Tanzania is world-famous for its jaw-dropping scenery, density of wildlife and fascinating tribal peoples. The country’s northern safari areas are the most visited, with sweeping, game-covered plains set against soaring escarpments and towering volcanic mountains. Here the Great Rift Valley forms a magnificent backdrop to wildlife reserves like the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain at 5,895m, is a mecca for avid trekkers and mountaineers.
Tanzania’s national parks are a haven for huge concentrations of animals and birdlife. The Serengeti National Park alone has nearly 2 million wildebeest and zebra which migrate along age-old pathways, followed by opportunistic lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena and jackal. The famous Ngorongoro Crater is a massive volcanic caldera where 25,000 animals live in a setting of unparalleled grandeur. Maasai tribal people have inhabited this region for hundreds of years, and to this day still herd their cattle amongst the native wildlife. A visit to a local village to learn about their culture and way of life is an eye-opening experience.
Other major wildlife areas include beautiful Lake Manyara and Tarangire national parks – both very different environments. Lake Manyara is surrounded by grassy floodplains and groundwater forest; it is home to many hippo, tree-climbing lions and is a haven for birdlife. Tarangire National Park is renowned for its large elephant herds, strange baobab trees and bright red soils. On the western border, between the Mahale Mountains and Lake Tanganyika, lives one of Africa’s largest populations of wild chimpanzees. A safari here is a remarkable experience.
Just off Tanzania’s east coast on the Indian Ocean lies the ‘spice island’ of Zanzibar. The old Stone Town is a UNESCO Heritage listed site and a tour of the town reveals its complex history. The island also boasts white sand beaches, clear, turquoise water, and beach hotels offering barefoot luxury; a relaxing conclusion to any East African safari.