Visiting Africa and embarking on a safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people. Achieving such travel dreams are temporarily on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there will come a day when social restrictions are lifted.
When that day comes, everyone will have a newfound appreciation for their everyday freedoms and should use the new perspective to book those dream vacations. For many, that dream vacation is an African safari and there are no better places to fulfill that dream than Tanzania.
However, Tanzania is not only about an incredible safari – the nation has so much more to offer, as you will soon discover. So, if you are serious about booking that special African safari holiday, then follow this guide to ensure a truly memorable experience.
Go on Safari
Let’s start with the primary reason why most people would plan a trip to Tanzania, which provides unbeatable safari experiences. Tanzania offers three safari circuits: Northern Circuit, Western Circuit, and Southern Circuit.
The Northern Circuit is the most popular with tourists and takes in tours across the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire National Park, and Arusha National Park.
A safari on the Northern Circuit will be your best chance of spotting the Big Five: buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and black rhino. The black rhino, however, is rare and is usually only seen at the Ngorongoro Crater.
As well as the Big Five, you can expect to see plenty of giraffe, hippos, zebra, cheetahs, hyenas, gazelle, and on rare occasions, wild dogs.
Arguably the most mind-blowing spectacle is the great migration of the wildebeest, which sees more than two million ungulates migrate across the Mara-Serengeti. To witness this, you will want to plan your trip for Tanzania’s dry season between June and October.
Hiking the Mountains and Parks
Perhaps the only landmark in Tanzania that can rival its safaris for global fame is Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing volcano in the world and Africa’s tallest peak. While Kilimanjaro is a walking climb and is therefore not as technically challenging as other famous mountains, it can still present plenty of difficulties. Treks typically take between 4-7 days depending on route, size of group, and skillset, and there are camping and accommodation facilities along the mountain.
However, Kilimanjaro is far from the only hiking hotspot in Tanzania. Mount Meru – Tanzania’s second-highest peak – is another popular challenge for hikers. The trek can be done in 3-4 days and all hikers must be accompanied by a park ranger from the Arusha National Park in which Meru is located.
For day hikes, then the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a great place to explore with its dense forest, volcanic peaks and lakes. There are also five-day treks available for those who want more time within the conservation.
Finally, the Udzungwa Mountains is a great option for hikers who want to be off the beaten path. With minimal tourism and a limited trail network, Udzungwa is an untouched wonder with spectacular waterfalls, dozens of species of primates, and hundreds of birds.
Explore Dar es Salaam
While no longer the nation’s capital (that would be Dodoma), Dar es Salaam is the largest and most populous city in Tanzania. As such, it is a vibrant, bustling and dynamic city with plenty of things to do, explore, and experience.
As a port town, Dar es Salaam offers some wonderful beaches and nearby islands, including Mbudya Island and Bongoyo Island, which are 15-20 minutes by motorboat.
To learn about Tanzanian history and culture, then take a trip to the National Museum of Tanzania and the Village Museum, while you can experience day-to-day life in Dar es Salaam by immersing yourself in the Kariakoo Market.
Dar es Salaam may be Africa’s best kept secret when it comes to nightlife. From rooftop bars and seaside venues, to dance clubs and casinos, the Tanzanian city has it all. For one of the best nights in Dar es Salaam, head to Kilimanjaro Casino at the Hyatt Regency. Poker, blackjack and roulette tables, slot machines and unlimited drinks await your arrival, but leave your card counting skills at the door to avoid any trouble!
Take a boat to Zanzibar
Located around a two-hour ferry ride from Dar es Salaam is the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar. With its world-class beaches, varied and rich history, and its famous spice plantations, Zanzibar is well worth a visit when in Tanzania.
While day trips to Zanzibar are convenient by ferry from Dar es Salaam, it is recommended to spend a few days on the island to be able to experience all it has to offer.
Stone Town, the capital, is made up of narrow alleyways, market stalls, and historic monuments that speak to the cultural and religious diversity of the city. Visit the Old Fort of Zanzibar, the Sultan’s Palace, Old Dispensary, and House of Wonders to gain an insight into Zanzibar’s history. You can also learn about Zanzibar’s most famous citizen, music legend Freddie Mercury at the Freddie Mercury Museum.
As an island in the Indian Ocean, it should come as no surprise that Zanzibar boasts some exquisite beaches, mainly located on the north and east coast. If you are planning to stay overnight for a few days and want to be located on the beach, then look at resorts in Nungwi in the north, Matemwe in the north-east, and Pingwe and Paje in the east.
There are also plenty of organized tours to explore Zanzibar, including tours of the mysterious Prison Island, tours of Spice Island, and tours of National Parks. To get up close to marina life, consider one of the environmentally friendly dolphin tours or arrange snorkeling and scuba diving expeditions.