Experience the best places to visit in Tanzania
Tanzania is home to some of Africa’s most famous national parks and natural attractions, including the beautiful Mount Kilimanjaro. The most popular things to do in Tanzania and the reason many people visit the country, are the safaris and wildlife-related adventures.
Most visitors will find themselves passing through Dar es Salaam and heading out to the wilderness areas and other destinations. For those who want to spend some time soaking up the sun, the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar beckon.
Pemba and Mafia islands is another kind of natural wonder, appreciated by the divers and snorkelers who come here from around the world to experience the coral gardens, variety of fish, and crystal clear waters.
One of the Seven Summits and certainly the most famous mountain on the continent, Mount Kilimanjaro lives up to its purported name: ‘mountain of greatness’. It is the fourth highest mountain in the world by topographic prominence and also the highest freestanding mountain in the world. Kilimanjaro dominates the landscape
of northern Tanzania. Because of its prominence, Kilimanjaro is a major tourist destination for mountaineers hoping to summit one of its three (dormant) volcanic cones. There are a number of wellbeaten paths to summit the huge mountain – which one you partake in will often depend on what time of year you visit, so we will advise accordingly.
Serengeti National park
Potentially the most famous safari destination on the planet, the only word that truly comes close to describing it is ‘epic’. Taken from the Maasai phrase for ‘where the land runs on forever’, Serengeti National Park and the events that take place there truly deserve their place among the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.
Serengeti is home to the largest wildebeest, zebra, and lion populations in Africa, and is the location of many incredible natural wonders including the world’s second-largest terrestrial mammal migration , the Great Migration. In short, Serengeti defies description – as so much wonder and beauty cannot truly be explained: it must simply be experienced.
Ngorongoro conservation area
180 kilometres west of Arusha, in the Crater Highlands of Tanzania, lies a true marvel of nature – the Ngorongoro Crater. Having held hominid habitation for the past 3 million years, Ngorongoro’s unique landscape, geology, and wildlife have created a thriving miniature ecosystem – truly deserving its place as one of the Seven Wonders of Africa. Because of the high concentration of animals in such a relatively small and iconic setting, this is an incredibly popular tourist destination, if not the most popular destination in Tanzania. The Conservation Area also extends outside the crater, including some of the surrounding land and Olduvai Gorge.
Ruaha national park
In 2008 Ruaha National Park became Tanzania’s largest park. It is home to large herds of buffalo and gazelle, and has one of the largest concentration of elephants in Tanzania. The Great Ruaha River is the main feature of Ruaha National Park, providing magnificent wildlife viewing on the banks. The river also provides much of the electricity to Tanzania through a hydroelectric dam at Kidatu.
Ruaha National Park is the least accessible park in Tanzania and as a result the landscape remains relatively untouched. Birdwatcher’s can enjoy over 400 species of bird that are not found in northern Tanzania, and the river, spectacular gorges, and majestic trees are especially appealing to photographers.
TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
Tarangire National Park is best known for its massive herds of elephant. During the dry season herds of up to three hundred elephant of all ages and sizes converge on Tarangire’s permanent water source and can be seen digging in the once full riverbed in search of underground springs.
Tarangire’s wildlife is best viewed during the dry months from July to October when zebra, wildebeest, buffalo and the rarer Fringe-eared Oryx and eland gather at the last remaining water holes or shelter from the fierce sun under squat baobab trees. During these months the park boasts the greatest wildlife concentration outside the Serengeti. Also common in Tarangire National Park are pythons, which with patience and keen observance may be spotted coiled in tree branches.
ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK
The often overlooked Arusha National Park is the closest national park to Arusha in the northern safari circuit and offers the discerning traveller the opportunity to discover a rich diversity of habitats and wildlife in one day.
The lush montane forest surrounding Ngurdoto Crater is home to blue monkeys and the black and white colobus monkey, while the crater itself encloses a fertile, swampy floor scattered with herds of buffalo and warthog. Birdlife in the park abounds, with more than 400 species on display. Canoeing around the Momela Lakes is the perfect way to view the abundant birdlife including, at times, thousands of greater and lesser flamingos. Zebra and Giraffe graze lazily on the grassy hills while the elusive duiker dive into the undergrowth in the woodland. Leopards can be seen lurking around the forests in the early morning and late afternoons.
SAADANI NATIONAL PARK
This is Tanzania’s first national park that fronts onto an ocean, and was gazetted in 2005. It is 1178 sq km and is sparsely populated, compromising of forest areas and coastal villages. Saadani National Park is located between Bagamoyo and Tanga and only 40km to the Zanzibar Islands. Adventures to the historical town of Bagamoyo should be a strong consideration, with sensational ruins and slave trade history abound.
There are strong populations of elephants, hippos, crocodiles, antelope, giraffe, buffalo, lions, leopards, wildebeest, primates and an array of other species – the numbers are amazing for such a small area, especially along the Wami River.
MIKUMI NATIONAL PARK
Mikumi National Park is the entrance point for the great Southern Circuit of Tanzania, bordering Selous Game Reserve and in close proximity to Iringa (2 hours) and Dar es Salaam (3 hours) – 3230 sq km.
Most people visiting Mikumi only get to see the northern 15%, known as the Mkata flood plain of clay-based cotton soil. For this reason you should avoid visiting Mikumi in April/May when this area turns into clogging mud making some of the area inaccessible.
Mikumi was gazetted in 1964 and is Tanzania’s fourth largest park and there are over 32 large mammal species to be found there: elephant, hippo, lion, zebra, wildebeest, impala, élans, etc.
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park is comprised of forest, woodland, grasslands, and swamps. Two-thirds of the park is covered by water and Lake Manyara is host to thousands of flamingoes, at certain times of year, as well as other diverse bird life. The highlight of Lake Manyara Park is the large population of elephants, tree-climbing lions, and hippos, which can be observed at a much closer range than in other parks. This park is also home to the largest concentration of baboons in the world.
Wildlife drives, canoeing (when water levels are high enough), mountain bike tours and bird watching are the most popular activities in Lake Manyara National Park.
Approximately 20km off the east coast of the Tanzanian Mainland is the archipelago of Zanzibar. The name itself congers up exotic visions of mysterious mazes of alleyways, the wafting scent of cloves and white-sailed dhows cruising the azure waters. While this is true, Zanzibar has an infamous past; that of a key player in the 19th century slave trade. The main area of Stone Town is a fine example of the Swahili way of life and its architecture reflects the cultures of Africa, the Arab region, India, and Europe from which travellers have arrived from for more than a millennium.