TANZANIA TRAVEL GUIDE
Tanzania is home to Africa’s geographical extremes – the highest peak (Mount Kilimanjaro), the lowest point (Lake Tanganyika), and the largest lake (Lake Victoria – also shared with Uganda and Kenya). When in Tanzania, travelers often seek the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro or venture off on a safari in one of the many national parks. On safari here you can spot lions, elephants, rhinos, and gazelles in the Ngorongoro Crater, the great migration of wildebeest and zebra in Serengeti National Park, or watch chimpanzees in their natural habitat in Gombe Stream National Park. For a more relaxing trip, head to Zanzibar, just off the coast of Tanzania, where you can scuba dive in crystal clear water and lounge on white sand beaches.
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT TANZANIA
The high season is June through September, when the climate is cool and dry. This tends to be the best time for hiking Kilimanjaro, as well as the ideal time for spotting wildlife, when the animals gather around available water. For the best visibility for scuba diving avoid the rainy season, which is the end of March through May.
TOP OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES IN TANZANIA
Hiking – the highest point in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro (5896m), is the ultimate vertical challenge! Nearby Mount Meru (4566m) also offers a scenic and challenging ascent.
Scuba Diving – find world-class dive sites in the archipelago of Zanzibar, which consists of main islands Unguja and Pemba and many smaller islands, or scope out what’s under the surface of freshwater Lake Tanganyika.
Beaches – the white sand beaches of Zanzibar are frequented by scuba divers, snorkelers, and honeymooners. Head on a food and spice tour when you’ve had enough sun.
Safari – about ⅓ of Tanzania’s land is protected, including 16 national parks, which makes it an unparalleled destination for viewing animals in their natural habitats.
Canoe + Boating – safari by water – canoe past thousands of pink flamingos in Lake Manyara, or access deserted beaches around Zanzibar by motor boat.
GETTING TO TANZANIA
There are direct and one-stop flights from overseas to Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar airports. From there it’s best to arrange local transport through a tour or safari operator. Renting a car, traveling by bus, traveling by plane, are all available, but come with their own risks. Travel by train in between the country’s major cities is usually reliable – generally the more you spend, the more comfortable the experience.
TOP TANZANIA TOWNS TO EXPLORE
Dar es Salaam, once a small fishing village, has turned into East Africa’s second-busiest port and the commercial hub of the country. You’ll find old architecture mixed in with brand new high-rises as you wander to coastal restaurants and craft markets.
Arusha is the kickoff point for many safaris and cultural tours, so it’s likely you might end up here. At the base of volcanic Mt. Meru, Arusha is located near Serengeti National Park, Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Unguja is the largest and most populated island in the Zanzibar archipelago. Once a stop along the Spice Trade, Zanzibar is still one of the only producers of saffron. Visit the spice farms to see how anise, pepper, and other Middle Eastern and Asian spices are grown.
At the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, Moshi is full of travelers on their way up or just getting back from their trek. In the center of the coffee growing region, you’ll find a good cup of joe and cultural coffee farm tours. If you prefer lower altitudes, there are plenty of day hikes on the lower part of the mountain.
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NATIONAL PARKS IN TANZANIA
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to one of the densest populations of mammals in Africa. The 1800 ft walls of the volcanic Ngorongoro Crater house 27,000 animals year-round, making it a spectacular wildlife viewing spot. The pink flamingos blanketing Lake Migadi are a sight for sore eyes.
During the dry season animals gather along the river in Tarangire National Park. In addition to the animals, you’ll also be able to spot impressively thick and ancient baobabs trees! It’s the closest park to the international airport in Kilimanjaro airport.
Lake Manyara National Park is mostly covered by Lake Manyara, a massive watering hole where elephants, lions, hippos, and flamingos gather, not to mention the largest population of baboons in the world!
Mount Kilimanjaro National Park is one of the most frequented destinations in Tanzania, as summit-seekers flock to the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak on the African continent. It’ll take you about six days to climb up and down.
Serengeti National Park is the largest national park in Tanzania and is known for the great migration of wildebeest, accompanied by zebra, gazelle, eland and impala. Potentially more awe-inspiring is wildebeest calving season.
The smallest of the parks, Gombe Stream National Park, was made famous by Jane Goodall’s work with chimpanzees. On guided treks you can watch chimps in the wild and keep an eye out for the birds, there are over 200 species!
OTHER MUST-SEE TANZANIA DESTINATIONS
Thanks for the marine protected area around Mafia Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, you can spend many happy afternoons underwater looking for all 400 species of fish, colorful coral gardens, and enormous sea fans. Mafia Island is also a breeding site for the green turtle.
Stroll the vibrant streets and visit the open-air markets of Stone Town, the historic quarter and UNESCO World Heritage Centre of Unguja Island. The mixture of Persian, Arabian, Indian and European architectural styles, some of which dates back to the 19th century, are remnants of the diverse cultural influences throughout its history.
Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater lake in Africa. You can hike around the lake, take a boat or plan a fishing trip. Bring your binoculars for the most epic of birdwatching.
Selous Game Reserve is the largest game reserve in Africa and because visitor access is restricted it is one of the most natural and wild. With access to just a small portion of the reserve, you are still likely spot elephants, hippos, rhinos, giraffe, wildebeest, lion, leopard and cheetah along the Rufiji River.