Arusha National Park

Size: 325 sq. miles (137 sq. km.) Best Time to Visit: July – March

Arusha National Park is one of the most easily accessible of north-eastern Tanzania. Situated between the peaks of Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro (less than an hour’s drive from Kilimanjaro airport and only 20 minutes from the city of Arusha itself) the park is home to many varieties of smaller game as well as giraffe, elephant, leopard, hippo, colobus monkey, water buffalo, bushbuck, and over 400 species of birdlife.

The views of Mt. Kilimanjaro are breathtaking but it is Mt. Meru that dominates the park. Excursions can be made to Meru’s summit (with an armed ranger because of the animals) and it is a popular “practice” run for those whose destination is the peak of Kilimanjaro. Although not as high as Kilimanjaro, the view from Meru’s peak is spectacular and includes a magnificent crater and eruption cone. The hike itself traverses a variety of landscapes including plains, forest and lava desert. For the less ambitious, Arusha National Park is one of the few parks where a walking safari is possible (also with an armed ranger). Walking safaris can be as short or as long as desired..

The slopes and summit of Meru are only one type of protected habitat in the park, others include the Momela Lakes region and the Ngurdoto Crater, all of which afford spectacular views of the African countryside and wildlife. The lakes are very salty and the animals do not use them for drinking but the high mineral content gives each lake a different colour and each supports a unique array of insect and bird life. The Ngurdoto crater, which measures nearly two miles across, remains undisturbed by humans. The views from the rim are magnificent and a variety of wildlife can be spotted grazing on the crater floor.

For those on safari, one of the unique aspects of the Arusha area is its dense population. It is possible to experience Africa as its modern inhabitants do by visiting one of the local communities that has initiated grassroots tourism. You’ll be charmed by the authentic African meals, songs and the hospitality of Mama Anna as she demonstrates her cheese-making techniques. You may also be able to purchase coffee – and even help roast and grind it using traditional methods! For a small fee, breakfast lunch and/or dinner can be provided.
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Accommodation

Moivaro Coffee Plantation Lodge

Built on a former coffee plantation, the Moivaro Lodge (link) features individual thatched cabins, beautiful gardens and a large colonial style verandah that can’t be beat for relaxing with a cool drink after a long day or breakfasting in anticipation of one. Moivaro has nature trails on the grounds and is optimally located near Arusha and Kilimanjaro airport.

Mountain Village

Similar to Moivaro, although somewhat older, the Mountain Village Lodge offers individual cabins and fantastic views. Nature walks can be arranged and the hotel is located near Arusha town and Kilimanjaro airport.

Novotel Mt. Meru

The Novotel at Mt. Meru is a large, western-style 1960’s hotel just at the edge of Arusha town. The Novotel is a pick-up point for shuttles to and from Nairobi and is slightly more central to the town and airport than the above-mentioned lodges.

Mountain Village

Similar to Moivaro, although somewhat older, the Mountain Village Lodge offers individual cabins and fantastic views. Nature walks can be arranged and the hotel is located near Arusha town and Kilimanjaro airport.

Dik-Dik

Named for the smallest of the African antelope, the dik-dik is a newer hotel, centrally located and features 18 double suites all with modern amenities. Typical east African flora can be viewed throughout the grounds.
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Mikumi National Park

Size: 3,200 sq. km. Best time to visit: Anytime

Mikumi National Park is one of the largest and most accessible parks in Tanzania (appx. four hour drive from Dar es Salaam) and is often a destination for students of ecology and conservation.

A variety of wildlife inhabits the park including giraffe, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, eland, elephant, python, and the little-seen tree-climbing lions. African hunting dogs, which have become rare throughout the continent, can also be seen mainly in the southern end of the floodplains.

The landscape is dominated by open grasslands; at the northern end of the floodplains some areas remain swampy year-round. These swampy areas are separated by hard ridges that remain relatively dry and treeless. Swamp life includes monitor lizards that grow up to 6 feet (2 meters) long, frog-eaters and other types of large waterfowl.

The elephants in the area are small but have caused some areas of the park (including that surrounding the park headquarters) to become increasingly open through their taste for the Sclerocarya tree. The elephants like the fruits so much that they will shake and push the trees when there is no fruit to be found on the ground.
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Accommodation

Mikumi Wildlife Camp

Situated near the main park entrance, Mikumi Wildlife Camp has stone-built African cottages, spacious bedrooms, bathrooms with showers and verandahs with beautiful views.

Hotel Oasis

Located in Morogoro town, this mid-sized tourist hotel features 37 comfortably furnished rooms (link). All rooms are ensuite with bathrooms, telephones and televisions. The restaurant offers Indian, Chinese and Tanzanian cuisine.
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Ruaha National Park

Size: 12,950 sq. km. Best time to visit: Anytime

Located in central Tanzania, Ruaha is less accessible than many other parks and largely untouched by human interference; It has only recently been developed for tourism and its unbroken peace is one of its main attractions. It is home to over 350 species of birds that are not found in northern Tanzania and attracts photographers with its spectacular gorges and massive baobab trees.

Ruaha is home to over 8,000 head of elephant as well as Lion, African Hunting Dog, Hippo, Crocodile, Ostrich, Cheetah, Gazelle and a large Leopard population. The Mwagusi and Mdonya Sand Rivers are dry rivers of sand for most of the year, but in the rainy season they turn into tributaries of the Ruaha River. The area is home to hundreds of different animal types and makes for a wonderful safari.

The Tragedy of Poaching

The animals of Ruaha have been particularly damaged by illegal poaching. In 1973 the elephant census reached 25,000 but today only 8,000 remain. The rhinoceros has disappeared from the area completely. Other parks in Africa have similar problems that are often due to an impoverished local population who seek not only the valuable horns, hides, and tusks, but who in some areas hunt for food in protected areas. The tragedy of poaching endangers the livelihood of the African people both by eradicating species that are used to sustain local human populations and by diminishing the potential for income through the tourist trade.
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Accommodation

Ruaha River Lodge

Overlooking the mighty Ruaha River, the lodge is designed to complement the environment, allowing guests to feel right at home in the midst of the African wilds. Inspired by the African ‘bandas’, the individual cabins, built from local stone and thatch offer a great place to relax and observe the animals.

Mwagusi Camp

Located inside the Ruaha Park boundaries on the banks of the mighty sand river, the Mwagusi Camp (link) offers 16 beds with ensuite bathrooms and hot showers. The architecture is inspired by traditional African ‘bandas.’

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Selous Game Reserve

Size: 55,500 sq. km. Best time to visit: July-Oct.

Selous Game Reserve is the largest protected wildlife area not only in Africa, but in the world. It is an awe-inspiring African experience to visit this area, larger than the country of Switzerland and home to thousands of different species of wildlife, insects and plants.

One can view the wildlife by land, by water and by air. Boat safaris can be taken on the Rufiji River and visitors can take a cruise on Lake Tagalala. Meandering though the channels and rivers by boat is a unique way to experience the wilds of Selous and one may be lucky enough to catch some elephants bathing. Hot springs in a hidden ravine near Lake Tagalala have created a picturesque group of sulphur pools surrounded by lush greenery; one can soak in the pools but bathing in the Lake is not permitted because of crocodiles. The area is also rich in large wildlife such as zebra, wildebeest and lions.

Stiegler’s Gorge is another magnificent feature of the park and the boldest visitors might even decide to brave the cable-car trip across the river. Other areas of the park include hilly woodlands, wetlands, swamps and canopy forest. To describe the gigantic park in its entirety would be impossible, not surprisingly, visiting the area requires several days to soak up the grand surroundings and witness all that Selous has to offer. Mikumi National Park, just to the north, is more easily accessible and is also part of the Selous ecosystem but the experience is not nearly the same.

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Accommodation

Rufiji River Camp

Located in the north-eastern part of the Selous Game Reserve overlooking the Rufiji River, the tented camp accommodates guests in 20 comfortable tents. Each tent has ensuite bathroom facilities and a veranda facing the river.

Selous Safari Camp (formerly Mbuyuni Tented Camp)

Here you can sleep under canvas tents in the bush with all the modern comforts you would expect at a standard hotel.

Sand Rivers

Private cabins, stunning views of the Rufigi river and an excellent staff are only a few of the amenities to be enjoyed at Sand Rivers.
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Nairobi National Park

Size: 117 sq. km. Best time to visit: Anytime

The park is home to black rhino, buffalo, eland, Maasai giraffe, plain’s zebra, wildebeest, coke’s hartebeest, Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelles, impala, waterbuck, bushbuck, warthog, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, jackal civet and genet.

Over 400 species of birds have been recorded as well. The park is unfenced to the south and migratory animals move in and out according to the seasons. The park serves as a sanctuary for black rhino, which provides a certain opportunity of seeing the rhino in its natural habitat. Over 50 rhino have been moved to the park from areas where they were endangered by poaching.

Nairobi Animal Orphanage

At the main gate of the park, the Nairobi Animal Orphanage provides a safe home and upbringing for baby animals orphaned by poachers or other disasters. The orphanage only allows viewing for an hour a day while the animals are being fed. These orphans are not zoo animals; once they have matured, the babies will be reintroduced into the wild.

Karen Blixen Museum

Made famous by her autobiographical Out of Africa – also an academy award winning film – Karen Blixen‘s stay in colonial Kenya was a constant adventure. Her love of the country and its people is now world-famous and her house, which has been made into a museum, can be visited on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Giraffe Manor

Giraffe Manor (link), a rambling stone residence built in 1932, has become a haven for the endangered Rothschild giraffe. The giraffes roam about the grounds freely (along with a few resident warthogs) and guests at the manor can feed them through the windows and doors of the building. Adjacent to the manor is the giraffe sanctuary, where anyone is welcome to pat, feed and even kiss the giraffes!
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Accommodation

Giraffe Manor

Guests at Giraffe Manor (link)can pet and feed the Rothschild giraffes that wander freely about the grounds. These giraffes are part of the adjacent giraffe sanctuary (on Giraffe Manor grounds) but are by no means the only reason to stay at the Manor. The resident owners of the rambling stone manor, Jock and Bryony, will welcome you as their guests and you’ll enjoy the finest cuisine and most comfortable lodgings in their home. The location is just a few miles outside of downtown Nairobi.

Ngong House

A truly unique and luxurious lodging, Ngong House is located on the land once cultivated by Karen Blixen. Guests stay in one of five wooden houses raised on stilts with views of the misty Ngong Hills and the surrounding countryside. Gourmet cuisine may be served in the main dining room or under the trees in the open air. There is also a further bedroom within the original house.

Grand Regency

A brand new, elegant Western-style hotel in the city centre, the Grand Regency is a favourite among heads of state and other important visitors to the city. An all-weather pool, conference rooms and exquisite cuisine ensure that no Western comforts will be missed during your stay.

The Norfolk

One of the original colonial hotels, the Norfolk has been visited by many a famous historical figure. Luxuriously decorated and beautifully maintained, the hotel offers all the modern amenities of a world-class hotel in an historical setting right in the heart of Nairobi.

The New Stanley

Like the Norfolk, the New Stanley (link) is one of Nairobi’s original hotels that has been maintained impeccably and now offers all the modern amenities as well as a charming atmosphere and ideal location.

Nairobi Serena

Another of the finest hotels in Nairobi, this is the flagship of Serena hotels. With colour TVs in every room, a beautiful pool area, lush gardens, and international cuisine the Serena Nairobi is definitely a luxury accommodation.

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Tsavo National Park

Size: 20,800 sq. km. Best time to visit: July-Sept.

The mammoth Tsavo National park is actually comprised of two parks: Tsavo East and Tsavo West. Tsavo West is more accessible and less arid and therefore enjoys more popularity. There are only two rivers in this vast area and drought has been a problem for the Tsavo ecosystems.

Tsavo West

Thousands of elephant and many rhinoceros inhabit the park as well as many lions – although none have proved worthy of their ancestors “man-eating” reputation. Other predators include cheetah, leopard, serval, hyena and caracal. The oasis of Mzima is a natural wonder that attracts wildlife of every variety. Clear, cool waters feed the pool from underground streams; these springs also provide Mombasa with most of its water supply. Not far from the springs, the lights of Ngulia Lodge attract thousands of migrant birds that are captured, ringed and released. Truly a birder’s delight.

Tsavo East

Only a small part of the larger east park is open to human intrusion, the rest remains an absolutely wild and undisturbed home for many African animals. In the areas where tourism is permitted one may view sunbathing crocodiles, one of the worlds longest (extinct) lava flows, and beautiful falls.

The number of elephant and Rhino killed by poachers in the Tsavo area – a number that reached into the thousands just 15 years ago – has been reduced to 0 in recent years.

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Accommodation

Ol Donyo Wuas

Ol Donyo Wuas (Maasai for “spotted hill”) (link) is comprised of a main building and 6 cottages – 3 of which are double units suitable for families – all with open fireplace, verandah with panoramic views, electricity and private bathroom with toilets and heated showers. Nature walks, cave walks and horse-back riding are just a sample of the available activities.

Ziwani Tented Camp

Located in view of Mt. Kilimanjaro, between the famous Amboseli game reserve and Tsavo West Game Park, Ziwani can accommodate up to 40 guests in private tents under thatched roofs. Each tent includes bathroom facilities and a private verandah.

Salt Lick Hilton Safari Lodge

Built on stilts overlooking a waterhole, the lodge features 96 guest rooms and an opportunity to view many different animals as they come to drink. Camel rides and regional entertainment can be arranged.

Taita Hills Safari Lodge

Located in the Taita Hills at the edge of Tsavo National Park, this lodge has 60 guest rooms and two suites with private bathroom and shower and panoramic views of the hotel’s own wildlife sanctuary. The lodge also offers swimming, mini-golf and camel riding.

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