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Overview

Southern Tanzania is vast and wild and has two large parks Nyerere (Selous) national Park and Ruaha national park. It has two smaller parks as well, the Udzungwa Mountains and Mikumi National Park, but all of these parks receive a fraction of the visitors that their counterparts in the north do and offer untouched wilderness and an exciting safari experience.

Exploring the southern part with a 4×4  with a rooftop tent, and camping equipment at the back will be much more rewarding. Rent your car for a self-drive trip to experience the distinctive national park and game reserves. Visit Ruaha national park and Selous Game Reserve or Kilimbero weaver in Morogoro. The Southern Highlands is one of Tanzania’s most scenic regions, appealing especially to adventure-loving travellers with at least several weeks at their disposal. For those with more time and a taste for the offbeat, the region links nicely with western Tanzania.

Dar es Salaam then heads to Morogoro for cultural tours and hiking, or to Mikumi National Park, with its easily spotted wildlife. Stop at Udzungwa mountains national park for hiking up the steep, lushly vegetated slopes or exploring the surrounding Kilombero area. Alternatively, continue from Mikumi to Iringa, which makes a relaxing base.  Spending a two- or three-night detour to Ruaha national park is well worth the effort, before heading down the highway to Mbeya. En route is several lovely spots to relax and explore.

Once in Mbeya, there is plenty to do in the surrounding area. Options include hiking in the scenic hills around Tukuyu; canoeing, exploring, and hiking around Lake Nyasa, using Matema, with its picturesque beach and lush mountains, as a base; and hiking in lovely Kitulo National Park, with its wildflowers and wide vistas.

Taking your time, it would be easy enough to spend the first three weeks of your itinerary up to this point. With the remaining time, you could return the way you came, with several days left over at the end for a short stay on Zanzibar Island or Mafia. On Mafia, don’t miss a day of diving or snorkelling from a wooden dhow.

For those wanting more adventure, we recommend continuing northwest from Mbeya via Sumbawanga to Katavi National Park. This park deserves at least two days, especially in the dry season when wildlife watching is at its best. From Katavi, double back and head down the escarpment to Lake Tanganyika for several days relaxing at Lake Shore Lodge near Kipili before driving to Mahale Mountains National Park, or on to Kigoma and perhaps overnight at nearby Gombe National Park. From Kigoma, drive back to Dar es Salaam. Alternatively – but this will require two to three additional weeks – you can continue overland from Kigoma to Mwanza and Lake Victoria, from where you could proceed into the Serengeti and on to Arusha.  Book this trip

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