Things to do in Tanzania: Attractions and places to visit

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Tanzania – that is Africa in one country. With over 150 cultures, Tanzania reflects the continent’s cultural richness as well as the exciting alternation between savannahs and dense forests, seductive metropolises and small villages, long beaches and dry semi-deserts, high mountains and vast expanses.

All united in one country in East Africa. With its varied sights, Tanzania is therefore not only a symbol for the continent. It is, so to speak, an “Africa of superlatives”: with Dar Es Salaam the most populous city in East Africa, with Kilimanjaro the highest mountain, with Lake Victoria the largest and with Lake Taganyika the deepest lake.

Zanzibar is the most popular holiday island and the Serengeti is the most famous national park in Africa. We haven’t even begun to speak of Ruaha National Park, the largest park in East Africa, or Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania as the largest dry caldera in the world.

In the following we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in Tanzania:

Tanzania (Serengeti National Park) Baby elaphants follow their mum (Güldem Üstün)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
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1. Kilimanjaro – the King of Africa

The Kilimanjaro (also Germanized Kilimanjaro) is with 5895 meters the highest mountain of Africa and belongs to the most desired summits of the world. An ascent of the mountain massif is one of the highlights in Tanzania in the truest sense of the word. Professional mountaineering equipment or years of training are usually not necessary. Guided tours usually start in Moshi.

Nevertheless, climbing the Kibo (as the actual mountain is called) should not be taken lightly. Visitors should have at least five days and a good fitness level. They are rewarded with a unique experience, changeful nature and breathtaking views. The guided tours start in the town of Moshi at the foot of the tourist attraction.

2. Endless expanses of the Serengeti

Wide country’ means Serengeti in the language of the Massai and so they have brought this unique region to the point. Grasslands stretching to the horizon are inhabited by millions of mammals, birds and reptiles. This is where the great wildebeest migration takes place every year, hundreds of thousands of them migrating between southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.

They are hunted only too gladly by lions, cheetahs, hyenas, leopards but also crocodiles on that occasion. Bernhard Grzimek was so touched by the incredible abundance of animals in the National Park that he has created a cinematic monument to it with “Serengeti must not die”. The Serengeti is not only an important sight, but the safari destination in general!

3. Dream beaches and oriental flair on Zanzibar

Only through the island archipelago Zanzibar Tanzania gets its name: it is a combination of the mainland Tanganjika and Zanzibar. Zanzibar is definitely worth a vacation trip of its own and bubbles with breathtaking sights. Cultural boiling point is the old capital Stone Town.

It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and reveals a moving past from Sultanate rule in Oman, an active slave trade, exciting spices and unique tropical beaches. The fusion of African and Arabic influences make Zanzibar the most popular holiday island in Africa.

4. Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Park

The Tarangire National Park is certainly in the shadow of the Serengeti: it is smaller, has fewer animals and is much less known. And yet it is worth more than just a visit and is rightly on our list of top sights in Tanzania. Because the park is smaller, it can be better monitored by the rangers and is harder for poachers to reach.

The best proof is the large herds of elephants in the Tarangire, which you can see up close. Safaris usually combine Tarangire with Lake Manyara National Park, which is also of extraordinary beauty and diversity. The most popular sight in Lake Manyara are (with a bit of luck) the lion packs climbing on trees!

5. Natural wonder Ngorongoro crater

In the middle of a volcanic crater lies the Ngorongoro, which borders directly on the southern Serengeti. Due to the high mountains that delimit the area, herbivores and carnivores live close together in the gigantic Caldera. The Ngorongoro Crater has the highest predator density in Africa and is a breathtaking natural spectacle amidst the up to 600 meter high crater walls.

Coming from Arusha or Karatu, the descent into the crater alone is a sight in itself. The view over the whole area with all the small forests and lakes looks like the found paradise on earth. The crater itself is home to lions, elephants, hippos and giraffes as well as some of the last East African rhinos that are threatened by poaching.

6. Bukoba at Lake Victoria

In the northwest of Tanzania, near the borders to Rwanda and Uganda, lies the small town of Bukoba on Lake Victoria. It is the ideal starting point to visit also the neighbouring countries, to undertake long hikes at the lake or to experience once far away from the tourist routes the life in an East African small town.

In addition to many walks between waterfalls and forests, the small island of Musila in the lake is ideal for a boat trip. Numerous birds fish here as well as the small fishing boats, which turn Lake Victoria into a romantic sea of lights at night with their lamps.

7. Rubondo Iceland

In the middle of Lake Victoria lies a national park on the island of Rubondo. Only a few visitors come here, because it is located between Mwanza and Bukoba and therefore a little away from the big parks in the northeast of the country. And they’re all missing something. Boat tours are offered from the coast, which are best booked in Mwanza. With a simple but safe boat we then go to the island.

The adventure begins already on the crossing, crocodiles rarely swim directly past the boat. But don’t worry, the boat is too big for them to think of as booty. On the island you can spend two or three days to observe the numerous birds, monitors and hippos. Also some large land mammals like giraffes live on Rubondo Island.

8. Mount Meru

Slightly smaller than Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru near Arusha is often neglected. But even he should not wrongly call himself an attractive sight in this land of endless attractive sights.

Tours of about three days lasting several days lead through the different vegetation zones and parks up to the summit, which at 4565 metres is still high enough to know snow. From the top there is then the desired view over northern Tanzania with the mountains of the Ngorongoro massif, the Kilimanjaro, the cities of Arusha and Moshi and the many national parks.

9. Ruaha National Park

Actually, we wanted to recommend the coastal city Dar Es Salam at this point, but one would do injustice to the Ruaha National Park not to include it among the most important sightseeings in Tanzania. While the parks in the north of the country are world-famous, the reserves in the south are still an insider tip:

Ruaha is even larger than the Serengeti and the largest national park in East Africa since its last expansion. Not only more than 10,000 elephants live here, but also several packs of endangered African wild dogs. Popular combinations include Ruaha and Selous Game Reserve.

10. Hiking Paradise Usambara Mountains

The dense forests with their rivers and streams along the slopes and valleys of the Usambara Mountains are a paradise for hikers. Lushoto is the ideal starting point to explore the sights of Usambara. Visitors will find numerous tour offers of day hikes, cultural excursions or mountain bike trips in the city center.

But the mountains with their viewing platforms and interesting villages also invite individual hikers to take long walks. The mild climate refreshes especially between the hot coastal towns and savannahs. The region is therefore the perfect stopover to experience another part of Tanzania with its sights.

Best time to visit Tanzania

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Tanzania:

January, February, June, July, August, September, and December

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Tanzania.

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