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Tanzania boasts a rich tapestry of natural wonders and cultural treasures. From the towering peak that looms over untamed savannah brimming with wildlife, Tanzania invites visitors to its globally-acclaimed natural splendor all year round. There is so much more to the “Jewel of East Africa” than what meets the eye. Spend a day with the local tribes and pay homage to their rich cultural heritage. Or, step off the beaten path and venture into the enchanting landscapes, from pristine beaches to extensive wilderness.
In this guide, we will map out the 10 best things to do in Tanzania while exploring a seamless fusion of well-known attractions and hidden gems, so you can make the most out of your Tanzania trip.
- Selina Krieger
Embark on the ultimate adventure as you scale the majestic heights of Mount Kilimanjaro — Africa's highest peak. Standing proudly at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) on Kibo's crater rim, the summit of Uhuru Peak awaits those determined to reach its lofty heights.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a test of endurance and mental fortitude, making it an experience of a lifetime. This climb requires physical fitness and a strong will. There are several routes to choose from, with six frequented paths leading up to Uhuru Peak. The Rongai Route is the easiest route, while the Umbwe Route is the most difficult one. While some may opt for more accessible routes to focus on enjoying the incredible scenery and the overall experience, others may prefer the more challenging courses for a sense of accomplishment and adventure.
But no matter the route, climbers will encounter diverse ecosystems, from lush rainforests to alpine deserts, as you make your way to the summit of the roof of Africa.
Major attractions: Machame Route, Marangu Route, Lemosho Route, Uhuru Peak, Dendrosenecio kilimanjari plants, and Kilimanjaro rainforest.
Best time to climb Kilimanjaro: January, February, and September.
Insider's tip: Although climbing Mount Kilimanjaro doesn't require special training, you still need to exercise regularly to stay fit and build your stamina. Including cardiovascular workouts and strength training will help you build endurance and stamina for the climb.
Marvel at one of nature's most awe-inspiring events, the Great Wildebeest Migration, during your Tanzania vacation. The annual spectacle features over two million wildebeests embarking on an epic journey from Serengeti in Tanzania to Maasai Mara in Kenya in search of greener pastures. The migration of zebras, gazelles, and other wildlife around the same time adds to the spectacle.
The event typically occurs from May to July when the wildebeests have grazed on the lush grasses of southeastern Serengeti and given birth to their calves. They head to Maasai Mara in Kenya, and then again from November to December, they move back to Serengeti. Plan your safari to the Serengeti National Park keeping this information in mind.
Major attractions: Hot air balloon safari, wildebeest calving season, and wildebeests crossing the Mara River.
Best time to visit: January to March (calving season), May to July (start of migration)
Insider's tip: To witness the Great Wildebeest Migration, travel with a knowledgeable guide who can provide insights and help you navigate the best vantage points for observing the wildebeests' crossings of the Mara River.
With a multitude of enchanting beaches, the Zanzibar archipelago beckons travelers seeking a coastal paradise. Take a break from your safari and climbing adventures in Tanzania to indulge in a memorable Zanzibar trip. Whether you're looking for nighttime revelry, water activities, or serene solitude, Zanzibar has it all.
Experience the vibrant nightlife and dive into marine wonders on world-class beaches such as Nungwi, Matemwe, Kendwa, and Kiwengwa. From fishing to kite surfing to snorkeling, you will never run out of fun things to do in Zanzibar.
Major attractions: Kuza Cave, Kendwa Beach, Nungwi Beach, and Paje Beach.
Best time to visit: June to October and December to February
Insider's tip: Schedule your Zanzibar visit toward the end of your Tanzania itinerary so that you can unwind and rejuvenate after your safari and climbing adventures.
Embark on an exhilarating game drive safari in Tanzania's Northern Circuit, home to an extensive network of national parks that cover nearly a fourth percent of the country's land. Prepare for a wildlife extravaganza as you explore renowned destinations such as Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and Serengeti.
Discover the awe-inspiring Ngorongoro Crater, widely regarded as one of the best places on Earth to observe the Big Five—lions, elephants, buffaloes, leopards, and rhinos. This region also boasts the densest known population of lions. As you embark on a Tarangire National Park safari, seize the chance to witness its dense population of elephants up close from your safari jeep. With each park in the Northern Circuit offering its own unique wildlife experiences, a game drive safari here promises unforgettable encounters with nature's most extraordinary creatures.
Major attractions: Great Wildebeest Migration in Serengeti, Big Five sighting in Ngorongoro Crater, and flamingos in Lake Manyara.
Best time to visit: May to October
Insider's tip: For an unparalleled encounter at the Ngorongoro Crater, visit the eastern rim. This strategic choice immerses you in the awe-inspiring beauty of the crater and offers relatively effortless game viewing opportunities. Here, you can avoid the peak season rush and engage in authentic wildlife spotting adventure.– by Lucy Berndt from Salty Travel
Embark on a thrilling trek to the second-highest mountain in Tanzania, Mount Meru. Traverse through lush rainforests, encounter diverse wildlife, and marvel at the breathtaking landscapes at every step. As you ascend this 4,566 meters tall mountain, the vegetation transitions from mountain forests to alpine deserts, offering ever-changing scenery. A Mount Meru trip is the perfect alternative to Mount Kilimanjaro trek for those seeking a challenging adventure in a less crowded setting. Choose between different routes like the Momella or Meru Crater routes and prepare for an unforgettable trekking experience.
Major attractions: Mount Meru Waterfall and Arusha National Park.
Best time to climb Mount Meru: January to March, June to October.
Insider's tip: As you climb Mount Meru, the frequency of animal sightings keeps getting scarcer. However, things don’t feel any less exciting if you open your eyes to the stunning natural beauty around you, for the landscape keeps getting better as the vegetation changes from mountain forests to alpine deserts.
Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Tanzania by embarking on a cultural tour of Dar es Salaam and Pwani. Explore the bustling streets of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city, and witness the fusion of traditional and modern influences. Visit the National Museum and Village Museum to delve into the country's rich history and diverse tribal heritage.
As you venture into the Pwani Region, you will encounter six districts: Bagamoyo, Kibaha, Kisarawe, Rufiji, Mkuranga, and Mafia. Each district is home to distinct native peoples, including the Zaramo, Kwere, Doe, Ndengereko, Zigua, and Rufiji. Engage with the friendly locals and immerse yourself in their warm hospitality. Dance to the folk tunes of the Doe people, rejoice in the annual Eid celebrations of the Ndengereko tribe, and dance to some Swahili music while you stay amidst the locals to fully embrace their culture.
Major attractions: Makumbusho/ Village Museum, National Museum and House of Culture, and Nyerere National Park.
Best time to visit: All year round
Insider's tip: To enrich your interactions, sport a smile and extend a warm Swahili greeting, "Jambo!" to the locals. Mastering a few Swahili phrases can effectively break the ice in diverse scenarios. Maintain a relaxed demeanor and uphold a sense of humor, especially concerning transportation—punctuality norms may vary from those in your home country.– by Stephanie Louw from Salty Travel
Venturing off the beaten path to discover the coastal town of Tanga has to be one of the unique things you can do while in Tanzania. With its pristine beaches, historical sites, and rich Swahili culture, Tanga offers a unique experience. Relax on the secluded shores of Pangani Beach, where turquoise waters meet golden sands. Explore the ruins of the ancient Swahili city of Sisal and delve into the region's colonial past at the Amboni Caves. Tanga's charm lies in its unspoiled beauty and the warm hospitality of its people.
Major attractions: Amboni Caves, Battle of Tanga tour, and Raskazone.
Best time to visit: December to February
Insider's tip: Be sure to try the famous Tanga oranges, known for their refreshing sweetness.
Unearth the secrets of Tanzania's archaeological treasures as you hike the Olduvai Gorge. This historic site is known as the "Cradle of Mankind" and offers a glimpse into our ancient human ancestors. Learn more about the early hominids by taking a tour of Olduvai Gorge Museum, which showcases significant fossil discoveries. The hike through the dramatic gorge provides an opportunity to connect with the origins of humanity and discover the shared history of humanity.
Major attractions: Olduvai Gorge Museum
Best time to visit: June to October (dry season)
Insider's tip: Visit Olduvai during the dry season so you can get a chance to meet the scientists on their research trip.
Nestled at the foothills of Mount Meru, Arusha serves as the gateway to Tanzania's most iconic national parks. Explore the bustling Maasai markets, where vibrant colors and traditional crafts abound. Discover the Arusha National Park, a hidden gem known for its diverse wildlife and stunning landscapes. Embark on a thrilling canoe safari in Momella Lakes and spot pink flamingos and other water birds. From embarking on a thrilling safari in national parks to immersing yourself in the local culture at the vibrant Maasai markets, there are endless things to do on an Arusha trip.
Major attractions: Cultural Heritage Centre, Twiga Brewery, Arusha Clock Tower, Meserani Snake Park, and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Best time to visit: June to October
Insider's tip: To make the most of your trip, it is recommended to start your exploration of Tanzania's iconic national parks from Arusha. Arusha serves as a convenient starting point due to its proximity to these natural wonders and the availability of various tour operators and travel services.
No trip to Tanzania is complete without savoring the flavors of its cuisine. Indulge in traditional dishes like Ugali (maize fufu), Nyama Choma (grilled meat), and Pilau (spiced rice). Delight your taste buds with fresh tropical fruits like mangoes and pineapples. Don't miss the opportunity to try local specialties like Zanzibar's aromatic spices and Swahili seafood delicacies. Engage in a culinary journey that will awaken your senses and leave you craving for more.
Tanzania is a land of wonders, where natural beauty, wildlife, and vibrant cultures converge. Whether you're scaling the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro, witnessing the Great Wildebeest Migration, or immersing yourself in Zanzibar's coastal charm, Tanzania promises unforgettable things to do at every turn.
Start planning your Tanzanian adventure today and create memories that will last a lifetime. Fill out our Tanzania customized trip form to include all of the above-listed things to do in your itinerary under a single package and also include other destinations of your choice!