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Tanzania is located on the eastern side of the African continent and offers some of the best safari options in Africa. It is also home to Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa offering some of the most picturesque locations on the continent. The nation also falls around the perimeter of the African Great Lakes making it an even more desirable location to visit. Due to the vibrant nature of its geography, it is the best place in Africa to partake in wildlife-related activities.
Tanzania has so much more to offer than simply wildlife activities. It has some of the most excellent beaches on the continent in Zanzibar. The islands of Pemba and Mafia offer plentiful opportunities to adventurers to scuba dive or go snorkeling in the coral gardens surrounding them. There's so much to do in Tanzania that you will only find out as you read on!
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa at 5,895m had to be the star of the show as you start your travel through Tanzania. The area is surrounded by Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, one of the most diverse landscapes in the nation. However, the particular draw to this national park is not the wildlife available in nature but the picturesque and ever-changing vegetation against the backdrop of the stunning, snow-capped Mt. Kilimanjaro. The peak could be scaled by adventurers any time throughout the year but the best time to do so has to be the dry months between the later parts of June to October.
Kilimanjaro is a popular tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site making it easily accessible from all sides. It was formed due to volcanic movements along the Rift Valley in Africa and there are three volcanic cones- Mawenzi, Shira, and Kibo. Uhuru Peak situated on Kibo is the highest point in the region and is listed as one of the Seven Summits of the World.
The vegetation in the region rapidly changes as one travels upwards. At the lower reaches of the mountain, you will find farmlands. As you go up you will first come across lush rainforests, followed by soothing alpine meadows, and at the end, there is a barren moon-like rocky landscape for your wonderment. Bird watchers will have a great time within the alpine meadows especially because of the birds of prey to be found here.
Serenegti National Park
Serengeti National Park is a vast stretch of treeless land and the second largest national park in Tanzania. The best way to reach the national park has to be through the Kilimanjaro International Airport. It is about 46 km away from Arusha, the gateway into Serengeti National Park. You could also catch the flight to Arusha Airport. It is a terrific place and also happens to be listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The most famous feature of Serengeti National Park has to be the migration of wildebeests who traverse through the park to look for fresh grasslands. You will also find a collection of other wild animals, the most impressive of which are the Big Five of Africa and different species of birds. The national park is a haven for bird watchers since about 500 species of birds are recorded to have been sighted here.
March to May sees the onset of the monsoons with June to October being the coldest period in this national park. The best time to visit the national park is during the cold season when over 1.5 million wildebeests would travel through the park in herds. If you get to the park in May or early June, you will also find huge herds of Zebras and gazelles passing through, a wondrous sight that draws thousands of tourists to the Serengeti National Park every year.
Zanzibar, also known as Unguja, is situated off the coast of Tanzania and forms part of the archipelago which includes the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba, and Mafia. It is one of the top tourist destinations in the nation owing to some of the most stunning beaches out there. De[ending on the region of the island you are on, the surf would vary. However, you will find soft, white, sandy beaches washed by crystal clear water, traditional boats lining the shore, and shallow waters on all sides.
One of the most impressive places to visit within Zanzibar is Stone Town, situated right at the heart of the place. This is the oldest Swahili city still inhabited by people in the world. The ancient town is lined with small Arabian-themed homes connected through a network of narrow and winding alleyways giving it a unique feel. Most of these houses also boast doors made from intricately carved wood studded with brass. Stone Town was constructed majorly around the 19th century when trade through the Indian Ocean flourished to great heights. Some of the major attractions of Stone Town are the Darajini Market, City Hall, Beit Al-Amani, and the Anglican Cathedral, all to be found in the original Stone Town. Other notable attractions include Forodhani Gardens, the People’s Palace, the Old Dispensary, and the Hamamni Persian baths. The oldest structure here is the Old Fort and is definitely worth your time.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area lies on the road connecting Serengeti National Park to Lake Manyara. The best way to enter this region is through the roads as you are returning from an exploration of Serengeti National Park. The road is scenic and good enough for travel in private cars.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area gets its name from the Ngorongoro Crater, a famed volcanic crater, and the area abounds in all kinds of wildlife activities. The crater is a hub for all kinds of animals since it is fed by a constant source of water. Because of this, the animals inhabit this region completely and are migratory. The visitors are gifted by sightings of large animals such as hippos, rhinos, buffalos, gazelles, elephants, and predators such as lions. The most viewed animals in this region are herds of wildebeests and zebras. The area also welcomes different species of birds making it an exciting place for bird watchers. The region around Lake Migadi is especially important to bird watchers since it is abundantly visited by birds of all kinds. Sighting flamingos is one of the major attractions in the region.
The Crater is the largest among the ancient calderas of the world and dates back millions of years. The volcano, on the other hand, used to be one of the tallest mountains in the world. However, it was blasted off into a crater after quite an eventful explosion.
Olduvai Gorge is located within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area but deserves a special mention because of its scientific importance. It is a hub for archaeologists and has been so since 1911 when a German professor found remnants of ancient humans while looking for butterflies. The findings of skull fragments, bone fragments, and a whole skull in this region offer critical scientific leads about mankind in its earliest stages. The skull and bone fragments found in this region are believed to be about 2 million years old while stone tools and hunting weapons found in the area date back to 1 to 1.5 million years ago! One of the most interesting things to look out for in Olduvai Gorge is the footprints left by a family, a man, woman, and child at Laetoli, which is nearby. The discoveries in the area have led scientists to believe that at least three different hominid species inhabited this area about 2 million years ago!
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara is a great way to complete the circuit from Serengeti National Park through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and end at the lake. It is a beautiful place, especially because of the huge water body that covers almost two-thirds of the park. The easy availability of freshwater has made this area a hub for all kinds of terrestrial and avian fauna species. A lot of birds frequent this region, the most prominent of which has to be the flamingos. At certain times of the year, you could see flocks of thousands of pink flamingos immersing themselves in the cool waters of Lake Manyara.
Other notable wildlife faunas that you are most likely to see in Lake Manyara National Park include herds of elephants and lions that could climb trees. You should also look out for hippos; this is one place where you will get a much closer look at them than anywhere else. The park also has a huge population of baboons, in fact, the largest concentration in the world! Some of the most popular activities that you could participate in while you are exploring Lake Manyara include canoeing (when water levels are high), wildlife drives, bird watching, and mountain biking.
Mafia Island is part of the archipelago around Tanzania and is another of the wonderful treasures to visit off the coast. It is a true delight to visit this amazing island with terrific beaches and the Mafia Island Marine Park. The first settlers came to this island around the 8th to 9th century it became an important center around the 12th to 14th century when it became part of the East African trading route. This island provides ample opportunities for divers and snorkelers because of the delightful coral gardens underwater and thus brings in tons of tourists every year.
The best time to go for diving adventures in the waters around the island has to be between October and March. The best time of the year to visit the island is between May to October. You should avoid the island in March and April because of the heavy rains which could be a serious damper to all your outdoor plans.
The coral gardens are instantly captivating and made even more beautiful by a huge plethora of fish species. The waters are also visited by so many different species of birds and the waters hold at least 400 different species of fish. This also includes species such as tuna, sailfish, marlin, etc. which makes deep-sea fishing another exciting activity to participate in while you are on Mafia Island. the endangered green turtle is also abundantly seen on the Mafia Island since it is an important breeding ground for them.
Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park is another famous national park situated on the northern side of Tanzania. It is generally done with Serengeti and Ngorongoro since it forms part of the circuit. Just like Serengeti National Park, you have to start at Arusha and thus this place is also easy to approach. It was established back in 1970 and offers some of the most fantastical opportunities for game viewing! The months of July to September see the onset of the dry seasons and are the best time to visit this national park. This is the time when you will find the highest concentration of wildlife species that migrate from place to place.
Of the most notable wildlife species to be found in this region, you will come across zebras, gazelles, wildebeest, impala, buffalo, eland, and hartebeest. Elephants are also a very common sight in this region. You will also see that unlike the other national parks in the northern part of the nation, there is a huge concentration of baobab trees in Tarangire. If you are an avid bird watcher, you have a collection of about 300 different species of birds to look out for while you are in Tarangire. These birds include huge birds of prey such as vultures, eagles, falcons, kites, buzzards, herons, and storks.
Pemba Island too is part of the Zanzibar archipelago and is the northernmost island there is. There are also so many desert islands around Pemba that you could also go exploring. The island is surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean and is a favorite amongst scuba divers because of the exceptionally clear visibility! The underwater world around the island is loaded with coral gardens, sea fans, and vibrantly colored sea sponges. You could set your base in Chake Chake- it is the main center of Pemba Island and very popular among divers.
The atmosphere in Pemba is lazy and laidback and is much less crowded than in Zanzibar. This offers ample opportunities for visitors to just lie back on the soft beaches and relax to their heart's content. The island being hilly with hills in the 1000 m range has become famous among mountain bikers too. Misali Island Beach is off the coast of Pemba Island and should be top of your itinerary- it is uninhabited and has the most stunning white sandy beaches! Pemba also has a mystic element based on its juju traditions that deal in medicines and magic. People from all of Eastern Africa often frequent Pemba Island to learn from the traditional healers in this area or to find a cure to their ailments. Pemba is also one of the major producers of clove in the world.
Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater lake in Africa making it a very attractive site to visit as you explore Tanzania. It falls along the borders of Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. The White Nile River originates from the lake providing the lands around with freshwater and the inhabitants with guaranteed sources of income. The Tanzanian part of Lake Victoria is not much visited making it one of the best places to go to if you are looking for unexplored places. It is surrounded by the small towns of Bukoba, Mwanza, and Musoma all of which have their own set of attractions to look out for.
Many islands around Mwanza and Musoma have earned the status of being wildlife sanctuaries allowing you ample opportunities to see wildlife, especially birds. Rubondo Island National Park is a collection of several smaller islands on the southwestern shores of the lake. Boat trips, as well as hiking expeditions, could be easily arranged in and around Lake Victoria.
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