From the towering wonder of Mount Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar’s beautiful beaches and from the rich culture of the Maasai people to the stunning safari destinations of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania should be at the top of everyone’s Africa bucket list!
The first place to visit is Arusha. A bustling city which often serves as the starting point for safaris to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks. Arusha has a lot of charm of its own and is a great place to experience Tanzanian life. Visit the Maasai Market to pick up some souvenirs including Maasai art, jewellery, wooden crafts and lots more.
Next stop, head to the Serengeti National Park. The Serengeti is definitely a contender for the best safari in Africa and it’s the reason many people choose to come to Tanzania in the first place. Vast and open, this national park is teeming with all the wildlife you can imagine and stretches for miles and miles. The name ‘Serengeti’ actually means ‘the place where the land runs on forever’ in the Maasai language. It is also one of the prime locations to see the Great Migration of wildebeest which usually occurs in April/May time.
Camping is a great option, as you will want to stay for more than a day to ensure you see the ‘Big 5’, and there are a number of campsites right inside the park. These campsites are often frequented by hyenas, buffalo, zebra and even the occasional lion at night – you might not sleep well but it’s an unforgettable experience!
Near to the Serengeti National Park is one of the most stunning safari destinations in all of Africa, the Ngorongoro Crater. The crater was formed when a gigantic volcano exploded and then collapsed, creating the epic landscape we see today. The best time to go is very early in the morning as this is when the animals are most active and when you are likely to see the most. It is also one of the best places in the world to see the endangered black rhino.
From here, go to Lake Manyara. The landscape of Lake Manyara is quite different to that of the Serengeti – more jungle-like – and it’s a great place to see elephants and tree-climbing lions. It is also home to an alkaline lake which is famous for its flamingoes.
On the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, towering high into the clouds, are the jagged peaks of the Mahale Mountains. Covered in lush jungle forest and speckled with sparkling streams and waterfalls, the mountains are enchanting and home to a variety of mammals including chimpanzees – a must see!
Next stop is Lake Victoria, the largest lake on the African continent. It is so large that 5 countries have access to its shores: Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda. Rubondo Island is a tropical wildlife sanctuary in the middle of the lake. Forest elephants, giraffes, monkeys and even chimpanzees can be found in the remote Rubondo Island National Park. A lush green tropical forest habitat, both big and small species flourish here, with a wide variety of birds and butterflies colouring the tree canopy. The waters teem with hippos, crocodiles and families of otters.
From here, head to Moshi. Moshi usually serves as the starting point for any Kilimanjaro expedition and is a great place to spend a couple of days before and after you climb. It’s a lovely town, a bit less hectic than Arusha and, with Kilimanjaro as the backdrop, it’s beautiful too. There are plenty of great day trips to take from Moshi, including a trip to Materuni village for a coffee tour, to see the Materuni Waterfalls and to experience the hospitality of the Chagga people.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world and the highest mountain in Africa. At 5,895 metres, the climb usually takes between 6 and 8 days, so you will definitely need that time in Moshi to rest your legs.
The final stop is Zanzibar. Zanzibar, known as “the Spice Island”, is described as a melting pot, with a blend of Arabic, African, Indian and European heritages, creating a unique cultural mix on the island, rarely seen elsewhere. Zanzibar was a major trading hub for many things, including slaves. Hundreds of thousands of people were trafficked through Bagamoyo on the mainland to be sold in Zanzibar, then shipped to the east or the west, with many passing through Liverpool in the UK. You can visit the Slave Monument, the old Slave Market and visit the house of David Livingstone, an important figure in the abolition of the slave trade, who once called Zanzibar home.
Go to Stone Town, which is the old town of Zanzibar City. It is a great place to for shopping where you can buy paintings, jewellery, material, wooden carvings, Maasai bracelets, Zanzibar chests and exotic spices – don’t forget to barter for your souvenirs (the locals like to haggle!) Whilst walking around Stone Town, admire and photograph the Zanzibari doors. Many of the original doors are intact, ornately decorated and have meanings behind them. The most famous and photographed door is one at Tippu Tip’s House, a Zanzibarian slave and ivory trader from the 18th century.
To finish your Tanzanian tour, relax on the wonderful Zanzibari beaches. Go to Paje Beach and ride a traditional dhow or go scuba diving and snorkelling at the Mnemba Atoll. It’s a fantastic way to unwind after your travels.