Tanzania attractive sights
Ol Donyo Lengai
One of the most frequented attractions in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro National Park is home to Africa's highest mountain peak. Unlike other parks in northern Tanzania, this one is not visited for the wildlife but for the chance to stand in awe of this majestic snow-capped mountain and, for many, to climb to the summit. Mount Kilimanjaro can be climbed at any time, although the best period is from late June to October, during the dry season.
Kilimanjaro, a World Heritage Sites, was formed over 1 million years ago by volcanic movement along the Rift Valley. Three points - Shira, Kibo, and Mawenzi came to be about 750,000 years ago. The highest point is Uhuru Peak on Kibo, which is one of the Seven Summits of the world.
The mountain rises from farmland on the lower level to rainforest and alpine meadow and then barren lunar landscape at the peaks. The slopes of the rainforest are home to buffaloes, leopards, monkeys, elephants and eland. The alpine zone is where bird watchers will find an abundance of birds of prey.
Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park is a vast treeless plain with thousands, even millions of animals searching for fresh grasslands. As the largest national park in Tanzania, the Serengeti attracts thousands of tourists each year. The best months for wildlife viewing are between December and June. The wet season is from March to May, with the coldest period from June to October. The annual migration of millions of zebra and wildebeest takes place in May or early June. This migration is one of the most impressive natural events and the primary draw for many tourists.
Large herds of antelope as well as lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, bat eared fox, hunting dog and jackal are also found in Serengeti National Park. Nearly 500 species of bird have been recorded on the Serengeti. Many of these are attracted to the swamp area. 'Serengeti' means an 'extended place' in the Maasai language.
The Zanzibar archipelago consists of the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. The island of Zanzibar, also called Unguja, is a major holiday destination known for its beautiful beaches. This island has some of the best beaches in the world with varying surf depending on what side of the island you are on. Visitors will find soft white sand and clear shallow water, along with traditional boats. Stone Town is located in the heart of Zanzibar and features old Arabian townhouses, narrow alleyways and a busy port.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Located between the Serengeti and Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the famous volcanic Ngorongoro Crater and one of Tanzania's most popular wildlife viewing areas. This huge volcanic crater has a permanent supply of water which draws all kinds of animals who stay in this area rather than migrating. Visitors come here primarily for viewing large game and bird watching, but also of interest in the conservation area is the Olduvai Gorge. This important archeological site has revealed ancient skull and bone fragments that have delivered critical information about early mankind.
The Ngorongoro Crater is the largest intact ancient caldera in the world, nearly three million years old. The Ngorongoro volcano was one of the world's tallest mountains before it exploded and collapsed. Thousands of wild game can be seen on the crater floor, including lions, elephants, rhinos, Thomson's gazelles, and buffaloes, but wildebeests and zebras account for over half of the animals that call the Ngorongoro Crater home. Bird watching is superb, especially around Lake Migadi, which attracts flocks of flamingoes to the shallows. Hippos are content to submerge themselves during the day and then graze in the nearby grass in the evening.
The Olduvai Gorge is an archeological site situated on a series of fault lines, where centuries of erosion have revealed fossils and remnants of early mankind. As early as 1911, a German professor found some fossil bones while looking for butterflies in Olduvai Gorge. In a later expedition, the Leakeys collected skull fragments, a skull, and bones determined to be approximately 2 million years old. Tools and hunting weapons from 1 to 1.5 million years ago were also discovered in Olduvai Gorge. Another exciting find were the famous footprints of a man, woman and child at Laetoli, near Olduvai. These and other discoveries provide more evidence to the theory that at least three hominid species were in this region over 2 million years ago.
Lake Manyara National Park
Wildlife drives, canoeing (when water levels are high enough), mountain bike tours and bird watching are the most popular activities in Lake Manyara National Park.
Mafia Island draws divers and snorkelers from around the world to the undersea world protected by the Mafia Island Marine Park. The best months for diving are October to March but the best weather on Mafia Island is May to October, March and April are months of heavy rain. Mafia Island Marine Park has excellent coral gardens, an abundant variety of fish and a relaxed diving atmosphere. Countless birds and over 400 species of fish can be seen in the area. Mafia Island is also a traditional breeding site for the green turtle, which are unfortunately close to extinction.
Mafia is also a desirable location for deep-sea fishing, especially tuna, marlin, sailfish and other big-game fish.
This island paradise first saw settlers in the 8th or 9th C, but Mafia became a more important settlement during the 12th to 14th Century when it held a key position in the East African trading routes.
Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park was established in 1970 and is best visited in the dry season from July to September when the animals gather along the river. During the dry season, Tarangire National Park has one of the highest concentrations of migratory wildlife. Wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the lagoons. One of the most noticeable highlights of Tarangire National Park is the baobab trees that dot the grassy landscape.
The park is excellent for birdwatching, with more than 300 species recorded in Tarangire. These species include buzzards, vultures, herons, storks, kites, falcons and eagles.
Pemba Island is the northernmost island in the Zanzibar archipelago. Around Pemba are many desert islands and some of the best scuba diving in the Indian Ocean, with visibility that is unparalleled. Lush coral gardens, colorful sponges and sea fans are all found in the underwater haven. The city of Chake Chake, the main population center on Pemba, is a popular base for scuba divers.
Pemba is less visited than Zanzibar and as a result has a more laidback atmosphere. From December to February visitors can watch traditional bullfighting; a sign from the days of Portuguese dominance in the 16th and 17th C. The island is hilly with deep valleys so it has become popular with mountain bikers who are drawn to the 1,000-meter peaks.
Pemba is a major world clove producer and is also well known for the juju traditions of medicine and magic. People come from throughout East Africa to learn from the voodoo and traditional healers or seek a cure.
Stone Town is the cultural heart of Zanzibar and little has changed in the last 200 years. The grand old Arabian homes lining the narrow streets and winding alleys give the city its own unique charm. The majority of homes in Stone Town were built in the 19th C when Zanzibar was one of the most important Swahili trading towns in the Indian Ocean. Visitors will notice the bras-studded, intricately carved wooden doors on many of the houses.
As the world's oldest functioning Swahili city, many of the landmarks in Stone Town have been restored to their original glory. Some of the historic buildings are now museums which can be visited. The town also has a couple of interesting old churches of historical significance. A walk along Creek Road takes visitors to the original Stone Town area and the location of the Central Darajani Market, Beit el-Amani, City Hall, and the Anglican Cathedral. Some of the other key highlights include the Forodhani Gardens, the Old Dispensary with its carved wooden balconies, the former home of the sultans known as Beit el-Sahel or the People's Palace, the Hamamni Persian Baths built in 1888, and the oldest structure in Stone Town, the Old Fort.
Selous Game Reserve
Selous is the largest game reserve in Africa. Established in 1922, it covers 5% of Tanzania's total area. The southern area is a forbidden zone that is undeveloped, heavily forested, and contains a series of steep cliffs. Travelers are limited to the area north of the Rufiji River. This area of the Selous Game Reserve has large open grassland, woodlands, rivers, hills and plains. The best time to visit is July through October.
The Rufiji River bisects the Selous Game Reserve and has the largest catchment area of any river in East Africa. The river is an important feature of the reserve providing the opportunity to watch the diverse water-based wildlife. A broad range of game can be found including elephants, hippos and rhinos as well as buffalo, antelope, giraffe, warthog, wildebeest, lion, leopard and cheetah. The diversity of bird life in Selous includes over 350 recorded species.
Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park, although smaller than most in Tanzania, has a range of habitats that consist of the forest of Mount Meru, Ngurdoto Crater in the southeast section of the park, and Momela Lakes, a series of seven crater lakes. Black and white Colobus monkeys are easily spotted in the forested area while the marshy floor of the crater is dotted with herds of buffalo, zebra and warthog. Momela Lakes is home to a large selection of resident and migrant waterbirds. People come here to see wildlife and also to climb Mount Meru.
Mount Meru is one of the most beautiful volcanoes in Africa and the second highest mountain in Tanzania. The summit is reached by a narrow ridge, which provides stunning views of the volcanic cone lying several thousand feet below in the crater. The ascent is steep but the route passes through parkland, forest, a giant heather zone and moorland.
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park is the least accessible park in Tanzania and as a result the landscape remains relatively untouched. Birdwatcher's can enjoy over 400 species of bird that are not found in northern Tanzania, and the river, spectacular gorges, and majestic trees are especially appealing to photographers. As Tanzania's second largest park, Ruaha has large herds of buffalo, elephant and gazelle. The concentration of elephants are some of the largest in Tanzania. The Great Ruaha River is the main feature of Ruaha National Park providing magnificent wildlife viewing on the banks. The river also provides much of the electricity to Tanzania through a hydroelectric dam at Kidatu.
Katavi National Park
Katavi National Park is located in a remote location offering unspoiled wilderness. A predominant feature in Katavi is the enormous flood plain, split by the Katuma River and several seasonal lakes. The lakes support enormous groups of hippos, crocodiles and over 400 species of birds. One of the spectacles in Katavi is the hippos at the end of the dry season when as many as 200 try to squeeze into a pool of water. The male rivalry heats up causing territorial fights.
The dry season brings Katavi National Park to life, herds of impala, reedbuck, lions, zebras and giraffes can be seen at the remaining pools and streams. An estimated 4,000 elephants and several herds of buffaloes in the thousands also converge on the park when the flood waters retreat.
Gombe Stream National Park
Gombe Stream National Park is primarily for those who want to get a little off the beaten track and see chimpanzees. This is the smallest national park in Tanzania and is famous for the work of Jane Goodall. This British researcher arrived in 1960 to study the wild chimpanzees and her work turned into what would become the longest running behavioral research program of its kind in the world. Guided walks take visitors into the forest to observe chimps in the wild. Many species of primates and mammals live in the park. Over 200 bird species have been recorded in the tropical forest, including barbets, starlings, sunbirds, crowned eagle, kingfishers and the palm-nut vulture.
Hiking and swimming are other popular activities; a trail leads into the forest to a waterfall in the valley.
Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater lake in Africa and is bordered by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. This lake is the source of the White Nile and provides an income for millions of residents along its shores. The Tanzanian section of Lake Victoria is one of the least visited regions in the country, however the towns of Bukoba, Musoma and Mwanza have a number of attractions. Near Mwanza and Musoma are many islands, some have become wildlife sanctuaries. Bird watching and fishing trips are popular excursions, and boat trips or hikes can be arranged around Lake Victoria.
Rubondo Island National Park, which includes several other smaller islands, is on the southwest shores of Lake Victoria.
Dar Es Salaam
One of East Africa's busiest ports, Dar es Salaam is Tanzania's largest city and commercial center, though no longer its capital. The name means "haven of peace" in Arabic, and was more fitting for Dar's former status as a sleepy fishing village than the now bustling city of more than three million people. Nevertheless Dar es Salaam is loved among travelers for its seaside setting and eclectic vibe thanks to its mix of African, Arabic, and Indian cultures.
Tanzania's main port is found at Dar es Salaam harbor straddling some of the most important sea routes in the world. On the northern section of the harbor is Kivukoni Front, with a bustling fish market, where dhows sail in every morning at dawn to offload the night's catch. The city's architecture is a mix of Swahili, German, Asian, and British influences. German colonists organized Dar by arranging a grid pattern of streets fanning out around the port. The Lutheran Church and St Joseph's Cathedral are notable structures on the waterfront, and the city has an excellent museum. Beach lovers can escape the hustle and bustle of Dar with day trips to beautiful Mbudya and Bongoyo Island.
National Museum & House of Culture
Originally opened in 1940 as a memorial to King George V, the National Museum & House of Culture takes visitors on a journey through Tanzania's colorful past. The museum displays important fossils of some of the earliest human ancestors unearthed during the Leakey digs at Olduvai Gorge. Visitors can learn about Tanzania's tribal heritage and the impact of the slave trade and colonial periods. Other highlights of the museum include ethnographic displays on traditional crafts, customs, ornaments, and musical instruments.
Address: Shaaban Roberts Street Dar es Salaam
About six miles north of the city center of Dar es Salaam, the Village Museum showcases traditional dwellings from some of Tanzania's 120 ethnic groups. Visitors can wander through replicas of tribal homesteads scattered across 15 acres, and watch local artisans demonstrate their traditional painting, weaving, and carving skills. The museum also hosts Ngoma, tribal dances, and other cultural activities.
Address: Bagamoyo Road, Kijitonyama
Cast in bronze, the Askari Monument depicts an Askari (soldier) in a World War I uniform, the bayonet of his rifle pointing towards the nearby harbor. The monument commemorates the African troops who fought as the Carrier Corps in World War I. Look for the inscription in English and Swahili written by Rudyard Kipling, the famous British writer and poet.
Address: Azikwe Street and Samora Avenue, Dar es Salaam
Constructed in 1866-1867 by Majid Bin Said, sultan of Zanzibar, Old Boma is Dar es Salaam's oldest surviving building. It was built to accommodate the guests of the Sultan who had a palace next door. Distinguishing interior features include a carved wooden door from Zanzibar and coral walls.
Address: Sokoine Drive, Dar es Salaam
St. Joseph’s Cathedral
Built by German missionaries from 1897 through 1902, this Gothic-style, Roman Catholic church dominates the Dar es Salaam harbor front. Its most striking features include a shingled spire, vaulted interior, and stained-glass windows. The cathedral contains many of the original German inscriptions and artwork, including a carved relief above the main altar. It is the seat of the Dar es Salaam archdiocese.
Address: Sokoine Drive, Dar es Salaam
Home to the Dar es Salaam Horticultural Society, the Botanical Gardens were established in 1893 by Professor Stuhlmann, the first Director of Agriculture. They were used as a trial plot for testing different types of plantation crops and tree species. Today garden enthusiasts can admire an enchanting mix of indigenous and exotic plants including purple bougainvillea, blue jacaranda, scarlet flame trees, and red hibiscus. Though the gardens are only a fraction of their former size, they are one of the few places in the world to see the beautiful coco-de-mer palm tree, outside of its native Seychelles.
Address: Samora Avenue, Dar es Salaam
Azania Front Lutheran Church
German missionaries built Azania Front Lutheran Church in 1898. The red-tile belfry rises above the surrounding rooftops, and the whitewashed building is still an iconic landmark in Dar es Salaam. Tiled canopies over the windows provide shade and the gardens are a welcome retreat for weary tourists. At one time Azania was the center of the original nineteenth century German mission; it is now the cathedral for the diocese.
Built in the late 1890s, the State House was the original residence of the German Governor. In 1922 the British rebuilt the State House, adding scalloped upper-storey arches and a crenellated parapet, after they nearly destroyed the building during World War I. The State House is now the home of the current president. Although it is closed to the public, the building is an eye-catching landmark along the harbor front.
Address: Luthuli Street, Kivukoni, Dar es Salaam
A 10-minute motorboat ride from Kunduchi, beautiful Mbudya Island, in the Dar es Salaam Marine reserve, seems a world away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Dar es Salaam. Sun seekers come here to bask on the island's white-sand beaches, snorkel, and swim the turquoise waters. Bandas (thatched huts) are available for rent on the beach, and locals sell fresh barbecued seafood and cold drinks. This is one of the most popular day trips from the city.
Bongoyo Island, a much-loved island getaway, lies off Msasani Peninsula, about four miles north of the city. On the northwest tip of the island, day-trippers can relax under the shade of thatched umbrellas on the white-sand beach or cool off in the clear waters. Angelfish, starfish, clownfish, and sea urchins, are just some of the marine species snorkelers might spot among the coral. Behind the beach, nature trails wind between baobab trees to the island's opposite shore. The open-air snack bar serves cold drinks and fresh barbecued seafood. Bongoyo is perhaps the most frequently visited of the four islands in the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve.
Kunduchi Wet ‘N’ Wild Water Park
Next to Kunduchi Beach Hotel and Resort, about twelve miles from the center of Dar es Salaam, this is the largest water park in East and Central Africa. Popular with families, the park is a colorful mix of pools, playgrounds, fast-food restaurants, and twenty-two water slides of varying heights, catering to both adults and young children. The park is also home to Tanzania's only Go Kart track.
Address: Mtongani, Kunduchi Beach
Also known as Coco Beach, this affluent expatriate enclave, about four miles north of the city on the Msasani Peninsula, is a popular weekend social spot. Locals and tourists alike come here to stroll the beach, savor street food, and listen to live music. The Tanzanian Tingatinga Art Gallery in Oyster Bay is also worth a visit.