After seeing the Wildebeest Migration and all five of the Big 5 on your must-see list, it’s time for something completely different. Tanzania’s off-the-beaten-track routes lead to unique locations that are ideal for seasoned safari travellers or adventurous first-timers seeking an unconventional introduction to Africa. Here are some of Tanzania’s best-kept secrets that you shouldn’t miss.
1. The Last Great Wilderness is Nyerere National Park, formerly known as Selous.
How about a reserve the size of Switzerland with an annual visitor count that is roughly 1% of the size of Tanzania? While parts of Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous) are off-limits, the enormous area that is accessible to tourists is breathtakingly gorgeous and, from a gaming perspective, highly rewarding.
The densest concentrations of buffalo, hippo, wild dogs, and lions in Africa, as well as one-tenth of the continent’s elephants, may all be found in Nyerere. A few remote fly-in resorts provide riverboat safaris, guided nature walks, and game drives in addition to game drives.
2. Mahale is The Mountain Retreat.
Mahale Mountains National Park is another off-the-beaten-path location in Tanzania. It guards the mountains covered in a rainforest that drops to Lake Tanganyika’s echoing shoreline and is only reachable by boat.
When you stand at the edge of the forest, overwhelmed by the grandeur of the scene, a cacophony of strange calls breaks out from the jungle. Mahale, which is home to a dozen different primate species, is famous for its guided chimpanzee trekking, but with only a few thousand visitors each year, you could prefer to simply enjoy the quiet seclusion of this natural location.
Go fishing, observe birds and butterflies, relax on the lake’s footprint-free beaches, or hike into the cathedral-like forest to get up close and personal with wild chimpanzees, the closest surviving relatives of humans.
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3. Katavi and Ruaha: Hidden Savannahs
Both Katavi (a national park that you’ve probably never heard of) and Ruaha are equally off the beaten road and only get a small portion of the annual number of tourists that flock to the Serengeti.
Both are huge, rolling savannah parks with thriving populations of big cats, elephants, and other heavyweight species. Both are strong competitors for the prized title of “Best-kept Secret” in Tanzania.
The game viewing is excellent, the scenery is breathtaking, and the parks still have a genuinely wild atmosphere. Before the secret is out, fly in and see them right away. Each park contains a few opulent lodges that are typically located adjacent to waterways for convenient armchair game viewing.
4. Mafia: Unknown Island
Zanzibar is arguably the most well-known island off the coast of Tanzania, yet Mafia Island has long managed to go under people’s notice. This well-known island in the Indian Ocean, which is 200 kilometres (124 miles) south of Zanzibar, boasts a wonderfully tranquil tropical atmosphere. The Mafia Island Marine Park, one of the top dive locations in the world, is located there, making it the ideal location to fulfil your castaway fantasies.
On Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, is the unspoiled gem known as Rubondo Island National Park. ‘Noah’s Ark’ is the moniker given to it in recognition of the remarkable natural riches it offers.
The island’s interior forests and woodlands are sanctuaries for chimpanzees, monkeys, rhinos, giraffes, and elephants, while its shoreline is home to large populations of hippos and crocodiles. The papyrus swamp in the centre of Rubondo is home to more than 200 different bird species, about 70 different butterfly species, and 40 different orchid species. Definitely a hidden paradise.