The Top Underrated Safari Parks in Tanzania Beyond the Serengeti

Tanzania is renowned for its incredible wildlife and stunning landscapes, attracting travelers from around the globe. While the Serengeti often takes the spotlight, there are many other safari parks in Tanzania that offer equally mesmerizing experiences.

These hidden gems are perfect for those looking to venture off the beaten path and discover the country’s rich biodiversity in more intimate settings. Let’s explore the best safari parks in Tanzania beyond the Serengeti, each with its unique attractions and unforgettable adventures.

1. Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park, located in northern Tanzania, offers a unique safari experience. Known for its large elephant herds, ancient baobab trees, and seasonal swamps, this park is a must-visit for wildlife enthusiasts.

Key Attractions

Elephant Herds

Tarangire boasts one of the largest elephant populations in Tanzania. Visitors often see herds numbering in the hundreds. This sight is especially impressive during the dry season (June to October) when elephants gather around the Tarangire River.

Ancient Baobab Trees

The landscape is dotted with majestic baobab trees. These trees, some over a thousand years old, provide a stunning backdrop for wildlife photography.

Seasonal Swamps

The park’s swamps attract various animals, including buffalo, wildebeest, and zebra. Birdwatchers will appreciate the diversity, with over 550 species recorded.

Unique Experiences

Bird Watching

With over 550 bird species, Tarangire is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Look for the colorful yellow-collared lovebird, the peculiar-looking ostrich, and the giant kingfisher.

Walking Safaris

Walking safaris offer a chance to explore the park on foot. These guided tours provide a closer look at the flora and fauna, allowing visitors to experience the bush in a more intimate way.

Night Game Drives

Night game drives reveal a different side of Tarangire. Spot nocturnal animals like leopards, porcupines, and bush babies. This unique experience offers a thrilling adventure under the African night sky.

Best Time to Visit and Lodging

Best Time to Visit

The dry season (June to October) is the best time to visit. Animals congregate around water sources, making them easier to spot. 

The wet season (November to May) brings lush landscapes and fewer tourists, but animals are more dispersed.

Recommended Lodges and Camps

Stay at Tarangire Safari Lodge for breathtaking views of the park and excellent service. 

Another great option is Oliver’s Camp, offering luxurious tents and guided walking safaris.

Practical Tips

  • Remember to carry binoculars for bird watching. 
  • Light clothing and comfortable walking shoes are essential for exploring the park. 
  • Don’t forget your camera to capture the incredible wildlife and landscapes.

By visiting Tarangire National Park, travelers can enjoy a rich variety of wildlife and unique safari experiences. This park offers a peaceful and less crowded alternative to the more famous Serengeti, ensuring a memorable adventure.

2. Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park is Tanzania’s largest national park, offering vast, unspoiled wilderness. It is a prime destination for those seeking an authentic safari experience with diverse wildlife and stunning landscapes.

Diverse Wildlife

Predators and Prey

Ruaha is known for its large population of lions, leopards, and cheetahs. The park also hosts significant numbers of elephants, giraffes, and various antelope species. The interactions between predators and prey provide thrilling wildlife sightings.


Bird enthusiasts will find Ruaha particularly rewarding. Over 570 species have been recorded, including the vibrant lilac-breasted roller and the striking fish eagle.

Scenic Landscapes

Rocky Outcrops

The park features dramatic rocky outcrops, known locally as kopjes. These formations offer excellent vantage points for viewing wildlife and capturing stunning photographs.

Baobab Forests

Ruaha’s landscape is dotted with ancient baobab trees, which provide a picturesque setting for a safari. These iconic trees add a unique charm to the park’s scenery.

Great Ruaha River

The Great Ruaha River is the park’s lifeline, attracting a variety of animals to its banks. Hippos and crocodiles are commonly seen here, along with thirsty herds of elephants and other wildlife.

Visitor Tips

Remote and Less Crowded

Ruaha’s remote location means fewer tourists, allowing for a more intimate and tranquil safari experience. This seclusion makes it ideal for those who want to avoid crowded parks.

Ideal for True Wilderness Experience

The park’s vast wilderness offers opportunities for extended game drives and walking safaris, which provide a deeper connection with the environment and its inhabitants.

Best Time to Visit and Lodging

Best Time to Visit

The dry season (June to October) is the optimal time for wildlife viewing. Animals gather around the few remaining water sources, making sightings more frequent. 

The wet season (November to May) offers lush landscapes and vibrant birdlife but can make animal spotting more challenging.

Recommended Lodges and Camps

Jongomero Camp offers a luxurious and secluded experience with tented suites overlooking the seasonal Jongomero River

Another excellent option is Ruaha River Lodge, providing comfortable accommodations with stunning views of the Great Ruaha River.

Practical Tips

  • Pack light, breathable clothing and sturdy walking shoes for comfort during game drives and walking safaris. 
  • Don’t forget your camera and binoculars to capture the diverse wildlife and scenic landscapes.

Exploring Ruaha National Park offers an unparalleled safari experience with its diverse wildlife, dramatic landscapes, and tranquil setting. This park provides a perfect escape into the heart of Tanzania’s wilderness.

3. Selous Game Reserve (Nyerere National Park)

Selous Game Reserve, now known as Nyerere National Park, is one of Africa’s largest protected areas. Spanning over 50,000 square kilometers, it offers a diverse and rich safari experience. 

Wildlife Highlights

African Wild Dogs

Selous is renowned for its significant population of African wild dogs. These elusive predators are a rare sight in most parks but thrive here.

Hippos and Crocodiles

The Rufiji River, which flows through the reserve, is home to large numbers of hippos and crocodiles. Visitors can often see these creatures basking along the riverbanks.

Unique Activities

Boat Safaris

Boat safaris on the Rufiji River offer a unique perspective on the park’s wildlife. These tours provide opportunities to see aquatic animals and birds up close.

Walking Safaris

Walking safaris allow visitors to explore the reserve on foot, offering a more intimate experience with the environment. Guides share insights on tracking animals and understanding the ecosystem.

Fly Camping

For a truly immersive experience, fly camping in Selous lets you sleep under the stars in the heart of the wilderness. This activity is perfect for adventurous travelers looking for a deeper connection with nature.

Travel Tips


Selous is relatively easy to access by air, with flights available from Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, and other major locations. Charter flights land at airstrips within the reserve, making it a convenient destination for travelers.

Accommodation Options

There are various lodges and camps within Selous that cater to different budgets and preferences.

Recommended Lodges and Camps: 

Serena Mivumo River Lodge offers luxury suites with stunning views of the Rufiji River. 

Sand Rivers Selous provides a blend of comfort and adventure with its open-fronted cottages and guided activities.

Best Visiting Seasons

Dry Season (June to October): The dry season is the best time to visit Selous for wildlife viewing. Animals gather around water sources, making sightings more frequent and predictable.

Wet Season (November to May): While the wet season brings lush landscapes and abundant birdlife, some areas may become inaccessible due to heavy rains. However, it’s a great time for birdwatching and seeing newborn animals.

Practical Tips

  • Pack light, breathable clothing suitable for both hot days and cooler nights. 
  • Comfortable walking shoes are essential for safaris. 
  • Don’t forget insect repellent, sunscreen, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.

Visiting Selous Game Reserve offers a diverse range of activities and wildlife experiences. Its vast landscapes and rich biodiversity make it a standout destination for those looking to explore beyond the usual safari circuits in Tanzania.

4. Katavi National Park

Katavi National Park is one of Tanzania’s most remote and least visited parks, offering an untouched wilderness experience. With vast floodplains, dense woodlands, and diverse wildlife, it’s a hidden gem for adventurous travelers.

Wildlife Sightings

Buffalo Herds

Katavi is famous for its massive buffalo herds, sometimes numbering in the thousands. These impressive gatherings create a dramatic spectacle, especially during the dry season.

Hippos and Crocodiles

The park’s rivers and lakes are home to large populations of hippos and crocodiles. During the dry season, hundreds of hippos can be seen crowding the remaining water pools.

Distinct Features

Seasonal Floodplains

The park’s main attraction is the seasonal floodplains, such as the Katuma River floodplain. During the dry season, these floodplains become a lifeline for wildlife, attracting a variety of animals.

Miombo Woodlands

The miombo woodlands, a type of savanna ecosystem, cover large parts of Katavi. These woodlands are home to unique species and provide a different safari experience compared to open plains.

Wild Rivers

Katavi’s rivers, particularly the Katuma and Kapapa, offer scenic views and are crucial for the park’s ecology. These rivers attract animals, especially during the dry season.

Travel Considerations

Limited Infrastructure

Katavi’s remoteness means it has fewer facilities compared to more popular parks. This limited infrastructure ensures a more exclusive and uninterrupted safari experience.

Ideal for Adventurous Travelers

Due to its remote location and challenging access, Katavi is ideal for seasoned safari-goers looking for a raw and authentic experience. The park’s isolation ensures that visitors often have wildlife sightings to themselves.

Best Time to Visit and Lodging

Best Time to Visit

The dry season (June to October) is the best time to visit Katavi. Wildlife concentrates around water sources, making sightings more predictable and rewarding. 

The wet season (November to May) transforms the park with lush greenery but can make travel more challenging.

Recommended Lodges and Camps

Katavi Wildlife Camp offers comfortable tented accommodations with excellent views of the floodplains. 

Another great option is Chada Katavi, which provides an intimate safari experience with stylish tents and guided activities.

Practical Tips

  • Pack lightweight clothing, sturdy boots, and plenty of insect repellent. 
  • A good camera and binoculars are essential for capturing and enjoying the abundant wildlife.

Exploring Katavi National Park offers a rare opportunity to experience Tanzania’s wilderness in its most pristine form. With its dramatic landscapes and abundant wildlife, Katavi is a perfect destination for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure.

5. Mikumi National Park

Mikumi National Park, located in southern Tanzania, is an accessible and diverse safari destination. It offers a rich array of wildlife, stunning landscapes, and excellent opportunities for both novice and seasoned safari-goers.

Key Wildlife

Giraffes, Elephants, and Zebras

Mikumi is home to significant populations of giraffes, elephants, and zebras. These animals are frequently seen grazing on the open plains, providing excellent photo opportunities.


The park also hosts lions, leopards, and hyenas. Visitors often spot these predators during game drives, especially in the early morning or late afternoon.

Bird Species

Birdwatchers will enjoy Mikumi’s diverse avian life, with over 400 species recorded. Look for the colorful lilac-breasted roller, bateleur eagle, and various stork species.

Unique Attractions

Mkata Floodplain

The Mkata Floodplain is the heart of Mikumi. This vast, open area is a hotspot for wildlife, making it an excellent location for game drives.

Uluguru Mountains

The Uluguru Mountains provide a scenic backdrop to the park’s northern border. These mountains are a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts.

Visitor Information

Proximity to Dar es Salaam

Mikumi’s proximity to Dar es Salaam makes it an ideal safari destination for those short on time. It’s a convenient option for weekend getaways or short excursions.

Accommodation Options

The park offers a range of accommodations to suit different budgets. 

Vuma Hills Tented Camp provides comfortable, mid-range lodgings with stunning views. 

For a more luxurious stay, Stanley’s Kopje offers spacious tents with elevated views over the plains.

Best Time to Visit

Dry Season (June to October): The dry season is the best time for wildlife viewing in Mikumi. Animals congregate around water sources, making them easier to spot. The weather is also more predictable during this period.

Wet Season (November to May): While the park is lush and green during the wet season, some areas may be harder to access due to rains. However, it’s a great time for birdwatching and seeing newborn animals.

Practical Tips

  • Pack light, breathable clothing and comfortable shoes for game drives and walking safaris. 
  • Don’t forget your camera, binoculars, and plenty of sunscreen.

Mikumi National Park is a diverse and accessible safari destination. With its rich wildlife, stunning landscapes, and convenient location, it offers a memorable experience for all types of travelers.

6. Udzungwa Mountains National Park

Udzungwa Mountains National Park, known as Tanzania’s “Galapagos,” is a biodiversity hotspot and hiking paradise. This park offers unique wildlife, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural experiences.

Biodiversity Hotspot

Endemic Species

Udzungwa is home to several species found nowhere else in the world. These include the Udzungwa red colobus monkey and the Sanje mangabey.


The park is renowned for its primate diversity, with 11 species recorded. In addition to the red colobus and Sanje mangabey, visitors can see the Angolan black-and-white colobus and the vervet monkey.

Hiking Paradise

Hiking Trails

Udzungwa offers several hiking trails that cater to different fitness levels. The popular Sanje Waterfalls Trail takes hikers through lush forests to a stunning 170-meter waterfall.

Spectacular Waterfalls

One of the park’s highlights is the Sanje Waterfalls, which offer breathtaking views and refreshing pools for swimming. This spot is perfect for photography and nature lovers.

Bird Watching

Diverse Birdlife

With over 400 bird species, Udzungwa is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Look for the Rufous-winged sunbird, the forest partridge, and the Udzungwa forest thrush.

Cultural Experiences

Local Communities

Visitors can engage with local communities and learn about their traditions. The park is near several villages where travelers can experience local culture, crafts, and cuisine.

Practical Information


Udzungwa is accessible by road from Dar es Salaam, making it a convenient destination for travelers. The drive offers scenic views of the Tanzanian countryside.

Accommodation Options

The park offers various accommodation options, from budget campsites to mid-range lodges. Hondo Hondo Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp provides comfortable tents and excellent service.

Another great choice is Udzungwa Falls Lodge, offering modern amenities and easy access to hiking trails.

Best Time to Visit

Dry Season (June to October): The dry season is ideal for hiking and wildlife viewing. The trails are more accessible, and the weather is generally favorable. 

wet season (November to May): The wet season brings lush vegetation and is excellent for birdwatching but may make some trails muddy and challenging.

Practical Tips

  • Pack sturdy hiking boots, light clothing, and a waterproof jacket. 
  • Bring binoculars for birdwatching and a camera to capture the stunning scenery. 
  • Don’t forget insect repellent and sunscreen.

Udzungwa Mountains National Park offers an unparalleled combination of biodiversity, stunning landscapes, and cultural richness. It’s an excellent destination for those seeking adventure, nature, and cultural immersion in Tanzania.

7. Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Mountains National Park, located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, offers a remote and stunning wilderness experience. Known for its chimpanzee population and beautiful landscapes, it’s a must-visit for nature lovers and adventurers.

Chimpanzee Tracking

Chimpanzee Population

Mahale is one of the best places in the world to see wild chimpanzees. The park is home to the Mimikire clan, with about 1,000 individuals. Guided treks allow visitors to observe these fascinating primates in their natural habitat.

Unique Experience

Chimpanzee tracking in Mahale involves hiking through lush forests, which provides a chance to see other wildlife and unique plant species. Treks can last several hours and offer an immersive experience.

Diverse Birdlife

Bird Watching

With over 350 bird species, Mahale is a birdwatcher’s paradise. 

Notable species include: 

  • the giant kingfisher 
  • the African fish eagle 
  • various colorful bee-eaters.

Scenic Landscapes

Lake Tanganyika

The crystal-clear waters of Lake Tanganyika offer a stunning backdrop to Mahale. The lake is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking, providing a refreshing break from trekking.

Forest and Mountains

The park’s landscape is a mix of dense forests and dramatic mountains. The Mahale Mountains rise steeply from the lake, offering breathtaking views and challenging hiking opportunities.

Unique Experiences

Boat Safaris

Explore the park’s coastline and see hippos, crocodiles, and a variety of bird species. Boat safaris offer a different perspective on the park’s rich wildlife and stunning scenery.

Forest Walks

Guided forest walks provide an opportunity to learn about the park’s diverse flora and fauna. These walks are perfect for those interested in botany and smaller wildlife.

Travel Tips

Remote Location

Mahale is remote, accessible primarily by boat or charter flight. This seclusion makes it an exclusive destination, offering a true escape into nature.

Accommodation Options

Greystoke Mahale offers luxury bandas with stunning views of the lake and mountains. 

Another excellent option is Kungwe Beach Lodge, which provides comfortable tents and a range of activities.

Best Time to Visit

Dry Season (June to October): The dry season is the best time for chimpanzee tracking. The trails are drier, and the chimps are easier to find. 

Wet season (November to May): The wet season brings lush greenery and fewer visitors but can make trekking more challenging.

Practical Tips

  • Pack lightweight, breathable clothing, sturdy hiking boots, and a waterproof jacket. 
  • Bring binoculars and a camera to capture the wildlife and landscapes. 
  • Don’t forget insect repellent and sunscreen.

Mahale Mountains National Park offers a unique blend of wildlife, adventure, and stunning scenery. It’s an ideal destination for those looking to experience Tanzania’s natural beauty in a remote and pristine setting.

Parks Beyond the Serengeti

Exploring Tanzania’s lesser-known safari parks offers an unforgettable adventure filled with diverse wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and unique experiences. From the vast herds of elephants in Tarangire to the remote wilderness of Katavi, each park presents a different facet of Tanzania’s rich natural heritage. These hidden gems provide a more intimate and exclusive safari experience, away from the crowds of the Serengeti.

Time to embark on an extraordinary safari journey beyond the Serengeti! Book your adventure today and discover the hidden treasures of Tanzania’s diverse parks. Whether you’re tracking chimpanzees in Mahale, hiking through the lush forests of Udzungwa, or marveling at the vast buffalo herds in Katavi, these parks offer experiences that will leave you in awe.

Explore our recommended lodges, camps, and guided tours to plan your perfect safari.

The information provided in this article was accurate at the time of publication. However, it's important to note that dates, times, fees, and other related details are subject to change without prior notice. We will always make every effort to update the information whenever possible.

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