Exclusive Tanzania Wildlife Destinations You Must Visit

Tanzania is one of the most visited wildlife destinations in East Africa. The country’s size gives it an advantage of a large area size for wildlife no wonder it has some of the highest wildlife concentrations in the region. East Africa in general is a great place to visit but destination Tanzania stands out. It is highly recommended for those seeking exclusive wildlife destinations and adventures. Let us briefly look at the major exclusive wildlife destinations you must not miss out while on a visit to this beautiful country.

Lions in Selous Game Reserve Tanzania. Tanzania Wildlife destinations
Lions in Selous Game Reserve Tanzania. Courtesy Photo

The Selous

Selous game reserve also known as Nyerere national park is Tanzania’s leading exclusive wildlife destination. The park is located in the remote southern part and is also Tanzania’s and Africa largest protected area with a land area of 19,000 square kilometers. Selous has a number of wildlife species including giraffes, elephants, hippos, wild dogs, buffaloes, greater Kudus, elands and over 440 bird species. There is also unique vegetation species of the Miombo woodlands including baobab trees. It is from this basis that the park was listed among the world heritage sites by UNESCO.

Much as the biggest part of the park is used as a hunting area, about 8% of it is strictly for tourism and hunting in the tourism area is prohibited. Here adventure tourist especially wildlife photographers get to capture best moments in the park. The location of the park makes it not easily accessed by Many tourists and it therefore among the less crowded places in Tanzania. Unlike mass tourism experienced in parks like Serengeti, a safari in Nyerere national park is totally exclusive. The park can be best explored while on game drives and guided walking safaris.

The dry season from June to October is the best time to visit Selous game reserve. Here major game drive trails are dry easy to maneuver and the short grass makes it easy to spot wildlife. During the dry season some of the animals can be seen along River Rufigi as they take water. If you are seeking for exclusive wildlife safaris in Tanzania ensure to have sells as your number one destination.

The Ngorongoro Crater

This is world’s largest unfilled volcanic caldera with 610 meters deep and a floor of 260 square kilometers. It is also listed among the World heritage sites and it is one of Africa’s natural wonders. The crater is an attraction it self but has many other attractions including the various relief features within the crater. These include Rivers, lakes, vegetation varieties like forests, woodlands, grasslands all of whom are habitats to a number of wildlife species.

Notable wildlife seen on game drives on the crater floor include waterbucks, lions, elephants, rhinos, buffaloes, wildebeest and many bird species. The Ngorongoro crater being a natural enclosure makes it one of the exclusive wildlife destinations in Tanzania. It also offers a wide range of activities that once can engage in including birding, game drives, nature walks among others.

Just like many other wildlife destinations in Tanzania, the best time to visit the crater is during the dry season. Here there are minimal rainfall disturbances and game drives can easily be executed with easy wildlife viewing. The wet season from November to May is also a good time to visit and with the rains the number of guests reduce. The wet season is also a time the migratory birds from Europe set in and is the best time for birding.

Much as Uganda’s Kibale national park and Nyungwe forest Rwanda are most famous for chimpanzees, Tanzania’s Gombe national park is another beautiful chimpanzee trekking destination. The park is located near lake Tanganyika in the rugged mountainous forested landscapes that are not only home to chimpanzees but also other primates and birds.

Gombe national park has a number of steep valleys with streams. There is also a waterfall that can be seen while on a guided nature walk in this forested national park. Chimpanzee trekking is the most commonly done wildlife activity here. The chimpanzees here were made famous by Jane Goodall who started her research In the early 1960’s and has done a tremendous job in primate conservation not only in Tanzania.

The park can be mainly explored on foot on the guided primate treks, natures walks in the forest or along the shores of Lake Tanganyika Africa’s deepest lake. For exclusive primate trekking in Tanzania and East Africa in general visiting Gombe national park would be great.

Ruaha is Tanzania’s second largest national park also located in the southern part. The park covers a land area of 7,809 square kilometers and also home to a variety of wildlife species. The four of the big five mammals occur here namely elephants, buffaloes, lions and leopards. Ruaha is also a great place to see Africa’s predators and big cats. It is the best places to see lions as prides of over 20 individuals are seen in the park.

Giraffes, hippos, zebras and over 450 bird species also occur in the park and all these can be seen on game drives and guided walks. Hot air ballon safaris are incredible offering great panoramic views of the parks wildlife. The park Is totally exclusive with limited accommodation facilities. Wildlife safaris here are very classic and undisturbed best for honeymooners and those who prefer their peace and quiet.

The park can be accessed by both road and air transport though air transport is the most convenient one. The road transfer from Dar-es-salaam takes about 10 hours drive with en route stop overs for photography and a lunch break. Incase you do not want this long drive you can have a stopover at Mukumi national park for an adventure and then proceed to Ruaha the next day. Since air transport is costly the road transfer would be an option and very rewarding in terms of adventure.

Ruaha is undoubtedly one of Tanzania’s most exclusive wildlife destinations and can be visited throughout the year. For better wildlife experiences though you can visit in the dry season from May to October.

Why You should Track Mountain gorillas In Uganda

Mountain Gorillas are primates species that live in the forested mountains of Eastern Africa. They are among the rarest primates only found in three countries on the entire planet that are Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mountain Gorillas are listed endangered by the IUCN and their total population is estimated at only 1000 individuals in the wild. These live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in southwestern Uganda and in the Virunga massif a chain of dormant Volcanic mountains along the Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo border.

Mountain Gorillas are covered with thicker fur that enable them endure the cold temperatures of the region that fall below zero degrees. They are pure vegetarian and their diet mainly comprise of plant vegetation. They live in families headed by a dominant male gorilla called silverback. Some of the Mountain gorilla families have up to 20 individuals or more. Just like their name, mountain gorillas live in the mountainous areas. The elevation of Bwindi impenetrable forest for example ranges from 1,190 to 2,607 meters above sea level and that of the Virunga massif ranges from 2,400 to 4,507 meters above sea level.

A hike in the Virunga massif or Bwindi impenetrable forest offers an incredible encounter with the mountain gorillas. This experience has been described by many as a once in a life time experience. There are mainly Four mountain gorilla parks that include Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, Mgahinga gorilla and Bwindi impenetrable Forest national park in Uganda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo. Let us look at the main reasons why you should track mountain gorillas in Uganda of all the 3 gorilla trekking destinations in East Africa.

Mountain Gorillas Bwindi Uganda
A mountain Gorilla Family in Bwindi. Courtesy Photo.

Diverse Gorilla Trekking Ecosystems

Uganda is blessed with 2 mountain gorilla parks. Mgahinga gorilla park is part of the Virunga massif ecosystem encompassing 3 of the Virunga mountains. These include Mount Gahinga, Mount Sabyinyo and Mount Muhabura. These mountains are covered with light bamboo forests that transcends into an Albertine rift montane forest with heath and moorlands and an alpine zone at the higher altitudes of the mountains.

The light bamboo forests are homes to the mountain gorillas and many other mammals in the park. There is only one habituated mountain gorilla family in this park called Nyakagezi that offers intimate and exclusive gorilla trekking experiences. A mountain gorilla trek is more like that in the other Virunga massif parks offering a great and unique primate trekking experience.

Bwindi impenetrable forest national park on the other hand comprises of a number of hills with altitudes ranging from 1,190 to 2,607 meters above sea level. These are covered with a dense afromontane home a to a variety of wildlife species including mountain gorillas. The vegetation and relief of Bwindi is different from the Virunga massif including Mgahinga gorilla park.

Trekking gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest offers a completely unique gorilla trekking experience from that of the Virunga massif. The forest is a home to many other primates including colobus monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, chimpanzees some of which seen while gorilla trekking. There are many other mammals in the park like forest elephants, buffaloes, a number of birds among others. It is from this animal and plant life diversity that Bwindi was given a status of a world heritage site by UNESCO.

Uganda has the highest of the remaining mountain gorilla population. Over 450 mountain gorillas live in Bwindi impenetrable forest which is half of the entire population on the planet.

Bwindi impenetrable national park has four major sectors with 22 habituated gorilla families. They include Buhoma the northern sector of the park with 6 habituated families namely Rushegura, Habinyanja, Mubaare, Katwe, Binyindo and Muyambi familes. Ruhija is the eastern sector with Bitukura, Mukiiza, Kyaguriro and Oruzogo families. The southern sector has Rushaga with Bweza, Mishaya, Nshongi, Kutu, Mucunguzi, Busingye, Kahungye and Bikingi families. Also in the south is Nkuringo with Christmas, Nkuringo, Bushaho and Posho families. All these are open for gorilla trekking offering more chances of gorilla trekking and a unique wildlife experience in the park.

Mgahinga gorilla park’s only one habituated gorilla family also adds on the numbers to Uganda’s grand total. If you are therefore looking for the numbers of high chances then Uganda is the right place to track mountain gorillas.

Other primate experiences

The mountain gorilla parks in Uganda are not only homes to mountain gorillas but other primates. Mgahinga gorilla park for example is also home to the golden monkeys that are endemic to the Virunga massif. Mgahinga gorilla park is one of the few places where you can track both mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Just like their name, golden monkeys are covered with golden fur and also live in families of up to 20 individuals.  

You can arrange a golden monkey trek after your mountain gorilla trekking expedition. It also starts with an early morning briefing at the park headquarters from where you are led to the forest where you will meet the golden monkeys amidst sighting of other wildlife species especially birds.

 Bwindi impenetrable national park is a sanctuary for chimpanzee and colobus monkeys plus other primates. Much as trails to explore these primates are not fully developed you can spot some of them while on hikes to the gorillas. You can also take guided nature walks in the park where you will get to see a number of the primates.

Tracking gorillas in Uganda generally gives you an opportunity to to see a number of these primates and more wildlife species.

The mountain gorilla parks are surrounded by local communities where you can enjoy authentic community and cultural experiences. The Batwa trail in Mgahinga gorilla park is highly recommended as the Batwa take you back the forest demonstrating their hunting and gathering skills. There are also some Batwa communities near Bwindi impenetrable forest as well as the Bakiga. You can visit any of these communities after the gorilla trek to get to know more about the local people’s ways of life.

Best time to Visit

You can have a mountain gorilla trek in Uganda any time of the year but for best experiences it is better to visit in the dry season. This stretches from June to September and from December to March. During these months there is minimal rainfall disturbances which makes hiking through the different trails a little easy.

During the wet season you can still enjoy your gorilla trek in Uganda. It is also a great time for birding as migratory birds set in from as far as Europe.