5 Epic Things Not To Miss In Tanzania
Updated: Jan 7
From exploring the beautiful Zanzibar Island to going on a safari in Serengeti National Park, these are just some of the adventure activities in Tanzania!
Tanzania is one of Africa’s and the planet’s most beautiful and exciting travel destinations and a trip to this country should be on the bucket list of every traveler. Tanzania offers something for everyone, from climbing the famous Mount Kilimanjaro and observing spectacular wildlife in the Serengeti to exploring the labyrinthine alleys of Stone Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and relaxing on the exotic Indian Ocean beaches of Zanzibar. To help you plan your next holiday to Tanzania, We have compiled a list of my 5 preferred things to see & do in this stunning African nation.
1. WATCH THE GREAT MIGRATION IN THE SERENGETI
The Serengeti National Park offers the most dramatic stage for a classic African safari during the Great Migration, a 2000 km (1200 mi) annual circular odyssey of 1.5 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebras, all of them chasing the rains and fresh grasslands in a race for life, while being purchased by numerous predators. This spectacular phenomenon takes place in a unique scenic setting of treeless expanses of spectacularly flat short grasslands, dotted with rocky outcrops (kopjes), and interspersed with rivers and woodlands. The Serengeti also hosts one of the largest and most diverse large predator-prey interactions worldwide, providing a particularly impressive aesthetic experience, on condition that you visit the area in the right season. The best time to witness the migration in the Serengeti is probably February and March when the wildebeest and zebra congregate and calve in the Serengeti at the start of the rainy season. Not only can you enjoy seeing baby animals, but the predators are at their highest number too. In June and July, the great migration hops over to Kenya’s Masai Mara and this is the time that you can witness spectacular Grumeti River crossings with crocodiles killing their prey (although it is hard to predict the exact time of this event).
2. CLIMB MOUNT KILIMANJARO
One of the most visited sites in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro National Park is home to Africa’s highest mountain peak, about 4,900 meters (16,100 ft) from its base to 5,895 meters (19,341 ft) above sea level. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, Kilimanjaro is also the world’s tallest freestanding mountain; it’s standing there all by itself in a plain without being part of a mountain range. Unlike other national parks and game reserves in Tanzania, Kilimanjaro is not visited for the wildlife but for a chance to stand in awe of this majestic snow-capped mountain and, for many, to climb to the summit. While you do not have to be an expert climber to conquer the mountain (just regularly fit), do not take the exhausting climb – which takes at least 5 days – lightly. There are several climb routes up Kilimanjaro, varying in length and difficulty, with the best times to climb the mountain being the driest months of the year, especially January and February (short dry season) and July to September (the long dry season).
3. EXPLORE STONE TOWN, A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
Over the last 2000 years, Zanzibar has been in contact with Persia, India, Arabia, and the coast of East Africa, which has resulted in nothing short of an ardent history which is evident in the historic center of its main city, Stone Town, a UNESCO protected world heritage site. The story of Stone Town dates back to the end of the 15th century when the Portuguese arrived on the island. They remained there until the end of the 17th century, before being ousted by the Omani Arabs. Its heyday came in the early 19th century when the Sultan of Muscat moved his court to Stone Town: as spice cultivation was developed (particularly the clove tree) and the slave trade was at its height, Stone Town became the most important city and harbor in East Africa. Today, the traders have left but the town retains its urban fabric and townscape virtually intact. Stone Town’s winding alleys and bustling markets are lined by historic Omani palaces and filled with rich aromas of spices, perfumes, and local handicrafts.
4. BE AWE-INSPIRED BY THE NGORONGORO CRATER
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a protected area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located west of the Tanzanian city of Arusha. The jewel in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the Ngorongoro crater, the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic crater, formed when a giant volcano (as high as Mount Kilimanjaro) exploded and collapsed some three million years ago. The Ngorongoro crater sinks to a depth of 610 meters (2000 feet), with a base area covering 260 square kilometers (100 square miles). The crater contains thousands of large animals including endangered black rhinoceros and herds of wildebeests, zebras, and Thomson’s gazelles. The crater also has the densest known population of lions, numbering more than 60. Higher up, in the rainforests of the crater rim, are leopards, large elephants, mountain reedbuck, buffalos, spotted hyenas, jackals, rare wild dogs, and cheetahs. Apart from the main caldera, Ngorongoro also has two other volcanic craters: Olmoti and Empakai, the former famous for its stunning waterfalls, and the latter holding a deep lake and lush, green walls.
5. TRACK CHIMPANZEES IN GOMBE STREAM NATIONAL PARK
Gombe Stream, designated as a game reserve in 1943 and upgraded into a national park status in 1968, is located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania. Although Gombe Stream is off the beaten path and Tanzania’s smallest national park, the park is worldwide renowned because it’s here that Jane Goodall pioneered her behavioral research conducted on the park’s chimpanzee populations, which is believed to be the longest-running study of primates in the world. Gombe’s main attraction is obviously the 100-plus chimps that live protected in the park’s boundaries and that are well-habituated. Although hiking in Gombe Stream’s rainforest can be difficult and involves traversing steep hills and valleys, sightings are nearly guaranteed if you head out early in the morning. Besides chimpanzee viewing, many other species of primates live in Gombe Stream’s tropical forests, such as vervet and colobus monkeys, and baboons. Visitors to the park can not only trek into the forest to view the primates but also swim and snorkel in Lake Tanganyika with almost 100 kinds of colorful cichlid fish.