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4 Off the Beaten Path National Parks in Tanzania

When planning a trip to Tanzania, there are certain places which are high on everyone’s list to visit. Serengeti National park is by far the most famous, followed by the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and Tarangire National Park, but where should you go if you want to get away from the hoards of tourists on safari and experience the untouched natural beauty of Africa? Here’s a list of 4 off the beaten path National Parks in Tanzania which offer pure unspoiled nature, and a one-of-a-kind adventure for those drawn to the wild unknown.

Mahale Mountain National Park

Mahale Mountain National Park is home to a unique spectacle, Africa’s most studied populations of wild chimpanzees. But that doesn’t mean that Mahale Mountain is easy to get to. During the peak tourist season here (June to October) you can reach the park by road from Arusha which usually takes 2 – 3 days depending on the conditions of the road which vary from 4-wheel accessible to impassable during the rainy season. Alternatively, you can take the train which departs 2 – 3 times a week from Dar es Salaam and takes 2 or 3 days. You can also hire a private aircraft to take you from Arusha and arrive in a brisk 3 hours. Anyway you come though, the experience of being amongst the wild chimpanzees with views over the jungle to the Congo are worth it.

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Photo by Nils Rinaldi

Photo by Richard Toller
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Photo By Richard Toller

Katavi National Park

Despite being Tanzania’s 3rd largest national park, Katavi National Park is one of it’s least visited due to it’s remoteness. Here you’ll witness the true unspoiled thrill of Africa as it’s been throughout the centuries with herds of elephants, buffalo, zebra, and giraffes all descending on the Katuma river, the only source of water here during the dry season (May – October). The true spectacle, however, lies in the muddy banks of the river where up to 200 hippos at a time take refuge and compete for mating rights. To get here you can charter a flight from Dar es Salaam or Arusha, or drive from Mbeye (550km/340m) but you should allow yourself plenty of time to do so.

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Photo By Josh Ardle

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Photo By Tobias Brixen

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Photo By Nils Rinaldi

Udzungwa Mountains National Park

This forested national park is the largest and most bio-diverse in a chain of a dozen large forested mountains known as the Eastern-Arc Mountains. Udzungwa Mountains National Park isn’t your typical game-viewing park, but a Mecca for hikers, and trekkers. The most popular of it’s many winding rainforest trails is the half-day trek to Sanje Waterfall, and impressive 170 meter (550 ft.) plunge to the forest valley below. Over 400 different bird species inhabit the park, 4 of which can only be found in this small region, making this the perfect spot for a bird-watching excursion. The park can be reach via a 2-hour drive from Dar es Salaam, and camping is available. It’s possible to go year-round, but the dry season lasts from June to October, although you should expect rain at any time.

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Photo by Marc Veraart

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Photo by Marc Veraart

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Photo by Marc Veraart

Mafia Marine Park 

Our last gem isn’t hidden in the rainforest or plains of mainland Africa, but 160km south of Zanzibar. Mafia Island is a relatively unknown archipelago off the Rufiji River Delta boasting some of the best marine life in all of the Indian Ocean. Over 50 species of coral, 460 species of fish, and 5 different species of turtle have been recorded around Chole Bay. Additionally the island contains flying foxes, sygmy shrews, monkeys, squirrels, and a monitor lizard named Kenge. Here you can take part in a variety of water sports including sailing, windsurfing, SCUBA or snorkeling, and even swim with the whale sharks that visit a few times a year. image001 4 Off the Beaten Path National Parks in Tanzania Mafia Island whale shark 1 4 Off the Beaten Path National Parks in TanzaniaIf you would like to visit any of these off-the-beaten-path national parks in Tanzania, get in contact with us at Nature Bound Africa, and we will be happy to set you up with a custom itinerary to the parks of your choice for an African adventure like no other.

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