Tanzania has many large beautiful areas where wild animals roam freely. The highest density of wildlife occurs in the National Parks, of which there are 15. There are a number of other important wildlife areas. These are Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Selous Game Reserve and some smaller Game Reserves and Wildlife Management Areas along with other protected areas. All remain un-fenced to this day.
The most accessible tourist destinations are the Northern Parks. Safaris to the “northern circuit” mostly start from Arusha although there are connecting flights from Nairobi. Visitors fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Kenya. Most visit at least 3 parks during a one week (or longer) safari. Arusha and Kilimanjaro National Parks are popular with mountain climbers and hikers. Many visit just to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and head straight home again.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area has its own classification and is not a National Park. It is a mixed-use area where the Masai Community has a large presence. They inhabit all areas except the Crater itself. The Ngorongoro Crater is the most well known part of the conservation Area, and few visitors realize just how larger the whole conservation is.
- Gombe Stream
These parks are often combined with the northern and the southern parks. Most are easily accessed using scheduled flights from Arusha and Dar Es Salaam. These parks are prized for their remoteness, offering a sense of true wilderness. For this reason, they are often sold as a must visit for “returning Safari enthusiasts.”
- Selous Game Reserve – (photographic blocks)
The Southern parks tend to be accessed mostly by air from Dar Es Salaam. A relatively small (but still very large) portion of the vast Selous Game Reserve is dedicated to photographic tourism. The remainder (south of the Rufiji River) is allocated for Tourist Hunting. Most “southern circuit” safaris visit Selous and Ruaha, with a few travelers also including Mikumi and Udzungwa in their itineraries.
- Rubondo Island
The “off circuit”parks tend to be difficult to combine with other parks, and therefore seldom visited. Visitors to these areas enjoy a great deal of privacy, but also a generally lower density of wildlife than seen in most of the other parks. These are unique areas that have been conserved and they have only limited accommodation options available.