Tanzania is an East African country of glorious wonder and breath-taking beauty known for its ancient cities, rich culture and exotic wildlife. Speaking of nature, Tanzania offers some of the marvellous safari adventures in the world. From the Serengeti National Park to the Tarangire National Park, it’s the embodiment of a dream safari adventure encompassing once-in-a-lifetime sights and experiences. But, safaris are not the only uniquely African experience that Tanzania has to offer. Tanzania has a range of popular destinations. There’s so much to see and do and often, so little time! We’ve included a list of everything that we believe you must experience. And, if you can’t experience them all at once, well then that’s just one more reason to visit again and pick up where you left off; as we say in Swahili, safari njema! Enjoy your trip!
Ah, the great Serengeti – the perfect place to anticipate the wonder of the great wildebeest migration. Serengeti, Swahili for “the place where the land runs on forever”, is one of the oldest ecosystems on the planet. Known for the greatest migration of animals on earth, these ‘endless plains’ is where you’ll experience this Seventh Wonder of the World. It’s possible to experience the migration twice a year, once during the July-November period and then again for the calving season in the southern part of the park around Ndutu in February-March.
The perfect place to stay in the Serengeti is the newly opened Namiri Plains camp, a conservation initiative to protect big cats (the cheetah in particular). Before Namiri Plains was built, these grasslands were closed for 20 years to allow the cheetah population to restore to previous numbers.
The Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area
© Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp
Nearly three million years old, it was once a rumbling volcano, now a massive crater comprising of an extensive highland area in northern Tanzania. This World Heritage Site is a must-see! The conservation area is also home to Olduvai Gorge, one of the world’s oldest fossil sites. In fact, the oldest human skull was found here as well as the earliest signs of social technology dating back 2 million years. Made up of wetlands, forest, grasslands, the crater is home to about 30 000 animals. It’s regarded as one of the most reliable areas for Big 5 sightings in East Africa.
Tarangire National Park
© Swala Camp
Tarangire is a beautifully diverse wilderness with forests, swamps and woodland areas are great for walking safaris. Home to Africa’s iconic baobab trees, the park has a whopping bird count of more than 500 species and a massive concentration of elephants along the Tarangire River – the only water source during the dry season. The baobab trees are reason to visit alone. These glorious lifeforms can reach up to 30 metres (98 feet) in height! That’s half as tall as The Leaning Tower of Pisa!
Tarangire is one of Tanzania’s best kept secrets. Rivaling the Serengeti in wildlife diversity and numbers, Tarangire is also a prime spot for walking safaris; if you wish to take a journey off the beaten track and venture deep into the wilderness, see our Tanzania North to South itinerary
Mount Kilimanjaro (or Kili as it’s known to the locals) is dormant volcano known for its dramatic snow-capped peaks. Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak and the world’s highest freestanding mountain, standing at 5 895 metres (19 340 feet) above sea level.
It’s not just about summiting this epic mountaintop. Here, you can encounter every type of ecological system can be found on Mount Kilimanjaro, including cultivated land, rain forest, heath, moorland, alpine desert, and an arctic-inspired summit. Even if you’re not a brave mountain climber, Kili is still a sight and experience to behold.
Although located in Tanzania, it is possible also to view the peak of the mountain on clear days from the neighboring Amboseli National Park in Kenya.
Lake Manyara National Park
© andbeyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge
Great for bird watching, you’ll see flocks of pelicans and flamingos in the middle of the lake. Ask us when the best time to visit for taking those incredible pastel-shaded shots that make this park a photographer’s dream. Home to some heavyweight species including buffalo, hippo, giraffe, elephant, leopard, and (now made famous by) its tree-climbing lions, this popular park is within an easy reach of Arusha and packs a punch.
The longest freshwater lake in the world and part of a series of lakes in the Rift Valley. Some say it’s the most beautiful lake in the whole of Africa and home to a substantial variety of mammals, birds and butterflies. It has deserted golden beaches, backed by tropical forest on mountain ridges. You can easily mistake it for an ocean island getaway. Snorkel in the shallow turquoise lagoons with a myriad of fish or see them from above on a boat cruise. The lake also offers a variety of kayak safaris if you’re keen to get moving and rid yourself of any ‘excess baggage’ you’re bound to pick up while on safari. One is spoilt for choice on how to take it all in.
The lake is home to many primates including Gombe and Mahale wild chimpanzees, making it the perfect place for chimp viewing. Chimp viewing sounds like a strange activity, yet it’s gaining much popularity. Other options where you can view habituated chimps are Rubondo Island in Lake Victoria and Greystoke Mahale.
Ruaha National Park
© Kwihala Camp
The name Ruaha is derived from the Great Ruaha River, which flows along its southeastern border, it is a must for game-viewing and a stronghold for the lion pride (as many as 30 lions in one pride!) and it currently holds 10% of the world’s lion population. It’s the biggest park with fewer safari camps meaning you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re the only ones there. Paradise! Our experienced guide Tayla will be hosting a private guided safari in Ruaha in September 2021, and we still have spots available.
The Selous Game Reserve
© Roho Ya Selous
Selous (pronounced ‘suh-loo’) game reserve is a protected area and proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982 due to its wildlife diversity and undisturbed nature. The Rufiji River forms an intricate network of channels, swamps and lakes through the reserve and one can enjoy boat rides that allow glimpses of the buffalo, hippo and crocodile. Selous is also a wild dog sanctuary. The Swahili nickname for the dogs is “chaka-chaka” – “the ones that trot”. Sadly, habitat loss and conflict with humans continue to drive them towards extinction, so the reserve offers them a sanctuary from further persecution. This fantastic area is also featured in Tayla’s hosted private guided safari in Selous in September 2021 – don’t forget to book your spot!
The Island of Zanzibar
© Matemwe Lodge
Lying on sun-drenched beaches with piña colada cocktails in hand, Zanzibar is the perfect island getaway. Slowly, slowly. Pole, pole! This is the pace of life on the Spice Island. An ideal honeymoon destination, where the glorious beaches offer exclusive accommodation options, it doesn’t get much more romantic than this.
Enjoy boat rides at sunset, water sports and many other beach activities. The aquatic life abounds within the coral reefs, should you fancy a scuba or snorkel. Add a dash of culture by visiting alluring Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and interestingly, the site of the world’s shortest war in history, the Anglo-Zanzibar War.
A great place to relax after a safari is Pemba island. This charming island forms part of the Zanzibar Archipelago and is a great place to switch off from the noise of the world. The coral reefs here are totally unspoilt and offer exquisite experiences that catch your breath. The island also boasts forests, swamps, mangroves, and hidden lagoons. It is also scattered with the ruins of mosques and tombs.
We have had some of our most incredible safari experiences in Tanzania. We want to share them with you. Why not browse our itineraries which encapsulate best that Africa has to offer in one country. There’s no better time than now to experience the treasures of Tanzania.
You’re welcome! Karibu!