Where To Safari After Climbing Kilimanjaro

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Headshot of a zebra.
Close up animal encounters like this one are possible during safaris across Tanzania.

You’ve summited to the roof of Africa and now you want to relax while viewing game during a beautiful Tanzanian safari. Most people take this opportunity of a lifetime to visit the Serengeti for its epic scenery and wildlife. But what if you only have a couple of extra days to safari after climbing Kilimanjaro? Consider these three national parks in Tanzania for where to safari after climbing Kilimanjaro.

A herd of wildebeest in front of the wall around the Ngorongoro Crater.
Typical view from inside the Ngorongoro Crater.

Choosing Where To Safari After Climbing Kilimanjaro

Deciding on where to safari after climbing Kilimanjaro can be narrowed down by the distance you are able to travel before you depart Tanzania. Most trekkers are based in either Arusha or Moshi before and after their climb. Most climbers probably plan to safari in the Serengeti after their climb. I mean a Serengeti safari is the crown jewel of all safaris! A typical short Serengeti experience would require about 4 days. If you don’t have 4 or more days to add to the end of your Kilimanjaro adventure then I have the perfect suggestions for you!

A small herd of giraffe visible on a safari after climbing Kilimanjaro.
Giraffes were a typical sight in the Tarangire National Park.

1. Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania

A landscape photo ooh Lake Manyara on safari after climbing Kilimanjaro.
Flamingoes everywhere!

I’ll be honest that I was the least excited about Lake Manyara. Our two other stops had way more potential to be amazing so Lake Manyara was just an added bonus to our trip. I was literally stunned by the beauty of this park from the moment our safari vehicle past through the entrance.

History of Lake Manyara

Lake Manyara’s dramatic landscapes were created by a depression in the Rift Valley System thousands of years ago. The focal point of the park is its shallow alkaline lake that is fed mostly by underground springs. This area was previously used for sports hunting, but around 1960 it was dedicated as a National Park. Many animals travel between Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Park making it a perfect safari after climbing Kilimanjaro due to its proximity to Arusha and its high density of animals.

When to visit Lake Manyara

Like most parks located near Arusha, Lake Manyara seems to be a great option for wildlife viewing year round. June through September might offer better photo opportunities due to it being dry season. This park however, doesn’t seem to get as busy with tourists as the surrounding National Parks do. Consider adding Lake Manyara to your itinerary as a day trip if you are in the area or passing by.

Lake Manyara Highlights

Lake Manyara is obviously the highlight, but I think what appealed to me most was the vast differences in the terrain. The lake was sprinkled in pink flamingos and the rolling hills pulled the dramatic landscapes together.

Lake Manyara Wildlife

But what you’re really wondering about is the wildlife. Lake Manyara had a little bit of everything making it the perfect safari after climbing Kilimanjaro. Everything including zebra, hippos, elephants, cape buffalo and tons of birds were seen relaxing in the sun. But the main attraction was absolutely the “tree cats”.

The Best Part of Lake Manyara

Apparently, lions don’t usually sleep high up in trees. At Lake Manyara, however, lions do just that. It is thought that they climb high into the trees to avoid the tsetse flies. People come from all over the world to hopefully spot these snoozing tree cats and we were lucky enough to catch them during a cat nap on our safari!

A lion asleep in a tree while on safari after climbing Kilimanjaro.
The “famous” tree cats of Lake Manyara.

2. Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, Tanzania

A hippo wading in a pool of water.
The hippos were pretty active when we stopped by the hippo pool.

The park I was most looking forward to was the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area. With its unique landscape and history, the crater is a very special place. I had read all about the game viewing in this particular park and was most amped about the possibility of seeing a black rhino. The crater is definitely a must-see safari after climbing Kilimanjaro.

History of the Crater

This UNESCO World Heritage Site had naturally formed millions of years ago when a volcano erupted and collapsed onto itself. This eruption formed one of the world’s largest inactive, intact, and unfilled caldera. The crater is approximately 13 miles in diameter and covers about 100 sq. miles. About 30,000 animals call the crater home with the giraffe and impala being absent from the population.

When to Visit the Cater

There doesn’t seem to be a bad time to visit the crater. The best wildlife viewing opportunities seem to be from June through October due to it being dry season. Animals will congregate at watering holes and the vegetation is thin making it easier to view the wildlife. This is also prime tourist season which will carry heftier price tags in the area.

Calving season begins in January and ends in February which can be an interesting time to view the resident wildlife. You may encounter heavy rains in March, April, and May as well as November and December.

Highlights of the Crater

The main highlight of the crater is easily its unique landscapes and the opportunity to see the Big Five (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo). With the relatively small area, this is one place where you are more likely to catch a glimpse of the endangered black rhino. I’d post a photo, but the couple of black rhino that we were able to see were so far away, they were only really visible through binoculars.

Wildlife of the Crater

As mentioned before, the Big Five occupy the crater. The rhinos were obviously the most difficult to get an up close look, but there are about 25 individuals residing in the area. On the flip side, there are lions just about everywhere. The crater has one of the highest densities of lions and we must have seen a quarter of the 60ish individuals that make up their population. You’ll also see hippos, zebra, secretary birds, and many other antelope.

The Best Part of the Crater

By far, seeing black rhinos was the best part of our visit to the crater. With less than 6,000 black rhinos left on this planet, it was an amazing sighting! Also, it is safe to say that you will be left stunned at the dramatic landscapes of this park. With the high walls surrounding the area, it makes for perfect backdrops for photographing the wildlife.

A pair of wildebeest spar on the savanna.
A pair of wildebeest spar in the Ngorongoro Crater.

3. Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

An elephant dusting in the red clay at Tarangire National Park.
A dusting elephant with a baby napping just under her nose.

If you don’t know me then let me fill you in. My career is elephants. So this park being known for its high density of elephants was quite literally the DREAM. And although our first hour driving through the park had me wondering if what I had read online was true. By the end of our game drive this was BY FAR the best safari I had ever been on!

History of Tarangire

Tarangire National Park was named after the Tarangire River that flows through the area. During the dry season, this river is the only freshwater source that remains. Animals travel great distances and congregate in the park to take advantage of this important amenity.

When to Visit Tarangire

While like most other parks in the Arusha area, there really is no wrong time to visit. However, if you want to see the high density of elephants that this park is so famous for, then visit during the dry season. Like most other animals, the elephants will congregate here to take advantage of what is left of the vegetation and water sources during the dry season which is June through November.

Highlights of Tarangire

Aside from the elephants of the Tarangire National Park, the baobab trees steal the show. These very large iconic trees are scattered across the park and really standout as you look across the landscape. These trees store water in their thick trunks which benefit the elephants during the dry season. If you visit the park during the wetter months, you will see these trees with their leaves which is an interesting sight since they are usually depicted without them.

Tarangire Wildlife

So obviously the elephants are a huge draw for this particular park. But during the dry season you’ll also see huge herds of giraffe, zebra, antelope, wildebeest, and tons of other animals. This park also has some pretty notable predators like lions, cheetah, African wild dogs and leopards. We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a cheetah with a couple of her cubs during our visit.

The Best Part of Tarangire

Absolutely by far the elephants were the best part of Tarangire! Though we saw many elephants at the other parks, it was amazing to see such large family groups of these pachyderms. There were tons of babies playing in the mud and we saw plenty of interesting interactions between different families. And my favorite sight from the entire trip was being able to watch a herd of 7 adult bulls graze just near the entrance to the park.

A large bull elephant with other male elephants behind him grazing in Africa.
A bachelor herd of elephants! I may have freaked out a bit over this!

Safari After Climbing Kilimanjaro

If you are looking for more information on your African adventure or climbing Kilimanjaro, check out some of my other posts.

A cape buffalo snoozing viewed on safari after climbing Kilimanjaro.
Me after safari everyday.

If you have any questions or comments about safari after climbing Kilimanjaro if you are short on time, please comment below or reach out to me on my Facebook Page.

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