August 17, 2017

Tanzania Wildlife – What You’ll See on a Family Vacation

If there is one thing that Tanzania is famous for, and rightfully so, it’s the wildlife. Some of the most iconic and most recognizable animals in the world reside inside of Tanzania. Unlike other East African countries, Tanzania wildlife is concentrated and extremely well-protected; making the odds of showing your child their dream animal out in the wild very high. There’s a special feeling— a cocktail of emotions from excitement and wonder to disbelief and astonishment— that will come over you when you see a giraffe quizzically looking directly at you from no more than 20-yards away. That feeling will double when you see the uncontrollable joy of your kids going through the same emotions. There’s no better way to spend a family vacation. But as with any safari, the chances of seeing everything you want to see are never guaranteed. The best way to approach this family vacation is to have realistic expectations and understand that it’s all about trusting your guides, good timing, and a little bit of luck.

Tanzania wildlife: Elephant

An elephant spotted in Ngorongoro Crater

What Kind of Tanzania Wildlife Will You See?

While in Tanzania, it’s safe to say that you will see the following wildlife: giraffe, elephant, lion, wildebeest, Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, ostrich, hippopotamus, zebra, African buffalo, warthog, baboon, blue and black vervet monkey, impala, topi, bush buck, water buck.

These animals are abundant and roam freely in Tanzania so the guides know exactly where to find them. It’s more of a “when” as opposed to an “if” when it comes to seeing these animals! Monkeys will run around your hotel grounds in the same way a squirrel might. The giraffes, zebras, and wildebeest graze in the fields in the same way you might see deer in a field off to the side of the road. This is especially true at the Eastern Serengeti Nature Refuge where so many of our family trips stay. You might hear wildebeest, zebra, or even elephant browsing the low-growing brush or chewing the short grasses just outside your tent at night!  As far as lions, Tanzania has more than Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia combined, so it’s one of the last places on earth where a lion sighting is almost guaranteed. In fact, the chances are you’ll see about a dozen!

Tanzania Wildlife: Zebra

Zebras hanging out in Ngorongoro Crater

What Kind of Tanzania Wildlife Will You Probably See?

This next list is of animals that are a bit more elusive, thrive in isolated places, and are fewer in raw numbers: cheetah, leopard, hyena, and the black and white colobus monkey.

You can find leopards and hyenas in both Ngorongoro Crater and in the Serengeti, but they can be elusive. If you do come across a leopard, it’ll probably be asleep in a tree or resting on a rocky outcropping, being perfectly still to capture a nice photo! Cheetahs are also in the Serengeti, and they do a great job of hiding in tall grass, so catching one out in the open, unobstructed, is a real treat! The black and white colobus monkey is an awesome animal to see. One of the best places to see these monkeys jumping around the treetops is on Mt. Meru. Our Tanzania Active Safari, which includes a hike on Mt. Meru, provides one of the best chances to see them!

Tanzania Wildlife: Cheetah

A cheetah posing for a photo in the Serengeti!

What Kind of Tanzania Wildlife You Might See?

Some of the rarest things to see while on a wildlife viewing drive are rhinoceros, bat-eared fox, aardvark, a hunt, or a predator eating its prey.

The best chance at seeing a rhinoceros is in Ngorongoro Crater, and will likely be at a distance. Make sure to have some binoculars or a telephoto lens on your camera for a good view of these critically endangered and very shy animals.  The bat-eared fox and aardvark are hard to spot because they’re nocturnal, but they are really fun to see on a night drive! The possibility of seeing a successful hunt can be chalked up to good timing. Maybe you’ll see a lion or leopard hunt a gazelle, or a hyena or cheetah eating their prey. You never know what’s around the next corner, which is what makes a family safari so exciting, magical, and captivating!

Tanzania Wildlife: Blue veret monkey

A blue veret monkey cleaning their friend in Arusha National Park

No matter what types of Tanzania wildlife you see, you will not be disappointed by the spectacular wildlife on a family vacation to Tanzania!


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