Tanzania is an incredible place filled with exotic animals, stunning landscapes, and wonderful people. There are few places in the world that could capture your heart the way Tanzania can! Once you see a sunset over the lake or watch a giraffe run through the bush, you’ll want to stay in this beautiful place forever. The heart of the wild meets the heart of the culture in a way you can’t imagine until you see it for yourself. So go see it! Here are the places you can’t miss when you travel to Tanzania.
Africa’s highest mountain looms majestically above the dry bush of Tanzania’s in interior, its snow-capped summit an apparent oxymoron in the equatorial sun. If you’re going to Tanzania, plan to spend some time exploring the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro even if you opt out of the long trek to the top. The ideal, of course, is to hire a guide and make your way to the roof of Africa. What a view!
Serengeti National Park
I’ll admit that my own experience in the Serengeti is rather limited. There is a highway that divides the national park from unprotected land, and I drove down this highway while rubbernecking to see if I could spot any of Africa’s “big five” animals. All I saw were some birds and a few grazing animals, but if you actually take a safari through the park, you’re bound to see a lot more! In fact, some would claim that Serengeti National Park is the best place for wildlife watching in the country.
A surprisingly few number of people know about this significant little town. When I went, the village was full of people extracting palm oil from the trees and gathering water from the river into big, yellow jugs, which they then loaded in alarming numbers onto bicycles. Ujiji holds stories of the past that created a turning point in Africa’s history and the way the West interacts with the African continent. You may recall the great explorer David Livingstone who disappeared into the interior of Africa on a hunt for the source of the Nile. Nobody knew what had become of him until Henry Morton Stanley discovered him sitting under an old tree at the river’s edge. “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” Since that day, the river has receded quite far down the road, and the tree has died. There is a monument where the tree once stood, and a museum is next to it. You can get a tour from a local guide who will teach you the history of his hometown.
Lake Tanganyika is the second deepest lake in the world, and it is the most beautiful in Tanzania. A wonderful place to enjoy the lake is at one of the beaches in Kigoma Town, where you can camp or relax at the water’s edge. The freshwater of the lake is surprisingly clear, making a perfect place for swimming and snorkeling. Boating is also a fun way to see the lake and the local fishermen’s lifestyle. If you get up early enough, you may catch sight of a family of zebras making their way to the water’s edge for a drink. Just watch out for the monkeys—they like to steal your food!
Although not as nice as Lake Tanganyika, Lake Victoria is still beautiful. Take the ferry from Burundi to Tanzania and enjoy the sights from the boat. The big, gray boulders make the lake look like a giant’s playground. The drawback to Lake Victoria is that it is filled with parasites, making it dangerous to swim in. Don’t play in the water, but do enjoy the view.
The Spice Islands were once their own independent country, but several decades ago they joined with the nation of Tanganyika to form Tanzania. Still, Zanzibar is rather distinct from its continental counterpart. Tanzanians say that the purest form of Swahili is spoken on Zanzibar. When you go, be sure to check out the old forts, the beautiful beaches, and the spice markets.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Not many places in the world are as breathtaking as Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This is a gigantic, ancient crater with a huge watering hole in the middle. The vibrant green of the crater is a stunning contrast to the yellow landscape of the surrounding bush. Here, you can see elephants, giraffes, and all other types of African animal gather at the watering hole. While there are a few lodges in the area, the vast majority of the Ngorngoro area seems to be virgin wilderness.
Tarangire National Park
For the quintessential safari trip, head to Tarangire National Park. You’ve probably seen photos before: old, stick-shift Land Rovers bounce over the bumpy dirt roads, kicking up the inescapable red dust against a backdrop of acacia trees and distant mountains. Around the car, lions of elephants or giraffes walk unconcernedly along the edge of the road, going about their daily business. Now, imagine yourself in that car! You definitely have to do this at least once before you die.
National Museum of Tanzania
If you find yourself in the capital, Dar es Salaam, be sure to check out the National Museum of Tanzania. There are actually two main parts to this museum. The first is the main part in the city center of Dar. You can see displays on the colonial days of Tanzania and its era of monarchy in addition to information of traditional Tanzanian life and archaeological finds. Outside the city, check out the Village Museum, or, as it is called in Swahili, Kijiji cha Makumbusho. Here, you’ll get to see what it’s like to live in a village, including traditional houses from various tribes and their gardens, tools, and other items. Plan your visit right, and you’ll get to see a traditional dance!
Be sure to put Tanzania on your bucket list. There are few places in the world that are as amazing as this country! Visit the sprawling open country, the bustling city centers, and the beautiful beaches for a look at everything that Tanzania has to offer. You’ll never have another experience quite like your first visit to Tanzania.