Top 12 things to do and see in Tanzania
Most people have heard of the Serengeti, but not everyone knows that it is in Tanzania. This remarkable wildlife reserve is, however, just one of the reasons to come to this great African country. Wildlife is certainly one of the main attractions for visitors to Tanzania, but there are also the Indian Ocean islands of Zanzibar, Mount Kilimanjaro, unique cultures and stunning scenery.
Here is our top 12 list of things to do and see in Tanzania.
Miles and miles of Africa lie waiting for you. A wide-open landscape of grasslands interrupted by acacia trees and rock kopjes is home to millions of animals. You will mostly explore this wilderness by 4×4 safari vehicle with an expert guide, often private, but you might want to consider a hot air balloon trip for a different perspective. Your choice of lodges and camps here is very good, and we can help you find the right camp for the standard and time of year you want to visit.
Of course the other very important aspect of this park is that it is the ecosystem where the annual wildebeest migration takes place, but this is such a key event that it deserves its own description, so please read the next point …
The Great Wildebeest Migration
Within the Serengeti ecosystem, including the Masai Mara in Kenya, there are roughly 1.5 million wildebeest and half a million zebras, plus Thompson’s gazelles and elands, which are on a never-ending circuit of this vast wilderness. Following the rains which bring fresh grass, the herds move around this circle of life, giving birth in the southern plains around February, moving west and north, arriving in northern Serengeti and the Mara by about July, then setting off back south about October. But bear in mind that nothing is set in stone, it’s all about the rains.
This is not only a UNESCO world heritage site, but a quite unique African Eden. In this ancient caldera (remnants of an enormous extinct volcano) measuring 16kms in diameter, the grasslands, freshwater and soda lakes, and acacia forests are home to a wide diversity of wildlife including the big five. Giraffes and impalas are the only common species you won’t find here.
Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains
The Mahale Mountains are in the west of the country on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. There are around 1000 chimpanzees here, plus 8 other primate species such as red colobus monkeys and baboons.
The experience of tracking and watching chimps in the wild is magical and thrilling, and it is made even more special because of the beautiful landscape as well as the places you can stay here.
Choose Greystoke Mahale if you can push the boat out, but if not, pick the less expensive Kungwe Beach Lodge, but either way, get yourself here!
Zanzibar & the Indian Ocean spice islands
Whether you’re planning a visit to Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast as a standalone beach holiday or as a bit of chilling out following a safari or perhaps after climbing Kilimanjaro, there is plenty choice of gorgeous places to stay.
You’ll certainly want to flop by the coast for a time, but make sure you also leave some time to explore Stone Town too. Divers and snorkellers are in seventh heaven here, with some world class diving sites to choose from.
African’s highest peak towers 5,895m above the plains beneath. Kilimanjaro is a summit just begging to be conquered. It is not a technical climb, as in you don’t need ropes and crampons and so on, but don’t underestimate it, it’s a tough climb.
Talk to us about the various routes on offer, and we’ll advise which might suit you best.
The Maasai and other tribal cultures
There is little doubt that the Maasai tribe is one of the most widely recognised tribes of Africa. Warriors and elders with their red shukas (blankets) and beaded adornments are seen throughout northern Tanzania especially.
Their traditional culture is fascinating and learning about this is a great experience if done sensitively. Other tribes you might come across include the Iraqw and the Barabaig.
Ruaha National Park
This lesser-known park is actually Tanzania’s largest. In an area larger than the Serengeti it has only about 10 lodges, so this really is somewhere you can have almost to yourself. The wildlife here is truly excellent and it’s a beautiful region.
Often combined with Selous Game reserve, it’s neither the easiest nor the cheapest place to get to, but everyone that comes tends to agree that it’s very well worth it, and there are some first class places to stay.
Selous Game Reserve
Selous is only about an hour’s light plane flight from Dar es Salaam so links extremely well with the coast and Zanzibar without too much travelling. The reserve is good for a diverse range of wildlife, and one of the best places in Africa for wild dogs.
One of the things that makes this reserve so good is that you can see the wildlife in different ways; as well as game drives, you can enjoy walking safaris and boat trips on the Rufiji River and Lake Tagalala
It’s miles from anywhere, and hardly anybody comes here – this is the attraction, or one of them. The other is that in this small park, especially July to October (the dry season) the concentration of wildlife can be remarkable.
There are only 3 camps here, each at a different price point, with Chada Katavi at the top end, though all are quite rustic. It’s not for the first-time safari goer, but if you want something unusual this is one to consider.
This inhospitable soda lake between the Ngorongoro highlands and the Maasai mountain of God, Ol Donyo Lengai, is a hugely important breeding ground for lesser flamingos.
A visit here tends only to be for the hardy traveller as it’s quite extreme in terms of the terrain and the accommodation is limited (and very simple), but if you want some dramatic scenery, some amazing walks, and to see thousands of flamingos, give it a try.
Tarangire National Park
Tarangire is one of the parks on the northern circuit. It’s only about 1½ hours drive from Arusha, so you can be here relatively soon after landing in Kilimanjaro airport.
The park is dotted with ancient baobab trees, giving it a unique character, and the Tarangire River runs through it attracting wildlife from miles around in the dry season (July to October especially). It might not have the same repute as the Serengeti, but we’d highly recommend a visit, especially if you like elephants.