14 Life-Changing Experiences You Can Have Only in Tanzania

Happy and relaxed chimp
Happy and relaxed chimp | © BelaMarie / Pixabay
Gill Lange

With its amazing combination of wild African animals, tropical beaches, rich history and culture, unique and awe-inspiring experiences are not difficult to find in Tanzania. We give you the lowdown on a few epic adventures to enjoy in this awesome corner of East Africa that may change your outlook on life forever.

1. The Great Wildebeest Migration


Migrating wildebeest
© skeeze / Pixabay
The annual wildebeest and zebra migration is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles and Tanzania gives you a front row seat to the show. This annual event sees thousands of animals move across the plains of the Serengeti in search of food, and is probably the best opportunity you will get to see scores of Africa animals all at one time.

2. The Underwater Room at The Manta Resort

Resort, Hotel

The Underwater Room at The Manta Resort offers a submarine-like room with a bed that gives you underwater ocean views all around. Your only visitors as you drift off at night will be schools of tropical fish passing by, while those that prefer sky views can chill out on the wooden deck above for epic images of the Milky Way. Although the Underwater Room appears to drift amidst the sea, it is in fact anchored to the ground, so you don’t have to worry about floating off into the deep blue ocean.

3. Kilwa Kisiwani Ruins


Part of the Kilwa Kisiwani ruins
© Ron Van Oers / WikiCommons

The island of Kilwa Kisiwani off the coast of Tanzania was once the centre of one of the greatest empires in East Africa and a wealthy and powerful port. It played a pivotal role in the development of Swahili civilization and today the ruins of the Great Mosque, the oldest in East Africa, can still be admired. Another interesting site is the Palace of Husuni Kubwa that overlooks the island and was once the largest building in sub-Saharan Africa.

4. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Natural Feature

Mount Kilimanjaro
© Roman Boed / Flickr
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest in Africa and whether you reach the peak or not, climbing its slopes is bound to be a life-changing exercise. Many have wept with pain or cried with joy on reaching its snowcapped peaks, as the feeling of standing on top of the world is a profoundly emotional experience. Trekking to the summit is, however, not recommended for the ill-prepared, so if Mount Kilimanjaro is on your bucket list, start training now.

5. Lake Natron

Natural Feature

Flamingos on Lake Natron
© Christoph Strässler / Flickr
Sitting at the lowest point of the Great Rift Valley and believed to be the world’s most caustic body of water, Lake Natron presents some of the most unusual and dramatic scenery in Tanzania. The remote and scorching region at the foothills of Oldoinyo Lengai, a smouldering and active volcano, features very little wildlife. Despite the hostile environment and extremely alkaline water, the lake is nevertheless home to a fascinating ecosystem of microorganisms that give the water its unusual pinky-red tinge. The organisms are also a favorite meal for flamingos and Natron is most famed for being the only regular breeding area for lesser flamingoes in East Africa.

6. Ol Doinyo Lengai

Natural Feature

Ol Doinya Lengai
© Michael Rückl, Arzberg / WikiCommons

This Tanzanian volcano is the only active volcano in the world that spews out carbonatite lave instead of silica, which results in some rather bizarre and unusual sights. Its cool temperature, compared to other volcanic magna, means that the lava can harden in seconds and sometimes shatters mid-air before falling over the slopes. It also contains a high level of alkaline elements such as calcium, sodium, and potassium, which give the lava unusual colour features.

7. Mingle with chimps at the Gombe National Park

Natural Feature

Chimps at Gombe
© gill_penney / Flickr

Small and intimate, this protected piece of land on the southern shores of Lake Tanganyika is home to the Kasekela chimpanzee community, who have featured in numerous books and documentaries. The park is where Jane Goodall once conducted her behavioral research on chimps, and various different primate species live here. Take a trek through the park to meet the chimps and be amazed at all the human characteristics they possess.

8. Oldupai Gorge Museum


Hominid recreations at the Oldupai Gorge Museum
© Pflege24 / WikiCommons
This area houses the most famous archeological location in East Africa, where hominid footprints preserved in volcanic rock represent some of the earliest signs of humankind in the world. The prehistoric footprint’s shape, length, and toes show that these hominids were bipedal and walked upright on two legs just as we do today, way before the use of stone tools. The museum, founded by Mary Leakey, is dedicated to the appreciation and understanding of the Oldupai Gorge and Laetoli fossil sites and has a hall solely dedicated to the Laetoli fossilized footprints.

9. Forodhani Gardens

Market, African

Forodhani Gardens night market
© David Berkowitz / Flickr
For a feast of flavor, head to Forodhani Gardens, where the evening food markets offer all the tastes of Zanzibar. This small, historic park is located in the heart of Stone Town and is the perfect spot to go if you’d like to get to know the locals better and try some great food with a distinctly Zanzibarian flair.

10. Kuza Cave

Natural Feature

Cave entrance on Zanzibar island
© Toni Birrer / Flickr

This sacred and religious site offers visitors a glimpse into a wondrous underground world where rivers snake their way through the earth against a backdrop of magnificent stalagmites and stalactites. Although much of the cave lies still to be discovered, its fresh, flowing water once attracted animals and humans alike, with bones found strewn around the cave indicating that giraffe and waterbuck once visited it. The cave has also long been a place of worship for the local population and holds crystal-clear pools, some up to eight feet (two meters) deep.

11. Game viewing in a hot-air balloon

Natural Feature

Magic and exhilaration combine when you take to the sky to float over the plains of one of the most famous wildlife-viewing destinations in the world. Moments such as these only come along once or twice in a lifetime, if you’re lucky, and a surreal hot-air balloon trip over the Serengeti is highly recommended. Watch herds of buffalo and zebra race across golden plains, and feel the kiss of the rinsing African sun on your back as you return to nature and recharge.

12. Swim with dolphins at Kizimkazi

Natural Feature

Dolphins in Kizimkazi bay
© Umberto Nicoletti / Flickr

Dolphins are highly intelligent, sociable creatures and an opportunity to interact with them simply has to rate as a life-altering experience. The still, clear water that surrounds the island of Kizimkazi offers the perfect conditions to meet these fabulous mammals as you don a snorkeling kit and explore. Please note that dolphins are extremely sensitive animals and should be respected at all times.

13. Melt into the peace of Selous Game Reserve

Natural Feature

Sunset in Selous
© Marco Zanferrari / Flickr

This sprawling reserve is the largest in Africa and offers an entirely different experience to the Serengeti. It is a UNESCO Word Heritage Site and prohibits any permanent habitation within its boundaries, leading to an incredibly remote and un-touristy feel. The reserve covers an immense area consisting of swamps, hills, and grasslands and when booking a safari it is very likely that you won’t see another soul the entire time you are there. An immense variety of wildlife and birds are housed in this exquisite setting, virtually undisturbed by human interaction.

14. Connect with the past in Stone Town

Cathedral, Mosque, Shop

Streets of Stone Town
© Rod Waddington / Flickr
This UNESCO World Heritage Site exudes an eclectic atmosphere that floats through its narrow, winding streets and age-old buildings. Here, history mingles with modern-day life, with remnants of the past telling age-old stories of good and bad fortune. The city is a place to connect with history and culture and its gorgeous architecture reflects the many languages, tastes, and ethnicities that have influenced the town over the years. Interesting landmarks include the House of Wonders, constructed by the second Sultan of Zanzibar, and the Arab Fort, built in the late 17th century by the Omanis.

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