SAFARIS IN TANZANIA
From beautiful protected areas (marine, forest and savanna) to ancient sites of historical importance, beaches, unique cultures, Tanzania is remarkably one of the exceptional travel destinations in Africa with plenty of attractions for tourists to explore and experience. Located in East Africa, Tanzania is a vast country with its borders shared with other surrounding country such as Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Rwanda, Congo, Indian Ocean, Burundi and Comoros Island.
Tanzania is a home to Africa’s highest mountain – Mt. Kilimanjaro and also some of the oldest inhabited areas on earth. The fossils were also discovered at the country’s Oldvuvai Gorge and they date back to more than 2 million years back.
Over 56 million people live in Tanzania with 120 ethnic groups, each speaks their language. But the uniting factor is Swahili which is used for communication in various areas. Tourism and agriculture are two key sectors that Tanzania depends on, with tourism contributing over 17.5% to its GDP.
Tanzania tourism sector is developed compared to most East African states. Over 38% of Tanzania’s and is protected/reserved for conservation. There are about 17 National Parks in Tanzania, 40 Game Reserves and numerous Marine Parks. When you think of magical African safaris, Tanzania is one of the very 4 destinations to consider.
On any Tanzania safari holiday, wildebeest migration is amazingly the key highlight, a lifetime opportunity available for tourists to watch millions of wildebeest, elands, zebras etc as they roam in the sweeping plains of Serengeti National Park and later cross the Mara River to Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. Serengeti National Park is one of the top destinations in Tanzania and expansive eco-system in the Northern tourist circuit covering the land area of about 15000sq.kms.
Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park features a distinct landscape characterized by savanna grasslands, acacia trees, small forests, woodlands etc. Other than wildebeest, Serengeti is a complete big five game safari destination and other species to encounter include hyenas, impalas, gazelles, wild dogs, cheetahs, more than 500 bird species also reside here.
Serengeti was recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1981 making it one of the top attractions in Tanzania and valuable protected natural areas within the Northern Tourist/Safari Circuit. The Northern Safari Circuit also encompasses the Arusha National Park, Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area/Crater and Lake Manyara National Park. For ultimate wildebeest migration experience, visiting Serengeti National Park should be from July to September.
Located within the Northern Tanzania safari circuit, Ngorongoro Crater is one of the important UNESCO World Heritage Sites making it one of the best 10 natural wonders on the planet. The Ngorongoro Crater holds the world’s largest caldera which spreads covering 300sq.kms and hosting over 25000 animal species including lions, cheetahs, elephants, hyenas, elands, buffaloes, hippos, warthogs, waterbucks, zebras, jackals, leopards etc.
Ngorongoro Crater a home to the world’s intact caldera is found in Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) and it was founded in 1959. Its extensive land area features vast savanna woodlands, open plains, forests and a huge animal species can be spotted while on guided game drive, hot air balloon, birding, hiking/walking safaris etc.
Rising at the height of 5895m, Mt. Kilimanjaro is remarkably the tallest mountain in Africa and also the world’s freestanding mountain. It is snow-capped peaks and a dormant volcano located inside the Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania. Its strategic location within Kilimanjaro National Park makes it a home to diverse animal species that roam around the base area, including bushbucks, dik-dik, warthogs, cape buffaloes, elephants, leopards, hyenas, zebras, mongoose and there are natural forests at its foothills.
Hiking to the summits of Mt. Kilimanjaro is possible via the 5 key routes of Machame, Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho and Shirea. These hiking routes offer distinct climbing experiences with most straight forward route being Marangu.
Another area for mountaineering in Tanzania is Mount Meru in Arusha National Park- the country’s second tallest mountain rising at altitude of 4565m. This is one of the active strata-volcanoes with its recent eruption occurred in 1910.
The Craters and small cones are some of the evidences of the past eruptions. For steeper or challenging hikes, Mount Meru is the place to conquer. Different hiking routes lead you via various vegetation zones including heather zones, savanna grasslands, moorland. Besides hiking Mount Meru, there is also opportunity to enjoy birding – more than 400 bird species live here and in addition, there some primates, antelopes, leopards roaming at its slopes.
For beach holidays or honeymoon vacations, no better place is like Zanzibar. This is a collection of charming islands along the Indian Ocean side of Tanzania. It is a semi-autonomous from the mainland and boasts of its distinct cultural heritage which dates back to the early centuries of Arab occupation. While on Zanzibar vacation, the main attractions to explore include the spectacular white sand beaches, stone town, etc. The Stone town hosts Tanzania’s top cultural and historical sites and some of them date back to the early 15th century.
Some of the islands also worth visiting include Mafia Island a typical example of what defines Tanzania as a beach holiday destination. It makes up part of the extensive Zanzibar Archipelago also referred to as the Spice group of Islands/Pemba, Latham and Unguja. Mafia Island is tiny but occupied by over 41000 people and it is ideal for visitors interested in scuba diving, spotting sharks, deep sea fishing and more.
Pemba Island also best known as The Green Island on Arabic makes up part of the Zanzibar archipelago and the Spice Islands along the Indian Ocean. The Pemba spreads covering 988sq.kms. It is blessed with lots of marine life and untouched coral reefs.
Located in the large Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), Olduvai Gorge is a home to some of the ancient fossils of the earliest humans. They were discovered here and often; it is popularly referred to as the Cradle of Mankind.
Olduvai gorge lies on an area with a collection of fault lines that became exposed as a result of erosion hence making it possible for scientists to excavate fossils that date millions of years back. In 1911, the first fossil was discovered by a German professor while he searched for butterflies around the area.
Big Five Tanzania Safaris
The big five African game is reason Tanzania is the most preferred destination in African continent. All the big 5 game live in Tanzania including buffaloes, elephants, rhinos, leopards and lions also inclusive of the tree climbing lions at Lake Manyara National Park.
An encounter with the Big 5 game is remarkably a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The top spots to visit to enjoy sight of big five game include Serengeti National Park, Ruaha National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara National Park and more.
The Great Rift Valley
Tanzania is one of the countries where the East Africa rift valley passes through and a number of scenic lakes exist plus rivers, geysers, hot springs, volcanoes and other features. The main rift valley lakes to consider a must visit include Lake Eyasi, Lake Natron, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Manyara, Lake Makati, Lake Victoria and others. Unlike other Lakes, the rift valley Lakes are a bit shallow but endowed naturally with biodiversity.
Tanzania Cultural Safaris
Worldwide, Tanzania is interestingly one of the diverse countries with unique cultures, traditions. Known for its tall graceful Maasai warriors, the resourceful agricultural practices of the wameru, old lifestyles of the Hadza bushmen, the artistic talents of the Makonde and also the Chagga farmers and traders.
Historical sites make up part of the long list of attractions in Tanzania. A visit to some of the important historical sites in Tanzania is a great opportunity to explore more about the human history that dates back to 2 million years. The key historical sites include Rock paintings of Kondoa Irangi, Ismila stone age site, museum, Kaole ruins, Mikindani, Engaruka ruins, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and others.
Religious sites for faith tourism with key areas of interest include the ancient mosques, the Anglican cathedral in Zanzibar built in 1887 in remembrance of the end of slave trade at the coast. Azania Front Lutheran church located near the city beaches at Dar-es-Salaam etc.
Mahale Mountains National Park
Located near Lake Tanganyika shores, Mahale Mountains NP hosts chimpanzees and other primates like red colobus monkeys, yellow baboons, etc. Over 1000 chimpanzees reside within Mahale and it is one best place in Tanzania to consider a must-visit for chimpanzee tracking.
Chimpanzee tracking in Tanzania is also carried out in the compact Gombe National Park which occupies 52sq.kms. this also has a record of about 200 bird species including palm nut vultures, starlings, kingfishers, barbets, etc.
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park is Africa’s special park of its own. If you are interested in tree climbing lions on Tanzania safaris, Lake Manyara NP should be a must-visit. The park spans on the land area of 330sq.kms and takes its name after Lake Manyara. The tree climbing lions in Africa also exist only in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park and South Africa’s Kruger National Park.