Planning your safari
When is the best time to go on safari in Tanzania?
Our safari itineraries are tailored to seasonal animal movement patterns so wildlife viewing is excellent year round. So the best time to go on safari is really dependent on when you wish to come, your interests, places you wish to visit and activities that you may want to do.
If you’d like to see the wildebeest migration spread out across the Serengeti plains, we’ll recommend you travel in the green season stretching from December to April. This is especially good for the calving season. As the migration moves North from June onwards the Northern part of the Serengeti and river crossings into Kenya’s Maasai Mara is the best area. Whatever month you travel, we will build your itinerary to ensure you’re located in the right parks and the right regions for best wildlife viewing. We can make suggestions about the best areas to visit and build the safari around the time you wish to travel, your interests and budget.
If you love elephants and would like to see large herds, we recommend visiting Tarangire National Park in the height of the dry season from July to September when massive herds congregate around the Tarangire River. If you are interested in climbing Kilimanjaro prior to going on safari, we’ll suggest you avoid traveling in April and May when the long rains will make trekking difficult.
What is the climate and weather like in Tanzania?
Tanzania has two major seasons. Although weather patterns can vary widely from year to year typically, the dry season starts around June and last through until October and the green or rainy season commences from November until around May with a short dry season typically between January and February.
The parks located in the popular northern safari circuit are located at a high elevation making the climate pleasant for game viewing even during midday. The average temperature in the Serengeti during the warmer months of October to March can range from a high of 29C to a low of 17C and during the colder months of April to September a high of 26C to a low of 13C. The rim of the Ngorongoro Crater has an elevation of over 2,200 meters and the night time temperatures can drop below freezing. It is always advisable to bring warmer jumpers or a light jacket for evenings and early mornings.
How early do I have to book a safari and what do I need to do?
If you plan on traveling during the high season (June – September, December – March), we suggest you book your safari as far in advance as possible, 8 to 12 months, to secure your preferred accommodations. We can book on short notice. However, your safari will be subject to availability of rooms in the various accommodation and lodges.
What is the Great Migration?
The Great Migration is the annual cycle of movement made by over 2 million wildebeest, 250,000 zebras, and 400,000 Thomson gazelles in their continuous search for water and green pasture throughout the Serengeti ecosystem. Every year, the ungulates follow a fairly predictable migration route however the timing of the movement varies from year to year depending on rain patterns, from the vast Serengeti plains to the hills of Kenya’s Masai Mara.
Best time to go
Typically, December to May is considered the green season and the migration can usually be found on the plains in the southern and eastern Serengeti. By late May when the plains start to dry up, the migration will head westwards to the Western Corridor and remain there until around July before heading to the Northern Serengeti. The dry season from late June to October offers the best wildlife viewing in general with the wildlife migration as its absolute highlight. This is when the famous river crossings take place. During the height of the dry season from August to October, a portion of the migration herd will spill across the Kenyan border into the Masai Mara. Usually, by November, the rains will have commenced on the southern plains starting the migration cycle all over again.
The best time to visit the Serengeti is from June to September being the dry season; it’s better to be equipped for cool or cold temperatures at night, especially at higher altitudes. In September the temperatures begin to increase, and it can get a bit hot at lower elevations. During October, the short rains season starts.
In June, the herds of wildebeest are located in the northwestern park of the park, in the area of the rivers Grumeti and Mara (Mara Region) where you can watch them when crossing rivers, while in July they move to the Masai Mara. At the end of October or in November, the wildebeest return to the Serengeti, when, the short rain season begins. As for other seasons you can choose.
January and February, in the “short dry season,” when they are in the southern part of the park or nearby Ngorongoro and are in breeding season.
See the great migration map for visual details.
December to May – Southern Serengeti
May – June/July – Western Serengeti
June – October – Northern Serengeti
November the cycle repeats
How do I pay for my safari?
We request that you deposit 30% to secure a reservation either by bank transfer or credit card. The balance can be made by bank transfer or credit card or on arrival in cash. Our Sales team can advise you how to do this.
What is your cancellation policy?
Cancellation Policies & fees:
- More than 120 days before the safari or tour starts, 25% off the payment.
- 119 to 90 days before the safari or tour starts, 50 % off the payment.
- 89 to 31 days before the safari or tour starts, 75 % off the payment.
- 30 days and below or No Show, 100% off total costs.
What is the best way to get to Tanzania?
If you are coming from North America or Europe, we recommend flying KLM to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) Air France, British Airways, Kenya Airways via Nairobi, Turkish airlines via Turkey or Qatar airlines via the Middle East.
If you are coming from China, we recommend flying Ethiopian Air to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO).
If you are planning a visit to Zanzibar after your safari, we recommend that you either (i) arrange your flight so that you arrive at JRO and depart through Dar Es Salaam International Airport (DAR) or consider entering into Tanzania through DAR and then take a connecting flight to JRO to start your safari.
Zanzibar flights are available from Kilimanjaro Airport and Arusha airport and also from various locations in the Serengeti.
The flight between JRO and DAR is approximately about one hour.
Please confirm all international flights and seating before departure.
Can you book my flights?
Unfortunately, we do not book international flights. However, all domestic internal flights included in your safari itinerary can be arranged by us, and the cost is included in the safari price. You can also book your own domestic flights. For domestic flights, you can use companies like the ones below:
- Precision Air
Are there any airport taxes?
Airport taxes are not included in the price of internal Tanzania flights and are payable in cash. Be sure to have US dollars on hand to pay applicable airport taxes which range from USD 5 to USD 15 per flight.
Arriving in Arusha/Northern Tanzania
There are various options. We can book hotels for your arrival in Arusha, or you can choose to book yourself. Arusha is where our safari begins and ends. We can include airport transfers from Kilimanjaro or Arusha airport, or if you are coming from Kenya, we can transfer you from the borders. You can also arrange your own transfers, and we can pick you up for the safaris from your hotel in Arusha, Moshi or straight from either of the airports.
What happens if my flight is delayed?
If your flight is delayed or there is a flight schedule change, and we are required to change your accommodations, internal flights, transfers, etc., the additional expenses incurred as a result of the delay or flight change will be your responsibility. We will not be able to obtain refunds from suppliers for unused accommodations, internal flights and other services already paid.
Are there luggage restrictions?
For international flights, please check with your individual airline as check-in and carry-on luggage restrictions vary from airline to airline. Concerning domestic internal flights from Arusha to the Serengeti or Arusha to Zanzibar, the luggage restriction is between 15 kg or 33 lbs, and we recommend the use of smaller soft bags rather than big suitcases. Excess luggage can be accommodated at the discretion of the airline, and additional charges will apply.
Do you need a Tanzanian tourist visa?
Tourist visas can be obtained upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport or Dar Es Salaam International Airport by simply filling out an entry form (provided during your flight) and payment of the visa fee. Please ensure you have two blank pages in your passport and your passport does not expire within six months of your arrival date.
The tourist visa fee is US$50 except for the following citizens: Pakistan (US$ 200), USA (US$100)
Can you book my trip to Zanzibar?
We can help book hotels and flights to Zanzibar after or before your safari in Northern Tanzania. Just share your ideas with our sales consultants about the dates and type of accommodation.
Is Tanzania a safe country to visit?
Since its independence in 1961, Tanzania has been a politically stable country and one of the safest countries to travel to in Africa.
We do however recommend that you use common sense and take safety precautions as you would when traveling in any foreign country:
- Use safes in the rooms and don’t leave cash out in all hotels and lodges.
- Leave jewelry and expensive watches at home.
- Make sure you empty your pockets of any money or valuables before giving laundry to hotel/lodges.
- Keep all your important documents and cash in a money belt hidden under your clothes at all times (even on game drives or while dining at the lodge).
- Keep a copy of all important documentation (passport, itinerary, insurance policy, credit cards, etc.) locked in your suitcase.
- When shopping, carry a few dollars for spending money in an easily accessible zippered pocket or shoulder bag rather than displaying your money belt.
- Do not walk around town after dark in Arusha, Dar Es Salaam or Zanzibar – always take a taxi even if you are only going a block or two.
Do I need Travel Insurance?
Safaris are a considerable investment, and we strongly urge you to purchase comprehensive travel insurance. Coverage should include trip cancellation, delay or interruption, lost or delayed baggage, emergency accident, illness and evacuation, 24-hour medical assistance and traveler’s assistance.
What vaccinations and medications do I need for travel to Tanzania?
We highly recommend that you consult with your physician or a travel medical doctor for advice several months in advance of your trip as you may need a series of vaccinations. Please ensure that you indicate that you will be traveling to Tanzania on safari. Your doctor will be able to suggest which vaccinations and medications are advisable. Anti-malarial medication is strongly recommended and should be discussed during your doctor’s visit.
All vaccinations are voluntary for entry into Tanzania except for Yellow Fever vaccination. If you are entering Tanzania from Yellow Fever infected country such as Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, you will be required to show a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate upon arrival in Tanzania. Please ensure you carry this Certificate with your passport. If you are entering Tanzania from Europe, you will not be required to show a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate.
Can you use US dollars in Tanzania?
Although the currency in Tanzania is the Tanzania Shilling (Tsh), the U.S. dollar is widely accepted. However please note that for larger U.S. dollar denominations ($20, $50 and $100), only bills issued after 2006 will be accepted in Tanzania due to counterfeiting and fraud.
Major credit cards are accepted at larger safari lodges, and major souvenir shops and larger tourist towns offer ATM bank machines where you can withdraw cash using your bank card or credit card. Please note that ATM bank machines only dispense Tanzanian shillings. Please note that some lodges may not have visa facilities for payment.
Traveler’s cheques are hard to cash and not recommended.
What’s Included and Excluded in every tour
- All accommodation on the safari
- All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- All national park and conservation area entrance fees
- 4WD Landcruiser with unlimited kilometers for game drives
- Services of a Private professional Tanzanian safari guide
- Unlimited bottled drinking water in your vehicle
- Unlimited game mileage
- Government tax
- Soft drinks and wine if you wish
- International airfare to and from Kilimanjaro International Airport
- Tanzania tourist visa fee payable upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport
- Tips to your safari guide & lodge/camp staff
- Comprehensive Travel Insurance
- Laundry and drinks at the lodges and camps
- Domestic flights but we can organize these especially those to the Serengeti
- Optional activities such as balloon safaris
- Walking safaris, Maasai village tours, Olduvai Gorge but these can be included if you wish
Can children go on safari?
Taking an African safari with your children can be a very rewarding experience, creating some unforgettable family memories. It will also instill respect in your children at an early age for our beautiful planet and the wildlife that inhabit it, which is a crucial factor for conservation efforts. Family safaris are an excellent opportunity for children to learn about wildlife and participate in cultural activities and interact with local children. We can tailor your safari to visit a local primary school or orphanage to see how other children live, learn and play. Please note that most safari lodges and camps are not fenced, and wildlife moves about freely. Never let a child out of your sight or wander around unattended under any circumstances. Please listen carefully to all safety briefings from your safari guide and lodge staff and follow instructions especially concerning moving to and from your tent/room after dark.
What if I have special needs or requirements?
If you have any special needs or requirements, please let us know when you book your safari. Whether its some equipment you need like binoculars or photography bean bags, wheelchair accessibility or allergy to specific foods, we can plan your itinerary accordingly.
What type of safari vehicles do you use?
All game drives are conducted using either 4-wheel drive extended Landcruiser which can accommodate up to six passengers. Each traveler is guaranteed a window seat. Some of our vehicles have WIFI which is available on your safari, but reception can be intermittent depending on the landscape. We have no mileage restrictions on game drives. For safety and communication, our vehicles are equipped with a long distance radio.
What are the road conditions like?
Be prepared for bumpy and rough road conditions during game drives and transfers within the national parks and conservation areas. The main roads to and from Arusha to Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Gate are entirely paved, but the trails within the national parks and conservation areas are not. Remember, traversing rough roads and tracks are a part of the excitement of the African game driving experience. If you suffer from back problems or other conditions which may be aggravated by driving long distances on rough roads, please let us know.
What type of accommodation do you use and what is the food like?
Our safaris are tailored to suit your preferences and budget and offer a wide choice of accommodation categories from standard, deluxe to luxury hotels, lodges, and tented camps. Each property will have its own unique character, and all of them are clean, comfortable and includes bathroom facilities.
Most meals on safari cater to western tastes, and some lodges also offer a sampling of local Tanzanian food. A vegetarian choice is typically available on every menu. We ask that you notify us of any special dietary requirements in advance of your safari.
Are there places to shop?
Tanzania offers a variety of locally handmade crafts such as exquisite wood carvings, masks, antiques, woven baskets, colorful Maasai beadwork, paintings, etc. and you will have plenty of opportunities to shop during your visit.
Many curio shops are located along the major roads heading to and from the national parks, most hotels, lodges, and camps have gift shops, and in Arusha there are multitudes of souvenir shops and markets to choose from, the largest and most famous being the Cultural Heritage and the Maasai Market located near the Clock Tower. Prices are negotiable at most curio shops and markets except Cultural Heritage and some hotel gift shops. The larger curio shops, hotel & lodge gift shops and Cultural Heritage accept major credit cards. Additionally, both the Kilimanjaro International Airport and Zanzibar International Airport also have gift shops that carry a good selection of items for your perusal while waiting for your flight.
If you are fond of gemstones and jewelry, then the rare and precious Tanzanite may be of interest to you. Tanzanite is a beautiful dark blue gemstone unique to Tanzania and only mined near Kilimanjaro Airport. If you are interested in purchasing Tanzanite, please let us know, and we will take you to visit a Tanzanite specialist for certified gemstones to ensure good quality and value.
Is electricity available 24 hours in the lodges and camps?
Most lodges and camps use generators for electricity, and many do not operate their generators 24 hours a day; the power may be turned off during the day when most clients are out game driving and again late at night. Please inquire at check-in as policies vary with each lodge or camp.
Electrical sockets in Tanzania are a three-square pin, same as in the United Kingdom and the electrical voltage is 220V.
Will my mobile/cellular phone work on safari?
There is mobile or cellular coverage in many areas of the national parks and conservation areas, but reception may be inconsistent, and network signals are weak. In the remote areas of the Northern and Western Serengeti, there are no signals. However, many of the lodges and camps will have a telephone or email access on the premises (for a fee) to communicate with friends and family back at home.
What kinds of clothes are recommended for safari?
Casual, comfortable and easy to wash clothes are recommended. The goal is to pack lightly as most lodges and camps will launder clothes for a small fee. Safaris are informal, and there is no need to dress up. Do plan to dress in layers so you can adjust to temperature changes as early morning game drives can be quite cold depending on the time of year while daytime temperatures can get quite warm. Stick to neutral or khaki colors and avoid wearing dark blue or black clothes as these colors tend to attract tsetse flies. Wide brimmed hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent are a necessity. After sunset, we recommend that you wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks and spray insect repellent to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Recommended safari clothing:
- T-shirts and tank tops
- Long-sleeved shirts (for protection from sunburns)
- Light long pants or convertible long-short pants
- Warm fleece pullover or jacket
- One swimsuit
- Cotton socks and underwear
- One pair of comfortable walking shoes
- One pair of sandals or flip-flops
- Wide-brimmed hat
- Bandana (for dust)
- Heavy sweater, gloves, and toque if traveling in the cold season (June – August)
Clothing for Zanzibar – Please dress modestly when sightseeing in Stone Town or visiting anywhere outside of the beach resorts in Zanzibar. Women should not wear sleeveless or revealing tops and short skirts or thigh-high shorts (Capri trousers or at least knee-length shorts are fine). Men should wear shirts, pants or knee-length shorts.
What are some other items to pack?
- Plane tickets
- Travel Insurance Policy & Emergency Contact Numbers
- Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate (if applicable)
- Safari itinerary
- U.S. dollars in large and small denominations ($20, $50 & $100 bills should be issued after 2005)
- Credit cards and ATM bank cards
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- Small flashlight or headlamp
- Insect/Mosquito repellent
- Eye drops and extra contact lenses or spare glasses (if applicable)
- Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer
- Tissue paper and small travel towel (washrooms in Tanzania often don’t have toilet paper or paper towels)
- Camera, extra memory cards, batteries, and charger, if applicable
- UK plug adapter and transformer/voltage converter, if applicable
- Ziplock bags for toiletries, camera equipment, snacks, etc.
- Personal toiletries
- Small first aid medical kit including Tylenol or ibuprofen, antimalarial pills, cold and allergy medicine, itch medication, band-aids, stomach ache remedy, antibiotic cream, diarrhea medicine, prescription antibiotic for travelers diarrhea (Ciprofloxacin) and any prescription medications.
We strongly recommend that you carry-on all important items such as prescription medication, camera equipment, essential toiletries (please keep in mind many airlines have liquid restrictions) and one or two changes of clothes in case of checked luggage delays or loss.
What time does an early morning game drive start?
For best sightings, we recommend that you leave the lodge or camp at 6:00 am sharp for early morning game drives. Many animals are most active in the early morning hours between 6:00 am to 9:00 am. Your safari guide will arrange breakfast boxes with the lodges so that you can make the most of the early morning hours when game will be most active and lighting is best for photography.
Can I meet and interact with the local people?
We can include a variety of activities which will allow you to meet with local people to appreciate their culture and tradition. From a Maasai village tour to a visit to a local primary school and orphanage or shopping at a local market, these activities can easily be incorporated into your itinerary.
Are the wild animals dangerous?
Always follow the instruction of your safari guide. Many of the wildlife may seem harmless and almost tame, especially those that have been habituated to safari vehicles in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater but they are wild animals and potentially extremely dangerous.
Most of the safari lodges and camps are not fenced, and wildlife moves freely about. Please follow all safety instructions provided by the lodge or camp regarding walking to and from your room/tent after dark. If you have young children, do not let them out of your sight or wander alone under any circumstances.
You are responsible for your own safety, if you are unsure of anything, please do not hesitate to ask your safari guide or lodge/camp staff.
How bad are the tsetse flies?
Tsetse flies are present in Tarangire National Park and also in the Western Serengeti and some parts of the Northern Serengeti. The plains of the Southern and Eastern Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and southern Central Serengeti are tsetse free.
Tsetse fly bites are painful, and there are no effective insect repellents. When driving through tsetse-infested areas, close your windows and cover up wearing long sleeves and pants and avoid wearing dark blue or black as those colors seem to attract tsetse flies. Some people have allergic reactions to tsetse fly bites, and the bite area may become itchy and swell. Benadryl will help with the swelling and irritation.
The common fly will also be present on safari. They are harmless and do not bite and are more of an annoyance than anything else. If you notice a lot of flies around, it probably means the migration is nearby.
The mosquitoes which carry malaria are active in the evening, and we highly recommend you take precautionary measure even if you are taking anti-malaria medication by covering up well after sunset with long sleeves, pants, and sock and using mosquito repellent which contains Deet.
How dusty is it on safari?
Be prepared for dusty conditions. Even in the rainy/green season, the plains can dry up quickly, and the fine soil and the wind can cause dust problems. In the dry season, the conditions will be worse. We recommend that you bring a bandana. Cameras, video and other electronic equipment need to be protected from the dust, and we recommend bringing a camera bag that can be easily opened and completely sealed to protect against dust when the camera or video equipment are not being used.
How much should I tip on safari?
We feel that the gratuity system on safari is not only customary but to a certain degree obligatory. In Tanzania, a tip is not so much a bonus for particularly attentive service but rather a payment to supplement their base salary.
The majority of Tanzanians who work in the tourism industry support many extended family members through the tips they earn, common in African culture, so please consider it a way for you to kindly and generously give back to the local people.
Please see below for recommended tipping guidelines for your safari:
Safari Guide: $20 per person per day
Park Ranger or Maasai Guide For Walking Safaris: $20 per vehicle per walk
Maasai Village Visit: $20 per vehicle
Transfer driver in Arusha: $10 per vehicle
Porters/Baggage Handlers: $1 to $2 per bag
Lodge/Camp Staff: $10 per group per day using
tip box (read below)
At most safari lodges and camps, a tip box will be located in the reception area, and we recommend that you use the gratuity boxes rather than providing individual tips to the staff that directly assist you. There are many behind the scenes staff ensuring your pleasant stay (cooks, room attendants, housekeepers, security guards, etc.) and by using the gratuity box, your tip will be shared equally amongst all staff.