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Things to see and do in Tanzania

Attractions in Tanzania

Conquer Mount Kilimanjaro

As the highest mountain in Africa at 5,895m (19,341 ft), Kilimanjaro has tempted avid explorers with its snow-capped peak for decades. Reaching the top is no walk in the park, but anyone of reasonable fitness can do it. Well-organised six-, seven- or eight-day climbs include guides, porters, food and equipment. Watching the sunrise from the summit is an indescribable spectacle.

Experience wilderness seclusion at Selous Game Reserve

For a truly remote wildlife adventure, head to an isolated lodge in the Selous Game Reserve. This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers an area larger than Switzerland (about one-sixth of Tanzania's land surface), making it one of the biggest reserves in the world. It is home to a plethora of African animals, and is renowned for its exceptionally large elephant herds.

Explore Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara is easily seen from the road that climbs up the Rift Valley, where safari vehicles stop to gawk at the pink flamingos. Once inside the park, there are tracks through the oasis of lush greenery, with the algae-streaked lake on one side and baobab-strewn cliffs on the other. Manyara is famous for its tree-climbing lions, and elephant are easily spotted too.

Feel the beautiful isolation of Lake Natron

The isolated and beautiful Lake Natron is a lesser-known gem on Tanzania's feted Northern Circuit. The shallow moon-like surface of this salt and soda lake is home to more than two million lesser flamingos, while the surrounding Rift Valley escarpment lends itself to dramatic vistas. Tourism remains delightfully underdeveloped here, though you're just a few hours from Arusha.

Have a history lesson at the National Museum

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.

Meander around Moshi

Beneath the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro sits the small, charming and verdant town of Moshi, worth exploring either before or after conquering Africa's highest mountain. Unfailingly laidback, Moshi has some good restaurants and a colourful market; it's also the centre of one of Tanzania's major coffee-growing regions, with coffee tours available run by many local operators.

Peruse Mwenge Carvers' Market

Located 8km (5 miles) north of Dar es Salaam on the way to the northern beaches, this fascinating market has vendors selling their beautiful handmade wares. This is the place to buy famous Makonde woodcarvings – the Makonde people are considered to be some of the finest carvers in East Africa.

Reach the summit of Mount Meru

The lower slopes of Mount Meru (4566m/14980ft) in Arusha National Park are one of the most easily accessible places to spot buffalo, giraffe, black and white colobus monkey and warthog. The three-day trek to the summit of the striking mountain is an equally challenging and cheaper option than climbing Kilimanjaro, though far less popular.

Relax on Zanzibar's beaches

Zanzibar's magnificent swathes of palm-backed white sandy beaches make for a wonderful beach getaway. The many resorts (from simple beach cottages to 5-star luxury) offer a range of activities, such as diving, snorkelling and sunset cruises on white-sailed dhows. Fine seafood and a cold sundowner are never far away.

Safari in the Serengeti

The Serengeti is undoubtedly the most iconic national park in all of Africa, and a safari through the astonishing endless plains is an absolute must on any visit to Tanzania, especially during the famed wildebeest migration (roughly November to May). Close sightings of the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino) are almost guaranteed.

Scuba dive off the Swahili Coast

The technicolour marine life surrounding the idyllic coral islands of Zanzibar and Pemba makes them a hotspot for scuba diving. There are countless dive sites around the islands, which are protected as marine national parks and reserves. The warm Indian Ocean has clear visibility to see all kinds of coral, brightly coloured fish, dolphins, manta rays, turtles and sharks.

See the Great Migration from the air

The endless plains of the Serengeti come to life in the early hours of dawn. Seeing the park wake with the rising sun from a hot air balloon is one of the world's great natural spectacles. The annual migration of some two million wildebeest followed by their predators, roughly from November to May, is the best time to hitch a ride.

Spot the Big Five in Ngorongoro Crater

At 610m (2,000 ft) deep, 20km (12.5 miles) wide, the Ngorongoro Crater is the largest intact caldera in the world. Another of Tanzania's UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the crater is packed with almost every species of African plains mammal including the densest lion population in Africa.

Stroll through Stone Town

Zanzibar's Stone Town was the hub of the ancient spice trade, and once served as the maritime metropolis of East Africa, variously ruled by Shirazi Persians, the Portuguese, the Omani Arabs and British. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site remains a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets lined with exotic shops, bazaars, colonial mansions, mosques and squares.

Take a trip back in time at Bagamoyo

The ancient town of Bagamoyo was a one-time slave port and terminus for the trade caravans. The town mosque and Arab tombs date from the 18th century, while there are a number of churches and mission buildings dating from the 19th century and later buildings from when the Germans occupied the town. Pick up a guide for a walk around the town, which is an easy day excursion from Dar es Salaam.

Take in the beauty of Tarangire National Park

The Tarangire National Park, only 130km (80 miles) from Arusha is easily accessible but often overlooked in favour of the better-known Northern Circuit parks. However, a game drive here rewards with unusual scenery of giant silver-trunked baobab trees, and the Tarangire River is a favourite haunt for wildebeest, zebra, eland and elephant.

Track chimpanzees on Lake Tanganyika

Troops of wild chimpanzees thrive in the Gombe Stream and Mahale national parks on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Both parks have spectacular scenery with mountains and forested valleys plunging into the lake, and both are among just a small handful of places in Africa to see chimps in their natural habitat. Treks can be arranged to follow the troops, with sightings almost guaranteed.

Walk on the wild side in Ruaha National Park

One of only a handful of parks in Tanzania that allows walking safaris, Ruaha National Park boasts unparalleled scenery. It's Tanzania's second-largest park, and it's also one of its wildest. Ruaha is known for its exceptionally large herds of elephant and buffalo and is also one of the best places in Tanzania to see the critically-endangered African wild dog.

Watch bull fighting on Pemba

The pretty and pristine island of Pemba is famed for its own traditional brand of bull fighting. Unlike its Spanish counterpart, this hangover from the days of Portuguese rule in the 16th and 17th centuries does not involve killing the bulls, and is a test of bravery for local livestock farmers.

Tourist offices

Tanzania Tourist Board

Address: IPS Building, Samora Avenue, Dar es Salaam,
Telephone: (022) 211 1244/5.
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0800-1600; Sat 0830-1230.

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