What to See in Tanzania

What to See in Tanzania

Tanzania has the most expansive territory of virgin nature in the world, the best safari on the continent, the highest peak in Africa and beaches with sky-blue ocean. Savannahs with wild animals, volcanoes, ancient tribes — here everyone will find something that becomes one of their most fantastic and unusual travel memories. 

So let’s figure out what to see in Tanzania and which tourist sites are absolutely unmissable.

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Contents

Mountains, volcanoes and climbing up them

Mount Kilimanjaro

  • Why you should visit it: to conquer one of the world’s most famous peaks and tell your grandchildren about it. 
  • How to get there: the starting point of your ascent is the city of Moshi, 37 km from the airport. You can get there by taxi (≈ $50), transfer (if you have bought a tour in advance) or by public transport – the smelly dala-dala minibuses (the stop is beyond the airport grounds, but the price of the journey is just ≈ $1.5).

Mount Kilimanjaro has the highest peak in the whole of Africa (5,895 m), and it is known as the White Queen of Africa thanks to its sparkling snow-white cap.

Usually, tourists can admire Mount Kilimanjaro from afar during a safari (and there is also a fantastic free viewing platform on the territory of the Kaliwa Lodge hotel), but those wishing to climb to the top need to buy a tour (climbing without a guide is categorically forbidden).

To admire Kilimanjaro from afar during a safari, if you still decide to climb to the top, you need to purchase a tour. Photo: Andrzej Kubik / Shutterstock.com

Any person can climb to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro if they are patient and don’t suffer from altitude sickness. As a rule, the ascent takes a week. According to statistics, about 40% of climbers make it to the top — so think how cool it would be to be counted among them! 

Cost: you will need to fork out a fair whack. A six to eight day tour will set you back $1,500-2,000 (the price depends on the paths that the group will take to complete the ascent). 

Equipment rental will cost ≈ $50 (though you can bring your own), the service of porters (locals who carry the equipment and other things: from your kit and food to tents and all other necessities) will cost ≈ $15-20 per day (one person will carry up to 20 kg) + tips for the porter and guide will amount to ≈ $150 for the trip – they won’t explicitly ask for tips but these are justified.

Anyone can climb Kilimanjaro if they have patience and resistance to altitude sickness. Photo: Ingus Kruklitis / Shutterstock.com

Where to stay before and after the climb

The village of the Maasai and the sodium volcano

  • Why you should visit it: to see one of the oldest African tribes and climb up the only sodium volcano in the world. 
  • How to get there: this is not a particularly touristy location, so you can get here on a safari trip or on your own by taxi or hitch-hiking from Arusha or Moshi.

The soda volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai (also known as The Mountain of God) is the only volcano in the world to have carbonatite lava (and, by the way, it’s black). From the volcano you can enjoy fantastic views over a valley, and you can combine the trip with visiting the village of one of the world’s oldest tribes, the Maasai, which themselves are a must-see in Tanzania. The village is located right at the foot of the volcano, and at the same time you can visit the ominous Lake Natron, which locals consider to be cursed.

A visit to the volcano Ol-Doinyo-Lengai is combined with the village of one of the oldest tribes of the Maasai. Photo: Yury Birukov / Shutterstock.com

Here is the right procedure when visiting independently: arrive in the village, study the Maasai way of life and culture, see how they live in houses built from sticks and dung, and then find a local guide to climb up the volcano, as you can only ascend it at night and with somebody who knows the way. 

Lake Natron is located at the foot of the volcano: it is famous for its red water that kills anything living (the color is due to its salt, soda, alkaline, sulfur and phosphorus composition). Flamingos craftily take advantage of this. They have taken a liking to the lake’s little islands, where they can raise their young in safety: predators simply can’t reach them.

The red water of Lake Natron kills all living things, but flamingos are safe here. Photo: Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com

Cost: to reach the volcano you will need to spend $35 on the journey (something in the spirit of a tax to the enterprising Massai). Hiring a guide and equipment will cost ≈ $45. The ascent will be long, but all the more memorable for that! 

Where to stay

Wild nature and safaris

You can’t go on any safari on your own — it’s not safe, and basically nobody will let you in, so you will need to purchase a safari tour.

To go on safari, you need to purchase a tour. Photo: Delbars / Shutterstock.com

There are several top parks in Tanzania that you can visit, either in one go or separately: the northern parks are the best and most expensive (see below for more details), while the southern parks (Mikumi, Selous, Ruaha, and the Udzungwa Mountains) are cheaper, but have less interesting environments, plus you have to cover a much greater distance.

As a rule, safari tours include transfers. But you can also get to the cities of Moshi or Arusha by transport as described above (or fly there with a local airline, which is also a convenient way of travelling within the country) and buy a tour when you get there.

There are several top parks in Tanzania that you can visit at once or separately. Photo: GUIDO BISSATTINI / Shutterstock.com

Serengeti National Park

  • Website: serengetiparktanzania.com 
  • Why you should visit it: to make a long-held dream come true, to set off on the greatest safari in Africa and also tell your grandchildren about it.

Serengeti is a wild nature reserve almost 15,000 square km in size, where around 3,000,000 (!) species of animals and 500 species of birds live. Animals here migrate all year round, and not only within Serengeti but in other parks too, such as in the neighboring Maasai Mara located in Kenya.

The Serengeti National Park is home to about 3,000,000 (!) species of animals and 500 species of birds. Photo: DongDongdog / Shutterstock.com

Here you can meet all of the African Big Five — as the beasts considered the most difficult to hunt were historically known: elephants, rhinoceroses, buffalos, lions and leopards. Well, just imagine this: you’re riding a jeep and observing lion prides as well as zebras, antelopes, hippopotamuses, giraffes and wild cats within touching distance, just like in the best adventure films! 

Basically, this is total hakuna matata (by the way, this phrase originated in Tanzania).

Where to stay

Just imagine: you drive a jeep and you can watch the pride of lions, as well as zebras, antelopes, hippos, giraffes, wild cats. Photo: Gary C. Tognoni / Shutterstock.com

Ngorongoro Crater National Park

  • Website: ncaa.go.tz 
  • Why you should visit it: to enjoy a safari, but in a volcanic crater rather than in an ordinary park.

Ngorongoro is a nature reserve in a huge crater (its diameter is around 21 km) of a long extinct volcano (for around 2,500,000 years) and one of the most interesting locations for a safari.

Ngorongoro is a nature reserve in a huge crater. Photo: OxaGen / Shutterstock.com

Here, at a height of 2,286 meters above sea level, and at a crater depth of 610 meters, you will find the world’s largest concentration of animals per square km. These animals are “encircled” as they cannot get out of the crater, hence over many years a unique living environment has taken shape, with its own atmosphere so to say, which you really have to experience. 

Apart from antelopes, lions, buffalos, hippopotamuses, leopards and elephants, you are highly likely to meet rhinoceroses here, whereas in other safaris you will find them relatively rarely. Further, the crater contains Lake Magadi, which is famous for its large flamingo population.

Over the years, a unique habitat has been formed in Ngorongoro, so to speak, its own atmosphere, which must be seen. Photo: Travel Stock / Shutterstock.com

Where to stay

Lake Manyara

Why you should visit it: to see the largest number of flamingos in a single place in the world and take a wonderful Reels video. 

Lake Manyara, located on the territory of the eponymous national park, is famous for its incredible number of pink flamingos. The largest group is seen in June through September, whereas at other times of the year the flamingos migrate to other lakes.

Lake Manyara is famous for an incredible number of pink flamingos. Photo: tonyzhao120 / Shutterstock.com

Apart from flamingos, the lake hosts pelicans, storks, ibises, cranes, gannets, marabous and hundreds of other species of birds that can only be found here. Wild animals also live in the park.

Where to stay 

In addition to flamingos, pelicans, storks, ibises, cranes, cormorants, marabou and hundreds of other bird species live on the lake. Photo: gdvcom / Shutterstock.com

Tarangire National Park 

  • Website: tanzaniaparks.go.tz 
  • Why you should visit it: to see elephants strolling among ancient baobabs, and to catch an animal herd drinking at a watering hole in the dry season. 

Tarangire is renowned both for its large elephant population (by the way, African elephants are the largest animals on the planet [голубой кит в разы больше]), and for the migration of many of its animals to the river during the dry season (from July to October). 

Observing herds of elephants, buffalos, zebras or antelopes conglomerating by the water is a special type of meditation.

Tarangire is famous for its large elephant population. Photo: hansen.matthew.d / Shutterstock.com

Where to stay

How much a safari costs and how to choose one

I recommend only going with companies tested by you or your friends. If your budget stretches far enough, it’s advisable to choose a safari tour to several parks at once, in order to see all the best bits in one go. For example, a four-day tour to Tarangire, Ngorongoro and Serengeti that will cost from $2,000 to $4,000, including transfers, the safari itself and staying in lodges along the way. In addition, there are two-day tours costing ≈ $800 per person.

If the budget allows, it is better to take a safari tour to several parks to see all the best at once. Photo: BlueOrange Studio / Shutterstock.com

You can also go on a safari by hot-air balloon (≈ $600 for a flight lasting a few hours). 

Further, there are tours available for $300-400 in the southern parks, while the most economical tours are to Mikumi Park. Again, you can put up with lots of hassle, book hotels and lodges directly (we will give you the options) and select a safari in any park when you get there for around $200-400 per day. That price will include a guide, jeep, ticket to the park, tips that are de rigueur in Tanzania, and transfer to the park.

You can view safari tours to all parks and compare prices on SafariBookings.

Instead of a safari

If this adventure is beyond your budget, but you still want to see wild animals, then head to Makoa-Farm. It contains the only rehabilitation center in Tanzania where volunteers take care of injured and orphaned animals, in order to eventually return them to their natural environment.

Here you can see leopards, zebras, elephants and other animals. It’s not a commercial project, hence the minimum entry fee is just $25. That is the amount spent per day on feeding one animal.

Beach holidays

Tanzania is washed by the Indian Ocean and is famous for amazingly beautiful beaches, which easily compete with the Maldives and Seychelles. The main question is which island to choose for your holiday. 

Zanzibar

  • Why you should come here: to see the heavenly beaches and sky-blue ocean. 

As we have already discovered, it’s not difficult to get to Zanzibar — it has an airport, and it even has flights from Russia, albeit not direct flights for now.

Tanzania is washed by the waters of the Indian Ocean and is famous for its beaches of amazing beauty. Photo: Becker Stefan / Shutterstock.com

Zanzibar is an archipelago consisting of 75 islands (and the main eponymous island). A classical beach holiday awaits you: plenty of cafes, bars, restaurants, clubs, hotels to suit any budget, a big choice of tours and heavenly beaches, although it’s true that the service leaves much to be desired.

Where to stay

Stone Town (the capital). Here you can view amazing architecture of the colonial, indeed only, town in Zanzibar. 

In the capital of Stone Town, you can admire the chic architecture. Photo: Nick Johanson / Shutterstock.com

Island of Zanzibar

If you want to organize a holiday in the wild where there are only a few hotels, no partying or other people, while also enjoying the best possible diving, you need to choose Mafia Island or the tiny Chumbe Island. Chumbe has only one hotel, and it is a conservation area as the island is part of the coral reef. Going diving costs ≈ $150.

There is only one hotel on Chumbu, and the territory is a protected area, since the island is part of a coral reef. Photo: MOIZ HUSEIN STORYTELLER / Shutterstock.com

Changu Island is worth a day trip. In the past it contained a jail, then a quarantine zone for patients with yellow fever, while it is now the home of giant tortoises, who depending on which source you read are aged from 100 to 200 years old.

Those seeking more adventurous locations are recommended to visit Pemba Island — it is said to offer the best fishing and spa in Tanzania, as well as excellent diving conditions. It’s surrounded by wild nature, but service is poor.

Tanzania is washed by the waters of the Indian Ocean and is famous for its beaches of amazing beauty. Photo: Robin Batista / Shutterstock.com

The icing on the cake is Thanda Island. This is a private island with one hotel which you can only book for your own use, but it has room for a big (even very big) group. 

The entire island is available for hire for a minimum of five days on an all-inclusive basis, for $45,000 per night. The villa is intended for ten persons (five luxurious bedrooms) and you can also bring along eight more people to stay in chalets. You will have to get here by helicopter or yacht. If you do spend your holiday here, tell us what it was like! 

You can find all the details on the island’s official website.


Now you know most of the top places in Tanzania. I hope that everybody spends a holiday at least once in hakuna matata style, and for now I’ll go and rewatch the old version of Lion King (which I also recommend to you for inspiration).

Hakuna matata!

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