Arusha National Park
The park has three distinct zones: Ngurdoto Crater (often described as a mini Ngorongoro), the Momella Lakes, a group of shallow alkaline lakes fed by underground streams, and Mount Meru, one of the most rewarding mountains to climb in Africa.
Animals here include buffalo, elephant, hippo, giraffe, zebra and a variety of antelope, blue monkey and black and white colobus monkey, leopard and hyena.
Manyara National Park
Hemingway describes Lake Manyara National Park’s magnificent hunting country in “The Green Hills of Africa”. Mahogany, sausage tree and croton are alive with blue monkeys and vervets. Elephants feed off fallen fruit while bushbuck, waterbuck, baboons, aardvark, civet, the shy pangolin and leopard as well as the black rhino, all make their home in the forest. Manyara is sanctuary to elusive buffalo and hippo, giraffe, impala, zebra and the famous residents – tree climbing lions.
Lake Manyara itself is a magnet for birdlife and a kaleidoscope of different species can be found around its shores, including huge flocks of flamingoes. The park is ideal for a day trip. A four-wheel drive is recommended during the rains. The dry season is from June to September and January to February.
Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park
Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, reaching a height of 5,895 meters, a dormant volcano, with the diameter at its base being 40 miles. There are two main snow capped peaks, Kibo and Mawenzi. Although it can be climbed year round the best times of the year for climbing are between August and October and January and March, from mid March to May it is the wet season.
There are six different routes up the mountain ranging in degree of difficulty and there are many tours operators running organized trips.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a huge area containing active volcanoes, mountains, archeological sites, rolling plains, forests, lakes, dunes and of course, Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge.
The views at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater are sensational. On the crater floor, grassland blends into swamps, lakes, and rivers, woodland and mountains – all a heaven for wildlife, including the densest predator population in Africa. The crater is home to up to 25,000 large mammals, mainly grazers – gazelle, buffalo, eland, hartebeest and warthog. You will not find giraffe as there is not much to eat at tree level, or topi, because the competition with wildebeest is too fierce, nor will you find impala. The crater elephants are strangely, mainly bulls. There are a small number of black rhinos here too. The birdlife is largely seasonal and is also affected by the ratio of soda to fresh water in Lake Magadi on the crater floor.In the northern, remote part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, you will find Olmoti and Empakaai Craters, Lake Natron and Oldoinyo Lengai, Mountain of God, as named by the Maasai. Lake Natron is the only known breeding ground for East Africa’s flamingoes.
The ruins of a terraced stone city and complex irrigation system lie on the eastern side of Empakaai – the Engakura Ruins. Their origins are a mystery as there is no tradition of stone building in this part of Africa.
Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti is on of the world’s last great wildlife refuges. This vast area of land supports the greatest remaining concentration of plain game in Africa, on a scale unparalleled anywhere else in the world. The name comes from the Maasai ‘Siringet’, meaning endless plains. Equal in size to Northern Ireland, the Park contains an estimated three million large animals, most of which take part in a seasonal migration that is one of nature’s wonders.
The annual migration of more than 1.5 million wildebeests as well as hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles is triggered by the rains. The wet season starts in November and lasts until about May. Generally the herds congregate and move out at the end of May. Their movement is a continual search for grass and water – the moving mass of animals requiring over 4,000 tons of grass each day. The exodus coincides with the breeding season which causes fights among the males. As the dry season sets in the herds drift out of the West, one group to the North, the other north-east heading for the permanent waters of the northern rivers and the Mara. The immigration instinct is so strong that animals die in the rivers as they dive from the banks into the raging waters, to be dispatched by crocodiles.
The survivors concentrate in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National reserve until the grazing there is exhausted, when they turn south along the eastern and final stage of the migration route. Before the main exodus, the herds are a spectacular sight, massed in huge numbers with the weak and crippled at the tail end of the procession, followed by the patient, vigilent predators.
The vegetation in the Serengeti ranges from the short and long grass plains in the south, to the acacia savannah in the centre and the wooded grassland concentrated around tributaries of the Grumeti and Mara rivers. The western corridor is a region of wooded highland and extensive plains reaching to the edge of Lake Victoria.
The Seronera Valley in the Serengeti is famous for the abundance lion and leopard that can usually be seen quite easily. The adult male lions of the Serengeti have characteristic black manes.
Tarangire National Park
The permanent water supply of the Park means that during the summer, the animal population here rivals that of the Serengeti with wildebeest, zebra, eland, elephant, hartebeest, buffalo, gerenuk, fringe eared oryx and flocks of birds of many different species. Prime game viewing months are between September and December.
The park is famous for its high density of elephants and baobab trees. Visitors to the park in the June to November dry season can expect to see large herds of thousands of zebra, wildebeest and cape buffalo.
Other common resident animals include waterbuck, giraffe, dik dik, impala, eland, Grant’s gazelle, vervet monkey, banded mongoose, and olive baboon. Predators in Tarangire include African lion, leopard, cheetah, caracal, honey badger, and African wild dog.