Tanzania is the largest nation in East Africa where most of its vast expanse covers the African mainland. It also encompasses several islands including Pemba and Zanzibar. These two islands are famed for the production of cloves and other spices. Zanzibar is famous for being the biggest coral island off the African coast. The snow – covered mass of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain looms high above the northern part of Tanzania that is close to the border country of Kenya. To the western side of Kilimanjaro are other natural wonders such as the Ngorongoro Crater, the center of an ancient volcano inhabited only by rhinoceros, hyenas, and other wild animals.
Here are the top ten not to be missed places in Tanzania:
Safaris in Tanzania
Safaris in Tanzania are one of the top attractions. To read more about the various Safaris in Tanzania, please go to:
Tarangire National Park
The safari themed and open air savannah of the Tarangire National Park in the Arusha region serves as host for the largest concentration of elephants. You’ll see them everywhere in groups, along, big, small, while eating, as they bathe, rest and always very close. Another feature of this park is the presence of many huge baobab trees which compliments the idyllic scenery.
The other wildlife animals you can see are the ostriches, zebras, impalas, antelopes, monkeys, wildebeests, jackals, lions, gazelles, giraffes and warthogs. The picnic point is located on a terrace overlooking the river that is of course, full of elephants. Seeing a baby elephant getting attached with their mother’s trunk is a true spectacle.
It is a pleasant park that is ideal for first time safari adventurers who wants to experience the rich wildlife of Tanzania.
The breathtaking scenery and the good variety of wildlife activity you can observe is the major highlight of this park, Camping for two days and hiring a guide with a vehicle is highly recommended to discover the best parts of the safari. In summer, the game drive gets dusty, there are fewer animals and most of the vegetation around the Tarangire River becomes humid and dry. The best time to visit this huge kingdom of pachyderms is from the months of January to March.
A visit to the Ngurdoto Crater provides a great chance of meeting the famous Masai warriors who live in harmony with nature and welcome visitors in their community by being fully garbed in their national costume. The landscape area is quite diverse as there are some parts that are cold and another part that are mostly desert and humid. The stop at the place of observation allows a panoramic and breathtaking view of the whole crater. There are dense vegetations near the mouth of the volcano. Inside, one can admire a huge diversity of small forest, swamps, and grassland. The site is very well preserved and the animals freely roam in their natural habitat.
With luck, you can see rhinos enjoying a dip in their mud pools, lions copulating, giraffes and zebras, and antelopes that endlessly run along the open wildlife savannah. It’s like paradise on earth filled with beautiful animals, alkaline lakes, and fresh water sources. The water areas are filled with buffalos, hippos and flamingos. The crater can be reached by taking the trail in a virgin forest with tall trees , huge animal density and many varieties of monkeys especially the Colobus ( a monkey species that is endemic to Tanzania) whose black and white hairy appearance is perfect for a good photograph.
Ol Doinyo Lengai
The vast 10,936 foot active volcano of OlDoinyo Lengai rise from the valley floor near Lake Natron in the Northern Tanzania. This volcano last erupted in 2006 and left hard concrete lava formations and structures on its surroundings. If you plan to assault and reach the crater area, you need time and lots of effort to get used to the climb. You must begin early and wait for the sunrise that offers a wonderful show. The cold atmosphere adds to the challenge of conquering the top part of the mountain. For the most part of the trail you climb over a wall of sand and a unique landscape that is very sparse. It is really hard and you should bring stamina and will.
The Ol Doinyo Lengai is basically a steep pile of fine sand which means you need to make every step at least twice. The summit part is windy but you can have the opportunity to just view the whole rim of the crater along with the breathtaking view of the sunrise. The adventurous and strenuous ascent is all worth it. The descent takes a few meters on the seat of your pants as you can choose to slide down the fine sandy parts of the mountain. Halfway down you can briefly look at the nearby Ashura Region and admire the panorama from there before regaining your strength to finish the remaining distance.
From Slipway (Msasani) you can go by boat to the island of Bongoyo (about an hour ride). Upon arrival you can find people offering umbrellas and sun beds with a suitable attendant that check the tickets and collect money for these amenities. They also offer a variety of dishes to order in advance if you plan to eat. Drinks and juices are at the bar and have a relatively low cost.
Be sure to look at the lagoon with murrenami fish. Hardly somewhere you will see them in such numbers and availability.
You can order grilled fresh fish, lobster and fresh fruit. If you wish to explore on foot you can walk along the path through the jungle on a deserted beach on the opposite side of the island (an hour away).
You can also go and see the caves after a 45 minute walk on its marked paths. The ocean is clear, the sand is white, with not much crowd, almost paradise like and good for relaxation. The atmosphere is generally quiet and there are no hawkers prowling around tourists offering their wares. It has the same characteristics of the nearby Mbudiya Island of the capital city Dar Es Salaam.
Dar Es Salaam Village Museum
The Dar Es Salaam Village Museum is located on the road between Bagamoyo and Mwenge town. In this museum there are reconstructions of the traditional houses. It is small and simple but very entertaining and fun to spend an hour to take nice pictures. It is a pleasant outdoor museum along the road that goes from the center to Mwenge, the Village Museum is an open –air museum in which visitors can spend a few hours to meet the interesting tribes of Tanzania who live in this part of Dar Es Salaam. There are also organized performances of traditional music and dance (Ngoma tribe).
At the entrance there are a few guides but you can also visit the museum on your own, thanks to the detailed explanations (in Swahili and English) at the entrance of every home. The museum is easily accessible by public transport. Tourists can see the different types of housing according to its diverse ethnic groups. It is particularly interesting if you like ethnology. They also feature works of local artists (paintings, crafts, and wood carvings) and sell them to guests who are interested. A tour is highly recommended for people who want to learn more about Tanzanian culture from a visitor’s point of view.
The Stone Town of Zanzibar
Witness how the people of Stone Town live their lives and take a 2 hour guided tour that is called “Local life in Stone Town” which is interesting if you want to see life from within. A knowledgeable guide will show you places you will not discover otherwise if you make the tour on your own. Do not miss the local bakeries where they make all the fresh bread over an open fire. There is so much to discover and two days is not enough to fully understand everything it has to offer. The market is a mixture of colorful spices, fruit, and the lively trading atmosphere. If you are weak of stomach avoid the meat and fish department. The reality of the harsh life is truly reflected in this part of Zanzibar. You can see the small houses and the poor living conditions of the families and their children. You can walk around safely but there are sellers who will follow you all the way and sell a few things that they bring with them.
Old stone houses with artistically carved doors line the maze of narrow alleyways in the old town of Zanzibar. All streets lead back to the waterfront filled with coconut palms and sailing dhows. The final part of the tour covers a visit to the large port where hundreds of street vendors cook outdoors every type of food. Taste the delicious fresh juice of sugar cane with lime and ginger where for a dollar you can have a natural product that is proudly Zanzibar made.
The Changuu Private Island (Prison Island)
This small island is 20 minutes by private boat if you come from the port of Stone Town. The diving spot for snorkeling is nice and has a place to eat excellent fish. The entrance fee collected is for the opportunity to enter the park and see the giant tortoises (originally from the Seychelles) and to visit the buildings where patients were housed on the island that were placed in quarantine (Prison Island). It is an exotic tour with stunning scenery and breathtaking views of Stone Town from the sea.
The island has a Russian speaking guide that offers cabbage leaves to every guest who is interested in feeding the turtles. The giant turtles are quite sociable and friendly. After the walk, guests can swim in the clear water and enjoy a quiet day observing the tortoises in the remote attraction. The visit to this island is a must if you like turtles. You can touch, scratch, pet and walk among them to have an awesome experience. Take a tour on the rest of the island and see the huge bird life where you can find many peacocks and flamingos strolling around the beach and reef areas.
The Zanzibar Butterfly Center
The center of the Butterflies in Zanzibar offers a relatively small garden house where butterflies and cocooned pupae are kept and cared for. There is interesting demonstration where you can see all the stages of development of the caterpillar before becoming a butterfly. The place also houses the rare Kilimanjaro swallowtail butterfly which is threatened by collectors and the clearance of its forest habitat.
The place is ideal for children who can have a better appreciation of these colorful butterflies and the adjacent aviary. It is great to see the flight of the butterflies from eggs straight out of the cocoon. The colors like the rest of the island are magnificent and it is nice to be in a fairy tale like garden shrouded by the clouds of their fragile wings.
The Paje Beach is a beautiful ocean with colors that change every moment according to the tides. It is ideal to take a walk out to the reef and see a lot of colorful fish that are visible even without the need for snorkeling. The beach is long and the white sand is as fine as talcum powder.
This area of the island is subject to the phenomenon of the tides, which happen every six hours and this means that the landscape is constantly changing and the sea takes colors of every possible nuance of green, turquoise and blue. Given the constant presence of the wind and the formation of the huge lagoon due to the distance of the barrier from the shore, the locals have developed a dedicated kite surfing activity and when the tides are high the coast gets filled with numerous kite surfers.
The drive to Lake Chala is not quite that easy because a few road marks are missing along the road but all the effort is worth it. Once you get there you have to pay a small fee so you can go down the lake. A descending trail that is not quite simple and can turn up to be quite tedious.
The lake edge is very rocky but it ends up well in the refreshing cold water. The Lake Chala is located east of Kilimanjaro on the border of Tanzania and Kenya, and is accessible from Moshi with many tour operators.