Home #WHERETONEXT Africa Off the Beaten Path: Lesser-Known Safari Destinations in Southern Tanzania

Off the Beaten Path: Lesser-Known Safari Destinations in Southern Tanzania

Southern Tanzania- a breath of fresh air for safari goers looking to get off the beaten track and away from the crowds for an experience that has all the makings of a classic safari, without any of the hustle or bustle. While its northern counterpart tends to steal the spotlight for travellers looking to embark on a Tanzania safari, Southern Tanzania welcomes you to explore at your own pace, making every moment that much more special.

Southern Tanzania is home to a variety of wildlife. This includes the famous Big 5, endangered species such as the African wild dog, and even the special chimpanzees and other primate families of the Mahale Mountains- so you won’t be left wanting for anything in the wildlife department.

The landscapes unfold like a wonderland of diverse terrains, encompassing dry savannahs and grasslands, lush forests and lakes full of aquatic life. Depending on your location, day and night game drives, walking and boat safaris, and chimp trekking are all at your disposal, alongside an assortment of activities that can be arranged to enhance your experience both during and outside of your safari adventures in Southern Tanzania.

Below, we’ll delve into some of our favourite off-the-beaten-path safari destinations in Southern Tanzania, helping you create the perfect Hidden Gems safari. These can be combined with destinations in Northern Tanzania for a comprehensive itinerary or with Zanzibar for a dream bush-and-beach vacation. Whatever your safari fantasy, these destinations are sure to exceed your expectations!

Our Favourite Southern Tanzania Destinations:

Dar Es Salaam

Credit: iStock/ IgorSPB

Dar es Salaam is either the starting or finishing point for many travellers to Southern Tanzania as well as the pristine Indian Ocean Island of Zanzibar. While it isn’t a safari destination, it is a vibrant city bustling with friendly locals, lively markets, and a mixture of Swahili and Asian cultural influences. “Dar” is a great way to acquaint yourself with Tanzanian culture and get a final taste of city-life before leaving for the bush.


  • Dar es Salaam is the gateway to Tanzania’s southern circuit
  • You’ll find a range of upscale hotels and restaurants in the city
  • Dar es Salaam’s location offers convenient access to Zanzibar
  • Dar es Salaam has its own list of pristine beaches for you to visit while there
  • Landmarks such as shopping centres, museums and botanical gardens can all be found here

Ruaha National Park


Ruaha National Park’s rolling savannahs and signature baobabs set the scene for a wildlife-rich safari that promises to wow. While the area only receives 1% of Tanzania’s visitors, it would be accurate to say that Ruaha rivals its more famous northern counterparts in delivering an exceptional safari experience.  You’ll find all the Big 5, African wild dogs, as well as lions, leopards, and cheetahs here in healthy numbers.


  • Visitors can indulge in game drives and walking safaris.
  • Ruaha is bountiful with felines; it is home to one of East Africa’s largest cheetah populations, with more than 200 adults.
  • While remote, Ruaha is easily accessible with daily scheduled flights coming into its two airstrips from other major cities. This makes for effortless add-ons.
  • Night game drives are available, allowing you to spot nocturnal life.
  • Ruaha is an excellent destination for birding with over 570 species of bird.

Nyerere National Park

Credit: iStock/ guenterguni

With an array of awe-inspiring landscapes ranging from the shores and waters of the Rufiji to the raw fauna and flora-laden grounds of the largest game reserve on the continent, it truly is a wonder that Nyerere remains amongst the less-visited parks in Tanzania. Nyerere offers premium wildlife sightings, unparalleled camps and lodges, and is easily combined with other Southern and Northern Tanzania destinations.

  • Nyerere is a fantastic destination for fly-camping.
  • Enjoy unique boating safaris at sunset accompanied by a classic gin and tonic mixed by your guide.
  • Nyerere’s Miombo Woodlands are home to a strong population of rare African wild dogs.
  • Nyerere provides the ultimate land and water wildlife experiences, courtesy of the Rufiji River.
  • Birders can delight in the 450 species of bird present here.

Katavi National Park

Credit: Unsplash/ Steve Ody

From waterways teeming with crocs and hippos to thick forests and open grasslands home to the largest buffalo herds, Katavi National Park is an untouched slice of heaven. Here, getting on the ground is the best way to truly get a lay of the land and experience the breathtaking scenery. Fly camping allows you to immerse yourself in your surroundings, becoming one with an ecosystem roamed by big cats and other highly sought big game.


  • During the rainy summer months, Katavi is a paradise for birdwatching
  • Fly camping lets you immerse yourself in the wilderness, appreciating everything up close
  • You can embark on a walking safari if you still want to get on the ground without fly-camping
  • Your proximity to Lake Tanganyika means you can enjoy a range of open-water activities such as swimming and kayaking

Mahale Mountains National Park

Credit: iStock/ stevenallen

For a change of pace from big game safaris on the savannahs, Mahale Mountains National Park is just the place to be. Accessible only by boat or by air, this park is set amongst lush green slopes that are perfect for chimpanzee trekking- the area being home to roughly 1000 chimps and a total of twelve primate species. Back at shore, powdery lakeside beaches await, and the waters are perfect for boat trips and kayaking.


  • Guided forest walks are available for you to explore the lush green scenery of the mountains
  • Mahale overlooks Lake Tanganyika, inviting you to enjoy a wide range of water activities when the weather is warm and you’re looking to cool down
  • Chimpanzee trekking is a wonderfully unique experience that allows you to observe Mahale’s primates from a safe distance with a guide present
  • Ichthyophiles can observe over 90 species of fish in Lake Tanganyika’s clear waters, and fishing is allowed
  • Spend some time in the sun on Mahale’s sandy shores

When Is The Best Time To Go On A Southern Tanzania Safari?

The best time to visit Tanzania is from June to October which marks the country’s dry season. Outside of this period, Tanzania experiences its wet season, categorised by long rains (from April to May) and short rains (during November and December).

How Much Does A Safari in Southern Tanzania Cost?

East African safaris typically range from $550 to $3200, depending on the level of comfort and luxury you prefer. Traveling through Southern Tanzania, however, involves more flights due to its remoteness, resulting in increased costs.

The cost of your safari will depend on several factors including:

  • The package you choose or the itinerary that is tailor-made for you
  • The level of exclusivity and privacy you want
  • Destination add-ons and the ease of accessibility to certain areas (all travel outside of camps such as flights)

Is Tanzania Safe To Travel To?

The short answer is yes! Tanzania is known to be a tourist-friendly destination, attracting both first time and returning safari-goers from far and wide. The country is safe for groups, solo-travellers, and even female travellers. While it is also considerably safe for LGBTQ+ travellers, it is important to note that same-sex relationships are illegal in Tanzania, and as such, public displays of affection are discouraged.

When on safari, majority of your time will be spent within private reserves and national parks, and as such, it is highly unlikely that you will run into any threats. However, as with any other urban area in the world, precaution is advised when travelling through cities such as Dar es Salaam and Arusha.

Overall, Tanzania is a safe travel destination, and booking your safari with a reputable company ensures you can travel with utter peace of mind, knowing your safety is a priority.

Ready To Plan Your Dream Vacation In Southern Tanzania?

Our African Safari Experts have over 25 years of first-hand experience and knowledge of travelling Tanzania. Get in touch with Go2Africa to craft the perfect tailor-made itinerary for a memorable holiday in East Africa