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Trips to a European city or a Caribbean island are always special, but there are times when they fail to offer the kind of excitement and adventure you crave. We long to get up close to Mother Nature, but soon realize that those remote idyllic beaches are only good enough for a trip or two.
We crave for that adrenaline rush and those jaw-dropping sights and this is where Tanzania and its game parks come into the picture. From dining with locals to checking out the beautiful Maasai culture, from enjoying a wildlife safari to scaling the highest peak in Africa, and the highest free standing mountain in the world – Mt. Kilimanjaro. Bookmundi examines the Top 12 Best Things to Do in Tanzania. Enjoy!
The Serengeti National Park is home to one of the top big-game safaris on the planet. It is by far the most popular destination in Tanzania and is particularly famous for its annual migration of zebras and wildebeests. The park has been termed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is spread over 1.5 hectares of savannah forests and also hosts the big cats, zebras and Thomson’s gazelle in its vast open plains. The ideal time to visit is in the month of May when the Serengeti is teeming with wildlife. Balloon safaris are another exciting way of exploring the Serengeti National Park. These balloons can carry up to 16 people and often include champagne breakfasts in the bush which is followed by a drive through the park.
Mount Meru, the second highest mountain in Tanzania, was formed around 250,000 years ago by a major volcanic eruption that left behind a horseshoe-shaped crater. Rising to a height of 4566 meters, Mount Meru is famous for its spectacular flora as well as its walking safaris that let you check out animals like buffaloes, giraffes, elephants, colobus monkeys, baboons and antelopes.
Insider Tip – As you climb Mount Meru, the frequency of animal sightings keeps getting scarcer. However, things don’t feel any less exciting once 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.
Pemba, a part of the Spice Islands, is a small island that boasts of a big reputation. Famous for its bull fighting events, the island always promises a magical experience to its visitors. Unlike the Spanish bull fights, Pemba doesn’t believe in killing its animals, and this tradition has actually been around since the 16th century. Its immediate neighbor, Zanzibar, might attract most of the crowds, but this is why Pemba tends to thrive as well. The lack of crowds and abundance of adventure makes it particularly popular among adventure lovers. Divers are also known to fall in love with Pemba because of the abundant marine life and the untouched corals.
Mount Kilimanjaro, an inactive volcano located in the north-eastern parts of the country, rises to a height of 5892 meters above sea level and is famous as the highest peak in the African continent. It is also known to be the highest free-standing mountain in the world and boasts of beautiful snow-capped peaks despite its proximity to the equator. Over the years, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro has become one of the best things to do in Tanzania. The climb isn’t easy, but there are all sorts of tours for people with different climbing abilities. And for those who don’t find climbing to be an exciting option, there’s the possibility of exploring the park that surrounds the mountain.
Zanzibar, once a part of the great British Empire, is now a semi-autonomous region in Tanzania. The island has been an important center of trade for centuries and is a melting pot of Arab, African and Indian cultures. The island’s biggest attraction is Stone Town, but it is also full of all kinds of exotic beaches. If you are looking for a comfy and relaxing beach holiday, Zanzibar is the place to go.
Insider Tip – The east coast is home to white sandy beaches that are full of coconut palms, small coves and a continuous coral reef. The area between Kendwa and Nungwoi is home to most of the non-tidal beaches which are perfect for swimming. Finally, the southwestern parts host hidden beaches that offer the perfect picnic spots.
Mafia Island, also a part of the Spice Islands, is much smaller than Pemba, and contrary to its name, is actually quite peaceful. The name is derived from a Swahili word which translates to “a healthy dwelling place.” Mafia Island is particularly famous among game fishermen, beach bums and scuba divers. Its white sand beaches rival those found in Zanzibar, and the lack of crowds makes it a better option for travelers wanting some privacy during their travels. Mafia Island also offers fascinating diving opportunities for divers with all kinds of skill levels and presents more than 400 species of fish, whale sharks and breathtaking reefs.
The Mahale Mountains present some of the most magical forests that are home to the largest population of chimpanzees on the planet. There are more than 1000 chimpanzees in the park and the remoteness of the area makes any adventure to the Mahale even more exciting. The park stretches over 20 sq. miles, and it was made popular in the year 1965 when Jane Goodall founded the Gombe Stream Research Center here. Apart from chimpanzees, the Mahale Mountains are also home to 200 types of birds, including the rare fish eagle.
Insider Tip – We recommend the Greystoke Mahale as the perfect place to stay in while exploring the Mahale Mountains. The Greystoke Mahale is located on a far-flung beach along the Lake Tanganyika and it presents a surreal setting, irrespective of the time of the year.
The Ngorongoro Crater was created by a volcanic eruption that took place millions of years ago. Its steep sides offer a natural enclosure for its wildlife and this also makes it a fascinating living museum that presents some of the most exotic animals on the planet including the endangered Black Rhino. The Ngorongoro Crater has now been defined as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the perfect place to see animals such as zebras, buffalos, lions, wildebeests and rhinos. A number of game drives are held within the conversation area and these drives are the perfect way to explore wildlife in its natural habitat.
The following safaris are recommended:
Kilwa Kisiwana, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tanzania, was once famous as a flourishing Arab state. The island attracted many Early European explorers as much of the trade that took place in the Indian Ocean passed through the city. Over time, the local population moved to Kilwa Masoko, and this ultimately led to the city’s decline. Some of the top things to do here include exploring the Omani fortress, checking out ruins of old mosques and visiting at the Great Palace, once known to be the largest building in sub-Saharan Africa.
Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the main reasons why people cannot miss out on a trip to Zanzibar when traveling to Tanzania. Stone Town was once famous as a maritime metropolis in East Africa that was known for its spice trade. Time seems to stop the moment you step foot into Stone Town, for nothing seems to have changed in the past 200 years. It reminds travelers of ancient empires through its historic streets, colonial-era mansions, exotic shops, squares and bazaars, and boasts of a rich and intriguing history which has been influenced by cultures and traditions from all over the world.
As an ending note, Lion King sure made the Serengeti National Park popular around the world, and it is one of the best African Safari destinations as well. But don’t concentrate only on the safaris that Tanzania has to offer. The country is home to a rich and beautiful culture, incredible natural beauty, two of the oldest Stone Age sites, scintillating beaches and incredible diving destinations as well.
Should you find that we have missed out on a top destination in Tanzania, please do not hesitate to add it in the comment field below.