This is the home of Africa’s highest mountain, its deepest and largest lakes, and its most epic migration. Here lies the Ngorongoro crater, a thriving ecosystem in the largest intact volcanic caldera on the face of our planet, home to prosperous and endangered species alike. In nearby Olduvai Gorge, you can trace the most primeval origins of humanity; and further south, the handiwork of later descendants stands the test of time on the rock walls of Kondoa.
The Serengeti needs little introduction: it’s quite possibly the world’s most famous national park. But the endless plains of shimmering grassland and vast stretches of acacia-speckled savannah do beg for a lot of exploring. Regarding that great migration—it’s upwards of two million wildebeest and zebra searching for survival in grand annual cycle with an entourage of predators and opportunistic birds in tow. It’s what you’d call a mind-blowing, unmissable spectacle.
Meeting with the Maasai may be as memorable as witnessing the migration. The semi-nomadic people settled around the northern borders of the country are well known for their welcoming hospitality and their vibrant culture—but they’re also some of the funniest jokesters around.
You could spend all your days in the popular northern circuit, but there’s great reward in going slightly off the beaten path in a place as big and wild as Tanzania. Avail yourself of some light aircraft and hop further south to less-touristed Ruaha or Selous parks, where hippos splash, giraffes saunter, and birds fill the skies. Flights out west bring you to the even-lonelier jungles of Gombe and Mahale parks—though you’ll find novel company, like Jane Goodall did years ago, in the troops of chimpanzees.
Still slightly rough around the edges, and rewarding for those looking for something a little more than the expected, Tanzania is safari in all its wild and raw exuberance.