Places To Visit / Top Tourist Attractions
Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara is easily seen from the road that climbs up the Rift Valley, where all safari vehicles on their way to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater stop for a gawk at the pink flamingos. Once inside the park, there are tracks through the permanent oasis of lush greenery, with the algae-streaked lake on one side and impressive baobab-strewn cliffs on the other. It’s famous for its tree-climbing lions, and elephants are easily spotted among the giant acacia and fig trees.
Selous Game Reserve
Enter Africa’s largest protected area uninhabited by man, where Tanzania’s greatest population of elephants wander in an area bigger than Switzerland! The Selous (pronounced “Seloo”) is considered important enough to be World Heritage Site, in which the lucky few can experience a safari in absolutely wild and unspoiled bush.
The park is named after Englishman, Frederick Courtney Selous – conservationist, hunter, explorer, and author, whose adventure books on Africa became best sellers in Victorian England.
The park varies from rolling grassy woodlands and plains to rocky outcrops cut by the Rufiji River – the lifeblood of the park, whose tributaries form a network of lakes, lagoons, and channels. Volcanic hot springs even burst forth in places. The Rufiji offers a superb method of game viewing especially during the dry season when animals congregate.
Selous contains about one-third of all the wild dogs (often called painted dogs), in the world. Their need to roam vast areas and their formidable hunting skills have caused many to be shot by farmers, but here in Selous, they have boundless woodlands and savannahs in which to roam.
Along the Rufiji River, an array of grazing antelopes, crocodiles and hippos are commonly seen as well as black and white colobus monkeys in the riverine forests. During the dry season from June to October, the concentration of animals along the river is astonishing. Linked to the Rufii is Lake Tagalala where waterbuck, reedbuck, and bushbuck gather at the water’s edge. Magnificent sickle-horned sable and curly-horned greater kudu tend to keep to the long grass and wooded shrubby areas.
In the dry season, an ancient migration of elephants takes place between the Selous and Mozambique’s Niassa Game Reserves. This is one of the largest natural trans-boundary eco-systems in Africa and at the last consensus, it was estimated that 64,400 elephants roam the two parks, with 84% on the Tanzanian side.
Fierce tiger fish and smooth slippery and catfish are caught in the rivers. The latter is equipped with primitive lungs allowing it to cross land for short distance in an attempt to find water during the dry season.
Dry Season: The dry season sets in during June to November and is the best time for game viewing along the rivers. Elephants come out of the bush at that time and predators are more commonly seen.
Rainy Season: January to April is wonderful for birdlife and lush scenery but many roads become impassable after heavy rains. December to February is still good for game viewing but can be rather hot and humid. The safari lodges are usually closed from March to May.
Situated in the South-West of Tanzania, Ruaha sprawls within and along an ancient arm of the Great Rift Valley, covering a unique transition zone where the Eastern and Southern species of both fauna and flora meet against a dramatic topographical background. Ruaha, due to its location on the rift and surrounding geological formations is extremely diverse with access to several different habitat types. Although without the massive teeming herds common in the North of the country, Ruaha holds an incredible amount and array of animals with an estimated 20,000 elephants in this one park alone. Ruaha’s’ greatest secret lies in its extraordinary diversity of animals, plants, and birds. Within the park as a whole, there are over 1600 species of tree, twice as many as the great Selous Game Reserve which is also twice the size of Ruaha. There are a recorded 530 different species of birds here, half of all Tanzania’s bird species may be glimpsed in this park making it one of the continents premier birding destinations. With the recent doubling of the size of this park, the bird list can only increase due to the incorporated wetlands and marshes of the South.
Among the mammals, the park possesses one of the largest species counts of a large mammal of any other park. With all the regular animals such as elephant, huge herds of buffalo, giraffe, zebra, impala, eland, hippo, crocodile, lion and leopard, Ruaha holds a large amount of the rarer less seen creatures. Ruaha is also home to the second largest population of wild dog in Africa and although seen on the odd occasion, cannot be called common as the majority are in the inaccessible wilderness areas of the North. When it comes to its pachyderms, Ruaha is in a league of its own, it is not uncommon in the dry season to see well over 100 elephants in a single drive and the herds of buffalo are often seen and can reach astronomical numbers with 500 animals plus seen in a single herd. Hippos rule the river and vast quantities of these animals can also be seen sunning themselves along the stunning river sandbanks on an early morning.
Katavi National Park
Home to the largest herds of buffalo on the planet, Katavi National Park is a relatively untouched wilderness paradise, situated in the western area of Tanzania. The park boasts a wonderful array of habitats, which range from floodplains of thick reeds and dense waterways that teem with hippo and crocodile to woodlands, open grasslands, forests and pristine seasonal lakes. Visitors to the area can seek out the legendary tamarind tree, which is said to house the spirit of a great huntsman named Katabi. Here, they can place an offering at the base of the tree in memory of this exceptional hunter.
Arusha National Park
The Arusha National Park, a small (137 sq km) but beautiful African park, is the closest Tanzanian National Wildlife Park to both the famous “safari town” of Arusha (29 km), as well as the Kilimanjaro International Airport, thus making it ideal for day safaris, even from Moshi (65 km). Not only is the wildlife in the Arusha National Park abundant, but it is also one of the most beautiful and topographically varied game reserves in Tanzania. The African Arusha National Park’s three most significant features include the Rugged Mount. Meru (Tanzania’s second highest peak at 4566m), the notably different colored Momela Lakes, and the 3km wide Ngurdoto Crater, which was formed about fifteen million years ago! The varied and beguiling animals and flora found in this game reserve are mainly determined by the different altitude and geography of these 3 “zones”.
Mikumi National Park
Mikumi National Park is lying just to the North of the famous Selous Game Reserve. Gazetted in 1964 covering an area of 1070 km2, it was later extended in 1975 to cover the current area of 3,230 km2. The park is the fifth largest National Park in Tanzania,
With almost guaranteed year-round wildlife sightings, Mikumi makes an ideal safari destination for those without much time. Within its 3230 sq km – set between the Uluguru Mountains to the northeast, the Rubeho Mountains to the northwest and the Lumango Mountains to the southeast – Mikumi hosts buffaloes, wildebeest, giraffes, elephants, lions, zebras, leopards, crocodiles and endangered wild dogs, and the chances are high that you’ll see a respectable sampling of these within a short time of entering the park.
Saadani National Park
The park is situated between Dar es Salaam (200 km, 4 hours) and Tanga (75km, 3 hours) and borders the mainland coast.
The Saadani National Park is home to a variable mix of both marine and mainland flora and fauna. The vegetation in the park is quite unique and includes mangrove forests around the winding Wami River and ocean, clumps of palm trees, coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, short and tall-grass savannah and the harsh black cotton plains.
In terms of wildlife, Saadani has a thriving population of waterbucks, wildebeests, hartebeests, reedbucks, buffaloes, and giraffes. Warthogs, baboons, and colobus monkeys are often spotted, while elephants, lions, and leopards are quite shy. But even for ornithologists, this place is truly spectacular. A boat safari on the Wami River is a true highlight for any visitor and apart from pods of hippos and huge crocodiles, malachite, pied and even giant kingfishers can also be seen. Other common birds include the woolly necked stork, common sandpipers, lilac-breasted rollers, palm nut vultures, fish eagles and ground hornbills.
Activities in Sadaani National Park include game drives, boat safaris and walking safaris accompanied by an armed ranger. Historical tours to the old Saadani fishing village to see the remains of buildings that existed when this place was a bustling port trading ivory and slaves, can also be organized. Even cultural tours to the main ethnic tribes in the area (Waswahili, Wazigua, and Wadoe) are on offer. Further ethnic groups from other regions have also migrated to the region because of better trade opportunities. The Wamangati, originally from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, send their cattle to Zanzibar on traditional dhows in order to make a living.
Unlike as in other national parks in Tanzania, visitors can combine a safari with a relaxing beach stay in Saadani National Park. The beaches are clean and lined with palm trees. Saadani’s coast is hot and humid and swimming is pleasant with the ocean’s temperatures usually reaching around 25°C. Maziwe reef can easily be reached by boat from anywhere along the Saadani coast.
Saadani National Park is a place for adventurous and luxury travelers as well as families.
Mahale Mountains National Park
Set among the spectacular, forested slopes of the Mahale Mountains, the Mahale Mountains National Park was originally created to protect the thousands of chimpanzees that inhabit the region. It is renowned for its fantastic sunsets over Lake Tanganyika, which makes it an essential stop for keen photographers and safari enthusiasts. The park’s breathtaking array of habitats include rainforest, grasslands, alpine bamboo and woodlands; where some 50 species of animals have been recorded, predominant among these being representatives from various monkey and ape families, and over 90 unique species of fish swim in the clear waters of the lake.
Tarangire National Park
The Tarangire National Park, only 130km (80 miles) from Arusha and 8km (5 miles) off the Great Cape to Cairo road, is easily accessible but often overlooked in favor of the other northern circuit parks. However, a game drive here rewards with the unusual scenery of giant silver-trunked baobab trees, and the Tarangire River is a favorite haunt for wildebeests, zebras, elands, and elephants.
The island of Pemba is famed for its traditional sport of bullfighting. Unlike its Spanish counterpart, this sport does not involve killing the bulls, but it is a hangover from the days of Portuguese rule in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The waters off Tanzania’s coast are ripe for big-game fishing, best done from the island of Mafia. Big catches are made in the waters here, including shark, barracuda, marlin, and snapper, with power boats and tackle available for hire from the lodges on the island.
National Museum & House of Culture
Located next to the Botanical Gardens in Dar es Salaam, the National Museum reveals the fascinating history and culture of this ancient region and features the 1.7-million-year-old skull of Nutcracker Man. Peacocks stroll the gardens, where there is a striking sculpture in memory of victims of the 1998 Dar es Salaam US Embassy bombing.
Tanzania has more land devoted to national parks and game reserves than any other wildlife destination in the world. Everything from pristine coral reefs to the Crater Highlands, remote game reserves, and the famous national parks are protected by government law and placed in trust for future generations to marvel at in wonder and awe. In addition to a listing of the main attractions of Tanzania, we have included many parks that are largely neglected in favor of the big names like Serengeti and Ngorongoro. It is our hope that in writing up these lesser-known locations, visitors may be tempted to include them on their itineraries and encourage tourism to other equally beautiful, parts of the country.
Lying just south of the equator, Tanzania is East Africa’s largest country and an immensely rewarding place to visit. Tanzania has the world-famous attractions; the plains of the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, snowcapped Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa’s highest mountain) and Zanzibar, with its idyllic palm-fringed beaches and historic Stone Town. Yet there’s a whole lot more to Tanzania than these obvious highlights.
Almost everywhere you go you’ll find interesting wildlife and inspiring landscapes (over forty percent of the country is protected in some form or other) ranging from forest-covered volcanic peaks to dusty savanna populated by elephants, antelopes, lions, leopards, and cheetahs. Tanzania is one of the four most naturally diverse nations on earth: it contains Africa’s second-largest number of bird species (around 1500), the continent’s biggest mammal population and three-quarters of East Africa’s plant species (over ten thousand). Add to this the country’s rich ethnic diversity, some superb hiking, and other activities like snorkeling and diving, and you have the makings of a holiday of a lifetime.
Informing yourself about what to expect and how to prepare for your trip to Tanzania is one of the best things you can do to make sure your journey is enjoyable and goes without a hitch. Here is the Tanzanian Tourist Board’s official information about everything you will need to equip yourself for your trip: bank information and details about how to change money, health precautions to take with extra information about malaria prevention and awareness, travel insurance, where to find hospitals and clinics, how to arrange your visas, and a brief overview of security. Once you know the basic facts, you will be well-informed and prepared for your stay in Tanzania, confident in every situation and ready for the lifetime trip experience.
General Info & History
The United Republic of Tanzania is located in Eastern Africa between longitude 29o and 41o East, Latitude 1o and 12o South.
The United Republic of Tanzania was formed out of the union of two sovereign states namely Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Tanganyika became a sovereign state on 9th December 1961 and became a Republic the following year. Zanzibar became independent on 10th December 1963 and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar was established after the revolution of 12th January 1964. The two sovereign republics formed the United Republic of Tanzania on 26th April 1964. However, the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania is a unitary republic consisting of the Union Government and the Zanzibar Revolutionary Government.
Tanzania is the biggest (land area) among the East African countries (i.e. Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania). Tanzania has a spectacular landscape of mainly three physiographic regions namely the Islands and the coastal plains to the east; the inland saucer-shaped plateau; and the highlands. The Great Rift Valley that runs from northeast of Africa through central Tanzania is another landmark that adds to the scenic view of the country. The country has the largest concentration of wild animals. It also has pristine sandy beaches and Africa’s highest and snow-capped mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Tanzania is home to the world-famous National Parks and Game Reserves of:
Ngorongoro Crater, Selous Game Reserve, Gombe Stream, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Mikumi, Arusha, Ruaha, Saadani, Udzungwa Mountains, and Mkomazi Game Reserve.
Other Game Reserves include:
Amani, Kigosi, Lukwika-Lumesule, Maswa, Monduli Mountains, Msangesi and Ugala.
Dar es Salaam is the commercial capital and major seaport for Tanzania Mainland and it serves neighboring land-locked countries of Malawi, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda, as well as Eastern DRC. Other seaports include Zanzibar, Tanga, and Mtwara. Because of its geographical and locational advantage, Dar es Salaam Port presents itself as the gateway into East and Central Africa. Furthermore, this renders Tanzania as a logical investment destination for investors.
The Year 2005 General Elections
Since attaining political independence in 1961, Tanzania has held without fail Presidential and Parliamentary Elections (general elections) after every 5 year period. Following results from the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections held on 14th December 2005, the 4th President of Tanzania, H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete was sworn into office on 21st December 2005 for a five-year term of office. Since 1985, Tanzania has followed a two-term limit for the Presidency. President Kikwete’s campaign slogan was “New Vigour, New Zeal, and New Speed: Promoting Better Life for all Tanzanians”. The majority of Tanzanians have been inspired by this and have rallied strongly behind the President. The country enjoys political stability and all former Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Prime Ministers live in Tanzania and are accorded respect. On 25th June 2006, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete was elected Chairman of the ruling political party (CCM) by its General Congress.
Economic Policy Stance
The Government of Tanzania under the leadership of HE President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete (popularly referred to as JK) is committed to the pursuit of sound, consistent and predictable macroeconomic policies with low inflation. The policy stance is one of building on the foundations and successes of the 3rd Phase Government (November 1995 – December 2005) and scaling-up implementation and policy targeting more effectively and efficiently with “New Vigour, New Zeal, and New Speed”. Promotion of good governance, adherence to the rule of law, promotion of private sector development and opening up new areas with high economic potential are some of the key issues of the 4th Phase Government. Expansion of investments, job creation, export expansion, value addition chains and scaling-up on human capital development are consequent and complementary actions within the policy stance.
One of the key areas of policy focus is the promotion of sustained and shared economic growth. The 4th Phase Government is committed to pursuing pro-investment and pro-growth policies. Moreover, the Government is committed to the promotion of public-private sector partnership and in this regard, the public and private sectors meet under the umbrella of the Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC), a forum of policy dialogue and consultation between the public and private sectors. Academia, research institutions, NGOs, CSOs, and others, are also engaged in dialogue via a number of other forums such as the Public Expenditure Review (PER) designed to promote wider participation in policy discussions. Tanzania has a vibrant national consultative process that cements national unity and social cohesiveness, which ultimately contribute to promoting peace, security, and stability, attributes that are important for a conducive investment climate. With such attributes, coupled with its vast natural resources base, geographical and locational advantage, a large domestic market and a labor force, Tanzania is an ideal investment destination.
Visitors entering Tanzania from yellow fever infected areas require a yellow fever international certificate of vaccination. This is required at least 10 days prior to travel. Exemptions are made for visitors arriving from non-endemic areas such as Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Visitors who travel via an infected region will be required to produce the certificate.
The north-western forest region is considered a high-risk area for yellow fever. Malaria is common in Tanzania. Visitors are strongly advised to take anti-malaria medication commencing two weeks before travel.
It is recommended to take vaccinations against hepatitis A, polio and typhoid. HIV-AIDS is prevalent in the country and I cannot emphasize enough the need for protective measures. Some freshwater lakes and rivers carry the risk of Bilharzia and you are advised not to swim in such areas. Though proof of vaccination is not required, cholera is a risk throughout the country and precautions are necessary. Modern hospitals and chemists are available in Dar es Salaam, Arusha, and other major urban centers.
All visitors require a visa except citizens of some African and commonwealth countries. It is advisable to obtain visa’s in advance from Tanzania Embassies and High Commissions as some airlines may require it before allowing you to board. But you can also be issued with a visa on arrival at Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro international airports and at the Namanga Gate on the Kenya /Tanzania border. Passports must be valid for at least six months.
Nationals of countries exempt from visa requirements will be issued with a free visitors pass at the same entry points. Those traveling to Zanzibar should be aware that the Islands are nominally independent and passports and Tanzania visas are required even for a days visit. Visa requirements, however, vary from time to time and you are advised to check on prevailing status well ahead of travel.
The local currency is the Tanzanian Shilling (Tsh). Visitors can take in any amount of foreign currency, subject to declaration. Taking out of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared upon arrival. Import and export of Tanzanian currency are however prohibited. Major currencies such as US dollars and now the Euro and traveler’s cheques can be converted at major hotels, banks and forex bureaus in the main towns and tourist areas.
In Tanzania plastic is not highly rated and credit cards are not widely accepted. And when accepted the exchange rate is unfavorable. But it is still a good idea to carry your credit cards, as the conversion rate will not matter in case of urgent need. If saying at one of the bigger hotels, however, your card will very likely be honored. Do not be tempted to change money in the streets however favorable the exchange rate may appear.
Zanzibar and the coastal areas are hot and humid and average daily temperatures hover in the 30°C range. October to March is the hottest period. Sea breezes, however, temper the regions’ climate and June to September is coolest with temperatures falling to 25°C. In the Kilimanjaro area, temperatures vary from 15°C in May-August period to 22°C over December – March. As you head to the peaks of Kilimanjaro, temperatures can drop to below freezing, especially at night.
The climate is temperate in the northern national parks. The central plateau suffers a dry and arid climate with hot days and cool nights. The highlands in the south and northeast are cool and temperate. For the country as a whole, the hottest months are October to February. The long rains fall between March and May and the shorter wet season falls in November.
All the major towns in Tanzania are connected by tarmac all-weather roads. But outside this network, quality deteriorates. You can enjoy speedy connections by bus or car to Arusha, Morogoro, Moshi, Lushoto, Tanga and Dar es Salaam. It is useful to find out first the quality of the roads and estimated travel time when traveling overland. Between Air Tanzania and Precision Air, you will access the main internal routes. Contact us for your reservation for scheduled services. Charter flights are available mainly from Arusha, Mwanza, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar to other parts of the country.
Rental cars are reliably available from Arusha, Dar es Salaam, and Zanzibar. See our Tanzania Car Rental page to do your reservation for a self-drive or chauffeur driven vehicle. Rail service is available to the main towns except for Arusha. Long haul bus service can connect you to the main towns in the country. It is advisable to find out beforehand if the quality of rail and long haul bus service is acceptable to you. For short haul travel, the popular way to get around is by means of dalla dalla (shared taxi).
Health and the usual travel insurance are recommended. Ensure your travel insurance includes emergency evacuation.
What to Wear
Tanzania never really gets cold and light clothing is recommended. Warmer clothing such as sweaters is, however, necessary to get you through the evenings and early mornings if you are heading for the highlands. Climbing
Mount Kilimanjaro, of course, requires special clothing and shoes.
On safari, bright colored clothing may get you in trouble with wild animals. If you are wise you will pack brown, beige and khaki clothing. Short sleeve shirts, shorts, and trousers for men are sufficient. For ladies, short sleeve blouses, slacks, and skirts are ideal though in the national parks and touristy places such as Arusha and Dar es Salaam you may get along with shorts (not too short) and trousers.
At the coast and Zanzibar where Muslims are predominant women need to dress modestly so as not to offend local sensibilities. But swimwear is perfectly acceptable at beaches and hotel premises. Nudity is totally unacceptable in virtually the whole country. It is advisable to travel light and some safari and air charters have a baggage limit of 10-15 kilograms maximum.
The coast of Tanzania is perhaps most famous for the Zanzibar Archipelago, a cluster of islands that saw the growth and survival of Swahili civilization and trade until the mid-twentieth century. Zanzibar enchants and beguiles with its oriental mystique and forgotten exoticism — the very name evokes the Spice Islands and the dhow trade, sultans and palaces built of limestone and coral against the palm trees and the crashing surf. But there’s more to the islands of Tanzania than just Zanzibar. Throughout the archipelago, deserted islands and sandbar beckon and abound.
Some have slave caves and colonial graves, other the ruins of sultan’s palaces and stately plantations. In Pemba, villages steeped in culture and tradition preserve the Swahili way of life, almost oblivious to the world around them. On the islands of Mafia, old trading towns line the walkway to abandoned ports and the gentle sea. Throughout the Swahili Coast, diving, swimming, and snorkeling offer superb vistas of thriving coral and marine life. Whether you’re content to stay on the mainland coast or want to venture off into the atolls and islands of the Indian Ocean, the Tanzanian coast is a place of untouched beauty and enchantment.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for more than 40% of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the workforce. topography and climatic conditions, however, limit cultivated crops to only 4% of the land area. Industry traditionally featured the processing of agricultural products and light consumer goods.
The World Bank, the IMF, and bilateral donors have provided funds to rehabilitate Tanzania’s out-of-date economic infrastructure and to alleviate poverty. Long-term growth through 2005 featured a pickup in industrial production and a substantial increase in output of minerals led by gold. Recent banking reforms have helped increase private-sector growth and investment. Continued donor assistance and solid macroeconomic policies supported real GDP growth of nearly 7% in 2007.
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