Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa, bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south.
Tanzania is a country with great national parks, where you can see some of the finest African flora and fauna. Tanzania is home to several national parks and game reserves. Safaris in Tanzania can be put into two categories, the Northern Circuit (Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Manyara and Tarangire) and the Southern Circuit (Selous, Mikumi and Ruaha). This is certainly an oversimplification and does not include other interesting but harder to reach parks such as Katavi and Gombe, just to name two. For tourist, the two first groupings are more accessible as several tour companies offer a variety a packages for these.
The cost of a safari can range from the basics (fly-tents, self-catering and guides with vehicles) to smaller parks like Manyara and Tarangire, to luxury lodges and tented camps in the Serengeti which can cost anywhere from US$250 to US$1,500 per person per night. You can use your own vehicle, provided it's a 4x4 with adequate clearance. There is a benefit to hiring a guide and a vehicle as safari vehicles are equipped with open rooftops which provide a much better vantage point for animal viewing. Also, many park will require that you hire a certified guide before you enter the park, even if you're using your own vehicle. Guides can cost around US$35 a day plus tip. Guides are good to have since they know the park and can help you locate some of the more sought after animals such as lions, leopards, rhinos, cheetahs and hyenas.
Park fees for Manyara and Tarangire are as of July 2008 US$35 per person and US$10,- for vehicle/driver fees. For Ngorongoro there is a US$200 vehicle fee as well, a $50 per person park fee as well as a $10,- vehicle/driver fee. For the Serengeti it's US$100 per person with and a $10,- vehicle/driver fee. These fees are valid for 24 hours. If you arrive in the afternoon, you can return in the morning the next day and not pay again.
Some of the more popular safari companies are Warrior Trails, Ranger tours & Leopard tours. Other popular companies rated by the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators include Ajabu Adventures, Bush2Beach Safaris, Bushmen Expeditions, Fay Safaris and Tanzania Tour Company. Serena and Sopa are popular lodging spots and have facilities throughout the Northern Circuit. However, don't discount using smaller tours and lesser known lodging facilities which are just as good if not better than the larger tours and lodges.
For better prices and some of the most beautiful parks avoiding the traffic jams of safari vehicles, head for the southern circuit, particularly Ruaha National Park where fees are still only $20 per person and the range of wildlife is much greater and the scenery spectacular. Iringa is a great place to base yourself to explore this area and sort out your safari trips.