The whole point of a safari is to see animals in the wild, right? If you’re planning your safari and wondering what Tanzania animals you’re going to see this post breaks it all down in simple terms.
While there are some animals you see on a safari, guaranteed (like wildebeests in the Serengeti, or zebras in Ngorongoro Crater), other Tanzania animals (like leopards or cheetahs) are much more elusive and you may need to venture out at a specific time or travel to a certain area in order to increase your chances of spotting these beautiful big cats.
Africa’s Big Five
During your safari (or even just during your Tanzania safari planning!) you’re sure to see and hear about “Africa’s Big Five animals – what are they?
Historically, these are the five most dangerous animals to hunt on foot in Africa. However, as time has passed and hunting of these majestic creatures becomes increasingly discouraged, the understanding has shifted. Now, Africa’s Big Five represents the continent’s five most dangerous large mammals, and the photography collection safari-goers hope to “bag” during their tour of Tanzania.
The five animals are: Buffalo, Rhino, Elephant, Leopard and Lion. During a great safari you are likely to see four or even all five of the Big Five to photograph and frame on your wall.
Cape Buffalo are massive creatures that spend their time either cooling down in muddy swamps or hiding in overgrowth.
While they usually keep to themselves, if a buffalo feels threatened – it will charge and those great horns are no joke!
The buffalo in Tanzania are called “Cape Buffalo” sometimes confused with “water buffalo” which are native to India, and not found in the wild in Africa.
Best place to see Cape Buffalo:
Visitors can see and walk near Cape Buffalo in Arusha National Park. You’ll also see them in Serengeti National Park and the remote Katavi National Park.
The black rhinoceros is an endangered animal that is having a healthy come-back under the protection of certain areas of Tanzania.
The Black Rhino has strong links to prehistoric animals and maintains a fierce sense of territory. They are generally solitary creatures, except for mating, making them even more difficult to see up close.
One look at the immense and sharp horn will explain why the rhino is on the list of Africa’s Big Five.
Best place to see Black Rhinos:
Mkomazi National Park is a small national park approximately 1 hr from Moshi town that has a black rhino sanctuary where guests can drive through and get very close to black rhinos living in their natural habitat.
Other locations to view Black Rhinos include Ngorongoro Crater, which is estimated to be home to as many as 20 wild black rhinos within the crater itself, and Serengeti National Park, which has approximately 70 rhinos spread about the large park area.
While no Tanzania animals list would be complete without mentioning the world’s largest mammal – the elephant. These mighty creatures are also incredibly dangerous if provoked.
Adult elephants are fiercely protective of their young and will charge and trample anything that they feel is a threat to their babies.
On the contrary, a herd of happy, content elephants is one of the most beautiful things to witness, and really invokes a healthy perspective of the natural balance of nature.
Every safari-goer to Tanzania should have the chance to witness these mighty animals in the wild.
Best place to see African Elephants:
Tarangire National Park has the largest number of elephants in East Africa, sightings of elephants are practically guaranteed at this location.
Other places you will likely see these gentle giants include Ruaha National Park, Serengeti National Park and Lake Manyara National Park.
Elephants do reside in Ngorongoro Crater, too, but are sometimes harder to spot.
Lions may be Africa’s most notorious animal; a symbol of power and of pride. These kings of the jungle are obviously also one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. Thankfully, it’s quite common to see lions on a Tanzania safari, whether they are lounging in the sun in Ngorongoro Crater or hunting in the Serengeti.
Best place to see Lions:
When it comes to “guaranteed animals you see on safari”, lions are almost a sure bet to see in Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National parks. In the Serengeti, some years back, the lion prides became so large that some had to be reduced, with lions relocated to other areas.
Similarly, the resident lions of Ngorongoro Crater have no need to leave the crater, with a regular buffet available. You’re sure to see them relaxing in the grass during a game drive.
Also look for the tree-climbing lions of Manyara National Park, an interesting and intimidating sight!
The leopard is one of the most beautiful – and deadly – creatures in Tanzania, however, they are also great hunters and good at keeping themselves hidden. As nocturnal animals, they are more difficult to spot during the day.
On the Tanzania animals list for the Big Five, a leopard is the most difficult one to see (or get a photo of). If you’re lucky enough to snap a shot of a leopard, you’re probably going to score bragging rights!
Best place to see Leopards:
While it’s not guaranteed, some of the more likely places to witness a leopard are in Serengeti National Park, especially following the migration during dry seasons, where they will find easy prey.
Visitors might consider booking a night safari drive (which can be arranged in a wilderness area just outside of the national parks by Altezza Travel) to increase the chances of witnessing an African Leopard on safari.
More Tanzania Animals List:
Tanzania animals of the savannah
Apart from the famous “Big Five” there is so much more wildlife in Tanzania to see in the savannahs and grasslands of Tanzania.
Some of the animals you can expect to see include:
- Wild dogs
- Serval cats
- Just to name a few!
Tanzania animals in the rainforest
While many travelers imagine all safaris in Tanzania occur in the grasslands, there are lots of tropical rainforests and wooded areas in Tanzania, too.
Animals in Tanzania safari beyond the savannah include:
Many types of primates:
- Colobus monkeys
- Blue monkeys
- Spider monkeys
- Bush babies
- Chimpanzees (if you visit Gombe Stream National Park)
- African civet
Famous Birds of Tanzania
Tanzania is one of the best places in the world to see all kinds of birds. Some parks, such as the Serengeti, are home to well over 500 different species of birds. Across the entire nation, Tanzania has over 1000 different species of birds, over 20 of those are found only in Tanzania and no where else.
Tanzania is also home to both the largest bird (the ostrich) and the largest flying bird (Kori Bustard) in the world!
Some of the most famous birds in Tanzania include;
- Bee eater
- Superb Starling
- Ashy Starling (endemic to Tanzania)
- Loveridge’s Sunbird (Tanzania is the only location where they are found in the wild)
- Weaver bird
- Kori Bustard
- Crowned Crane
- Tawny Eagle
- African Fish Eagle
A visit to Tanzania usually includes some impressive waterbodies; whether that’s the Grumeti River in Sergengeti, Lake Magadi or Lake Manyara, visitors are sure to see some awesome wildlife around the water.
Wildlife in Tanzania’s lakes and rivers include:
- Crocodiles (not in all rivers, but especially in northern Serengeti and Nyerere National Park)
- Flamingoes – which are counted in the thousands in Tanzania’s northern lakes
- Elephants love to play in water, too!
What national park to choose for your Tanzanian safari?
Which park to choose? No, no – the better question is which circuit to choose to see the maximum number of animals in Tanzania?
Don’t limit yourself to only one – or even two national parks to view animals on safari in Tanzania.
Choose instead an itinerary based on number of days and try to visit several parks within either the northern circuit or the southern circuit.
Popular northern circuit routes include:
- Serengeti National Park
- Ngorongoro Crater
- Tarangire National Park
- And Manyara National Park, depending on the number of days
This itinerary would allow you an ideal chance to spot:
Elephants, lions, wildebeests, zebras, black rhinos, hippos, giraffes, many species of birds (including flamingoes), just to name a few!
This itinerary can be custom-designed by Altezza travel, based on the number of days you have and the animals you are most keen to see.
Popular Southern Circuit Routes include:
- Ruaha National Park
- Nyerere National Park
While these two very large parks are quite remote and definitely provide a sense of wilderness for the adventure-seeker. Travelers who are short on time can consider using a charter flight to fly in and out, thus saving lots of travel-time.
Some of the top animals to view on a southern-circuit safari include:
Lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, kudus, wild dogs, leopards (which are slightly easier to see in Ruaha National Park) and crocodiles.