parks, a thin strip of ancient forest set amidst mountains and steep valleys on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Chimpanzees are Gombe stream’s main attraction: they are the stars of the world’s chimpanzee community, made famous by the pioneering British researcher Jane Goodall, whose years of constant observation since 1960 have brought to light startling new facts about mankind’s closest cousins. Chimps are as individually unique as humans and no scientific expertise is needed to distinguish the different characters in the cast. The majority of the park mammals are primates, most of them forest species and in addition to the famous chimpanzees, visitors could be lucky enough to see blue or red – tailed monkeys. Carnivores are rare in the forest, making Gombe the ideal place for a walking safari, or a swim in one of the streams. The best time to find chimpanzees at Gombe is during the wet season from February to June and November to December. The dry months of July to October and December to January are better for photo opportunities.

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