Top 15 Best Things to Do in Tanzania

Top Tourist Attractions in Tanzania

Mafia Island by Abdul255 via Wikimedia cc

Bucket List: 15 Best Places to Visit in Tanzania

Tanzania is one of Africa’s well-known countries with natural beauty, rich wildlife, and lush plains. Safaris are available on land, on foot, and on air, giving visitors different options to encounter the stunning landscape and rare animals.

The best time to visit the great wildlife and the national parks of Tanzania is during the dry season, from June to October. Coincidentally, these are the peak season for the national parks, accommodations, and guided tours. Visitors are advised to get at least 8-12 months, even more than a year, in advance to get the best accommodation in the best locations and the best-guided tours at the most reasonable rates. The most common access points to Tanzania are Julius Nyerere International Airport and Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Ngorongoro Conservation Area by Ema Studios via Unsplash
Ngorongoro Conservation Area by Ema Studios via Unsplash

A World Heritage Site, Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the largest volcanic caldera, Ngorongoro Crater, and the Big 5 Game, namely the buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhinoceros. The term was coined by hunters because the five animals were the most difficult animals to hunt.

Visitors can either take a safari drive, game drive, or both in the conservation area. This gives the word “wild” a different meaning when up close and personal with the Big 5 Game. Visitors can arrange a visit to the cultural center of the Maasai Tribe and learn about the tribe’s culture and tradition.

To explore the Ngorongoro Crater, visitors can take a hot air balloon and see the beautiful lands in the conservation area. Hot air ballooning is also recommended during the Great Migration when the animals are traipsing around the crater. The rich wildlife of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area can also be seen in Lake Magadi where thousands of birds forage the lake and Gol Mountains where hundreds of different baboons live.

Witness the Great Migration

Great wildebeest migration crossing Mara river at Serengeti National Park - Tanzania by Jorge Tung via Unsplash
Great wildebeest migration crossing Mara river at Serengeti National Park – Tanzania by Jorge Tung via Unsplash

The Great Migration is one of the largest migration patterns of animals and one of the most popular and sought-after experiences when visiting Tanzania. This pattern is one of the few animal migrations that remain uninterrupted by human contact. The Great Migration covers a huge area with millions of animals so visitors should plan their safari based on the movement of the migration.

Lake Victoria

Rock formations in Tanzanian Lake Victoria by Richard Mortel via Wikimedia cc
Rock formations in Tanzanian Lake Victoria By Richard Mortel from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, CC BY 2.0, cc

Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater lake in Africa going by different local names until it was named after Queen Victoria by a British explorer. The lake has diverse wildlife, including fish, birds, chimpanzees, and elephants. Visitors can enjoy birdwatching, trekking, boat rides, and fishing trips on the lake. Swimming, however, is cautioned as Malaria and the bilharzia disease can be contracted.

Zanzibar Archipelago

Beach in Zanzibar Archipelago
Beach in Zanzibar Archipelago

The Zanzibar Archipelago is composed of several small islands and has many to offer its visitors. Visitors can take the nature trails of Jozani Forest and see the Zanzibar red colobus monkeys that reside there. The Michamvi Peninsula has a spectacular view of the ocean where visitors can walk its beaches that stretch for 10 kilometers.

The archipelago is often referred to as the “Spice Island” because Zanzibar has produced cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and vanilla for centuries. Visitors can book tours to the spice farms of the archipelago and buy the locally-produced spices.

The Zanzibar Archipelago is most well-known for its beaches. Paje Beach is best for those who love to party and will feel comfortable with the party atmosphere there. Kendwa Beach is where most people go for water activities like boat trips, diving, and snorkeling.

Mafia Island

Mafia Island by Abdul255 via Wikimedia cc
Mafia Island By Abdul255 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

Mafia Island has so much to offer its visitors. One of the most recommended and most popular things to do on Mafia Island is swimming with whale sharks. The gentle giants are regular visitors to the Mafia Island and people can swim with them. Other than whale sharks, humpback whales, sperm whales, and dolphins can be seen during the migratory season. The best time to swim with the whale sharks is from October to April while the migrating season of humpback whales is from July to August.

A huge portion of the island is a protected reserve because its unique shallow waters are home to hundreds of different species of fish, sponges, algal, and many more. The Mafia Island Marine Park is perfect for snorkeling and is one of the best diving spots in Tanzania. From the beaches of the island, visitors can witness the turtles hatching and making their way to the sea. The nesting season of the turtles is from June to August.

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park

One of the most famous and largest parks in Africa, millions of wildebeest and zebra cross the endless plains of the park during the Great Migration. The name of the park, “serengit”, was given by the Maasai tribe which means “the land of endless plains.” The park is located in the regions of Mara, Arusha, and Simiyu, and it was established in 1951, making it the first established national park in Tanzania.

Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park photo via Pixabay
Lake Manyara National Park photo via Pixabay

Established in 1960, the Lake Manyara National Park is located in the regions of Arusha and Manyara. It is a popular birdwatching destination with its large population of pink flamingoes. Activities in the park include canoe safaris and night drives where visitors can view the elephants at close quarters. Researchers and visitors are also in awe of the tree-climbing lions that reside within the park. It is best to visit the park in the morning as it is rarely crowded at daybreak.

Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park photo via Pixabay
Arusha National Park photo via Pixabay

Located in the region of Arusha, the park is at the base of Mount Meru. Arusha National Park’s wildlife is more low-key compared to other parks in Tanzania. Its charm, however, is the stunning view of the different wildlife habitats and glimpses of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru.

Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park by Colin Watts via Unsplash
Ruaha National Park by Colin Watts via Unsplash

Ruaha National Park is great to watch huge pride of lions and large herds of elephants. The park holds 10% of the world’s lion population and Tanzania’s largest elephant population. Remaining almost untouched by human contact and rising tourism, visitors can watch as pride of lions take down a buffalo, showing an example of how Africa had always been. The park was established as a national park in 1964 and is located in the regions of Iringa, Dodoma, and Mbeya.

Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park by Tomas Malik via Unsplash
Tarangire National Park by Tomas Malik via Unsplash

Tarangire National Park was established back in 1970 and was named after the Tarangire River which attracts hundreds of birds during the dry season. Located in the regions of Arusha, Dodoma, and Manyara, the park is known for the annual migration of over 3000 elephants every dry season. The park’s main attraction is the Tarangire River and the large population of bird species ideal for birdwatching, such as falcons, herons, and storks.

Mount Kilimanjaro, Kilimanjaro National Park

Kilimanjaro National Park
Kilimanjaro National Park

Established in 1974, the park is located in the region of Kilimanjaro. The main highlight of the Kilimanjaro National Park is the infamous Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Its highest peak is the Uhuru Peak, one of the Seven Summits of the world. Contrary to other national parks in Tanzania, Kilimanjaro National Park is visited to see the marvelous snow-capped mountain and climb its summit. Even beginners in mountain climbing can partake in gentle trips to the mountain

Katavi National Park

Walking Safari in Katavi National Park by Brian Harries via Wikimedia cc
Walking Safari in Katavi National Park By Brian Harries, CC BY 2.0, cc

Established in 1974, Katavi National Park is situated in the remote region of Katavi and is best visited during the dry season when large groups of hippotamus flock to pools of water. Because of its remoteness, the wildlife remains untouched and uninterrupted by humans.

Udzungwa Mountains National Park

Udzungwa Mountains National Park by Marc Veraart via Wikimedia cc
Udzungwa Mountains National Park By Marc Veraart, CC BY 2.0, cc

Home to epidemic primate species, Udzungwa Mountains National Park was established in 1992 and is situated in the regions of Morogoro and Iringa. One of the best ways to experience the nature and wildlife of the park is through treks where visitors can pass by majestic waterfalls and diverse flora and fauna.

Saadani National Park

Saadani National Park, Bagamoyo, Tanzania by Andrew Kayani via Unsplash
Saadani National Park, Bagamoyo, Tanzania by Andrew Kayani via Unsplash

Located in the regions of Pwani and Tanga, Saadani National Park was established in 2005. It is the only national park bordering the Indian Ocean. Visitors can take a boat safari or go canoeing on the two bodies of water in the park, the Indian Ocean and Wami River. These activities give visitors the chance to see the turquoise blue waters of the ocean and the wildlife that lies within these bodies of water like hippos and crocodiles.

Nyerere National Park

Nyerere National Park by Erasmus Kamugisha via Wikimedia cc
Nyerere National Park By Erasmus Kamugisha – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

Formerly called the Selous Game Reserve, the Nyerere National Park is the largest national park in Tanzania. Established in 2019, it is located in Lindi, Pwani, and Morogoro regions. Visitors can take a boat safari along the largest river in East Africa, the Rufiji River, a nature hike in the park, or a hot air balloon safari for a different safari experience. The park is home to a large number of diverse, wild animals, including the Big Game 5, cheetahs, giraffes, hyenas, and wildebeests.

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