Tanzania, officially the United Republic of Tanzania, is an East African country known for its nature-rich landscapes, exotic wildlife, soaring peaks, vast national parks, islands, beaches and much more. It is also home to Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain. Offshore tropical islands of Zanzibar, with Arabic influences is home to rich marine biodiversity including beautiful coral reefs. With such an abundance of nature, thrilling hiking trails and tranquil islands, Tanzania is a paradise for nature and adventure lovers alike.
Dar es Salaam
The historic city of Stone Town is known for old Arabian townhouses. The town is the cultural heart of Zanzibar. The grand Arabian homes lining the narrow streets and their bras-studded intricately carved wooden doors captivates you like no other. Other major highlights of this quaint town include Forodhani Gardens, Beit el-Sahel, Hamamni Persian Baths, Anglican Cathedral and City Hall. The oldest structure in this town, the Old Fort, built in 1888 is a must-visit for history buffs. Olduvai Gorge, situated in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, is an important archeological site in Tanzania. Several fossils and remnants of early mankind were discovered here. Askari Monument, situated in Dar es Salaam, commemorates the African troops who fought in World War I. National Museum and House of Culture, located in Dar es Salaam, takes you on a journey through Tanzania's vibrant past. The museum displays important fossils, traditional crafts, ornaments, vintage cars and musical instruments. Through these exhibitions you can learn about Tanzania's tribal heritage and the colonial period. Similarly, the Village Museum displays traditional dwellings from some of Tanzania's 120 ethnic groups.
Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro is an iconic landmark of Tanzania. This majestic snow-capped mountain is the major highlight of Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. You can climb this mountain at any time, although the best period is between late June and October. Formed over 1 million years ago, Kilimanjaro's rainforests are home to leopards, elephants, buffaloes, monkeys and eland. The alpine zone is perfect for bird watching as you can find abundance of birds of prey. Mount Meru, located in Arusha, is the second highest mountain in Tanzania giving climbers a strenuous yet memorable climbing experience. The summit offers breathtaking views of the volcanic cone lying thousands of feet below in the crater. For a similar adventurous experience you can embark on a trekking journey to the peak of Ol Doinyo Lengai Mountain. It passes through some astounding scenery with panoramic views of the Rift Valley. Other mountains in Tanzania are Mt. Hanang, Mt. Longido, Mt. Lemagrut and many others. Each mountain is unique from each other and yet offers the same adrenaline rush. Lake Victoria, bordered by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, is the largest freshwater lake in Africa. The towns of Musoma, Mwanza, Bukoba along its shore have a number of attractions. Fishing, hiking, and bird watching are popular activities arranged around this lake.
Serengeti National Park shelters millions of animals including wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and the Big Five. You can spot these exotic animals especially during the annual migration. As the second largest national park in Tanzania, Serengeti is very popular among nature and animal lovers. Ngorongoro Conservation Area, located between the Serengeti and Lake Manyara, is home to one of Tanzania's most popular wildlife viewing areas. It is also home to the magnificent volcanic Ngorongoro Crater. This crater has a permanent supply of water, which draws thousands of animals to stay in this area instead of migrating. You can see various animals on the crater floor, including lions, Thomson's gazelles, elephants, zebras, wildebeests, buffaloes and a small population of the rare black rhino. Lake Magadi is the prime attraction which attracts flocks of flamingos. Even hippos submerge themselves here during the day. Lake Manyara National Park encompasses lush green forests, grasslands, swamps and woodland. Lake Manyara situated in the heart of this park, is host to thousands of flamingos as well as other diverse bird life. You can observe a large population of elephants, baboons, hippos, and tree-climbing lions at a much closer range than in other parks. You can also indulge in canoeing, mountain biking and wildlife drives here. Tarangire National Park is another beautiful treasure trove of wildlife. During the dry season, it has one of the highest concentrations of migratory wildlife that includes zebra, wildebeest, impala, gazelle, elephants, hartebeest and many others. You'll also find vibrant birds such as buzzards, herons, storks, falcons, kites, eagles and vultures. If you want to see chimpanzees you should visit the Gombe National Park. Beside chimps, many species of mammals, primates and birds live in this park. Hiking and swimming are popular activities you can indulge in. A nature-rich trail leads into the forest to a waterfall in the valley. Nestled on the Lake Tanganyikan shoreline, Mahale Mountains is also one of the best places for up-close encounters with chimpanzees. Selous is the biggest game reserve in Africa encompassing large open grassland, hills, plains, woodlands and rivers. Even though it covers 5 percent of Tanzania's total area, only the northern area of the Rufiji River is open for travellers. You can watch the diverse water-based wildlife at this river. Selous Game Reserve is also home to many animals and bird species. Arusha National Park, Ruaha National Park, Katavi National Park, Mikumi National Park, Lake Natron, Saanane National Park are some of the other nature-rich scenic places you must visit in Tanzania.
Zanzibar Archipelago is the face of Tanzania's coastal area. The Tanzanian coast is a place of enchantment and untouched beauty. Unguja, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, is a popular holiday destination in Tanzania. It's known for housing white sand beaches with clear shallow waters. The northernmost island in the Zanzibar archipelago is the scenic Pemba Island. Surrounding this are several desert islands ideal for scuba diving in the Indian Ocean. Chake Chake is a popular base for scuba divers. Compared to other islands, Pemba has a more laid-back atmosphere. It is hilly with deep valleys and peaks eventually becoming popular with mountain bikers. Yet, this is the perfect place in Tanzania to simply lay back and enjoy unparalleled views. Mafia Island is well-known among snorkelers and divers because of the undersea world protected by the Mafia Island Marine Park. This park has a relaxed diving atmosphere, over 400 species of birds and beautiful coral gardens. Besides snorkeling and diving, you can also indulge in deep-sea fishing. Bongoyo Island, laying off the Msasani Peninsula, is a hub of marine life and nature trails of baobab trees. You can relax under the shade of thatched umbrellas on the beach or go snorkeling. You might spot starfish, clownfish, angelfish, and sea urchins among the corals. Above all, you'll definitely find the peace you are seeking. Mbudya Island is a great escape from bustling cities. Part of the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve, the island's white-sand beaches and turquoise waters call for sun-bathing, snorkeling and swimming. Fungu Yasini Island, Mnemba Island and Rubondo Island are a few other popular islands you can visit to seek solace. One of the most beautiful beaches in Tanzania can be found in the little village of Nungwi. The blanched beaches, swaying palm trees, clear blue waters make this place a tropical paradise. The sunset views are to die for. Coco Beach and Ndege Beach are other popular beaches in Tanzania.
Built in 1897, the St. Joseph Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Church in Dar es Salaam. This Gothic-style church, with its beautiful stained-glass windows, shingled spire, original German inscriptions and vaulted interior will steal your heart away. Try to attend a packed Sunday morning and partake in the soulful local choir to make your visit even more memorable. Azania Front Lutheran Church is another architectural wonder and a major landmark in Dar es Salaam.
A major chunk of Tanzania can be covered in 8 to 12 days. Starting off at the eastern circuit, spend a day or two in Dar es Salaam exploring the dynamic cityscapes. From here, go to Zanzibar archipelago, spending two days at the Pemba Island or Zanzibar Island. Relax on the white sand beaches or try different water sports on these serene islands. You can take a day tour to Stone Town from here and visit the historical sites and be awe-inspired by the old Arabian houses. Your next stop could be Arusha, from where you can go to Mount Kilimanjaro National Park for a day. Enjoy the exotic landscapes and wildlife of Kilimanjaro and if possible, climb this majestic mountain for the views from the summit are breathtaking. Next day make a quick trip to Mt. Meru and Arusha National Park. While you are in the northern circuit, visit the exquisite Serengeti National Park, Ol Doinyo Lengai Mountain, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Lake Manyara for a day or two as per your convenience. As the sun sets you can explore the city of Arusha. Visit Selous Game Reserve to experience a phenomenal wildlife safari in the southern circuit. Moving towards the western circuit, spend a day in Mwanza city to take a break from wildlife and nature excursions. You can then take a day tour to Lake Victoria and then by sunset, enjoy boating at Lake Tanganyika. Spend a day or two relaxing at the scenic Rubondo Island, giving a perfect end to your nature excursion in Tanzania.