The park takes in the area above 8,850 feet on the mountain. It includes the moorland and highland zones, Shira Plateau, Kibo and Mawenzi peaks. In addition, the park has six corridors or rights of way through the Kilimanjaro Forest Reserve. The Forest Reserve, which is also a Game Reserve, was established in 1921; the Park was established in 1973 and officially opened in 1977.
Kilimanjaro stands 205 miles south of the equator, on the northern boundary of Tanzania. Its location on an open plain close to the Indian Ocean, and its great size and height strongly influence the climate, vegetation, animal life and the climbing conditions. It is made up of three extinct volcanoes: Kibo 19,340 feet, Mawenzi 16,896 feet and Shira 13,000 feet. Even though you can climb throughout the year, January, February and September are the best months.
Equatorial to arctic conditions are present on Kilimanjaro. The range begins with the warm, dry plains with average temperatures of 85°F, ascends through a wide belt of wet tropical forest, through zones with generally decreasing temperatures and rainfall, to the summit where there is permanent ice and below freezing temperatures.
The rainiest period is March to June. The fact that most months of the year have so few rainy days makes it possible to climb in relatively good conditions year round. During the rainy period of March to May, clouds tend to pile up over the summit, dropping snow on top and rain at the base. Cloud cover can limit visibility even when no rainfalls. The temperature at this time of year is relatively warm. The dry season, beginning in late June and through July, can be cold at night, but usually is clear of clouds. August and September are also cool and can have completely clear days, but usually a dripping cloud belt girdles the mountain above the forest and moorland. The summit can be totally clear and the successful climber looks down on a vast sea of clouds with distant mountain peaks poking through like islands.
The rainy period of October to December often has thunderstorms. Typically, the clouds disappear in the evening, leaving nights and mornings clear with excellent visibility. January and February are usually dry, warm and clear with brief rain showers, which make for good climbing conditions.
Kilimanjaro towers above the Great Rift Valley, possibly the birthplace of humankind, and the site of the Leaky research in the Olduvai Gorge. This gives Kilimanjaro an awesome mystique. One can imagine the mountain towering above our ancestors, making an early, continual impression on the species. When you walk the mountain, you'll probably encounter some odd, purposeful arrangements of stone. Your guides will claim to not know what they mean. Perhaps they don't. On Kilimanjaro, some mysteries may never be answered.
The closest national park to Arusha, northern Tanzania’s safari capital, Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safari goers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a diversity of habitats within a few hours. The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colorful Turaco and trogons. It is the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black and white Colobus monkeys are easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and wart hog.
Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one a different hue of green or blue. Their shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos, the lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and shaggy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, while pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs.
Although elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park and lions absent altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, only 30miles away. But it is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru, the fifth highest in Africa at 14,990 feet that dominates the park’s horizon. Its peaks and eastern slopes are protected within the national park. Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbor, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.
Tarangire National Park is the most southern of the accessible parks of Northern Tanzania. Named after River Tarangire, the park covers an area of 1600 sq. miles. Much of the park is open grassy savannah, dotted with splendid Baobab trees, but there are also areas of swamp in the south. The park is spectacular in the dry season when many of the migratory wildlife species return to the permanent waters of the river. With the onset of the rains they migrate again for better pastures. This annual phenomenon takes place from June to September. Tarangire possesses the second-highest concentration of wildlife during the dry season. It is one of the few protected areas in Tanzania that ensures a year round water source for the park's most exceptional resource - the Tarangire River. The park is known for its river valley, wetlands, gently rolling hills, rocky out crops, acacia woodlands, and baobab trees. It is the only national park in Tanzania's northern section where one can view a large concentration of elephants all year round.Visit www.tarangiretanzania.com to learn more.
Lake Manyara National Park Biosphere Reserve (80,300 acres) sanctuary extends from the northern and western parts of Lake Manyara to the top of the western rift valley wall, and is 75 miles southwest of Arusha. Verreauz’s eagles, vultures, storks, swifts and swallows wing by lodging atop the spectacular cliffs overlooking the lake. Springs in the park’s northern end support a dense groundwater forest of giant figs and mahogany, which shelters blue monkeys, baboon, bush buck, common water buck, elephant, and silvery-cheeked horn bill. South of the forest, buffalo, wildebeest, impala, giraffe, zebra, lion and gray backed fiscal-shrike frequent the acacia woodland and open grassland. Streams attract python, Nile monitor lizard and mountain wagtail. Lake Manyara at 3,150 feet varies in salinity levels with wetter and drier climate cycles. At times it is replete with flamingo, pelican, stork and cormorant. The hippo pool, where visitors may get out of their vehicles, is located on a freshwater stream that enters the lake at its northern tip.Visit www.lakemanyara.net to learn more.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area/World Heritage Site (2,045,200 acres) protects wildlife habitat as well as the rights of local Maasai who graze their livestock on about 75 percent of the area. Ngorongoro Crater, 12 miles wide, is the world's largest intact caldera. Before the cataclysmic collapse of its cone 2 million years ago, this volcanic mountain may have been taller than Kilimanjaro. Its rim, which averages 7,600 feet elevation, is cloaked in moist montane forest and grassland, hosting elephants, golden-winged and eastern double-collared sunbirds, stonechats and Jackson's widowbird. From lodges and campsites on the rim, visitors are driven down to the crater floor for a 6-hour survey. At 5,600 feet elevation, the crater floor is primarily grassland, with patches of spring-fed marshes, freshwater ponds, a salt lake, and small forests. Harboring 20,000 large animals, it is a virtual Noah's Ark(without giraffes). Great effort has gone into saving the black rhino here, and several dozen are resident and counted from the air every night. Buffaloes, wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, and hartebeests graze the grassland, while elephants roam the wooded areas, and hippos gather in marshes and ponds. Lions, spotted hyenas, and golden and black-backed jackals are easy to find, but servals and cheetahs are sighted rarely. Resident ostriches, crowned cranes, and kori bustards are joined seasonally by migrant flocks of white and Abdim’s storks. The conservation area also includes two other voluminous craters, six peaks that top 10,000 feet and the southeastern corner of the vast Serengeti Plains. Ol’duvai Gorge, just north of the road to the Serengeti, has yielded hominid fossils key to the study of human evolution. Here sits a museum and shaded picnic sites. Red-and-yellow barbets join less colorful birds here for crumbs, while cheetahs sometimes roam nearby.Visit www.ncaa.go.tz to learn more.
The world famous Serengeti National Park occupies about 9150square miles. The name Serengeti means endless plains and is derived from the Maasai word ”siringiti”. The park lies in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands and the Kenya/Tanzanian border, extending almost to Lake Victoria. It encompasses the main part of the Serengeti ecosystem. The most famous features of the Serengeti are the spectacular concentration of animals found nowhere else in the world, as well as the annual wildebeest migration. This spectacle sees more than one million wildebeest, 200,000 zebras and 300,000 Thomson's gazelles trek to new grazing grounds. The brief population explosion of wildebeest produces over 8,000calves a day before the migration begins. As in all ecosystems the vegetation and types of animals are closely correlated. The principal features of the park are the short and long grass open plains in the southeast, the acacia savannah in the central area, the hilly, more densely wooded northern section, and the extensive woodland and black clay plains, dominated by the central ranges of mountains in the western corridor.Visit www.serengeti.com to learn more.
There are truly wild places in Tanzania, Gombe National Park is one of them. The nature value of Gombe was noticed in 1943 when it was designated as a game reserve. Gombe gained its popularity after the pioneering research activities of Dr. Jane Goodall in 1960 which is believed to be the longest running study of primates in the world. Conservation status was upgraded to that of a National Park in 1968 and opened for tourism in 1978after chimpanzee habituated to human visitors. It is located 16 km north of Kigoma town on the shores of the world’s second deepest Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania with an area of 56 square kilometers.Visit www.tanzaniatourism.go.tz to learn more.
On the shores of Lake Tanganyika, the oldest and deepest lakes in the world lies a pristine and remote park; the Mahale National Park which holds and protect the largest known population of chimpanzees, the jungle and the mountains. Visiting the park is a gratifying experience as you have a chance to carry game drive, chimp-trekking, hiking, snorkeling and birdwatching. The establishment of this Park was a reflection of the government commitment to preserving the chimpanzee population as well as an emulation of the efforts by Japanese researchers who pioneered to conduct research on primates including chimpanzees.Visit www.tanzaniatourism.go.tz to learn more.
Katavi National Park, is found on the western part of Tanzania. It was formerly a game reserve; the park was established in 1974. It was originally 1,823 kilometers squared and in 1997 it was extended to 4,471 kilometers squared. The park is located 40 kilometers south of Mpanda town, being Tanzania’s third largest national park, after Ruaha and Serengeti. The park is endowed with various tourism activities that visitors can do during their visit. The activities includes; Nature Walking Safaris (Short Walking Safaris (SWS), Long Walking Safaris (LWS), Picnicking, Filming, Camping, Birding, Bush meals, Night Game Drive, Hiking and Game Viewing .Visit www.tanzaniatourism.go.tz to learn more.
The game viewing starts the moment the plane touches down. A giraffe races beside the airstrip, all legs and neck, yet oddly elegant in its awkwardness. A line of zebras parades across the runway in the giraffe's wake.
In the distance, beneath a bulbous baobab tree, a few representatives of Ruaha's 10,000 elephants, the largest population of any East African national park, form a protective huddle around their young.
Second only to Katavi in its aura of untrammeled wilderness, but far more accessible, Ruaha protects a vast tract of the rugged, semi-arid bush country that characterizes central Tanzania. Its lifeblood is the Great Ruaha River, which courses along the eastern boundary in a flooded torrent during the height of the rains, but dwindling thereafter to a scattering of precious pools surrounded by sand and rock.
A fine network of game-viewing roads follows the Great Ruaha and its seasonal tributaries, where during the dry season impala, waterbuck and other antelopes risk their lives for a sip of life-sustaining water. And the risk is considerable: not only from the prides of 20 plus lion that lord over the savannah, but also from the cheetahs that stalk the open grassland and the leopards that lurk in tangled riverine thickets. Both striped and spotted hyena, and several packs of the highly endangered African wild dog boost this impressive array of large predators. Ruaha's high diversity of antelope is a function of its location, which is transitional to the acacia savannah of East Africa and woodland belt of Southern Africa. Grant's gazelle and lesser kudu occur here alongside the sable and roan antelope, and one of East Africa’s largest populations of greater kudu, the park emblem, is distinguished by the male's magnificent corkscrew horns. A similar duality is noted in the checklist of 450 birds. The crested barbet, an attractive yellow-and-black bird whose persistent trilling is a characteristic sound of the southern bush, occurs in Ruaha alongside central Tanzanian endemics such as the yellow-collared lovebird and ashy starling.
Nyerere is the largest protected wildlife area in Africa. AUN World Heritage Site, this pristine, uninhabited area is larger than Switzerland. Only in the Serengeti will visitors see a greater concentration of wildlife. Yet Nyerere boasts Tanzania’s largest population of elephant as well as large numbers of buffalo, hippo and wild dog. Other species commonly seen are lion, bushbuck, impala, giraffe, eland, baboon, zebra and greater kudu.
The topography of the park varies from rolling savannah woodland, grassland plains and rocky outcrops cut by the Rufigi River and its tributaries, which together cover the greatest catchment area in East Africa. The Rufigi provides the lifeblood of Nyerere and sailing or rafting down the river is a superb method of seeing game, especially during the dry season between June and October. Crocodiles, hippo and an array of grazing antelope can be seen.
Linked to the Rufigi, is Lake Tagalala, where waterbuck, reedbuck and bushbuck gather at the water’s edge. In the long grassland, safari enthusiasts may get a chance to see rare sable antelope, greater kudu or lion.
The landscape of Mikumi is often compared to that of the Serengeti. The road that crosses the park divides it into two areas with partially distinct environments. The area north-west is characterized by the alluvial plain of the river basin Mkata. The vegetation of this area consists of savannah dotted with acacia, baobab, tamarinds, and some rare palm. In thisarea, at the furthest from the road, there are spectacular rock formations of the mountains Rubeho and Uluguru. The southeast part of the park is less rich in wildlife, and not very accessible.
The fauna includes many species characteristic of the African savannah. According to local guides at Mikumi, chances of seeing a lion who climbs a tree trunk is larger than in Manyara (famous for being one of the few places where the lions exhibit this behavior). The park contains a subspecies of giraffe that biologists consider the link between the Masai giraffe and the reticulated or Somali giraffe. Other animals in the park are elephants, zebras, impala, eland, kudu, black antelope, baboons, wildebeests and buffaloes. At about 5 km from the north of the park, there are two artificial pools inhabited by hippos. More than 400 different species of birds also inhabit the park.
Saadani National Park is a one of a kind paradise with unique ecosystem where beach life meets wilderness. This gives you not only the opportunity to plunge into the Indian Ocean straight after your safari, but also to be submerged in a unique display of both marine and mainland flora and fauna in a naturally fascinating setting.
The name Saadani has a close link to the Arab settlement in the area during the 19 Century. The name of a fishing village that, origin ally known as Utondwe which changed to Saadani. Saadani is such an important name in the country’s history since the time immemorial centuries or more, mentioned in chronicles of the Portuguese and notable travelers like Johannes Rebman, El-Masoud, Ptolemy, and Richard Burton among others. The historical Saadani leaves us with the evidence of not only visits of these travellers, but also of a former town which was once a trade centre coordinating overseas and hinterland bather trade, including slave trade.
It was officially declared to National Park status in 2005under Government Notice No. 188. The Park covers an area of 1,100sqkm after annexation of the former Saadani Game Reserve, Mkwaja Cattle Ranch, Zaraninge Forest Reserve and Wami River.