Tanzania was by far the most varied of the countries I visited. It contains world class game parks, including Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ruaha and the Selous – all of which I visited – in addition to the famous Serengeti and Gombe Stream National Park (where Jane Goodall still continues her pioneering work with chimpanzees), places I did not visit. But Tanzania is also home to the highest mountain in Africa (Mount Kilimanjaro), the exotic island of Zanzibar, Lake Tanganyika, the Mahale Mountain chimpanzee area and much, much more. This page concentrates on the game parks (except for the Mahale Mountains, which is pretty well covered on the chimpanzee and Lake Tanganyika pages).
My favorite park in Africa – by far – was the Selous in the southern part of the country. The Selous is not as popular as the parks in the north, but it offers virtually everything people come to Africa to see. The rivers hold a rich variety of wildlife, such as hippos, crocodiles (the largest and most colorful that I saw in Africa) and a staggering assortment of waterfowl. But there is much more to the Selous than the rivers. Inland, there are dense woodlands and some open areas as well (though nothing that matches the vast grasslands of the north). On land, I saw wild dogs, elephants, zebra, wildebeest, impala, baboons and many other creatures. For bird enthusiasts, the Selous is heaven. Because of its location, the Selous is a merging point between the birds of east Africa and those of the south (serious birders will want books concentrating on both areas).
My enthusiasm for the Selous was further enhanced by my stay at the Mbuyuni Tented Camp. The sleeping tents were very comfortable with ensuite facilities and running water and the food was among the best of my trip. But what made the place particularly special were the managers Sal (Salvatore) and Mark, both of whom took it upon themselves to learn the name of every guest and to make sure that everyone's needs were taken care of. Another special feature of the camp was the resident elephants that would come through from time to time to shake fruit loose from the many trees. On several occasions, I had to take refuge in the bar and wait for a cantankerous elephant to leave the path. Mark suggested that they had trained the elephants so guests would spend more time in the bar. (For some reason, I didn't take any pictures of the Mbuyuni Camp – too much time in the bar, I guess).
Also in the southern part of Tanzania is the rarely visited Ruaha National Park. This parks, with its mountains and river valley, offers a landscape quite different from the other game parks I visited. While in the park, we saw elephants, lions (including one that had lost the battle with a buffalo), hyenas and many antelope. Many parts of the park, however, consist of very dense bush that makes game viewing difficult. While in Ruaha, I stayed at the Ruaha River Camp, which was OK but nothing special.
The parks of northern Tanzania are much more popular with travelers than those in the south. Any interesting sight is soon surrounded by a crowd of ten to fifteen minivans and Land Rovers. Nevertheless, there is much to see in these parks and a visit is well worthwhile. I was on a whirlwind five-day excursion through Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara National Park and Tarangire National Park. In retrospect, the parks deserved more time. When I return, however, I will try to avoid the month of July, which is notorious for overcast weather (though rain was never a problem in these parks) that shrouded the spectacular views for which Ngorongoro Crater is known.
For further information about these parks and the others I visited in Africa, go to the "Reviews of Game Parks" page. There are separate reviews for The Selous, Ruaha, the Mahale Mountains and the parks of northern Tanzania (Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara and Tarangire).
Related page: Zanzibar.