Top 7 things to do in Tanzania & Zanzibar

Home to Africa’s highest mountain and several famous national parks and game reserves, Tanzania is one of the continent’s most popular destinations.

With a rich culture and great diversity in wildlife, there is plenty to see and do. Here are our top 7 recommendations:

1. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Standing 5,895 metres above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, which makes it very popular among climbers from all over the world. The mountain consists of three peaks – Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi – with the Uhuru peak on the Kibo crater rim being the highest. Climbing this dormant volcanic mountain isn’t easy. However, there are plenty of tour options, which cater for different climbing abilities.

 

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Hiking tours are also available at lower levels of the mountain, where travellers can explore the Shira Plateau, craters and wildlife while admiring plenty of scenic views. The natural park surrounding the mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which can be enjoyed by those who do not wish to climb.

2. The endless plains of Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti National Park is Tanzania’s oldest and most popular national park. It is also a world heritage site that was recently proclaimed one of the seven wonders of the world. It is famed for its annual migration in which some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebras and 300,000 Thomson’s gazelles join the wildebeest’s trek for fresh grazing. Yet no matter what the time of year, the Serengeti offers arguably the most scintillating game viewing in Africa, with great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant’s gazelle.

 

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The spectacle of predator versus prey dominates Tanzania’s greatest park. Golden maned lion prides feast on the abundance of plain grazers and solitary leopards haunt the acacia trees lining the Seronera River, while a high density of cheetahs prowl the southeastern plains. Almost uniquely, all three African jackal species occur here, alongside the spotted hyena and a host of more elusive small predators, ranging from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful serval cat. Popular though the Serengeti might be it is so vast that you may well be the only human audience when a pride of lions pounces on its prey.

 

3. Balloon Safari

A Serengeti balloon safari is something not to be missed if you’re heading to Tanzania. At sunrise the silence of flight is punctuated only by the occasional blast of the powerful burners and the faint call of a bird or animal far beneath. The thrill is indescribable.

 

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You’ll sip fine champagne while hovering gently over the treetops of the beautiful Seronera River or drift majestically high above the famous Serengeti Migration or Moru Kopjes. In a region boasting some of the best ballooning weather in the world, the exceptional peace of this unique and almost supernatural view of the world will be a memory you can always cherish.

 

4. Ngorongoro Crater

Home to over 25,000 animals, the Ngorongoro Crater is a renowned place of wonder and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The volcanic caldera of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area sees humans living alongside wildlife. The crater was formed when a giant volcano exploded before collapsing on itself two to three million years ago, and has since flourished into a natural enclosure for wildlife including lions, wildebeests, zebras, rhinos and buffalos.

 

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Game drives take place within the conservation area and are a great way to see wildlife in its natural habitat. Olduvai Gorge is another main attraction in the conservation area as important early human fossils were discovered in the gorge making it one of the world’s most important anthropological sites. Anthropologists, Louis and Mary Leakey, even discovered a 1.8 million year old hominid skeleton along the steep ravine in 1959!

 

5. Boat Safari in Selous Game Reserve

Covering an area of more than 50,000 km², the Selous Game Reserve is the largest game reserve in Africa and one of the largest protected areas in the world. The reserve runs across five regions of Tanzania, covering 5% of the country, and is home to the largest concentrations of elephant and buffalo.

 

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Leopards, wild dogs, lions, hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, wildebeests, antelopes, and a range of birdlife can all be spotted in the reserve, to name but a few. The Rufiji River is a main geographical feature of the reserve and boat safaris along the river can provide the opportunity to see a wide range of flora and fauna.

 

6. Beaches of Zanzibar

The island of Zanzibar is bursting with an array of beaches, which provide the ideal setting to relax after a safari. The east coast provides continuous coral reefs with white sandy beaches lined with coconut palms and small coves that offer shelter from the wind.

 

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Non-tidal beaches can be found along the northwest coast of the island between Nungwi and Kendwa, allowing for all day swimming, whereas the coral cliffs and lagoon coves of the southwest allow for an escape to a less touristy spot. The southwest islands have secret beaches that make for perfect picnic spots whilst the northeast island of Mnemba is reputed to have some of the finest beaches off the coast of Zanzibar.

 

7. Stone Town’s historical sights

As a Swahili coastal trading town, Stone Town in Zanzibar is a unique place influenced by a range of cultures and traditions.

 

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Explorers, exotic spices, sea traders and sultans are all part of its history, and many historical sites still remain intact. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and comprises of interesting coral stone architecture along narrow streets.

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