Why go to Tanzania
Tanzania is a country of natural splendour and has the largest concentration and diversity of animals in Africa, and there are over 1,100 bird species to spot in the country. Wildlife, beaches, friendly people, fascinating cultures, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Mt Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar – Tanzania has all these and more wrapped up in one. The Ngorongoro Crater is to the world’s largest intact crate and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most jaw-dropping sights in the world. The Roof of Africa dominates the Tanzania skyline, rising to 19,341 ft above sea level. The Great Migration is one of nature’s greatest spectacles and an impressive sight watching herds of wildebeest cross the plains of the Serengeti. Visitors to Tanzania can experience authentic, indigenous cultures, folklore, rituals and local hospitality along breathtaking scenery. Tanzania’s people are among the most welcoming on earth. The island of Zanzibar is in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of mainland Tanzania. Featuring white beaches along its eastern shores, flanked by barrier reefs. In Zanzibar, one can find the largest crab in the world: the coconut crab.
Where to go in Tanzania
Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater
The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is home to the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth – the great migration of wildebeest and zebra. Serengeti has the highest concentration of large mammals on this planet and its famous known for its large concentration of lions. A balloon flight over the Serengeti must be one of the most memorable ways to experience the greatness of the Serengeti. Ngorongoro is the crater of a collapsed volcano and deserves its reputation as one of the natural wonders of the world. The crater was also designed to be able to accommodate both the Masai communities and the tourists and the villages (Manyattas) and the striking red robed herdsman can be seen all over this captivating landscape. Also home to Olduvai Gorge, the cradle of mankind.
Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain and offers tourists an exciting and challenging adventure. If you have a passion for climbing and exploring, or simply want to tick off an item from your bucket list, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro will be an inspiring and unforgettable experience. Mount Kilimanjaro offers a world of mystery and excitement. Mount Kilimanjaro might be most famous for its height however it also has a unique vegetation and wildlife. As you increase in altitude you’ll notice a change in scenery and ecology; a factor which makes summiting the mountain constantly exciting and novel. Once you’ve reached the summit after your Mount Kilimanjaro climb, you’ll be faced with one of the most magnificent views in Africa, stretching for hundreds of kilometres and giving you the sensation that you’re on top of the world.
Selous Game Reserve
Large numbers of elephants, black rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles live in this immense sanctuary, relatively undisturbed by human impact. The park has a variety of vegetation zones, ranging from dense thickets to open wooded grasslands. Known as a game reserve and not a national park, this allows one to view game from walks and the river on boat cruises. Selous has many diverse habitats and the land is made up of a mixture of Miombo woodlands, rolling hills, savannahs, rocky outcrops, swamps, lakes and rivers. The majestic Rufiji River, the largest river in Tanzania, is the lifeblood of the reserve and along with a network of many tributaries, lakes, lagoons and channels, plays a vital role to the ecosystem. The Selous was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1986, recognising the reserve as one of Africa’s largest remaining wilderness areas and the importance of its position as a wildlife corridor with Mozambique’s Niassa reserve to the south.
Gombe Stream and Mahale Mountains National Parks
The tiny Gombe Stream National Park is located on the north-eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika near the border with Burundi. The landscape of the park is made up of steep valleys, streams and rivers. The vegetation changes from tropical rainforests, alpine bamboo to grasslands – similar to that of neighbouring Mahale Mountains National Park. Air charters land in Kigoma, but accessibility into the park is limited to boats departing from Kigoma town. Located in the remote western part of Tanzania, Mahale Mountains National Park is one of the most picturesque places in Tanzania. The park borders Lake Tanganyika, one of the oldest and deepest lakes in the world. Getting to the park is an adventure as it is accessible only by air and boat. There are no roads in the park, only forest paths through the lush vegetation. This park is a hiker’s paradise, but most importantly it is a chimpanzee paradise. Mahale is a haven for primates, with chimpanzee trekking one of the prime reasons for visits. The park is teeming with life, rivers and waterfalls are everywhere and around the shoreline of the lake, are the most unspoilt white sandy beaches anyone could imagine.
The spice island of Zanzibar with its interesting history influenced by early Arab traders offers beautiful beaches at the Indian Ocean and beach hotels of all standards. Consisting of the main islands Unguja and Pemba as well as of several smaller untouched islands, the Zanzibar Archipelago features gorgeous, palm-fringed white sandy beaches that stretch into the warm turquoise waters and invite visitors to unwind and soak up the sun. The capital of Zanzibar City with its old historic centre of Stone Town, a UNESCO world heritage site, is situated on Unguja Island and is often referred to simply as Zanzibar. Its eventful history of gruesome slave and exotic trade still shows traces everywhere. Magnificent Sultan’s palaces and grand Arab houses, winding alleys and bustling bazaars give visitors the feeling of being immersed in the world of Sindbad and Alibaba.
When to visit Tanzania
There are two rainy seasons in Tanzania. The long rains are from late February to March and the short rains stretch from October through to December. Many roads are impassable during the rainy seasons, but the beaches are open all year round and along the coastline the weather can be hot and humid. The highlands of Ngorongoro and Kilimanjaro can have temperatures below freezing. Kilimanjaro continuously has a snow capped peak.
For updated weather forecasts across Africa, please visit www.africanweather.net
Tanzania National Parks
ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK
The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safarigoers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a diversity of habitats within a few hours. The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colourful turacos and trogons – the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog. Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one a different hue of green or blue. Their shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos, the lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and shaggy waterbucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, while pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs.
From June to November the greatest concentration of animals can be found in the Central Serengeti. This valley offers varied landscapes as well as a high density of game year round. From here you can enjoy a magnificent balloon safari. The Serengeti hosts the largest concentration of wildlife in the world, and is home to one of the great wonders of the natural world, the Great Migration. Over a million wildebeest and some 600,000 zebra move through the eco-system, with lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, wild dog and crocodiles making sure only the strongest survive. The sheer volume of numbers combined with the daily dramas of life and death make this an unforgettable experience.
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK
Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”. The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience. Lake Manyara National Park offers varied ecosystems, incredible bird life, and breathtaking views. Its ground water forests, bush plains, baobob strewn cliffs, and algae-streaked hot springs offer incredible ecological variety in a small area, rich in wildlife and incredible numbers of birds. The park provides the perfect introduction to Tanzania’s birdlife. More than 400 species have been recorded, and even a first-time visitor to Africa might reasonably expect to observe 100 of these in one day. Highlights include thousands of pink-hued flamingos on their perpetual migration, as well as other large waterbirds such as pelicans, cormorants and storks.
NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area was officially declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979. The area consists of various landscapes and includes dense mountain forests, woodlands, grasslands, lakes and swamps. Some of the most important archeological sites in the world, such as Oldupai Gorge and Laetoli can be found in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Archeologists found evidence showing that the area was occupied by hominids over 3 million years ago and thus claiming that it could be the birthplace of mankind. The crater floor is covered by various landscapes that range from dense mountain forests and woodlands to grasslands, lakes and swamps. Huge herds of ungulates dominate the crater floor with zebras, wildebeests, elands, Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelles being the species most commonly seen. But the crater is also home to the “big five” and elephants, lions and buffaloes are often spotted. Leopards are rarely seen as the prefer staying in the forests on the crater rim. The almost extinct black rhino can also be found in the crate and sightings aren’t rare either. Serval cats, spotted hyenas and jackals are also often seen while cheetahs are more difficult to spot.
TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
Located slightly off the main safari route, Tarangire National Park is a lovely quiet park in Northern Tanzania that is most famous for its elephant migration, birding and quiet authentic safari atmosphere. Tarangire National Park has a healthy population of creatures both big and small. The park has plenty of resident animals although some tend to migrate depending on the time of year. The most commonly seen animals are elephants, giraffes, impalas, warthogs, zebras, wildebeests, dwarf mongoose and ostriches. Lions can however also be seen, as well as leopards and on some rare occasions even wild dogs have been spotted. Furthermore the park is home to 550 species of birds and the greater and lesser Kudus as well as oryx also roam the park.
During the months of June to September the park witnesses a small migration during which thousands of wildebeests and zebras head to the park for better grazing grounds. Elephants and other animals follow suit to gather along the Tarangire River, the only permanent water source in the park. It has been claimed, that up to 2000 elephants reside in the park during these months with some coming as far as from Ambsoseli National Park in Kenya. The vegetation within the park is extremely diversified and includes open grasslands, savannah, Baobab trees and thick acacia bush as well as palm trees and swamps full of tall elephant grass in the south. Walking safaris are also offered in the southern part of the park.
RUBONDO ISLAND NATIONAL PARK
The largest island national park in the whole of Africa, Rubondo Island is found in Lake Victoria (the largest lake in Africa!). 80% of the island is covered in thick dense tropical forest, and it’s become a haven for a variety of wildlife. With bird species numbering over 200, elephant and giraffe roaming the forests, sitatunga antelope hiding in the papyrus swamps and crocodile and hippo filling the lake, this island has become a wild safari destination – with a rather Jurassic Park feel to it.