Most people visit Tanzania to throw themselves into the abundance of wildlife for which the country is renowned. The northern safari circuit is the most often travelled and offers some of the world’s most diverse safari experiences including the lush and abundant Ngorongoro Crater, the world famous Serengeti National Park, and the beautiful wilderness of Tarangire National Park. The southern parks are more remote and generally offer game drives in open-sided vehicles as well as walking safaris and boat cruises and allow for a more intimate safari experience.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, +255 27 250 3471
Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, +255 27 250 3471
The Great Rift Valley began forming over 20 million years ago when the earth’s crust weakened and began tearing apart. This caused many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, forcing the valley floor to sink lower and resulted in unique landscapes and some of the most famous habitats for wildlife on the continent. One of these is Lake Manyara, described by Ernest Hemingway as ‘the loveliest I have seen in Africa’, and the picturesque lake is home to a plethora of birdlife and mammals. Others, such as Lake Tanganyika, the longest in the lake in the world, boasts brilliantly coloured cichlid fish, while the purple lava walls of Lake Eyasi contrast beautifully against its white alkaline shallows.
The Oldupai Gorge Archaeological Site is the most important of its kind in East Africa and situated within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It holds the remains of the earliest humans ever found and were first discovered by archaeologists Louis and Mary Leakey in 1959. The first skull discovered was named Zinjanthropus, or ‘Nutcracker Man’, and is believed to have lived about 1.75 million years ago. Other important finds include Homo habilis and the Laetoli footprints. Archaeologists continue to work on these excavation sites during the dry season and they have been preserved for public viewing. At the top of the gorge there is a small museum, cultural boma, and market selling Maasai souvenirs.
Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania, +255 718 707 330
While most associate Tanzania with safari vehicles rather than canoes, there are a handful of beautiful places where visitors can enjoy a safari experience of a different kind. Lake Momella within the Arusha National Park offers still, calm waters that make for excellent boating conditions while the amazing wildlife can be admired on the shores of the lake. The sodium-rich lake also attracts flamingos all year around. Expect to see animals hippo, bushbuck, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, and smaller species of forest antelope.
Arusha National Park, Tanzania, +255 27 250 3471
The coffee growing village of Karatu is situated along Tanzania’s famous northern safari circuit. It offers a colourful stop-over filled with stalls selling vegetables and tourist memorabilia and, of course, coffee plantations. Coffee has been grown in Tanzania for many years and is one of the country’s most important exports. Karatu, with its mineral-rich volcanic soil and altitude in the northern highlands, produces excellent coffee beans. There are a number of coffee plantations in the region and while visiting, learn more about the coffee production process and admire the verdant coffee crops.
The Maasai people are synonymous with Tanzania and arguably as well-known as the wildlife that roams the country’s grassy plains. They are also a highly skilled tribe that produce intricately beaded jewellery, beautiful blankets, and ornate wood carvings, to name just a few. The markets are generally a better and cheaper place to pick up souvenirs than hotel establishments so prepare to haggle.
Pemba Island forms part of the Zanzibar Archipelago and the channel that separates the island from Tanzania’s mainland houses amazing coral reefs and an abundance of marine life. Some of the best diving opportunities in East Africa are available in these waters that offer fantastic visibility and hover around a lovely, warm 26°C (78.8°F). Hard and soft coral gardens support a proliferation of reef and pelagic fish as well as other marine life. Those not into diving can simply sit back and admire the awesome turquoise sea that contrasts breathtakingly against white, sandy beaches. Remote, pristine and untouched, there is simply no excuse to not visit this stunning gem.
Zanzibar has long been affectionately known as Tanzania’s Spice Island, and a tour through the spicy history of the city makes for an aromatic morning out. Guided tours will take visitors through villages and spice plantations where people can watch the spice farmers work and learn more about the local, organically grown herbs that are used in traditional dishes, medicine, and even dyes for ceremonial outfits. Afterwards, purchase fresh spices directly from their source and add them into dishes for an authentic taste of Zanzibar.