Over the years, ‘safari’ has become synonymous with wildlife viewing in the African bush. If your primary reason for travelling to Africa is to experience an abundance of African wildlife in unspoilt wilderness, then Tanzania should be your destination of choice. Tanzania protects over 25% of its land through national parks and reserves, more than any other country on the continent.
Serengeti National Park with its annual wildebeest migration and the sheer magnificence of Ngorongoro Crater – the 8th wonder of the world – are at the top of highlight lists, but the lesser known National Parks have their own appeal. Lake Manyara is famous for its tree-climbing lion and abundant birdlife, Arusha National Park for its concentration of giraffe and Tarangire National Park for its herds of elephant.
A wildlife safari is just one reason to visit this beautiful country. For the more adventurous, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro or Mt Meru is a highlight of their Tanzanian experience. Hiking through the rolling hills of the Ngorongoro Highlands or up the active Oldonyo Lengai, rising out of the Great Rift Valley provide more intimate experiences with the land and people.
The many and varied cultures that co-exist in Tanzania are also a major drawcard. Lake Eyasi is home to the Hadzabe hunter-gatherers, while the Maasai and their herds of cattle make their homes throughout the north of the country. The foothills of Mt Meru are home to the Wameru people and the Wachugga can be found around Marangu nestled amongst the banana plantations on the lower slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro. Cultural tourism programs give visitors the opportunity to experience and understand these cultures and are a frequent addition to a Tanzanian safari itinerary.
A fantastic way to end a wildlife safari or a demanding trek is to relax on the pristine beaches and in the azure waters of the Zanzibar Archipelago. Tanzania truly is a dream holiday destination that welcomes visitors from its highest peaks to its deepest lake, from its endless plains to its clear blue waters.
The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safarigoers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours.
Located in the centre of the historic triangle of Bagamoyo, Pangani and Zanzibar, Saadani National Park covers 1100km square. It is the only wildlife sanctuary in Tanzania bordering the sea. The climate is coastal, hot and humid. It offers a unique combination of both marine and mainland flora and fauna in a culturally fascinating setting.
Ruaha national park is one of the few Tanzania’s famous wilderness area where one can have a rare experience of game viewing spiced up by the fascinating landscape.The park is rich of plants and animals such as Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) which can not be found in any other national park.
Mikumi National Park abuts the northern border of Africa’s biggest game reserve – the Selous – and is transected by the surfaced road between Dar es Salaam and Iringa. It is thus the most accessible part of a 75,000 square kilometre (47,000 square mile) tract of wilderness that stretches east almost as far as the Indian Ocean.
A million wildebeest… each one driven by the same ancient rhythm, fulfilling its instinctive role in the inescapable cycle of life: a frenzied three-week bout of territorial conquests and mating; survival of the fittest as 40km (25 mile) long columns plunge through crocodile-infested waters on the annual exodus north; replenishing the species in a brief population explosion that produces more than 8,000 calves daily before the 1,000 km (600 mile) pilgrimage begins again.
The fierce sun sucks the moisture from the landscape, baking the earth a dusty red, the withered grass as brittle as straw. The Tarangire River has shrivelled to a shadow of its wet season self. But it is choked with wildlife. Thirsty nomads have wandered hundreds of parched kilometres knowing that here, always, there is water.
Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”.
Kilimanjaro. The name itself is a mystery wreathed in clouds. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans. Or it might not. The local people, the Wachagga, don’t even have a name for the whole massif,
The jewel in Ngorongoro’s crown is a deep, volcanic crater, the largest un flooded and unbroken caldera in the world. About 20kms across, 600 meters deep and 300 sq kms in area, the Ngorongoro Crater is a breathtaking natural wonder.
Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, and several islets. It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 25 miles from the Tanzanian coast, and 6° south of the equator. Zanzibar Island (known locally as Unguja, but as Zanzibar internationally) is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide.