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Monday, May 27, 2024

Bucket List of 15 Things to do on a Safari in Tanzania


Forget the nine-to-five and ditch the wifi – it’s time to reconnect with nature on an epic scale. Tanzania calls with the promise of heart-pounding encounters with cheetahs, majestic elephants, and a dazzling array of exotic birds. Take it from me, I’ve been on a Tanzanian safari not just once, but twice! Now, I’m talking bucket-list-worthy safari activities that will have you swapping spreadsheets for sightings of the Great Migration and more.

23 Safari Adventures You Can't Miss in Tanzania

Must-Do Things While on Safari in Tanzania

1. Take a Balloon Safari

Can you imagine viewing the vastness of Serengeti in a hot air balloon? Serengeti Balloon Safaris will have you floating high in the sky where you can witness wildlife from a completely different perspective. These hour-long adventures are perfect for experiencing the Great Migration, as they take place during the June-October window when the herds thunder across the plains. Depending on where you launch from within the Serengeti, you may even get an up-close view of the wildebeest and zebra!

Take a Balloon Safari

2. Spot Some Unique Birds

One of the most surprising things on my African safari was the incredible variety of birds that can be seen—there are over 1000 species! Some you may be able to spot are the Grey Crowned Crane, Malachite Kingfisher, Red-and-Yellow Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker. I had never understood why people would have bird watching on their hobby list until traveling to Tanzania.

TIP: you can get inspiration to create your own Tanzania bird bucket list: Birds of Tanzania

Bird in Tanzania
Bird Tanzania

3. Spot the Big Five

If you are traveling all the way to Africa for a safari there is little doubt that one of the things you will want to do is spot the Big Five, the five animals that are said to be the hardest to hunt on foot. This highly coveted group includes the African elephant, leopard, lion, Cape buffalo, and the ever so elusive rhino.

It took me two safaris to spot them all! You can read about my here: Spot the Big Five on an African Safari

Big Five African Elephant

4. Go Glamping

Welcome to Tanzania, where even the wild gets a touch of glam! Glamping epitomizes safari chic by blending a little rugged luxury with nature’s untamed beauty. Just picture sipping some bubbly under the stars, lounging in a plush tent and listening to the wildlife outside.. 

TIP: After a long, dusty day on safari in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, we were booked at Osupuko Camps for a night of glamping, and it was amazing! I had a similar experience at Ang’ata Tented Camp that was right in the middle of Tarangire National Park.

Read about my glamping experience: Go Glamping in the Center of Africa’s Serengeti


5. Meet the Maasai Tribes

During both my safaris with Shadows of Africa, we were taken to visit a Maasai tribe. They are known to live a semi-nomadic lifestyle, often taking residence near national game parks. Their traditions, customs, clothes and adobe huts in the middle of sparse fields have made them internationally known. And visiting is an absolute must-do!

Maasai People

You can read more about my experience here: Africa’s Maasai Tribe: The Culture & Traditions of The People

Maasai Huts
Maasai Annette

6. Go on a Game Drive

Game drives are the reason you go on a safari and it is like being in a real-life Nat Geo documentary, but way cooler. You bounce along in an open-air jeep, turning detective mode on to spot lions lounging, zebras racing, and maybe even a sneaky leopard. Keep your camera ready!

TIP: For a little extra epic experience you might want to see how many things you can check off my Safari Animal Bucket List!

Safari Game Drive

7. Stand in Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater is not only a great place to spot the Big Five and interact with the Maasai people, but you also have the opportunity to stand on the rim of a collapsed volcano (if your tour guide thinks it’s safe to do!). This massive caldera, the world’s largest inactive, intact one, is a staggering 610 meters (2,000 feet) deep and covers 260 square kilometers (100 square miles).

Warning: Make sure no animals are lurking close by and do it at your own risk.

Ngorongoro Crater Annette

8. Take a Hike

Tanzania offers hikes that are as rewarding as they are beautiful. Take on the ultimate challenge of scaling the “Roof of Africa,” Mt. Kilimanjaro, for an unforgettable 3-5 day journey through rainforests, moorlands, and finally, the snow-capped summit.

For a spectacular but less strenuous option, consider the Mount Meru ascent, nicknamed “Kilimanjaro’s little sister,” with incredible volcanic scenery. Craving something unique? The Materuni Waterfall hike takes you through lush coffee plantations to a cascading waterfall – perfect for a refreshing break.

TIP: Viator is a reputable company and you can book tours for all these hikes through them, check them out here:  Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru and Materuni Waterfall


9. Hear a Lion Roar

A safari bucket list would not be complete without hearing the bellowing roar of a lion. They may be roaring simply to communicate with other lions or it may be used to stun their prey making them an easier target. Either way, it’s cool!


10. See Hugging Zebras

While on safari there was a wild vision that never grew dull, the sight of zebras hugging. This sweet sight won’t be terribly difficult to spot, I got a glimpse of them in Serengeti, Ngorongoro, and Tarangire National Parks. Though this moment may be interpreted by humans as being nothing but tender, the zebras are technically not hugging, they are protecting each other from predators. Still adorable.

Huggin Zebras

11. See a Sausage Tree

This odd tree, that is also known as Kigelia Africana, has characteristically long fruit that dangles from the branches and looks similar to a sausage. This fruit can disguise the hanging tail of a leopard or lion that may be relaxing on one of the limbs.

See a Sausage Tree

12. Take a Helicopter Safari

The African savanna holds secrets unseen from the ground. Unveil them on a helicopter safari, an exclusive peek into hidden corners of Tanzania. Soar over active volcanoes, untouched wilderness filled with exotic wildlife, or ancient rock formations whispering forgotten stories. This isn’t your average safari, it’s a VIP pass to one of the best things to do on safari – and you’re in the front row with the best seat in the house!

Several reputable companies offer helicopter excursions, including Roaming Africa Tours, Legendary Expeditions, and andBeyond. These tours take you on breathtaking journeys over iconic locations like the Serengeti National Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve, and the Ngorongoro Crater.


13. Go on a Nighttime Game Drive

Not all safaris are sunshine and rainbows, some are filled with nighttime adventures. Hear the guttural roar of a lion echo in the darkness, or feel a shiver down your spine as a pair of glowing eyes pierces the night from the undergrowth. This isn’t for the faint of heart, but for those seeking an authentic, adrenaline-pumping safari experience, it’s unforgettable.


14. Go 4-Wheeling

Tanzania’s beauty extends far beyond the well-worn jeep tracks. Get your hands dirty (literally, dust happens) on a  fun ATV adventure. This isn’t just about the ride, it’s about getting up close and personal with the African landscape.

Imagine navigating dusty trails, maneuvering around termite mounds, and stopping whenever you fancy to capture that perfect photo of a majestic giraffe or a playful group of monkeys. 


15. Take a Water Safari

The heart of Tanzania beats not just on land, but also in its mighty rivers. Unveil a hidden world on a water safari, a journey into the lush ecosystems overflowing beneath the water’s surface.

Glide past pods of hippos submerged in the cool water of the Rufiji River in Selous Game Reserve, witness the graceful dance of crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks of Lake Manyara National Park, or explore the diverse wildlife of Saadani National Park along the Wami River. For a truly unique experience, boat across the vast Lake Tanganyika or canoe the serene Momella Lakes near Arusha National Park.


16. See an Epic Sunset

Every safari day deserves a proper send-off. On a Tanzanian adventure, that means witnessing a truly epic sunset. Picture being perched on a kopje (a small hill) overlooking the savanna, sipping on a refreshing drink (perhaps a local Tanzanian beer?) as the sky explodes with color. 


17. Spot a Rhino

Spotting an elephant, giraffe and wildebeest is practically a given on a safari (they’re everywhere!), but encountering a rhino? That’s a story for the grandkids! These prehistoric-looking giants are as rare as they are magnificent (there’s approximately 190 of them in Tanzania), their presence a powerful reminder of the wild beauty of Africa. With a bit of luck and a keen eye (guided by your expert ranger, of course!), you might catch a glimpse of a black rhino grazing in the grasslands, its thick hide a stark contrast to the golden hues of the savanna.

I didn’t see one on my first safari, but spotted a few on my second trip to Africa!

Spot a Rhino

18. Go on a Walking Safari

The savanna is a living classroom, and a walking safari is your chance to enroll in the most incredible course ever offered! A walking safari is a chance to learn how to identify animal tracks with your expert guide, get up close to the towering termite mounds, and witness the delicate balance of the ecosystem firsthand.

Go on a Walking Safari

19. Watch the Great Migration

The annual wildebeest migration is where herds of the animals migrate from Serengeti National Park to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve. With the number of wildebeest estimated at over 1 million, plus hundreds of thousands of other animals, this movement is powerful and the singular reason many travelers go on an African Safari.

Watch the Great Migration

More Information: Serengeti Wildebeest Migration month to month map

Watch the Great Migration

20. Spot a Kneeling Warthog

Warthogs are an easy find, but during my safaris I only saw one that was kneeling on its front legs. This position is used for eating grasses on the low ground, because their necks are short and legs are long. They have adapted nicely by creating calloused knee pads.

Spot a Kneeling Warthog

21. Stay in a Luxury Lodge

You’d never think that in the dusty savannah of Africa they’d have luxury lodges, but they do, and they are epic! 

Here are my favorites:

  • Olerai Lodge: Nestled in the heart of Arusha, Olerai Lodge exudes colonial charm amid lush tropical surroundings and local farmland. It was built in 2019, with comfortable rooms, African-inspired decor, and modern amenities like hot showers and mosquito nets. I loved the meals they served during my stay, especially the tomato appetizer (mind you, I usually hate tomatoes!), chicken with rosemary cream sauce with garlic potatoes, and caramel cream.
Olerai Lodge Arusha
  • Lake Manyara Kilimamoja Lodge: Located in Mto wa Mbu, this lodge seamlessly blends luxurious comfort with traditional African design, offering breathtaking views of mountains and lakes to greet you each morning. The lodge itself has a dramatic design with high ceilings, unique furniture, and chandeliers. The bungalow room I stayed at was especially elegant, with multiple showers, a bathtub, a comfy bed, and a patio perfect for enjoying the sunset view. I recommend setting aside some time at the lodge to fully enjoy its offerings.
  • Ziwani Lodge: This next one is like finding an unexpected oasis in the remote wilderness, and that is just what happened during my African safari with Shadows of Africa. Situated atop an escarpment overlooking Lake Eyasi and Swift Valley in Northern Tanzania, Ziwani Lodge boasts a beautiful design, with 7 cottages resembling miniature castles and Moroccan decor.

Interestingly, the lodge is also eco-friendly, utilizing solar and wind power and avoiding plastic altogether, even using sugarcane utensils for picnics. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet the Hadzabe and Datoga tribes during your stay, as well as sleeping under the stars on its roof terraces.


22. Visit a Local Market

Looking for a unique souvenir that goes beyond a T-shirt or shot glass? Head to a local Tanzanian market and support the talented artisans who keep traditions alive. Browse through stalls overflowing with hand-woven baskets crafted from sustainable materials, or pick up a piece of intricately beaded jewelry made with generations-old techniques. 

Local Tanzanian Market

23. Visit the Lake Eyasi Hadzabe Bushmen

The shores of Lake Eyasi hold a secret – the Hadzabe tribe, one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer communities in Africa. Imagine stepping back in time and witnessing a way of life unchanged for thousands of years. The Hadzabe live in huts, hunt with bows and arrows, and eat what they catch. They even offered me a taste of their fresh kill – a baboon (which I politely declined.) The women beaded jewelry and made dolls, and I bought two dolls as souvenirs.

Lake Eyasi Hadzabe Bushmen

Forget about the mundane routines and immerse yourself in the epic saga of Tanzania’s safari activities. As someone who’s traversed the globe, I can attest: these are the real-life spectacles you can’t afford to miss! This adventure on the wild side will leave you forever changed, with a story to tell that’ll top any water cooler conversation. 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I earn a commission that helps to keep this blog running—at no extra cost to you. For more information read my full disclosure.

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