Tanzania is an amazing country which contains many large and ecologically significant wildlife parks and reserves as well as a number of archaeological and historical sites. Picking the top 5 things to see proved impossible; but I’ve managed (just!) to narrow it down to a top 10!
Gombe Stream National Park
Made famous by the primatologist Jane Goodall, the Gombe Stream National Park is home to the chimpanzee groups that she has spent her life studying and protecting. Goodall and her team have spent many years with the chimpanzees and a number of groups have been habituated allowing tourists the chance to trek into the forest to spend time observing the primates in their natural setting. This experience is truly unforgettable and a real highlight of a trip to Tanzania.
Lake Manyara National Park
Although Lake Manyara National Park is one of the smallest in Tanzania, there is a lot to see here! Ornithologists will get immense pleasure from the extraordinary array of bird species that frequent the park, including huge flocks of waterbirds, flamingos and storks.
That said, one of the main reasons many visit is in order to try to get a glimpse of the rare tree climbing lions – these amazing creatures are incredibly elusive, but for the lucky few that get to see them they are an amazing sight!
Mafia Island Marine Park
Established to help protect one of the world’s richest marine habitats the Mafia Island Marine Park is a paradise for scuba divers and beach lovers alike. The park is made up of a number of important marine habitats including mangroves, sea-grass beds, coral reefs, inter-tidal reef flats, lagoons and coastal forests. You can either chill on the sandy beaches or spend your days underwater with some of the most beautiful marine life will ever see!
Mount Kilimanjaro National Park
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa – the images of its snow covered summit are famous worldwide. For those that are physically fit and are looking for adventure there is the option to scale to the top – something not to be attempted by the faint hearted! For those that want to take things a little easier, the walking and hiking trails within the park offer a great alternative. Whichever you choose, seeing Mount Kilimanjaro up close is a must!
Ngorongoro Crater & Conservation Area
The Ngorongoro Crater is probably Tanzania’s most famous landmark and often considered to be one of the missing wonders of the world! Created when a volcano exploded and collapsed on itself around two to three million years ago, the resulting crater which is around 2,000 feet deep and covers an area of around 300km2 is incredibly picturesque.
The view from the top is breathtaking, the descent into the crater, an adventure in itself, and once on the crater floor, you are ideally placed to seek out some of the estimated 30,000 animals that inhabit the crater. What more could you ask for?!
Selous Game Reserve
The Selous Game Reserve is Africa’s largest wildlife sanctuary, and together with the adjoining Mikumi National Park, is home to in the region of 1,000,000 large mammals, including some of the world’s largest populations of African wild dogs, elephants, crocodile, buffalo and hippo. Some of the only black rhino in the region can also be found with the reserve.
As well as game drives, hiking safaris, boat safaris and fishing are all very popular activities with visitors to Selous. The boat safari is a particular favourite!
Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti National Park plays host to the annual wildebeest migration, one of nature’s greatest phenomenon. More than a million animals make the annual journey through the Serengeti to the Masai Mara in Kenya – to catch a glimpse of the stampede is a highlight for any nature lover.
If you are not lucky enough to time your visit to coincide with the migration there is still much to keep you occupied. The Park is home to wide variety of birds and animals, including the big 5! If you want to try an alternative to a game drive, then take to the sky on a balloon safari. Floating quietly above the open plains below gives you a totally different perspective – it’s out of this world!
Tarangire National Park
If you want to see elephants – Tarangire National Park is one of the best places to go as it has some of the highest density of the species across the whole of Tanzania.
As well as elephants, Tarangire National Park is home to buffalo, giraffe, a number of antelope species, and lions to name but a few. The park also boasts its own annual migration which has been estimated as including up to 3,000 elephants, 25,000 wildebeest and 30,000 zebra – a fascinating sight if you time it right!
Udzungwa Mountains National Park
Part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, the Udzungwa Mountains are home to some beautiful flora and fauna. The park is a great destination for hiking and gives visitors the chance to get up close with their natural environment. There are a variety of mapped trails within the park of varying length and difficulty which cater to all abilities. A visit here is a unique experience as you really get to feel that you are exploring unchartered territory!
The Spice Island of Zanzibar with its beautiful sandy beaches, marine parks and coral reefs are the perfect way to unwind and relax after your Tanzanian safari. It’s very easy to spend your time here doing nothing but chilling out and taking in your surroundings!
That said, for those that want to be a little more active, there are spice tours galore, trips to Jozani Forest to see the endemic red colobus monkey, and tours of the historic capital, Stone Town to name but a few!