ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TANZANIA
Nestled within the African Great Lakes region, Tanzania officially the United Republic of Tanzania) is a stunning country in East Africa and popular for its untouched wilderness as well as incredible tourist attractions that represent a slice of everything Africa offers. When it comes to unsurpassed safari experiences, choose Tanzania tours for less thronged National Parks and Reserves, unmatched cultural tours and birding tours.
The United Republic of Tanzania’s Capital City is Dodoma and covers an area of 947,300 square kilometers (94,730,000 hectares), more than twice the size of US California State and is slightly smaller than Nigeria. The country’s size makes it the largest in the East African region, 13th largest in the Continent and 31st largest in the World. Africa’s highest mountain Peak and the World’s highest free-standing Mountain mark the north-eastern part of this country. With a population of about 54,817,919 people, this country is the 26th most populous country in the World.
Tanzania is found in the East African region, south of the Equator and is bordered by Kenya to the North-east, Uganda to the north, Mozambique and Malawi to the south, the Indian Ocean and Comoros Islands to the East, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi to the west as well as Zambia to the south-west.
Dar-es-Salaam International Airport
Tanzania’s main airport – is the gateway to the Indian Ocean coast and Zanzibar, as well as Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park.
Kilimanjaro International Airport
Tanzania’s second international airport – serves the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Lake Manyara. However, you need to transfer to nearby Arusha Airport for charter flights to these safari destinations. International flights often arrive at Kilimanjaro Airport late in the day, so an overnight stay in Arusha is usually necessary.
Zanzibar Abeid Amani Karume International Airport
This airport is the main airport of the Zanzibar Archipelago. The airport is named after Abeid Amani Karume, the island’s first president. It is located just a few kilometers South of Stone Town and with ever-increasing traffic, opens the archipelago daily to world tourism. If you want to explore Zanzibar Island, then Zanzibar Abeid Amani Karume Airport seems to be the perfect choice. A number of Airlines land direct in Zanzibar including the Turkish Airlines, Royal Flight, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, KLM, Flydubai, TUI Fly Netherlands, Nordwind Airlines, Mango, Neos, Kenya Airways, Israir, Oman Air, Uganda Airlines, & Blue Panorama.
Some of Tanzania’s 120 ethnic groups make up the African population, with a significant numbers of Asians, Arabs and Europeans too. Even with this mix of identities, Tanzania has long promoted a harmonious national culture, one that is based on a subtle but strong social code of courtesy and respect. English and Swahili are the official languages.
Tanzania’s History is divided into the ancient, medieval, colonial and modern periods that shaped the Nation into what it is today. Firstly, the country’s name was derived from the clipped Compound of the two states that were combined to form the present-day country. The first three letters of mainland-Tanganyika and the Archipelago-Zanzibar plus “ia” were combined to form Tanzania.
The original occupants of East Africa were believed to be the Hadza and Sandawe hunter-gatherers of Tanzania and the first people to migrate into the area were the southern Cushitic-speaking people from Somalia and Ethiopia. These people are the forefathers of the Burunge, Iraqw and Gorowa although linguistic studies indicate that there were actually two migrations of the Eastern Cushitic tribes from Northern Turkana into Tanzania between 4000 and 2000 years back.
The southern Nilotic people that also include the Datoog originated from contemporary South Sudan and Ethiopia borders to occupy Central-Northern areas of Tanzania. This happened about 2900 and 2400 years back. This happened concurrently with the movement of Mashariki Bantu from West Africa to occupy the Lakes Tanganyika and Victoria regions. These people came with unique skills such as iron making as well as agriculture with West African staple foods such as yams. They however continued settling in other regions of Tanzania from 2300 to 1700 years ago.
Given the enterprising nature of Bantu-speakers, they started putting up farming and trade villages along the Tanzanian Coast around the 1st Millennium. Fossil evidence at Fukuchani Village (on Zanzibar’s north-west coast) shows that a fishing and agricultural community settled in the area at least from the 6th Century with evidence of bead grinders, timber buildings, shell beads, importer pottery and other items. The same evidence was found in present-day Dar es Salam and Mkokotoni. South African and Zimbabwean Kingdoms began importing gold and religious, economic and social power also increased in Kilwa City, making it the super power in East Africa until the coming of Portuguese by the end of the 15th Century.
In 1840, the Omani Sultan-Said Bin Sultan transferred his Capital to Zanzibar City, making it the center for the booming East African Slave Trade Market. Over 718,000 Slaves from the Swahili Coast were shipped in the 19th Century with about 760,000 of them being retained at the Coast. However, Slavery was abolished in the 1890s and this was followed by conquering of Tanganyika area by German. This was followed by treaties and mutual Agreements including making Tanganyika a British Protectorate. Julius Nyerere, one of the prominent individuals in the fight for Tanganyika’s national sovereignty served as Prime Minister when the country gained its Independence on 9th December 1961.
The Island side also revolved against Arab control to become independent in 1963. Tanganyika and Zanzibar then merged on 26th April 1964 to form the “United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar” before changing to United Republic of Tanzania on 29th October the same year.
Economically, the country is rich in mineral wealth and natural gas, Tanzania’s economy is nevertheless dominated by agriculture, which employs 75% of the workforce and accounts for half the country’s GDP. Tanzania’s main exports include gold, coffee, tea and cotton. But it’s tourism, increasing in importance year after year, that is the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner.
Religious belief is strong in Tanzania, with Christianity and Islam dominating. Most Muslims live on the coast and in Zanzibar; visitors should be aware of the conservative nature of these destinations – especially Stone Town – and dress and behave accordingly.
Tanzanians are renowned for being friendly and harmonious people, however, it is courteous to ask permission before photographing people.
Lying between the two arms of the Great Rift Valley, Tanzania’s huge central plateau is bounded on the west by Africa’s great lakes, the north by mountains (including Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak) and the Indian Ocean in the east. Most of the country is covered in grassland, open woodland and savannah, but significant pockets of rainforest exist in remote mountain ranges.
Home to 20% of Africa’s large mammals, Tanzania is one of the continent’s premier game viewing destinations. More than 25% of the country is given over to conservation and several Tanzania animal reserves rank among the biggest in the world. Most visitors head for northern Tanzania, where the most famous and accessible animal reserves are. But it’s in south and central Tanzania where you’ll find huge, virtually unvisited savannah and rainforest reserves that deliver genuine off-the-beaten-track safaris.
Serengeti National Park hosts the exodus of millions of wildebeests accompanied by Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelles, zebras, common elands and impalas to Kenya’s Masaai Mara National Reserve. These massive movements are not just for fun but follow an annual pattern, influenced by the rains/weather and nutritious grasses. These migrations start with calving and given the dryness of the plains, these animals have to move to the western corridor where greener pastures can be found. Risks especially from predators, fatigue and sometimes deaths along the way affects their numbers but visitors are nonetheless rewarded with magical views.
National Parks and Other popular Attractions
Tanzania is home to at least 20% of Africa’s wildlife species, distributed across the National Parks, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, National Reserves and Marine Protected Areas. These places include;
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Tanzania, found between Lake Manyara and Serengeti National Parks. This Conservation Area protects the Ngorongoro Crater-a large and inactive 3 million-year old caldera with water that draws large numbers of animals. The Crater is therefore the best wildlife viewing part of the Conservation Area with visitors being treated to sights of black rhinos, Thompson’s gazelles, African bush elephants, zebras, wildebeests, lions, Cape buffaloes, Hippos, leopards, spotted and striped hyenas and many others.
Lake Magadi, part of the Conservation Area is home to thousands of pink flamingos and other bird species. Visitors to Ngorongoro Conservation Area can also visit the Olduvai Gorge, a significant Archeological site with 2 million-year old skulls and bones as well as hunting weapons and tools that prove that the area is the origin of hominid species. These fossils were discovered by Dr. Louis Leakey and this makes Olduvai Gorge an excellent archeological site.
Extending for 54,600 square kilometers is Africa’s largest Game Reserve established in 1922 to protect the area’s varying landscapes and ecosystems that include steep cliffs, thick forests, open savannah grasslands, Rivers, woodlands and Hills.
These landscapes are habitats to wildebeests, Defassa waterbucks, jackals, elephants, yellow baboons, greater kudu, impalas, Dwarf mongoose, Hippos, common warthogs, Suni, zebras, Cape buffaloes, Bat-eared fox, leopards, spotted hyenas, lions, giraffes, serval cats, African wild dogs, Topis as well as over 300 species of birds that include the white-crowned lapwing, long-tailed fiscal, white-fronted bee-eaters and southern ground hornbills among others. This Reserve is drained by Rufiji River that is also a gathering point for most of the Reserve’s wildlife species especially during the dry season when other water points dry up.
Mount Kilimanjaro is popular for being the highest free-standing mountain in the World as well as being the highest Peak in Africa with an elevation of 5895 meters above sea level. This Mountain is protected by the Kilimanjaro National Park but is mainly visited for climbing given the fact that it presents travellers with an extraordinary climbing experience.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is climbed all year round but the best months are June, July, August, September and October and these months are considered dry months. While climbing, visitors are treated to occasional sights of forest elephants, leopards, forest buffaloes, common elands as well as the black and white colobus monkeys that occupy the Tropical rainforest on the lower slopes.
Gombe Stream is known for being one of the sites where Jane Goodall pioneered her chimpanzee studies and is also one of the few places where visitors can go off-the-beaten-track to see mankind’s closest relatives within Tanzania. Besides treks for chimpanzees, other activities such as hiking, waterfall walks, swimming and bird watching are possible.
Zanzibar Islands and Beaches are the main Holiday destinations for visitors interested in relaxation, romantic getaways and watersports. Zanzibar is an Archipelago with several small and large Islands that include Unguja (the largest and most popular), Pemba, Mafia, Mnemba, Changuu and many others popular for their white sand beaches, turquoise waters and unbeaten water sports such as scuba diving, snorkeling, dhow cruises, kitesurfing and ski diving among others.
Established in 1970, Tarangire National Park is another beautiful National Park in Tanzania, known for its high concentration of migratory wildlife such as zebras, wildebeests, impalas, gazelles and common elands that crowd around the Park’s Lagoons. In this Park you will also be amazed by the large elephant herds, stunning Baobab trees that mark the open plains, the fringe-eared Oryx and the long-necked gerenuks among others.
There are also about 300 species of birds here that include the Ashy starlings, vultures, white-belied go-away bird, secretary birds, red-billed hornbills, African fish eagles and yellow-billed storks among others.
Serengeti National Park is a timeless African Safari destination that attracts thousands of visitors every year to witness the Great migration of wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, impalas and common elands to the neighboring Masai Mara National Park. This Park is also known as untouched Sanctuary of large lion prides, spotted hyenas, cheetahs, common warthogs, African wild dogs, caracals, elephants, buffaloes, aardvarks, serval cats, hartebeests, Topis, Rothschild giraffes and many other animals. About 500 species of birds are found in this magnificent Tanzanian National Park.
Lake Manyara National Park derived its name from the Lake that covers at least a third of its surface, although is also made-up of open grasslands, woodlands, forest and swamps. This Park is one of the few places to see the extraordinary tree-climbing lions and highest concentration of olive baboons in the World, hence making it an important tourist destination in the country.
In this park you will also find the colorful flamingos, Hippos, hartebeests, lions, giraffes, gazelles, common warthogs, Defassa waterbucks, impalas, Kirk’s Dik-dik, Cape buffaloes, black and white colobus monkeys, spotted hyenas and many others. In total there are over 300 species of birds in Lake Manyara National Park.
Stone Town is the heart and cultural melting pot of Zanzibar with buildings dating back to the 19th Century. Majority of the historical landmarks have become Museums and buildings here were designed with a fusion of Swahili Culture blended with other African, Arabian, Indian, Persian and Italian cultural designs. During tours of Stone Town, get a chance to explore the Old Fort (the oldest structure in the Town), Darajani Markey, Forodhani gardens, the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, the Old Dispensary, Hamamni Persian Baths, Palace Museum and Beit-el-Amani among others.
Other phenomenal National Parks and popular attractions in Tanzania include Katavi National Park, Arusha National Park, Saadani National Park, Mnazi Bay-Ruvumba Estuary Marine Park, the spectacular Lake Victoria, Mkomazi National Park, Lake Natron, Ruaha National Park, Rubondo Island National Park, Mahale Mountains National Park, Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Chemka hot springs, Mount Meru National Park, the Cheetah’s Rock and many others.
TOP TOURIST ACTIVITIES IN TANZANIA.
Visit a Maasai Village.
The number one adventure for Tanzania tours is visiting a Masai Village where you will discover how they have maintained their ancient ways of life, even with the introduction of modernization.
Clad in their traditional attire (Shuka), be entertained in their invigorating cultural dances, undertake tours of their traditional homesteads, and marvel at their traditional hand-made crafts-stools, sandals, beads, and their unique face designs.
Climb Mount. Kilimanjaro.
Add climbing to the roof of Africa on your bucket list for Tanzania tours and take on one of the 7 climbing routes that include Umbwe, Machame, Rongai, Northern circuit, Marangu, Lemosho, and Shira to Uhuru, Mount Kilimanjaro’s highest Peak at 5895 meters above sea level. Taking on Mount Kilimanjaro is a climb of a lifetime and a must-do for every climber.
Trek the chimpanzees.
Chimpanzees in Tanzania can trek from Gombe Stream National Park on the pristine and verdant shores of Lake Tanganyika. This Park was made popular by Jane Goodall chimpanzee conservation and research work and in the company of a professional guide, you will be able to trek and spend time with some of the habituated chimpanzees within this Protected Area.
Undertake a wildlife safari.
Tanzania is one of Africa’s top 5 safari destinations and when you just mention safaris, Serengeti National Park is the first place that comes to every tourist’s mind. This Park is known for its annual Great migration involving millions of wildebeests being accompanied by gazelles, zebras, impalas, and elands to Masai Mara National Reserve.
This is considered one of the greatest wildlife migrations on Earth. Other magnificent safari destinations in Tanzania include Tarangire National Park, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park, and Arusha National Park among others where you expect to see the big cats-leopards, cheetahs, and lions in addition to elephants, buffaloes, spotted hyenas, hartebeests, serval cats, and many others.
Scuba diving in Zanzibar.
Exploring the rich coral gardens of the Indian Ocean is possible with a trip to Zanzibar and remember no Tanzania tour is complete without beach time. Expect to dive amidst the whale sharks risk-takers), dolphins, whales, green sea turtles, and several Tropical fish species.
Spice your adventurous scuba diving adventure with relaxation on the white sand beaches of Zanzibar that include Matemwe, Paje, Nungwi, and Jambiani among others.
Undertake a Birding tour.
All Tanzania’s National Parks and Game Reserves are wonderful birding destinations, making it possible to incorporate birding tours to the main safari activities such as game drives, walking safaris, and even boat cruises especially in Lake Manyara.
Hot air balloon experience.
There is nothing more exciting than undertaking the thrilling hot air balloon safari over the sweeping Serengeti Plains. You vividly see wildlife species roaming across different landscapes, explore the different ecosystems, and most interestingly watch the wildebeest migration while enjoying breakfast or a glass of champagne.
WHERE TO STAY?
Tanzania features a wide array of attractions distributed across the country and the most beautiful thing about them is that they also have outstanding and affordable accommodation facilities within or near them. For National Parks and Reserves, you will stay in Luxurious and midrange Tented Camps or Safari Lodges (in budget, midrange or upmarket categories).
Zanzibar Islands and Beaches feature elegant places to stay in form of Resorts, Hotels, Guesthouses or Lodges. If your Tanzania tour is based within Urban Centers (Cities/Towns), you will stay in Hotels or while in rural areas you can try out the Homestays offering typical Tanzanian rural setting but with a touch of class.
For instance, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is one of the many places to stay in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara Tree Lodge one of the best in Lake Manyara National Park, Selous Safari Camp in Selous Game Reserve, Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge, Mbalageti Serengeti and Four Seasons Safari Lodge are some of the many places in Serengeti National Park. Sea Cliff Zanzibar resort, Zanzibar Bay resort, Kasha Boutique Hotel, Kendwa rocks, Coral Rocks, Reef & Beach resort, Mizingani Seafront Hotel, Fun Beach Resort, The loop resort, Madinat al Bahir, Tamani Villas, Rafia ApartHotel, Baladin Zanzibar resort, Dream of Zanzibar, Royal Zanzibar, Riu Palace, Essque Zalu, Blue Moon Resort, Kiwengwa Beach Resort, Palumbo Kendwa, Amaan Beach Bungalows, Uzuri Villa, Hotel Verde, Nungwi Dreams, Melia Zanzibar & The residence. are some of the accommodations to stay in Zanzibar.