Life in Tanzania moves with the seasons. As the Great Migration gets underway, take to the skies in a hot air balloon for a magical, slow moving view, watching the wildebeest spill over and swarm like ants across the Serengeti plains. A supporting cast of zebra and antelope joins the throng whilst the crocodiles wait patiently in rivers that have to be crossed in the push for pastures new. The astonishing Ngorongoro volcanic crater, the largest intact caldera in the world, is home to more abundant wildlife. Within its protective walls lies verdant vegetation that supports more than 25,000 animals including the rare black rhino – a safari destination without equal. Pink flamingos and tree-climbing lions lure visitors to Manyara National Park whilst in the south, Africa’s largest game reserve, the Selous, is filled with sparkling lagoons and riverine vegetation. And everywhere, beautiful secluded camps and residences – colonial farmsteads, enchanting cottages, luxuriant tree houses and lodges – with every desired comfort await to complete your luxury Tanzania holiday.
Tanzania’s dry season is from June to October, with the short rains expected in November/December and the long rains from March to May. The migration follows the rains in a clockwise route through the Serengeti – from January to March the herds are mainly in the grassy south, calving in February before migrating north from April, traversing the Western Corridor and Grumeti Reserve throughout May, June and July, heading towards Kenya and the northern Serengeti. They return south again from November.
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With its spicy meld of Indian, Arabic and European cultures, the mere mention of Zanzibar conjures up exotic images and awakens the senses. In the island’s capital, Stone Town, visit the Darajani spice market, watch the dhow builders at work and meander the town’s labyrinthine alleys to shop for antiques and carvings in the shops and bazaars. Off Mnemba Island – a tiny atoll off Zanzibar’s east coast which has been declared a marine conservation area – dugong and whale sharks feed in the limpid waters. Learn to dive for a chance to see them up close, or simply kayak and snorkel around the teeming reefs. Kite surfing and wind surfing are popular in the shallow waters off Pemba Island, still largely undeveloped and redolent with the scent of the cloves which are grown here. If all this action sounds like too much effort, take a scenic dhow cruise to a secluded beach to enjoy a romantic picnic or do absolutely nothing on a paradisiacal island beach.
Tanzania's biggest spectacle arrives in the form of the Great Migration, as over two million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles swarm like ants across the Serengeti’s plains. Try gliding over the Serengeti at dawn in a hot air balloon with a Champagne bush breakfast to follow, or share a lantern-lit bush picnic. At Serengeti Bushtops – one of Tanzania’s most luxurious camps – guests can enjoy a massage under the trees to the sound of the surrounding wildlife, with haute cuisine and fine wine always on the menu. Carnivores and plains game roam the 350,000 acres of the Grumeti Reserve, adjacent to the Serengeti’s Western Corridor. It’s a place to be at one with nature, to saddle up and join a horseback safari to visit some of the reserve’s most romantic and remote spots.
At 5,895 metres high it is classed in climbing parlance as ‘extreme’, but can be ascended via a choice of routes, varying in duration and level of difficulty. From Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the crater lip, the views are stupendous.
In the Ngorongoro Crater, home to the densest population of lion in the world, there’s the opportunity to track the prides as they roam the crater floor. The critically endangered black rhinoceros also dwells in the caldera along with zebra, eland and more, with leopard and elephant often sighted on the crater rim.
Bird watchers will thrill to the sight of the pink flamingos and pelicans that cover the alkaline waters of Lake Manyara, one of the country’s smallest but most diverse National Parks.