A lioness resting with her two cubs nuzzling next to her.

Tanzania’s wildlife: five amazing animals to see

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Home to Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania has a lot to boast about when it comes to wildlife and landscapes.

Situated in East Africa, with Uganda to the north and the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania brims with wildlife on both land and in water. With 21 national parks, one conservation area and three marine parks, Tanzania is hugely biodiverse and famed for having the largest population of lions in the world.

See flamingos at Lake Manyara

Hundreds of thousands of pink flamingos gather on the surface of Lake Manyara during Tanzania’s wet season, when the lake expands rapidly and becomes an essential meeting point for all kinds of wildlife. Expect to see plenty of bathing hippos and thirsty giraffes roaming around in what’s one of Tanzania’s wettest regions, but it’s the flamingos that truly steal the show. Gathering in such vast numbers, their brightly coloured feathers appear to turn the entire lake’s surface pink, creating the illusion of sunrise in the middle of the day.

A flock of pink flamingos drinking on the banks of a lake.
Flamingo. Photo by Zoosnow
Find chimpanzees at the Gombe Stream National Park

“Now we must redefine ‘tool’, redefine ‘man’ or accept chimpanzees as humans.” So said Louis Leakey, mentor to Jane Goodall, who travelled to the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania to study chimpanzee societies. She found that chimpanzees are capable of an array of human behaviours including hugging, kissing and tickling — and also use tools such as twigs to dig for ants and scoop honey out of beehives. Visitors can examine the fascinating lives of chimpanzees for themselves as part of a walking tour through the national park, where no roads have been built and local lodges and camps are available.

Spot leopards in the Serengeti National Park

At the heart of the Serengeti National Park lies Seronera, known as big cat city, one of the best places to spot the often secretive and solitary leopard. Visitors should check twice when in sight of a sausage tree, native to Tanzania and laden with long, sausage-shaped fruit. Concealed among the fruit may lie the tail of a snoozing leopard. These big cats seek refuge in the trees, and even haul their prey up there for some private dining time. Visitors are advised to approach with caution, especially if there are cubs around; otherwise, leopards are known for their placid demeanour, and are frequently found lounging in this river valley.

A leopard looks up aware he is being watched drinking from a lake.
Leopard. Photo by Udara Karunarathna
Watch lions at the Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater is a huge, mirage-like plain that was created when an ancient volcano erupted. In the wet season, a lake forms in its centre, making it a haven for wildlife, particularly lions. Here, generations of lion families compete for prey and space, and lounge in the sun-soaked grass. Local conservation groups have documented five different prides that patrol these areas. In 1962, numbers took a near fatal toll when heavy floods bought in a swarm of blood-sucking flies. Since then, thankfully, numbers have been on the rise again and cubs are a common sight.

Observe millions of zebra migrate across the Mara River

Zebras might not be top of visitors’ lists but seeing them during their mass migration is something truly awe-inspiring and quite unlike any other safari experience. Zebras team up with hordes of wildebeest, sometimes in numbers of up to two million, and start making their journey north into the Serengeti National Park, often with their calves chasing at their hoofs. To get there, where luscious feeding ground awaits, they must cross the Mara River and face the crocodiles who lurk under its surface. It’s a truly epic, and sometimes tragic, event.

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