The nearby town of Arusha is the starting point for mountain climbers but also for safari-goers. It is just a short journey from the town to the famous Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest caldera, and the Serengeti Plains. Both fall within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area which has a population of around 25,000 large animals and the densest known population of lion. It also supports one of the largest animal migrations on earth when vast numbers of wildebeest, zebra and gazelles migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the fresh grazing and water offered by the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya from July through to October.
Then there are Tanzania’s beaches, most notably the Zanzibar archipelago, known for powder white sand and azure water. This chain has more than 50 islands with Zanzibar (Unguja) the main island with historic Stone Town at its centre.
And of course, the people play an important part in any Tanzanian adventure. There are more than 120 different tribes including the Maasai, the Hadza, the Wameru, the Makonde and the Chaga. This makes Tanzania one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world.
Places to Visit in Tanzania
- Mahale Mountains
- The Selous
- Dar Es Salaam
Unique Things to See and Do in Tanzania
- Climb Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest peak
- Island hop the spectacular Zanzibar Archipelago
- Visit the world’s largest caldera aka the Ngorongoro Crater
- Go on safari in the Serengeti Plains
- Have an up-close encounter with chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains
Kilimanjaro – Africa’s Highest Peak
Around 25,000 trekkers arrive at the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park each year in the hope of reaching its summit, a staggering 5,896 metres above sea level.
Not only is it Africa’s highest mountain, but it is also one of the tallest volcanoes in the world, and the highest freestanding mountain.
It is also one of Tanzania’s most recognisable attractions, its iconic snowy peak towering over the plains that surround it.
The first stages of the climb take you through cultivated farmland before entering a layer of rainforest, home to buffaloes, elephants, leopards and monkeys. The trees give way to alpine meadows, then any signs of life completely disappear as the landscape becomes barren, unforgiving and otherworldly. It’s not until you arrive right at the top of the mountain that it changes again, this time to an icy world of snow and glaciers where you eventually reach the twin summits of two of its three volcanic cones – Kibo and Mawenzi.
Climbers can hike to the summit without the aid of ropes or any real climbing experience. But despite its relative accessibility, it remains a significant undertaking.
Many climbers never make it to the top, hindered either by altitude sickness or inadequate levels of fitness. And each year, there are trekkers and porters that die attempting to reach Uhuru Peak.
Allowing yourself enough time to acclimatise to the high altitude conditions is an important way to help your chances of success, as is tackling the climb with adequate equipment and experienced guides.
Did you know…?
Tanzania is slightly more than twice the size of California.
Did you ALSO know…?
The world’s earliest human skull was found in Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge.
Getting Around Tanzania
Getting around Tanzania can be an adventure in itself, but for tourists heading to the major sights, then road and air are the best modes of transport. Domestic air services are the quickest and most comfortable way to get around, with a few airlines such as Precision Air operating to the main safari destinations and coastal areas, and some lodges offering private charter flights for their well-heeled guests. If you’re more inclined to hit the road, then self-drive is not generally recommended. Instead, hire a driver – often they can double as a guide.
Buses are also available for those on a bit more of a budget. The shared minibuses known as dala dalas are also a popular and inexpensive way of travelling local routes, but they make lots of stops and can be packed.
Trains also operate in parts of the country, and journeys can be quite scenic if a little slow.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Tanzania
Tanzania’s temperate climate fluctuates only slightly from month to month. The most significant changes come in the form of rainfall.
If you’re going on safari, then aim to travel during the dry months of January to March and June to September. During these periods, animals will gather around the rivers and waterholes so they can be more easily spotted. There are also fewer mosquitoes at these times of year. Although they generally continue to operate during the rains of October and November, many safari camps close during the rainy months of April and May. However, some stay open and will offer much lower rates than at any other time of year. But if you do grab one of these bargains, be prepared for muddy roads which may make it more difficult to get around.
If you’re travelling to the Serengeti for the Wildebeest migration, then this can start from July and continue through to November, with August through to October considered the best months. As a result, this is also the busiest time of year, so prices will spike.
Ready to plan your visit to Tanzania? Check out these popular guides and trips.