Background mask

10 Most Seen Animals And Where To Spot Them On Your Tanzania Safari!

Tanzania is a beautiful place that is home to stunning beaches, fascinating archaeological sites, ancient monuments of cultural significance, incredible landscapes, and, of course, amazing safari experiences and beautiful wildlife.

In fact, Tanzania is one of the most renowned destinations for safaris in the world thanks to its sheer number of wildlife spectacles, such as elephant herds, annual wildebeest migrations, wildlife reserves, and more.

10 Most Seen Animals And Where To Spot Them On Your Tanzania Safari!

It is truly an incredible destination, particularly for those looking to see as much of its wildlife as possible.

Some of the most well-known wildlife in Tanzania is comprised of five animals, known. as “The Big Five.”

This group is considered to be at the very top of the natural order of things in the animal kingdom within Tanzania, ruling the hierarchy of the food chain.

They are dangerous, deadly, and difficult to hunt.

The Big Five are as follows:

  • Lions
  • Rhinos
  • Leopards
  • Cape Buffalos
  • Elephants

Keep in mind that while these species are considered the apex animals within the Tanzanian wildlife, some are easier to spot than others. As such, some will be making this list, while others will not.

With this in mind, we are going to be looking at ten of the most common Tanzania animals that you are sure to spot during your safari adventure, as well as where you are most likely to see them!

1. Lions


There is no way that you can experience a safari tour in Tanzania without running into a lion or two (or twelve!).

In Tanzania, there are around 16,000 lions. They are social animals that live together in a group known as a pride, which usually has between six and twelve lionesses and three male lions, as well as various cubs.

The lionesses take care of the hunting in order to feed the lion cubs. The males occupy their territory by marking it as their own and conquering any other apex alpha male lions in the general area.

Best Places To See Lions In Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Ngorongoro Crater
  • Lake Manyara
  • Mikumi National Park
  • Ruaha National Park

2. Elephants


African elephants are one of the famous members of the big five in Tanzania, and they are pretty easy to spot due to being the largest land animal on the entire planet!

These elephants are much larger than Asian elephants, with their ears being a distinctive part of their body that sets them apart due to just how big they are.

These elephants are also the heaviest land mammals as well, with fully mature African elephants weighing up to six and a half tons (or 15,000 pounds).

Much like lions, elephants are also incredibly social and live together in groups.

Herds of elephants can be incredibly large – it’s possible to observe more than a hundred elephants living in one herd.

These herds are led by female elephants, and they use low-frequency sounds in order to communicate with one another even when they are miles apart!

The females within the group tend to stay in their specific herds for the entirety of their lives. Younger males, though, will often veer away from their herd in order to create bachelor groups.

They will remain in these groups until they are old enough to start their own herds.

Best Places To See Elephants In Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Ngorongoro Crater
  • Tarangire National Park
  • Mikumi National Park
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Nyerere National Park

3. Cape Buffalo

Cape Buffalo

Next up in Tanzania’s Big Five is the somewhat unexpected Cape Buffalo.

The Cape Buffalo, often referred to as the African Buffalo, stands out as a unique apex animal, given its bovine nature that defies conventional expectations.

Cape Buffaloes are animals that truly defy judgment based on their appearance. They are ferocious, dangerous, and very strong when provoked.

To emphasize this point, these Tanzania animals are considered to be the most dangerous species when it comes to hunting in Africa!

The lion, another member of the Big Five, serves as the primary predator of the Cape Buffalo. To hunt these formidable prey, lions employ tactical strategies due to the inherent danger they pose.

The most significant threat these buffalo pose to lions lies in their thick, curved, and pointed horns on their heads. These horns are so strong that they are effectively bulletproof!

No matter how docile they may seem, you certainly don’t want to underestimate the Cape Buffalo.

Best Places To See Cape Buffalo In Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Ngorongoro Crater
  • Arusha National Park
  • Mikumi National Park
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Katavi National Park
  • Nyerere National Park

4. Hippos


Hippos are magnificent, sizable creatures with a distinct rotund appearance, and they have a deep affinity for the water. To have the best opportunity to observe them in Tanzania, head to areas near wetlands and rivers, such as the swamps within Tarangire National Park or the crater lake nestled in Ngorongoro.

These remarkable animals of Tanzania must spend a significant portion of their time submerged in water to maintain their skin’s moisture and coolness. In fact, they are often considered amphibious, as they can spend up to an astonishing sixteen hours a day in the water.

Hippos, being highly social creatures, have several collective nouns to describe their groups. You can refer to a gathering of hippos as a “pod,” a “school,” a “siege,” or even a “bloat.”

These groups typically consist of both male and female hippos, and the size can vary, with each group comprising anywhere from ten to thirty members.

That being said, some groups of hippos can have as many as 200 members!

In addition to their considerable size, hippos are known for their impressive vocal prowess.

Some of their vocalizations have been recorded at astonishing levels of 115 decibels, making them quite the loud animals. Their signature sound, often referred to as the “wheeze honk,” can carry over half a mile away, adding to their reputation as one of the noisiest creatures in the animal kingdom.

They use these vocalizations to communicate with fellow hippos.

Never forget to keep your distance from hippos! Even though they are beautiful, they are also aggressive and are considered dangerous.

They will use their sharp tusks and large teeth on all manner of threats, including humans.

Best Places To See Hippos In Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Ngorongoro Crater
  • Tarangire National Park
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Katabi National Park
  • Nyerere National Park

5. Gazelles


The Gazelle is the animal that you are most likely to see during your Tanzania safari due to how common they are, despite their quickness.

The speed of the gazelle is one of their most noteworthy features, with the animal often known as the “swift deer” of the grasslands.

Their speed is so great that they are easily able to change their direction while running without losing any of their momentum!

Some of the highest speeds that gazelles have been known to run at are around 97 kilometers per hour. In general, a sustained speed of 50 kilometers per hour is the norm for the average gazelle.

Gazelles fall under the antelope category, but they are smaller than others in this category, with a height that ranges from around 60cm to 110cm.

There is a wide range of different gazelle species, including the following:

  • Thomson’s gazelle: The most well-known gazelle species, also known as the tommie.
  • Dama gazelle: Native to Africa. It resides in the Sahel region and the Saharan desert. This is one of the most endangered species of gazelle.
  • Rhim gazelle: Often found in desert areas (such as in Egypt, Suda, and Algeria). These gazelles are also known as African sand gazelles.
  • Dorcas gazelle: Common to Saharan and Northern Africa. They live in grassland habitats.
  • Red-fronted gazelle: With a habitat that ranges from northeastern Ethiopia to the middle of Africa, the red-fronted gazelles live in wooded savannas and arid grasslands.
  • Chinkara gazelle: Residing in India, Pakistan, or Iran, these gazelles live in light forests, deserts and hills, as well as arid plains.
  • Speke’s gazelle: Another African gazelle, found in the Horn of Africa peninsula. This species of gazelle is the smallest and is known to live in stony brush areas as well as semi-deserts.

Best Places To See Gazelles In Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Ngorongoro Crater
  • Lake Manyara
  • Tarangire National Park
  • Mikumi National Park
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Nyerere National Park

6. Cheetah


Cheetahs are well known for being the fastest animals on Earth. They’re one of the most exciting species that you might be able to spot while on safari in Tanzania.

The cheetahs to be found in Tanzania are the East African cheetahs, an endemic species that are commonly seen across the Serengeti.

These Tanzania animals have a coat that can range from a whitish-yellow to tan, having the palest coat color of the cheetah species. They also have dark spots all over, apart from on their bellies, which are plain white.

Cheetahs are well known for their distinctive eye markings, with dark marks that begin at the corner of their eyes and progress downward to the edge of their mouth, looking like teardrops.

The Tanzanian cheetahs can be found in scrub forests, savannas, and grasslands, but they are currently considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss, hunting threats, and high cub mortality rates.

Best Places To See Cheetahs In Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Ngorongoro Crater
  • Katavi National Park

7. Giraffes


In Tanzania, there is only one species of giraffe to be found – the Masai Giraffe. You are sure to find them, though, as they are the national animal of Tanzania!

Giraffes are easily the tallest animals to be found on land, with mature giraffes able to reach an incredible 20 feet in length.

When it comes to the habitat of the giraffe, they are commonly found in woodlands, open grasslands, and scrublands thanks to these kinds of areas having tall trees that giraffes feed from.

In terms of their diets, they will eat the fruits, flowers, stems, and leaves from the trees thanks to that iconic long neck!

As well as their tall nature and that neck, there are a few other distinguishing features that they have, such as their jagged brown spots.

These spots are found across their body and will extend from the top of their legs down to their hooves.

Unfortunately, giraffes are another species that has declined in population, mainly due to issues such as disease, illegal poaching and hunting, and loss of their habitat.

Much like the rhino and the cheetah, they are also one of the most endangered animals in Tanzania.

Best Places To See Giraffes In Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Lake Manyara
  • Tarangire National Park
  • Arusha National Park
  • Mikumi National Park
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Nyerere National Park

8. Nile Crocodile

Nile Crocodile

The Nile Crocodile is a part of the wildlife in Tanzania that you are likely to see due to the increase in their population.

That being said, you don’t want to get up close and personal with these crocs.

These crocodiles are considered to be one of the more fearsome predators across the animal kingdom in Africa, reaching up to four meters in length and weighing upwards of 450 kilograms.

They are also known for their rather hefty appetite, which is another reason to avoid any close contact with these deadly reptiles!

The habitat of the Nile Crocodile is made up of rivers, freshwater swamps, large freshwater lakes, mangrove swamps, dams (usually the ones that are close to rivers), and coastal estuaries.

These crocodiles are incredibly aggressive and are known for attacking and feasting on anything that gets too close to them.

This can range from small creatures to large ones, as they can eat up to half of their body weight in just one feeding session.

The power of their bite also helps them to take down any animals that are bigger than they are, as it is eight times more powerful than the bite of a great white shark.

You’ll also want to keep a wide berth from the offspring of the Nile Crocodile, as they are fiercely protective of their offspring and will guard them viciously until they hatch.

As mentioned, the population of the Nile Crocodile has increased, but this wasn’t always the case. In the 1950s and 1960s, their numbers dwindled significantly due to commonly being hunted for their skin.

Best Places To See Nile Crocodiles In Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Ngorongoro Crater
  • Lake Manyara
  • Tarangire National Park
  • Mikumi National Park

9. Burchell’s Zebra

Burchell’s Zebra

Named for the British naturalist and explorer William John Burchell, the Burchell’s zebra is a southern subspecies of the classical plains zebra.

These zebras are seen commonly across the various reserves and national parks within Tanzania, so you are likely to spot a few on your safari.

We all know the black-and-white striped nature of the zebra, but did you know that there is more to these stripes than meets the eye?

Much like fingerprints with humans, the black or dark brown stripes that are iconically seen on this animal are unique to each zebra individually.

The stripes themselves are supposed to help them camouflage themselves when in herds, and some scientists believe that their stripes can also help them ward off any flies that want to bite them.

Zebras are known as social animals, living in herds. Female zebras will even form a small harem of sorts within a larger herd!

They are also native to Africa and are a part of the wildlife spectacle that is the Masai Mara and Serengeti Migration. This event happens between June and September every year. During the migration, over one and a half million zebra and wildebeest cross from the northern Serengeti area into the Masai Mara in order to find green pastures, such as red oat grass.

Although the Burchell’s zebra is the one you will see during a safari in Tanzania, there are two other species of zebra that are common in Africa: the Grevy’s zebra and the mountain zebra.

Unfortunately, both of these species of zebra are considered to be endangered.

Best Places To See Burchell’s Zebra In Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Tarangire National Park
  • Arusha National Park
  • Mikumi National Park
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Katavi National Park
  • Nyerere National Park

10. Blue Wildebeest

Blue Wildebeest

It might surprise you to know that the blue wildebeest, also known as the brindled gnu, is actually a species of antelope!

Much like the other antelope species to be found in Tanzania, blue wildebeests are also a common creature to be spotted while on safari.

It can be easy to confuse them with buffalo, though, as from a distance the likeness is very strong due to the flattened horns and the off-black coat that both animals possess.

However, if you look more closely, you will notice that the wildebeest is smaller than the buffalo, and also has a longer face more akin to the other antelope species.

The wildebeest is a key part of one of the largest mammal migrations in the world, which takes place within the ecosystem of the Serengeti and is made up of two million wildebeest.

During this migration, they are joined by other Tanzania animals, such as elands, gazelles, and zebras.

When it comes to seeing this migration, the wildebeest tend to start dispersing into the southeastern territory of the Serengeti from December all the way through to May.

They will then form a column that can reach up to 40km in length, wherein they cross the Grumeti River, which usually happens around June and into July.

Once they have crossed this river, the animals will venture into the northern Serengeti as well as into Kenya.

This lasts until October, when they will then go back to the southern part of the Serengeti.

Arriving around November, they then begin the process all over again in December!

Best Places To See Blue Wildebeest In Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Ngorongoro Crater
  • Lake Manyara
  • Tarangire National Park
  • Mikumi National Park
  • Ruaha National Parl
  • Nyerere National Parl

Final Thoughts

So there you have ten Tanzania animals that are seen often during safaris, as well as the areas that you are most likely to find them!

Even the more elusive animals – such as the cheetah – can be spotted if you are on the lookout for them.

Hopefully, our guide has given you more of an idea as to what animals you will have the chance to see during your safari, as well as where you need to go to get a better chance of catching a glimpse of them.

As long as you respect the natural habitat of each and every creature that you come across during your time in Tanzania, you are sure to have an exciting, invigorating and fascinating safari experience!

Get in touch with us if you want to book an unforgettable Tanzania safari experience.

Share the Article:

Make your dream trip come true with Tanzania Specialist.


Customized Travel Proposal

At Tanzania Specialist, you can tailor your trip to your preferences. Our sample itineraries are customizable, and our specialists work with you to create your dream trip!

Request a Travel Proposal

Related posts

Why Chapka Travel Insurance

Congratulations on booking your African safari adventure! Tanzania can’t wait to welcome you. We at Tanzania Specialist are thrilled for you 😊 Are you counting down the days? Before you pack your bags and dust off your safari hat, there’s one crucial item you can’t forget—travel insurance. And not just any travel insurance, but Chapka […]

Read more

Responsible Tourism in Tanzania

We love Africa – its animals, its nature and its people. That’s why we want to protect this wonderful continent by all means. At the same time we want as many people as possible to see the wonders of Tanzania with their own eyes. So let’s be clear: responsible tourism is very important to us. […]

Read more

Discover Tanzania with Friends

You and your besties are always on the lookout for new adventures? Then get ready for big smiles and eyes, because Tanzania has just that for you… plus a stunning flora and fauna… plus a mesmerizing culture… plus music, dance and party. If you’re adventurous, you can climb the famous Kilimanjaro, dive into the unique […]

Read more

Let us create your tailor-made trip

Receive a free, no obligation quote

Start planning your dream trip

Call an expert

Our specialists are here to assist you

+1 518 634 1139