Tanzania hosts the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world. Africa’s highest mountain, largest game reserve and three largest lakes are located here.
Wildlife galore, idyllic beaches, snow-capped Kilimanjaro, moss-covered ruins, friendly people, fascinating cultures – Tanzania has all this and more wrapped up in one adventurous and welcoming package.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (809,440 ha) spans vast expanses of highland plains, savanna, savanna woodlands and forests, from the plains of the Serengeti National Park in the north-west, to the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley.
The stunning landscape of Ngorongoro Crater which is the largest intact caldera in the world, combined with its spectacular concentration of wildlife, is one of the greatest natural wonders of the planet.
Eye See Africa use a few hand selected lodges on their itineraries to make your stay an unforgettable adventure to the Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti and surrounding highlands, one of Africa’s most beautiful regions.
Why visit Tanzania
Prime game viewing, as a quarter of Tanzania is devoted to game reserves, controlled areas, and national parks.
Witness the spectacular annual Wildebeest migration in the Serengeti
To be able to say, “I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.”
Zanzibar’s sparkling white beaches, crystal clear water, and great variety of things to do make it a must for anyone visiting Tanzania.
Tanzanian’s Social fabric charm is the prime attraction for cultural and eco-tourism.
Area: Tanzania is an East African country known for its vast wilderness areas. They include the plains of Serengeti National Park, a safari mecca populated by the “big five” game (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino), and Kilimanjaro National Park, home to Africa’s highest mountain. Offshore lie the tropical islands of Zanzibar and Mafia Marine Park, where whale sharks swim through reefs.
Population: 39 million
Language: Kiswahili or Swahili (official), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar) and many local languages.
Currency: Tanzanian shilling
GETTING TO TANZANIA
Tanzania’s International Airports: Tanzania has two international airports, one outside the commercial capital Dar es Salaam (DAR) and the other near Arusha (and Mount Kilimanjaro) called Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). Charter flights and some international operators fly directly to Zanzibar Island (ZNZ).
Getting To Tanzania:
There are direct and one-stop flights from overseas to Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro (near Arusha) and Zanzibar Island. Arusha town is the starting point for Tanzania’s most popular Northern Safari Circuit. Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) is situated 46km/29mi east of Arusha. Tanzania’s main airport is Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) located 13km/8mi southwest of Dar es Salaam. The latter is the entry-point for visitors to the southern parks.
Moving on from Arusha or Dar es Salaam one can fly or drive between reserves or opt to do a bit of both. Some domestic flights out of Arusha will leave from Kilimanjaro International Airport, but most flights to reserves leave from the much smaller Arusha Airport (ARK) located 8km/5mi west of town.
Tanzania lies just south of the equator and on the whole enjoys a tropical climate, except in the high mountains (like Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru) where temperatures can get below freezing, especially at night. Along the coast it stays quite hot and humid with heavy and reliable rainfall, especially during the rainy season. Tanzania has two rainy seasons, generally the heaviest rains (called Masika) usually fall from mid-March to May and a shorter period of rain (called Mvuli) from November to mid-January. The dry season, with cooler temperatures, lasts from May to October
When to Go:
If you want to see the Great Annual Migration of millions of
Zebra and wildebeest, head to Tanzania’s northern parks – the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Areas. The best time to witness the migration is probably February – March when the wildebeest and zebra have their young. Not only can you enjoy seeing baby animals, but the predators are at the highest number too. As the herds also concentrate in the south of the Serengeti, during this time the wildlife viewing is good. June to November is Tanzania’s dry season and is the best time to visit all the parks, especially Tanzania’s Southern Parks.
The parks become more difficult to reach during the wet season and during the dry season the animals tend to congregate around permanent water where it is not as hot or humid. All of Tanzania’s parks suffer from the rains which generally fall from March to May in the North, and from November to May in the South and West. Roads get washed out and given the sheer size of Tanzania’s parks, the animals tend to spread out, and this makes wildlife viewing less satisfying (if you’re looking for sheer numbers of animals). December through March can get quite hot and humid, especially in Western and Southern Tanzania which makes it a little uncomfortable to spend a lot of time in the bush.
POINTS OF INTEREST
One of the most frequented attractions in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro National Park is home to Africa’s highest mountain peak. Unlike other parks in northern Tanzania, this one is not visited for the wildlife but for the chance to stand in awe of this majestic snow-capped mountain and, for many, to climb to the summit. Mount Kilimanjaro can be climbed at any time, although the best period is from late June to October, during the dry season.
Serengeti National Park:
Serengeti National Park is a vast treeless plain with thousands, even millions, of animals searching for fresh grasslands. As the largest national park in Tanzania, the Serengeti attracts thousands of tourists each year. The best months for wildlife viewing are between December and June. The wet season is from March to May, with the coldest period from June to October. The annual migration of millions of zebra and wildebeest takes place in May or early June. This migration is one of the most impressive natural events and the primary draw for many tourists.
Large herds of antelope as well as lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, bat eared fox, hunting dog and jackal are also found in Serengeti National Park. Nearly 500 species of bird have been recorded on the Serengeti. Many of these are attracted to the swamp area. ‘Serengeti’ means an ‘extended place’ in the Maasai language.
The Zanzibar archipelago consists of the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. The island of Zanzibar, also called Unguja, is a major holiday destination known for its beautiful beaches. This island has some of the best beaches in the world with varying surf depending on which side of the island you visit. Visitors will find soft white sand and clear shallow water, along with traditional boats. Stone Town is located in the heart of Zanzibar and features old Arabian townhouses, narrow alleyways and a busy port.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area:
Located between the Serengeti and Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the famous volcanic Ngorongoro Crater and one of Tanzania’s most popular wildlife viewing areas. This huge volcanic crater has a permanent supply of water which draws all kinds of animals who stay in this area rather than migrating. Visitors come here primarily for viewing large game and bird watching, but also of interest in the conservation area is the Olduvai Gorge. This important archeological site has revealed ancient skull and bone fragments that have delivered critical information about early mankind.
The Ngorongoro Crater is the largest intact ancient caldera in the world, nearly three million years old. The Ngorongoro volcano was one of the world’s tallest mountains before it exploded and collapsed. Prolific wild game can be seen on the crater floor, including lions, elephants, rhinos, Thomson’s gazelles, and buffaloes, but wildebeests and zebras account for over half of the animals that call the Ngorongoro Crater home. Bird watching is superb, especially around Lake Migadi, which attracts flocks of flamingos to the shallows. Hippos are content to submerge themselves during the day and then graze in the nearby grass in the evening.
The Olduvai Gorge is an archeological site situated on a series of fault lines, where centuries of erosion have revealed fossils and remnants of early mankind. As early as 1911, a German professor found some fossil bones while looking for butterflies in Olduvai Gorge. In a later expedition, the Leakey’s collected skull fragments, a skull, and bones determined to be approximately 2 million years old. Tools and hunting weapons from 1 to 1.5 million years ago were also discovered in Olduvai Gorge. Another exciting find was the famous footprints of a man, woman and child at Laetoli, near Olduvai. These and other discoveries provide more evidence to the theory that at least three hominid species were in this region over 2 million years ago.
Lake Manyara National Park:
Lake Manyara National Park is comprised of forest, woodland, grasslands, and swamps. Two-thirds of the park is covered by water and Lake Manyara is host to thousands of flamingos at certain times of year, as well as other diverse bird life. The highlight of Lake Manyara Park is the large population of elephants, tree-climbing lions and hippos which may be observed at a much closer range than in other parks. This park is also home to the largest concentration of baboons in the world. Wildlife drives, canoeing (when water levels are high enough), mountain bike tours and bird watching are the most popular activities in Lake Manyara National Park.
Mafia Island draws divers and snorkelers from around the world to the undersea world protected by the Mafia Island Marine Park. The best months for diving are October to March but the best weather on Mafia Island is May to October. March and April are months of heavy rain. Mafia Island Marine Park has excellent coral gardens, a relaxed diving atmosphere and over 400 species of fish. Mafia Island is also a traditional breeding site for the green turtle, which is unfortunately close to extinction and a desirable location for deep-sea fishing, especially for tuna, marlin, sailfish and other big-game fish.
Tarangire National Park:
Tarangire National Park was established in 1970 and is best visited in the dry season from July to September when the animals gather along the river. During this dry season, Tarangire National Park has one of the highest concentrations of migratory wildlife. Wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the lagoon. Noticeable highlights of Tarangire National Park are the baobab trees dotting the grassy landscape.
The park is excellent for bird watching, with more than 300 species recorded. These species include buzzards, vultures, herons, storks, kites, falcons and eagles.
Pemba Island is the northernmost island in the Zanzibar archipelago. Around Pemba are many desert islands and some of the best scuba diving in the Indian Ocean, with visibility that is unparalleled. Lush coral gardens, colorful sponges and sea fans are all found in this underwater haven. The city of Chake, the main population center on Pemba, is a well-known base for scuba divers. Pemba is less visited than Zanzibar and as a result has a more laidback atmosphere. From December to February visitors can watch traditional bullfighting; a sign from the days of Portuguese dominance in the 16th and 17th century The island is hilly with deep valleys so it has become popular with mountain bikers who are drawn to the 1,000-meter peaks. Pemba is a major world clove producer and is also well known for the juju traditions of medicine and magic. People come from throughout East Africa to learn from the voodoo and traditional healers or seek a cure.
Stone Town is the cultural heart of Zanzibar and little has changed in the last 200 years. The grand old Arabian homes lining the narrow streets and winding alleys give the city its own unique charm. The majority of homes in Stone Town were built in the 19th century when Zanzibar was one of the most important Swahili trading towns in the Indian Ocean. Visitors will notice the brass-studded, intricately carved wooden doors on many of the houses. As the world’s oldest functioning Swahili city, many of the landmarks in Stone Town have been restored to their original glory. Some of the historic buildings are now museums which can be visited. The town also has a couple of interesting old churches of historical significance.
Selous Game Reserve:
Selous is the largest game reserve in Africa. Established in 1922, it covers 5% of Tanzania’s total area. The southern area is a forbidden zone that is undeveloped, heavily forested, and contains a series of steep cliffs. Travelers are limited to the area north of the Rufiji River. This area of the Selous Game Reserve has large open grassland, woodlands, rivers, hills and plains. The best time to visit is July through October. The Rufiji River bisects the Selous Game Reserve and has the largest catchment area of any river in East Africa. The river is an important feature of the reserve providing the opportunity to watch the diverse water-based wildlife. A broad range of game can be found including elephants, hippos and rhinos as well as buffalo, antelope, giraffe, warthog, wildebeest, lion, leopard and cheetah. The diversity of bird life in Selous includes over 350 recorded species.
Arusha National Park:
Arusha National Park, although smaller than most in Tanzania, has a range of habitats that consist of the forest of Mount Meru, Ngurdoto Crater in the southeast section of the park, and Momela Lakes, a series of seven crater lakes. Black and white colobus monkeys are easily spotted in the forested area while the marshy floor of the crater is dotted with herds of buffalo, zebra and warthog. Momela Lakes is home to a large selection of resident and migrant water birds. People come here to see wildlife and also to climb Mount Meru. Mount Meru is one of the most beautiful volcanoes in Africa and the second highest mountain in Tanzania. The summit is reached by a narrow ridge, which provides stunning views of the volcanic cone lying several thousand feet below in the crater. The ascent is steep but the route passes through parkland, forest, a giant heather zone and moorland.
Ruaha National Park:
Ruaha National Park is the least accessible park in Tanzania and as a result the landscape remains relatively untouched. Birdwatchers can enjoy over 400 species of bird which are not found in northern Tanzania, and the river, spectacular gorges, and majestic trees are especially appealing to photographers. As Tanzania’s second largest park, Ruaha has large herds of buffalo, elephant and gazelle. The concentration of elephants are some of the largest in Tanzania. The Great Ruaha River is the main feature of Ruaha National Park providing magnificent wildlife viewing on the banks. The river also provides much of the electricity to Tanzania through a hydro-electric dam at Kidatu.
Katavi National Park:
Katavi National Park is located in a remote location offering unspoiled wilderness. A predominant feature in Katavi is the enormous flood plain, split by the Katuma River and several seasonal lakes. The lakes support enormous groups of hippos, crocodiles and over 400 species of birds. One of the spectacles in Katavi is the hippos at the end of the dry season when as many as 200 try to squeeze into a pool of water. The Malé rivalry heats up, causing territorial fights.
The dry season brings Katavi National Park to life, herds of impala, reedbuck, lions, zebras and giraffes can be seen at the remaining pools and streams. An estimated 4,000 elephants and buffalo in their thousands also converge on the park when the flood waters retreat.
Gombe Stream National Park:
Gombe Stream National Park is primarily for those who want to get a little off the beaten track and see chimpanzees. This is the smallest national park in Tanzania and is famous for the work of Jane Goodall. This British researcher arrived in 1960 to study the wild chimpanzees and her work turned into what would become the longest running behavioral research program of its kind in the world. Guided walks take visitors into the forest to observe chimps in the wild. Many species of primates and mammals live in the park. Over 200 bird species have been recorded in the tropical forest, including barbets, starlings, sunbirds, crowned eagle, kingfishers and the palm-nut vulture.
Hiking and swimming are other popular activities; a trail leads into the forest to a waterfall in the valley.
Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater lake in Africa and is bordered by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. This lake is the source of the White Nile and provides an income for millions of residents along its shores. The Tanzanian section of Lake Victoria is one of the least visited regions in the country, however the towns of Bukoba, Musoma and Mwanza have a number of attractions. Near Mwanza and Musoma are many islands, some have become wildlife sanctuaries. Bird watching and fishing trips are popular excursions, and boat trips or hikes can be arranged around Lake Victoria.
Rubondo Island National Park, which includes several other smaller islands, is on the southwest shores of Lake Victoria.