The 17 best places to visit in Tanzania


In the far west of the country, covering an area of some 4,471 square kilometres (1,726 square miles) is Katavi National Park, the third largest protected area in Tanzania. Home to zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, elephant, cheetah, leopard, lion, crocodile, hippopotamus and huge herds of Cape buffalo, the relative remoteness of the park makes it one of the most untouched and least visited Safari locations in the region.

17. Katavi National Park


In the far north east of the country, straddling the border with neighbouring Kenya is the 3,234 square kilometre (1,249 square mile) Mkomazi National Park, a protected terrain made up of large grassland savannah, sparse forests and huge rocky outcrops. Home to lion, zebra, elephant and the endangered black rhinoceros, it is another of the least visited Safari locations in the region.

16. Mkomazi National Park


Just off the countries north eastern coast, in the Indian Ocean lies a set of islands known as the Zanzibar Archipelago, made up of many small islands and two large ones. On the main island of Unguja is the capital of the archipelago, Zanzibar City, and at its heart the is the famous historic stone town. Historically and artistically important in East Africa, its architecture is a blend of Arab, Persian, Indian and European, dating back to the early 19th century when Zanzibar was a flourishing centre of the spice and slave trade. With its wealth of history, the Stone Town of Zanzibar has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

15. Zanzibar Stone Town


In the northern centre of the country, covering some 2,850 square kilometres (1,100 square miles) is Tarangire National Park, an area of rocky ridges, river valleys, swamps, woodland and flooded grasslands. Famous for its density of elephants and baobab trees, visitors to the park can expect to witness large herds of zebra, wildebeest and Cape buffalo, numbering in their thousands. Also on offer is the chance to see vervet monkey, impala, baboon, honey badger, cheetah, leopard and lion among many other species.

14. Tarangire National Park


In the centre of the country, covering some 1,990 square kilometres (768 square miles) is the Udzungwa Mountain National Park, encompassing the Udzungwa mountain range, a portion of the Eastern Arc Mountains. Made up of steep rocky peaks and thick tropical rain forest, the park protects a large number of bird species, a huge number of endemic plant species and at least six known primate species, with the park overall having the second largest biodiversity of any national park in Africa. With no roads, the landscape is only accessible via hiking, with trails ranging from 1 hour to 6 days. One of the most famed trails is the Sanje Waterfalls Trail, taking around four hours to complete it takes visitors past the 170 metre (558 ft) Sanje Falls.

13. Udzungwa Mountains National Park


In the northern centre of the country, located in the eastern Serengeti Plains is the Olduvai Gorge, a steep sided ravine in the Great Rift Valley. From a scientific point of view it is one of the most important early human archaeological sites in the world, though from a tourism point of view the badlands of sparse vegetation and giant monolithic sandstone mounds makes for a wonderful hiking location.

12. Olduvai Gorge


In the almost exact centre of the country, encompassing an area of some 20,226 square kilometres (7,809 square miles) is Ruaha National Park, named after the Great Ruaha River, it is the largest protected area in Tanzania. A well known location for animal safari viewing, notable species include East African cheetah, lion, African leopard, giraffe, hippopotamus, elephant and African buffalo among many others.

11. Ruaha National Park


In the extreme west of the country, located along the border with Zambia at the south eastern end of Lake Tanganyika is the beautiful Kalambo Falls. With its 235 metre (772 ft) single drop it is among the tallest and most spectacular waterfall in Africa.

10. Kalambo Falls


In the northern centre of the country, covering an area of some 325 square kilometres (125 square miles) is Lake Manyara National Park, a landscape where the land area of the park forms a narrow strip between the Gregory Rift wall and the heavy alkaline Lake Manyara. Consisting of arid land and forest, the largest feature is the alkaline lake, which though nearly non existent in the dry season can cover as much as 200 square kilometres (77 square miles) in the wet season. Bringing wildlife from far and wide, the most notable species in the area include the huge flocks of flamingos, leopards, lions, cheetahs, elephants, blue monkeys, gazelles, hippopotamus, giraffe, impala and zebra among many others.

9. Lake Manyara National Park


In the far west of the country, close to the borders of Burundi and the Democratic Republic of The Congo is the extremely small 35 square kilometre (14 square mile) Gombe National Park, the smallest protected area in Tanzania. Encompassing an area in the hills along the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, the terrain is made up of steep valleys, grassland, woodland and tropical rain forest. Accessible only by boat, the high levels of diversity makes it a very popular tourist destination, with visitors able to see chimpanzees, olive baboons, red colobus, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys as well as the occasional hippopotamus and leopard.

8. Gombe Stream National Park


In the far west of the country, south from Gombe National Park along the shores of Lake Tanganyika is the 1,650 square kilometre (637 square mile) Mahala Mountains National Park, encompassing the steep Mahale Mountains from which it takes its name. Accessible by boat and only possible to explore on foot, the park is one of only two protected areas for chimpanzees in the country. Being so remote and barely accessible, the chimpanzee population is currently the largest known in the world.

7. Mahale Mountains National Park


In the northern centre of the country, within the Gregory Rift, to the south of Lake Natron is the Ol Doinyo Lengai, meaning Mountain Of God, an active volcano that stands 3,188 metres (10,459 ft) above sea level. Uniquely producing a lava unlike any other volcano, the resulting volcanic landscape is said to be different from any other on the planet, creating rich grasslands that make for the birthing location of the great annual wildebeest migration. One of the highlights for visitors is trekking to the summit of Ol Doinyo Lengai, taking around 3 days to complete the entire journey and offering incredible views over Lake Natron, the Ngrorongoro Crater, the Serengeti Plains and as far as Mount Kilimanjaro.

6. Ol Doinyo Lengai


In the extreme northern centre of the country, touching the border with Kenya is Lake Natron, a salt or soda lake located in the Gregory Rift. Fed by mineral rich hot springs, temperatures at the lake frequently exceed 40 C (104 F). Its very quick evaporation rate, high saline content and abundance of salt loving micro-organisms and algae produces deep red colours in open water and orange colours in the shallower parts of the lake, with an alkali salt crust of red or pink forming on the surface. It certainly makes for one of the most alien sights on the continent.

5. Lake Natron


In the north of the country, covering some 8,292 square kilometres (3,202 square miles) in the Crater Highlands is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, named after the enormous volcanic caldera of the Ngorongoro Crater. The main feature of the region, measuring 260 square kilometres (100 square miles), it is the largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera on the planet. Home to approximately 25,000 animals, the species found in the crater include black rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, hippopotamus, wildebeest, zebra, cheetah, lion and leopard among many others. Voted as one of the Seven Natural Wonders Of Africa, the Ngorongoro Crater and its protected surroundings have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Ngorongoro Crater


In the far north of the country, covering a fairly small area of 137 square kilometres (53 square miles) is Arusha National Park, encompassing beautiful varied and spectacular landscapes. In the west of the park lies Mount Meru, a prominent dormant volcano that stands 4,562 metres (14,967 ft) above sea level, making it the second highest peak in Tanzania and the 5th highest in Africa. From the mountains the terrain runs down to the Ngurdoto Crater in the south east, an area of grassland and wildlife that includes giraffe, Cape buffalo, zebra, blue monkey, elephant and lion among many others. In the north east of the park are the shallow alkaline Momella Lakes, creating a bizarre scene of varying colours, usually found teeming with flamingos. One of the major highlights of the park other than the wildlife is hiking to the peak of Mount Meru on the Momella Route. Taking around 2 days to complete, this hike is considered one of the best on the continent.

3. Arusha National Park


In the far northern centre of the country, covering some 14,750 square kilometres (5,695 square miles) is the Serengeti National Park, the oldest protected area in Tanzania and one of the most famous national parks on the planet. Meaning 'Endless Plains', the park is a landscape of savanna, riverine forests and woodlands, famous the world over for its abundance of wildlife and high biodiversity. Home to the big five species, lion, African leopard, African bush elephant, eastern black rhinoceros and African buffalo, it is also home to one of the greatest natural sights on Earth, the annual wildebeest migration. When over 1.5 million wildebeest, 250,000 zebra, half a million gazelles as well as a large number of other species migrate across this terrain in the dry season of June and July, it is often cited as the single most spectacular natural event on the planet. The entire protected landscape of Serengeti National Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2. Serengeti National Park


In the far north of the country, straddling the border with Kenya is the 1,688 square kilometre (652 square mile) Kilimanjaro National Park, centred around the world famous Mount Kilimanjaro, with its height of 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level this dormant volcano is the highest mountain in Africa. Trekking to the summit is considered difficult, with each of the seven different routes taking around a week or more to complete, though is equally considered among the single greatest hikes in Africa. The entire Kilimanjaro National Park, including it world famous mountain has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1. Mount Kilimanjaro

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