As one of the largest and most beautiful countries in Africa, Tanzania is home to a plethora incredible attractions, with the most popular being its national parks. From the extremely remote to those more abuzz with tourists, there is a safari destination for everyone.

Tanzania is home to some of the most famous safari parks in the world like Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, but there is far more on offer in the country than just these titanic destinations.

Each of the national parks on this list offers its own set of unique attractions and reasons why you should visit them on your trip to Tanzania!

How many national parks are in Tanzania?

East Africa is a true heavyweight when it comes to wildlife and national parks. Tanzania in particular, is home to many exceptional national parks and protected areas. So many that it can actually be quite overwhelming trying to narrow down the best areas to visit.

To help guide you plan your African travel itinerary, we’ve shortlisted are the 12 most beautiful national parks in Tanzania.

The 12 Best National Parks of Tanzania

1. Serengeti National Park

With its name originating from the Maasai word ‘sringet’ meaning ‘a place where the land goes on forever’, the Serengeti National Park is one of the oldest and most famous national park in Africa.

Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the national park every year, to witness Africa at its most wild as the Serengeti plays a part in The Great Migration, which is arguably the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth.

12 beautiful national parks in tanzania

Often the location chosen for wildlife films and documentaries, the Serengeti supports the largest concentration of predators in Africa. Sightings of lion, hyena and cheetah are extremely common. Thanks to the vast, open topography and the presence of expansive grasslands and plains, the Serengeti is one of the best places to observe Cheetahs hunting in the wild. The park is also home to over 500 bird species, including Ostrich.

The best time to visit the Serengeti is between June and July as this is when the migration begins to move north and the chances of witnessing this gruesome yet spectacular fight for survival are the highest.

2. Ngorongoro Crater National Park

The culmination of expansive plains, savannah grasslands, woodlands and the world’s largest caldera, Ngorongoro National Park has been of the premier wildlife destinations in Tanzania since it was established in 1959. The Ngorongoro Crater came into being after a historic volcanic explosion.

The property, which forms part of the Serengeti, has immense global importance for biodiversity conservation thanks to the presence of a vast number of threatened species, the density of wildlife in the area, and the role it plays in the annual great migration on its northern plains. Archaeological research has also yielded evidence of human evolution, including early hominid footprints dating back 3.6 million years.

12 Beautiful National Parks In Tanzania

Ngorongoro national park offers epic photographic opportunities, with large herds gathering in their thousands and the predators who follow them frequenting the lands and showing off against the dramatic backdrops of the volcanic craters.

The park is a multiple land use area, with wildlife coexisting alongside native tribes of Maasai people who practice subsistence farming and livestock grazing within the crater.

3. Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania and one of the best places on the continent to see migrating elephants and tree-climbing lions.

The dry season sees herds of up to 10,000 elephants migrating through the park, in search of water along the Tarangire river, which is the regions only water source during this time of year.

Far less crowded than most other national parks in Tanzania, perhaps because it is not situated along the traditional safari route, Tarangire offers exceptional wildlife viewing all year round. Large herds of buffalo and giraffe are common and a variety of rare species such as: the fringe-eared oryx, greater kudu and Ashy Starling – all of which can be seen nowhere else in Tanzania.

The elephants aren’t the only giants to look out for in Tarangire, the park is home to a high concentration of colossal baobab trees and large termite mounds, which together create a fairytale like landscape.

4. Lake Manyara National Park

Often referred to as a mini Serengeti, Lake Manyara National Park is very small as far as wilderness areas go, and most of the area is covered by the lake itself (approximately one third). However small it may be, the park still hosts 11 different ecosystems and an abundance of wildlife.

Predator sightings are scarce in Lake Manyara, but it is one of the best national parks in Tanzania to see the tree-climbing lions that are so synonymous with the country. Spending the warm afternoons, lazing away in the shade, its not uncommon to see and entire pride of lions resting on the branches of the same tree.

12 Beautiful National Parks In Tanzania

The groundwater forest surroundings of the lake offers a varied landscape from the harsh African savannah, and wherever there is water, you’ll find a high density of large mammals, and Lake Manyara is known for intimate sightings with large herds of elephants, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra and giraffe.

The lake and surrounding marshes are a haven for hippo, large flocks of flamingos and around 300 species of migratory bird.

5. Selous Game Reserve

Relatively unknown and not technically a national park, Selous Game Reserve is the largest national reserve in Africa and also represents the largest uninhabited area on the continent. It goes without saying that wherever there is a lot of space and hardly any people, there will be a high density of animals and that is most definitely the case at Selous.

The reserve is home to all of the Big Five and an array of wildlife in extraordinary numbers. Its estimated that the region is home to around 120,000 buffalo, 4,000 lions and thousands of migrating elephants.

12 Beautiful National Parks In Tanzania

Here you’ll also see cheetah, leopard, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, hyena and maybe even black rhino or African wild dog, with around 50% of their remaining population found in Selous Game Reserve.

Located in southern Tanzania, far from the crowds of the country’s northern safari circuit, visitors will find a much quieter and more authentic African bush experience at Selous.

The Rufiji River is the heartbeat of the reserve, and with a massive network of tributaries and waterways, acts as the main water source for hundreds of thousands of animals.

Boat safaris along the river are a great way to spot some of the 40,000 resident hippos and the huge population of crocodiles.