The most exceptional safaris in close proximity to Mount Kilimanjaro

The most exceptional safaris in close proximity to Mount Kilimanjaro

Exceptional safaris in close proximity to Mount Kilimanjaro – Nestled on the Tanzanian side of the border, the region surrounding Mount Kilimanjaro stands out as an irresistible safari haven within East Africa. Offering a myriad of experiences, it beckons adventurers to explore its diverse landscapes and wildlife wonders. From the renowned northern safari parks of Tarangire, Lake Manyara, and Ngorongoro to the hidden gems like West Kilimanjaro, Mkomazi, and Lake Natron/Ol Doinyo Lengai, there’s an abundance of activities to indulge in.

Tarangire National Park, with its iconic baobab-dotted plains and elephant herds, sets the stage for unforgettable game drives. Lake Manyara entices with its picturesque scenery and diverse birdlife, providing a tranquil backdrop for exploration. Meanwhile, the Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a remarkable glimpse into an ancient volcanic caldera teeming with wildlife.

Venturing off the beaten path unveils hidden treasures like West Kilimanjaro, where pristine wilderness and captivating landscapes await. Mkomazi National Park, renowned for its conservation efforts and rare species such as the African wild dog, promises an off-the-grid safari adventure. For those seeking solitude and raw natural beauty, Lake Natron and the imposing Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano provide a serene sanctuary where encounters with wildlife are intimate and undisturbed.

Whether exploring the well-known safari circuits or delving into lesser-explored territories, the area near Mount Kilimanjaro offers a spectrum of experiences catering to every traveler’s desire for adventure, tranquility, and wildlife immersion. It’s a place where the rhythm of nature orchestrates a symphony of sights and sounds, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the magic of East Africa’s wilderness.

1. Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park stands as a majestic realm dominated by giants: here, the graceful presence of elephants harmonizes with the towering baobab trees, defining the essence of this remarkable destination. Renowned for its abundance of big cats, expansive herds of zebra, and diverse wildlife, Tarangire offers an unparalleled safari experience enriched by its captivating scenery and secluded charm. Unlike its counterparts in the Northern safari circuit, Tarangire remains a sanctuary of tranquility, where the serenity of wildlife encounters is often undisturbed by crowds.

During my time in Tarangire, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing hunting cheetah families and prides of lions traversing the landscape, with no other vehicles in sight—a testament to the park’s pristine wilderness and authentic safari experience.

Accessing Tarangire from Moshi requires a scenic drive of approximately 4 to 5 hours, setting the stage for anticipation and excitement. Accommodation options within and around the park offer unparalleled comfort and immersion in nature’s embrace, with a selection of lodges and tented camps thoughtfully nestled amidst the wilderness.

Engaging in activities within Tarangire unveils a world of exploration and discovery, with game drives revealing the park’s diverse wildlife inhabitants and birdwatching opportunities showcasing its avian splendor. Whether embarking on a safari adventure or simply soaking in the tranquil ambiance of the African bush, Tarangire promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of East Africa’s untamed beauty.

2. Ngorongoro Crater

The journey from Moshi to Ngorongoro Crater may be lengthy, but it’s a voyage filled with anticipation and awe, where every moment spent traversing the landscapes of Tanzania leads to an unparalleled natural wonder. Ngorongoro Crater emerges as a sanctuary of biodiversity, a haven where the rhythms of wildlife thrive in harmony with the stunning vistas that stretch before you. Here, amidst the ancient crater walls, lions, elephants, black rhinos, spotted hyenas, and flamingos roam freely, weaving a tapestry of life that captivates the soul.

Descending into the crater as the soft hues of dawn illuminate the horizon evokes a sense of unparalleled excitement, a moment that rivals any other on Tanzania’s safari circuit. The combination of panoramic views, abundant wildlife, and unspoiled beauty creates an experience that transcends mere observation—it’s a journey to be cherished and savored.

Along the road from the provincial town of Karatu to the Ngorongoro Crater rim, a plethora of fine lodges and accommodations await, nestled amidst lush forests and offering respite amid nature’s embrace. From tented camps to lodges perched on the crater rim itself, each accommodation promises magnificent views and unrivaled comfort, enriching your experience of this extraordinary destination.

Engage in activities that immerse you in the wonders of Ngorongoro, from exhilarating game drives that reveal the secrets of the crater’s inhabitants to tranquil picnics surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Birdwatching enthusiasts will delight in the diversity of avian life that graces the crater’s skies, adding another layer of enchantment to an already magical experience. In Ngorongoro Crater, every moment is a testament to the sheer majesty and splendor of the natural world, offering an unforgettable journey into the heart of Africa’s wilderness.

3. Lake Manyara National Park

Easily accessible from Moshi, Lake Manyara stands out as one of Tanzania’s premier parks, offering a captivating blend of breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife. The park’s allure is heightened by the dramatic backdrop of the Great Rift escarpment, which rises dramatically along its western boundary, creating a stunning vista that sets the stage for memorable adventures.

Lake Manyara holds a special place in the annals of elephant exploration, with famed expert Iain Douglas-Hamilton embarking on some of his earliest adventures here, vividly depicted in Peter Matthiessen’s “The Tree Where Man Was Born.” This storied park is also renowned for its unique phenomenon of tree-climbing lions, adding an element of surprise and excitement to every safari excursion. Bird enthusiasts will be enthralled by the incredible diversity of avian life, particularly near the park entrance and along the shores of Lake Manyara, where vibrant colors and melodious calls adorn the landscape.

Embarking on the journey from Moshi, travelers can anticipate a scenic drive of approximately 4 hours, immersing themselves in the anticipation of the adventures that await. Accommodation options abound in the town of Mto wa Mbu near the park entrance, catering to a range of budgets and preferences. Alternatively, lodges along the rim of the Great Rift escarpment offer unparalleled views that enhance the overall experience of your stay. Within the park, a selection of accommodations ensures a comfortable retreat amidst the wilderness.

Engage in a variety of activities that showcase the park’s natural splendor, from exhilarating game drives that unveil its diverse wildlife to treetop canopy walks that offer a unique perspective of the surroundings. Birdwatching enthusiasts will find paradise in the rich avifauna that thrives in this captivating ecosystem. Lake Manyara promises an immersive safari experience filled with wonder, discovery, and the timeless beauty of the African wilderness.

4. Mkomazi National Park

A journey to Mkomazi National Park is not just about escaping the typical safari clichés; it’s about discovering a hidden gem waiting to be explored. While many safari vehicles zoom past, those in the know understand that Mkomazi is the safari destination of the future, offering an exhilarating experience away from the crowds. The park’s allure lies in its untouched landscapes, where exceptional views of Mount Kilimanjaro and the picturesque Usambara Mountains merge with rugged rocky hills, baobabs, and arid plains, creating a canvas of natural beauty unlike any other.

As you traverse the dry terrain, you’ll encounter a diverse array of wildlife, including topi, eland, zebra, and giraffe, all thriving in their natural habitat. Mkomazi’s unique environment also provides a haven for desert-adapted species such as the fringe-eared oryx, lesser kudu, and gerenuk—the gazelle with aspirations of being a giraffe. Birdwatching enthusiasts will be delighted by the park’s remarkable avian diversity, with over 400 species recorded within its borders.

Adding to the park’s allure are enclosures dedicated to the reintroduction of black rhinos and African wild dogs, underscoring Mkomazi’s commitment to conservation and wildlife preservation. These initiatives offer visitors a rare opportunity to witness conservation efforts firsthand, with the eventual goal of releasing these majestic animals back into the wild.

Accessible within a mere two-hour drive from Moshi, Mkomazi National Park offers various accommodation options, including campsites within the park and permanent tented camps like Mkomazi View Camp. Whether embarking on game drives through the rugged terrain or immersing yourself in the mesmerizing birdlife, a visit to Mkomazi promises an unforgettable safari experience filled with adventure, discovery, and a deep connection to the natural world.

5. Arusha National Park

Embarking on a journey from the forested foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro to Arusha National Park is more convenient than you might imagine, easily accessible by road from Moshi. This hidden gem of East Africa boasts breathtaking scenery and diverse landscapes, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and safari aficionados alike.

Within the park’s expansive boundaries lie the majestic Mount Meru, a worthy rival to the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro in terms of sheer beauty, as well as Ngurdoto Crater, affectionately dubbed “Little Ngorongoro,” and the wildlife-rich grasslands known as Serengeti Ndogo, or “Little Serengeti.” Safari adventures here offer the chance to encounter a wealth of wildlife, including blue monkeys, black-and-white colobuses, giraffes, elephants, zebras, and an array of antelope species such as red duikers, waterbucks, bushbucks, klipspringers, and dik-diks. Keep your eyes peeled for buffalo and hippos as well, adding to the excitement of exploration.

Arusha National Park offers more than just traditional game drives; visitors can also embark on canoeing excursions, birdwatching expeditions to spot some of the park’s 400 bird species, and challenging treks to the summit of Mount Meru, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Accessible within a short two-hour drive from Moshi, visitors have the option to base themselves in Moshi, Arusha, or along the Arusha–Moshi road for day trips. Within the park, several campsites and the esteemed Hatari Lodge offer accommodation options for those seeking an immersive stay amidst the wilderness.

Whether traversing the park’s diverse terrain on game drives, scaling mountain peaks, or immersing yourself in the vibrant birdlife, Arusha National Park promises an unforgettable adventure filled with exploration, discovery, and natural splendor.

6. Lake Natron & Ol Doinyo Lengai

Although it may seem a bit distant on the map, a convenient shortcut off the Arusha-Nairobi road effortlessly connects Lake Natron and the Crater Highlands, creating an ideal pairing for those seeking off-the-beaten-path destinations in northern Tanzania. A journey to this remote region offers a refreshing departure from the typical Tanzanian safari experience, immersing travelers in a landscape of raw natural beauty and cultural intrigue.

Lake Natron emerges as a focal point of the Crater Highlands, renowned for hosting spectacular gatherings of pink flamingos—a sight that mesmerizes visitors with its ethereal beauty. The backdrop of the lake, framed by rugged terrain and dominated by the majestic Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano, stirs the soul and inspires awe. Reaching towards the sky, Ol Doinyo Lengai stands as one of Africa’s most striking peaks, beckoning adventurers to its summit, where breathtaking views await. Known to the local Maasai as the “Mountain of God,” its presence adds a spiritual dimension to the surrounding landscape, captivating all who gaze upon it.

The journey from Moshi to Lake Natron ranges from 3½ to 5 hours, traversing diverse landscapes and offering glimpses of Tanzania’s rich natural heritage along the way. Accommodation options near the southern shore of Lake Natron include lodges, tented camps, and campgrounds, providing a comfortable base for exploration amidst the wilderness.

Activities in the area encompass a variety of adventures, from game drives through the rugged terrain to exhilarating mountain climbs and birdwatching expeditions. Whether scaling the heights of Ol Doinyo Lengai or simply marveling at the wildlife and scenery, a trip to Lake Natron and the Crater Highlands promises an unforgettable journey filled with discovery, wonder, and the allure of untamed wilderness.

7. West Kilimanjaro

Nestled along the western foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, West Kilimanjaro offers a haven for discerning safari travelers seeking a unique blend of cultural immersion, wildlife encounters, and breathtaking vistas. Unlike more frequented destinations, West Kilimanjaro boasts tranquility and exclusivity, allowing visitors to indulge in authentic experiences without the crowds.

This region serves as a vital corridor for elephants migrating from Kenya’s Amboseli National Park to northern Tanzania, as well as for lions dispersing across the landscape. Witnessing these iconic species roam freely in the thinly populated wilderness of West Kilimanjaro is a truly unforgettable highlight of any safari expedition.

Steeped in Maasai heritage, West Kilimanjaro provides an opportunity to engage with Maasai communities on their terms, away from the tourist hype. The uninterrupted views of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru, Mount Longido, and the Crater Highlands offer a picturesque backdrop unrivaled in Tanzania. Secluded and exclusive tented camps dot the landscape, offering a luxurious retreat amidst the untamed beauty of the surroundings.

Accessible within just an hour’s drive from Moshi, West Kilimanjaro may not boast a plethora of accommodation options, but a handful of tented camps scattered across the hills provide a peaceful sanctuary for travelers. Shu’mata Camp stands out as a fabulous choice, offering unparalleled comfort and immersion in nature.

Activities in West Kilimanjaro primarily revolve around game drives, allowing visitors to explore the diverse landscapes and encounter the region’s abundant wildlife. As an emerging safari destination, West Kilimanjaro promises an unforgettable experience that combines adventure, authenticity, and the untamed spirit of Africa.

8. Lake Chala


In close proximity to Moshi lies Lake Chala, a hidden gem that serves as an ideal complement to a safari adventure in Mkomazi National Park. This stunning crater lake is characterized by steep, forested walls that descend dramatically to reveal mesmerizing blue-green waters, offering a serene and picturesque escape from the bustling safari circuit. With numerous scenic viewpoints dotting the landscape, visitors are treated to breathtaking panoramas at every turn, providing ample opportunities for tranquil reflection and awe-inspiring photography.

One of the many charms of Lake Chala is its secluded ambiance, ensuring that your photos capture the pristine beauty of the surroundings without any unwanted distractions. Conveniently located near Marangu, one of the main gates for Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, Lake Chala offers a convenient detour for travelers exploring the region.

Accessible within just 75 minutes’ drive from Moshi, Lake Chala is primarily visited as a day trip from either Moshi or Marangu. However, for those seeking an immersive experience amidst nature’s splendor, Lake Chala Safari Lodge & Campsite offers a friendly and welcoming retreat overlooking the tranquil waters of the lake.

Activities at Lake Chala revolve around sightseeing, allowing visitors to soak in the tranquility of the surroundings and marvel at the natural wonders that abound. Whether admiring the breathtaking vistas, embarking on leisurely walks along the lake’s edge, or simply unwinding amidst the serenity of the landscape, a visit to Lake Chala promises a rejuvenating escape from the ordinary.

Why Book A Safari To Kilimanjaro With Kenlink Tours?

Book your Kilimanjaro safari with Kenlink Tours for an unrivaled blend of expertise, personalized service, and unforgettable experiences. With our seasoned guides, you’ll embark on safaris tailored to your preferences, ensuring every moment is filled with excitement and discovery. From luxury accommodations to off-the-beaten-path adventures, we prioritize your comfort and satisfaction, creating memories that last a lifetime. Trust Kenlink Tours to elevate your Kilimanjaro safari with professionalism, passion, and a commitment to excellence.

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