The largest country in East Africa, bordered by Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania is one of the oldest continuously inhabited regions on the planet; archaeologists have found fossils and other evidence of human life here that stretch bac as much as two million years. And certainly, Tanzania’s rich history serves as a testament to that: for centuries, Tanzania has been a center of trade and culture throughout East Africa, and a point of vital cultural contact between the Persian Gulf and Central Africa. One of Africa’s oldest centers of Islam is located here, on the Swahili Coast.
Today, most visitors to Tanzania head straight for Mount Kilimanjaro – the most famous attraction in the region. But Tanzania has far more than one mountain to offer. From the rich cultural history of Stone Town and Dar Es Salaam to the stunning natural beauty of Serengeti and Mikumi National Parks (to say nothing, of course, of the grandeur of Mount Kilimanjaro itself), Tanzania has it all: making it an ideal destination for any would-be visitor to Africa. Enjoy the sun-dappled beaches of its tranquil coastline, or head inland to its mountain-tops. The choice is up to you. We here at Never Fly Coach Again have put together a brief list of the must-do attractions on offer in Tanzania. If you have a week or more in this stunning country, be sure to check out them all.
Dar Es Salaam
All too often overlooked by travelers in a hurry to get to the more picturesque Mount Kilimanjaro or the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, Dar Es Salaam – its name means “House of Peace” in Arabic – has a unique attraction all its own. Tanzania’s largest city, though not its capital (that honor goes to Dodoma), “Dar” is a perfect base from which to explore Tanzania’s local culture. Visit the city’s National Museum to get a sense of Tanzania’s incredibly long history of human development, or visit the Makumbusho Village Museum to learn how Tanzania’s different ethnic groups live – local folk dancing shows are on offer some afternoons. Visit the uninhabited Bongoyo Island for some beachside relaxation or snorkeling, of shop for souvenirs at the bustling Kariakoo Market – just watch out for pickpockets!
The mother of all African tourist attractions – indelibly associated with writer-adventurers like Ernest Hemingway – Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa, as well as the highest free-standing mountain in the world. The Kilimanjaro National Park, which includes the mountains as well as the surrounding area, is one of Africa’s best nature reserves. If you’re an experienced climber, hire a guide ( a requirement) and take part in the multiple-day trek up the mountain.: on paths that vary widely from evergreen forests to tropical rainforests to lunar-like rockscapes and even glaciers as you ascend. Even if you’re not up to the challenge, though, a walk around Kilimanjaro’s base can be richly and wildly rewarding.
Serengeti National Park
Located between Tanzania and Kenya, the Serengeti National Park is most famous for the migrations of the animals who call the place home. Every year, 200,000 zebras and up to a million wildebeests migrate in both autumn and spring, when the changing of the rains come. The sight of so many wild creatures making their way across the vast horizon is an unforgettable one: and one well-worth the often steep safari costs. Bird-watchers, too, have much to see here; over 518 species of birds can be observed in the Serengeti sky.
The capital of Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous island off Tanzania’s coast, Stone Town is one of the most culturally exciting places in Africa. A center of the Medieval spice trade, Stone Town blends Swahili, Persian, Ottoman, Indian, and Moorish cultural influences – creating an atmosphere all its own. The highlight of any trip to Stone Town is a “spice tour.” Pay between 25 and 30 dollars to travel around the island and learn how various spices are grown and prepared. Before you go, check out the traditional Hamamni Persian Parks.
Mikumi National Park
Less famous than Serengeti National Park, the Mikumi National Park offers travelers beauty off the beaten track. The wide grassland plains of Mikumi are home to a number of fascinating flora and fauna, from the impala to zebras, buffalo, and wildebeest. One particularly distinctive highlight of the Mikumi National Park is the “midget” elephant – a smaller, thinner version of the traditional African elephant that, due to their smaller size, survived while elephants with larger tusks fell prey to the region’s poachers. Head to the busy hippo pool in the middle of the park to see a wealth of such animals.