From astounding wilderness regions to the highest peak in Africa and the glittering beaches of Zanzibar, it’s no wonder that Tanzania is a popular destination. There’s so much to choose from, but we’ve narrowed it down to ten things we believe are a must…
1. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain and is also known as “The Roof of Africa” or “Kili.” It’s comprised of three volcanic cones – Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. Standing at almost 5000 metres tall, it’s located in the Kilimanjaro National Park, home to a variety of wildlife including leopard, blue monkey, elephant and Cape buffalo, to name but a few. There are seven official trekking routes with Machame being the most scenic (you’ll have to brave the steep climb though).
Reaching the top: A simple wooden box in which climbers can record their thoughts waits at the top.
2. Music and dance in Dar es Salaam
Known as the “musical centre of Africa”, Dar es Salaam boasts an electric night life where you can enjoy the sweet sounds of Tanzanian pop as well as the country’s unique take on hip-hop, known as Bongo Flava, at one of the city’s many beach bars. The country’s longest standing style though is live dance music – “muziki wa dansi”. Music lovers won’t leave the city disappointed.
3. Explore the Ngorongoro Crater
Tanzania has the largest concentration and diversity of animals in Africa, owing to its plethora of national parks and reserves. But it’s the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera that is the jewel in Tanzania’s crown or “Africa’s Garden of Eden.” A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the blend of grasslands, lakes, rivers, swamps, mountains and woodland forms an incredible ecosystem that is a haven for different animals, including Africa’s largest predator population, as well as abundant Cape buffalo. It’s also the best place to see the endangered black rhino.
Did you know: The Ngorongoro Conservation area is also one of the last places in Africa where tribal society and wild Africa live side by side. Maasai herdsmen can be found ushering their herds alongside the wildlife.
4. Southern Circuit safari
If you’re looking for a safari experience that is as rugged, wild and authentically African as it gets, give Tanzania’s Southern Circuit a go. Whilst the entire country offers wonderful national parks, it’s the north that is the most visited. The south, however, is where you’ll find the Selous Game Reserve, the world’s largest game reserve, as well as other parks such as the Ruaha National Park (Tanzania’s largest national park). The roads here are not in tip-top shape and the driving distance are longer, but you will experience unspoiled wilderness without the crowds.
5. A hiker’s dream
Avid hikers can choose from the volcanic slops of Ol Doinyo Lengai and the “less-than-Kili-daunting” Mount Meru. The Empaakai Crater also offers some excellent exploring, with the crater floor and shores of Lake Empaakai being home to an array of animals and birdlife. From the rim you’ll have a stunning view of the landscapes beyond. Arusha National Park’s lack of predators makes it the ideal place for walking safaris.
Good to know: The Ol Doinyo Lengai hike is challenging and is completed at night because during the day the heat emitted from the volcano is too hot for comfortable hiking conditions. Bonus trip: if you’d prefer to canoe instead of hike, the calm waters of Lake Momella in the Arusha National Park showcase flamingo, hippo, buffalo and more.
6. An island paradise
The Indian Ocean Island of Zanzibar has some of the most idyllic powdery beaches in the world (our favourites are Nungwi and Kendwa), and provides the perfect place to relax and unwind after a safari adventure. Both sun-worshippers and water babies will love it here for the incredible snorkelling or diving opportunities in azure waters that are home to exotic corals and intriguing marine life. The capital city of Stone Town is steeped in history and culture with an infectious energy. Explore the winding alleyways, sip coffee at one of the many coffee shops and shop at the vibrant markets and bazaars. Make sure you take in a spice tour because after all, this is the “Spice Island”.
Off the beaten track: Nearby Pemba and Mafia are unspoiled island paradises that offer a quieter alternative, with Pemba being the spot to enjoy some of the best diving opportunities in East Africa.
Our Zanzibar Beach itinerary is just what you’re looking for.
7. Food, glorious food
Tanzanian cuisine is a delicious mix of traditional African food and Arabic/Indian flavours. Particularly if you’re visiting Zanzibar, the fresh seafood available is out of this world, plus there’s a unique night food market that bursts with different aromas and taste sensations. Tanzania is also a world leader in coffee production, while residents love the locally brewed banana beer – just beware: it’s rather potent stuff!
Wake up and smell the coffee: The coffee growing village of Karatu is well worth a visit if you’re interested in learning about the growing and trade processes.
8. Trek with the chimps
In west Tanzania, along the shores of Lake Tanganyika, you’ll find the small and remote Mahale National Park. This is where you can experience a chimpanzee trek and observe these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat. This is truly a very special encounter with their incredibly human-like behaviour feeling just like a mirror.
Fancy trekking with the chimps? Our Western Tanzania Safari & Chimpanzees itinerary is an amazing experience.
9. Hot-air balloon over the Serengeti
A hot-air balloon safari over the immense plains of the Serengeti provides you with a unique bird’s-eye view. You’ll witness the magic of the rising sun from up in the air and marvel at the landscapes below, possibly seeing the famous Great Migration unfold beneath you. A hot-air balloon safari over the Serengeti is a luxury activity, but one you will forever be glad you did.
10. The Great Migration and the Maasai people
The annual Great Migration is of course a huge pull for people visiting Tanzania. Millions of wildebeest, accompanied by zebra and antelope, make their way from the plains of the Serengeti to the more plentiful grazing lands of the Masai Mara in Kenya. It’s an incredible feat of nature that will leave you in awe; we recommend catching a river crossing if possible. And then there are the fascinating Maasai Mara tribe who are about as famous as the country’s wildlife! Identifiable by their distinctive red cloth (called a Shuka), they are highly skilled and have a lively culture with customs such as their famed jumping dance. Visiting the tribe is a popular activity that gives you valuable insight into their way of life.
Take a piece of Tanzania home with you: The Maasai make intricately beaded jewellery, ornate wood carvings, gorgeous blankets and more, one or two of which would make for a colourful and beautiful reminder of your time in Tanzania.
We’d love to help you experience Tanzania for yourself. Connect with our Portfolio Journeys consultants for a tailor-made itinerary for you in line with your preferences.