Many people dream of taking an exotic African safari someday, but are intimidated by accessibility, cost, and political stability. Tanzania is one of the oldest inhabited places on earth, and it is home to one of the most fascinating balances between wildlife, people, and land in the world. Although Tanzania is best known for its wild safaris, there are lots of other things to see and do on a trip to Tanzania. These are some of the most unforgettable travel experiences you can plan to have in Tanzania.
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Take a Safari in the Serengeti
Since an African safari is the quintessential experience to have in Tanzania, let’s explore this experience first. Serengeti National Park stretches over 13,000 square kilometers and is the place to see some of the world’s most exotic wildlife and most beautiful sunsets. Some of your best chances of photographing zebras, wildebeests, and lions will be here. But keep in mind not every safari is the same. Local tour operators have designed safaris to cater to a wide variety of interests and outdoor skill abilities. You can easily combine your safari experience with intense mountain climbing, relaxing beach stops, and off-the-beaten-track tours.
Explore Other Reserves and Conservation Areas
But don’t get too caught up in the Serengeti because there are lots of other amazing wildlife refuges and conservation areas to explore in Tanzania too. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is next to the Serengeti and is home to the world’s largest crater. You can find nearly every species of East African wildlife in this park and stay overnight in one of the area’s lodges or campsites. Head to southern Tanzania to visit Africa’s largest reserve, the Selous Game Reserve, which is a World Heritage Site with elephants, hippos, crocodiles, and other native animals. Consider taking a swamp boat tour through the Selous for great views. Other parks to check out include Katavi in the west, Ruaha National Park in the south, and Tarangire National Park in the north.
Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
One of the most adventurous things you can do on a trip to Tanzania is to hike to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania. But this journey is not for the faint of heart! The mountain stands 5,896 meters tall and takes most people at least six days to reach the summit. Although no special climbing equipment is required, many Mt. Kilimanjaro trips fail because trekkers are in inadequate shape, wear improper clothing, and don’t bring enough food and water.
Take a Ferry to Zanzibar
Hop onboard a ferry to visit Zanzibar, one of the best places to explore local culture and relax on the beaches near Tanzania. Zanzibar is famous for its local markets, spices, and historical areas, and beautiful beaches. Take a walk along the ancient winding streets and take in the busy bazaars and mosques along the way. Stone Town is one of the most popular places to explore in Zanzibar.
Observe Chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains
One of the best places to observe chimpanzees in their natural habitat is in the Mahale Mountains of Tanzania. These chimps live near the clear waters of Lake Tanganyika, and their home has become one of the newest tourism destinations in the area. Approximately 1,000 chimpanzees live in this region and other primates, including baboons and the red colobus, can be seen here too.
Go Diving Around Pemba Island
Pemba Island is located in the Indian Ocean as part of the Spice Islands, and it is also popular diving spot near Tanzania. Pemba tends to be less crowded than nearby Zanzibar, which becomes packed with tourists during peak times. This is a beautiful place to go diving and explore the colorful coral reefs and abundant marine line below the water’s surface.
Watch Migratory Birds at Lake Manyara
Bird watchers will fall in love with Lake Manyara because it’s home to about 300 different species of migratory birds in Tanzania. Thousands of flamingos inhabit this area and are one of the most popular birds to photograph here. When the dry season rolls around, this lake dries up and becomes a place to spot elephants, giraffes and hippos.
Canoe the Coastal Waters
The best way to explore the coastal waters of Tanzania is to hire a local guide who’s experienced in kayak and canoe routes. Get some exercise and paddle at your own pace as you soak in the atmosphere of life in Tanzania.
Visit the Stone Age Sites
There are a couple Stone Age sites in Tanzania that are worth checking out during your visit as well. Isimila Gorge, located near Iringa, is where Stone Age tools and fossilized bones were discovered in 1951. Tools found at this site are believed to be 60,000 to 100,000 years old. These fossils belong to extinct mammals that were related to the modern-day giraffe and hippos. Take a moment to browse the small museum onsite and consider hiring a guide to access the main pillar area.
Experience Local City Life in Arusha
Arusha is a city in northern Tanzania that provides an authentic glimpse into local city life in Tanzania. You’ll find this city at the foothills of Mt. Meru with fields of coffee, maize, beans, and wheat all around. These crops are sold in Arusha’s food markets on the city streets, so pick up some fresh produce to snack on while you explore the town.
If wildlife viewing is your primary objective, plan to visit Tanzania between June and September. Wildebeest and zebras migrate during this time and most of the larger predators are out and about then too. During these months, you’ll also have the best chance of escaping the rainy periods. There are two major airports in Tanzania, one in Dar es Salaam and one in Kilimanjaro. Once you arrive in the country, the best way to get around is by bus and although the roads are poor, there are accessible bus routes to most of the main tourism areas.