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Destinations | Tanzania

“Wilderness gave us knowledge. Wilderness made us human. We came from here. Perhaps that is why so many of us feel a strong bond to this land called Serengeti; it is the land of our youth.”

~Boyd Norton~

Tanzania is the Africa of your dreams and even with months to explore, you’ll never be bored of this vast, beautiful, and culturally diverse country.

There is something for everyone. Tanzania is home to some of the best safari destinations on the planet with twenty-two national parks, including the Serengeti NP and the Ngorongoro Crater, famous for the Great Migration, as well as Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the paradise island of Zanzibar, which boasts some of the best beaches and coral reefs in Africa.

There are many interesting facts about Tanzania that makes it a great travel destination.

Interesting facts about Tanzania:

1.The population of Tanzania is approximately 69,4 million. The country is known for the world's top national parks and game reserves with the best safari, Mount Kilimajaro and the white sand beaches of Zanzibar.

2.Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa and includes the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba, and Mafia.

3. Tanzania has borders with Uganda to the north, Kenya to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the east, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo to the west, Malawi and Mozambique to the south, Zambia to the southwest.

4. Primary Currency is Tanzanian Shillings. Secondary Currency is USD$.

5. The official language is Swahili or Kiswahili, however there are over 100 regional languages spoken and English is widely understood.

6. Since 1973, the capital city of Tanzania is Dodoma with the population of 324,997.

7. The commercial capital and largest city of Tanzania is Dar es Salaam with the population of 8,161 million. It is the place where you can experience the fusion of Swahili culture with modern life. Known as 'Dar', the city is the fifth largest metropolis in Africa and continues to grow. It is home to great beaches, ancient ruins, historical museums and is close to impressive nature reserves.

8. You can easily travel to Tanzania, thanks to its three international airports:

  • Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam - the most suitable for those who want to visit the Southern Parks such as Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha, Udzungwa Mountains an Mikumi National Park.

  • Kilimanjaro International Airport - the ideal for those who want to visit the Northern Parks such as Arusha NP, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti NP.

  • Zanzibar Abeid Amani Karume Airport - the main airport of Zanzibar Archipelago, located just a few km from Stone Town and the ideal for those who want to explore Zanzibar Island.

There are also several smaller airports for domestic flights. The choice of the airport for arrival and departure essentially depends on the circuit and the type of holiday you have chosen.

9. The best time to visit Tanzania is during dry season, from June to October, when wildlife viewing is the best. This is also the best time to see the wildebeest migration in Serengeti NP. The best time to see the wildebeest calving is January and February.

10. Economy

Tanzania is the world’s largest producer of cloves and highly depends on its agriculture, forestry, fishing, natural resources, mining and tourism.

The major food crops are corn (maize), rice, sorghum, millet, bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes, barley, potatoes, and wheat. Corn and rice are the preferred cereals, whereas cassava and sweet potatoes are used as famine-prevention crops because of their drought-resistant qualities. In some areas food crops are sold as cash crops.

Important exports include coffee, cotton, cashew nuts, tea, tobacco, and sisal.

Diamonds, gold, kaolin, gypsum, tin, and various gemstones, including tanzanite, are mined in Tanzania. Gold is an important resource and the country’s most valuable export. There are large exploitable deposits of coal in the southwest, phosphate deposits in Arusha, and nickel in the Kagera region. Natural gas has been discovered at Songo Songo Island. Several international companies have been involved in onshore and offshore petroleum exploration.

11. People & Culture

About 90 percent of Tanzanians live in rural areas and live off what they can grow on the land. Tanzania’s early people were hunters and gatherers. Traders moved to the country in about A.D. 800. The native people married the newcomers from India, Arabia, and the Shirazis from Persia. Their language, Kiswahili, spread to other East African areas.

Maasai women

There are about 120 African tribal groups in Tanzania. Arranged marriage is still customary for many Tanzanian families and parents start planning for their daughter’s future when she is young.

Maasai Women

12. Traditional Cuisine

Tanzania is home to distinctive and delicious cuisine including tilapia fish, pilaf, rice (cooked in coconut milk or oil), beans, cornmeal and samosas. It’s the spices that really make this food special and the use of coconut, cardamom, garlic, and turmeric feature prominently in a number of traditional recipes. You will have an opportunity to taste fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetable, nuts or coffee.

Most delicious traditional dishes include:

  • Ugali - is a stiff dough prepared with cornmeal (maize meal), cassava flour, sorghum or millet. The dish is ussually served with a sauce that contains either fish, meat, cooked vegetebles or beans. Typically, it is eaten from a large bowl that is shared by all the people seated at the table. A well prepared ugali is neither too dry nor sticky.

  • Nyama Choma - is grilled meat. It is a barbecue of goat, fish or chicken, with barbequed bananas or ugali as side dishes.

  • Pilau - is one of the dishes prepare only when there is a ceremony or during the weekends. It is a rice dish flavored with spices and prepared in stock whereby poultry, meat, fish, or boiled eggs my by added. It is orgininally a dish from West Indina but is now popular in the coastal areas of Tanzania. This meal is usually served Kachumbari, an uncooked salad dish made up of chopped tomatoes, chilli peppers and onions.

  • Chapatti Bread - A traditional Tanzanian dish, similar to Indian flatbread or Roti. It is an unleavened flatbread with no baking powder or yeast, and quite popular among the Swahili speaking people of Tanzania.

  • Mchemsho - a fish soup is one of the special Tanzanian foods. The dish is served in the northern part of the country. However, despite its deliciousness, it is not eaten on a daily basis due to the many ingredients needed to prepare it. This makes it quite expensive when compared to other local meals. Ingredients include carrots, potatoes, green beans, eggplant, cabbage, onions, bananas, tomatoes, sweet pepper and spices. During preparation, one can choose to mix vegetables with meat or fish.

  • Ndizi Nyama - a green banana with meat or fish. It is a stew of carrots, onions, tomato, sweet pepper, banana, fish or meat. The meal can be served with rice or ugali.

  • Supu ya Ndizi - plantain soup, locally known as Supu ya Ndizi, is a traditional Tanzanian dish made by pounding plantains to paste, then cooked in chicken stock. It is usually served in soup bowls and seasoned with pepper and salt.

  • Wali na Maharage - rice and beans, is a Tanzanian dish eaten with fish, vegetable or meat. Often, the rice is cooked with coconut milk or oil. The meal is based on typical flavours of east Africa. In addition, it can be flavored with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cumin seeds, pepper or cloves.

  • Ndizi Kaanga - fried plantains or green bananas is a popular Tanzanian dish. Usually prepared unsweetened in the country, this meal can be added a light sprinkling of sugar in order to bring out the sweetness in it.

  • Wali wa Nazi - is rice made with coconut milk. Mainly eaten by member of the Swahili community living along the Indian Ocean coast. It is a rich, creamy accompaniment to any chicken, meat, curry or fish.

13. Atractions & Landmarks

  • Tarangire National Park is one of the most beautiful regions in Tanzania. It is stunning here, both in dry and wet season. It is also home to some of the largest herds of elephant in Tanzania and is popular for tree-climbing lions. It is also a place where you can see a fascinating Baobas trees. Some species of the Baobab can live 1,000 years or longer.

  • Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895m), once an active volcano, is the highest point in Africa and is bordered by three of the largest lakes on the continent: Lake Victoria (the world's second-largest freshwater lake) in the north, Lake Tanganyika in the west, and Lake Nyasa in the southwest.

Arusha NP with a spectacular view of Mount Kilimanjaro

  • Moshi is a small town near Mount Kilimanjaro and it is the gateway to climbing the mountain. Popular destination for Materuni Waterfalls, Coffee tour experience, Maasai village visit, cycling through banana plantation and rice fields.

  • Arusha is a city, located at the base of volcanic Mt. Meru and it is a gateway to safari destinations such as Manyara NP, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti NP and to Africa's highest peak Mt.Kilimanjaro (5,895m).

Arusha with a view on Mount Meru

  • Kikuletwa Hotsprings is the hidden gem along Arusha and Moshi, a beautiful oasis surrounded by little jungle awaiting for you to enjoy swimming before or after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or Safari to Serengeti.

  • Lake Manyara is Tanzania's most famous lake, this beautiful watering hole is where you will see a sea of pink as it inhabits thousands of Flamingo's and over 400 species of birds.

  • Serengeti National Park is Tanzania’s oldest and most popular park for tourists. It is linked to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya and is home to over 1.7 million wildebeests, and about a million other animals. Serengeti is home to the The Big 5 including lions, rhinos, giraffes, leopards, elephants and the Great Mirgration. The Great Migration is one of the most spectacular events. Millions of animals make the annual migration from Tanzania to Kenya in search of water and grazing. Wildebeest, zebra and gazelle travel in hoards to reach more fertile pastures.

Hot Air Baloon safari experience in Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park

  • Ngorongoro Crater National Park is home to the highest concentration wildlife in Africa. You can see lions, zebras, buffaloes, elephants, flamingos, hippos, black rhino and so much more. You can find a high population of predators, including lions, hyenas, cheetahs and leopards. A big attraction of the Ngorongoro Crater are the Big Five - buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino. The views from the crater rim over the crater are spectacular. Because of its natural beauty, the crater is chosen as one of Africa's Seven Natural Wonders. Excursions and activities in Ngorongoro Conservation Area:

  • Mountain bike tour Lake Manyara

  • Visit Maasai village

  • Visit Hadzabe tribe

  • Cultural tour Mto wa Mbu

Ngorongoro Crater National Park

Ngorongoro Crater National Park

Ngorongoro Crater National Park

Ngorongoro Crater National Park

14. Nature & Wildlife

Most of the land was once savanna and bush, but today is semidesert. There is an abundance of wildlife in Tanzania. The largest remaining elephants populations in the world are in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve.

Selous National Park

Some of the most well-known African mammal species are native to Tanzania: wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, elephant, rhino, lion, and leopard. They are endangered due to poaching. Crocodiles and hippos can be found along riverbanks and lakeshores, and giant turtles live off the coast.

The Gombe Stream National Park is a well-known chimpanzee sanctuary where Jane Goodall did research on chimps in their natural habitat.

15. National Parks & Game Reserves

Tanzania is home to twenty-two national parks, and they cover more than 15% of the country's total land. Tanzania is divided into 4 types - national parks, game reserves, conservation areas and wildlife management areas.

The most popular is Northern Circuit including Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Lake Natron, and Arusha National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Ndutu region, Lake Eyasi.

Southern Circuit including Ruaha NP, Selous Game Reserve, Udzungwa Mountains NP, Mufindi, Mikumi NP, Kitulo Plateau NP, Bagamoyo.

Western Parks including Mahale Mountains NP, Katavi NP, Gombe Stream NP.

Eastern Parks including Usambara Mountains, Tanga, Saadani NP, Pangani, Mkomazi NP.

Other parks and places including Rubondo Island NP, Mwanza, Kilwa Kisiwani Island and a town Kigoma on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and Dar es Salaam.

Zebras in Ngorongoro Crater NP

16. Best National Parks In Tanzania For Hiking

While game drives are a popular way to explore Tanzania Parks, nothing quite compares to the thrill of hiking through them. With miles of well-maintained trails, hikers can witness the stunning natural beauty while also getting a chance to spot wildlife and learn about the local flora. Some recommended parks to visit:

  • Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Each year it attracts thousands of climbers and adventurers from all over the world. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is like walking from the tropical to the arctic in just one week. It is a real challenge due to the altitude and the rate of ascent, but also extremely rewarding.

Mount Kilimanjaro

  • Arusha National Park is beautiful park with a wide diversity of landscapes and wildlife. This national park is known for the black-and-white colobus monkeys, Mount Meru, swamps, lakes, waterfalls and craters. National park is situated near the city of Arusha with great views of the Mount Kilimanjaro.

Arusha NP with a beautiful view on Mount Kilimanjaro

  • Udzungwa Mountains National Park is a beautiful area in the Southern part of Tanzania. This national park is best known for its many species of birds and plants and six species of monkeys including the rare Iringa red colobus and the Sanje crested mangabey. Enjoy a hike through the rain forest to the 170 m tall Sanje Waterfall.

Sanje waterfall in Udzungwa Mountains National Park

17. Once you are done with your safari trip in Tanzania's national parks, you can take a ferry from Dar es Salaam to Stone Town, the main city of Zanzibar, and relax on the beautiful white sand beaches of the Zanzibar coast.

Paje beach, Zanzibar


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