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Explore Tanzania

Explore Tanzania the largest country in East Africa, bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south.

History

This is one of the oldest known continuously inhabited areas on Earth; fossil remains of humans and pre-human hominids have been found dating back over two million years. Tanzania is believed to have been populated by hunter-gatherer communities, probably Cushitic and Khoisan speaking people. About 2000 years ago, it is believed that Bantu-speaking people began to arrive from western Africa in a series of migrations. Later, Nilotic pastoralists arrived, and continued to immigrate into the area through to the 18th century.

Geography

A land of geographical extremes, Tanzania houses the highest peak (Mount Kilimanjaro), the lowest point (the lake bed of Lake Tanganyika), and a portion of the largest lake (Lake Victoria, shared with Uganda and Kenya) on the African continent.

Climate

Tanzania’s weather varies from humid and hot in low lying areas, such as Dar es Salaam, to hot during the day and cool at night in Arusha. There are no discernible seasons, such as winter and summer — only the dry and wet seasons. Tanzania has two rainy seasons: The short rains from late-October to late-December, a.k.a. the Mango Rains, and the long rains from March to May.

Best times to visit are:

June to August: This is the tail-end of the long rainy season and the weather is at its best at this time of year — bearable during the day and cool in the evening. However, this is not necessarily the best time of year for safaris, as water is plentiful in the parks and animals are not forced to congregate in a few locations to rehydrate, as they do in the middle of the dry season right after Christmas.

January to February: This is the best time to visit the Serengeti. It is usually at this time that huge herds of wildebeest, zebra and buffalo migrate to better grazing areas. You could observe some of the 1.5 million wildebeest that inhabit the Serengeti undertake their epic journey. Be advised this is most likely the hottest time of year in Tanzania, when even the locals complain about the heat. You’ve been warned!

Cities

  • Dar es Salaam
  • Arusha
  • Dodoma
  • Kigoma
  • Mbeya
  • Moshi
  • Morogoro
  • Mwanza
  • Mtwara

Other destinations

  • Arusha National Park – Home to the 5th highest peak in Africa, Mt. Meru (4,500m). You can climb it independently.
  • Mahale Mountains National Park – See Chimpanzees up close and experience the clear water of Lake Tanganyika.
  • Mikumi National Park
  • Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest peak and the world’s highest freestanding mountain. You can climb it with the help of a guide.
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area – includes the Ngorongoro Crater and the Olduvai Gorge
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Serengeti National Park
  • Stone Town
  • Udzungwa Mountains National Park

There are two major airports; one in Dar es Salaam, Julius Nyerere International Airport (formerly known as Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere International Airport and Dar es Salaam International Airport), and one in Kilimanjaro, Kilimanjaro International Airport, which is halfway between Arusha and Moshi.

By car

If you’re hiring a car when you get here, your best option is a 4×4 sport utility vehicle with good road clearance, especially if you plan on going on safari in any of the national parks. Look for the Land Cruiser, Hilux Surf (4Runner), and Range Rover vehicles.

If you want to hire a car for wildlife safaris in Tanzania, it is advised to get 4 x 4 car with professional safari guide. Some safari guides speak more than one language like English and German, English and French, Spanish and Italian. Benefits of going safari with a guide is knowledge of environment because they are used to, knowledge of species of wildlife, taking care of car because you are on holiday, you need not to hustle replacing flat tire.

What to do in Tanzania

  • While you are in Tanzania you may organize your safari to Serengeti and other National parks at an affordable price. If there’s one trip that will change your perspective on life, it’s an African safari. Contact some of the tour operators for Safari Details.
  • Cultural Tours Touring Tanzania for culture is interestingly great as it encompasses more than 150+ ethnic groups. There is plenty of traditional food, cultural practices (such as hunting with bushmen, beekeeping, traditional medicine) that one enjoys within the boundaries. You will also get to visit a number of locations that normally people would be completely unaware of. If you happen to be a person who loves to explore the world and meet new people in order to gain knowledge about different customs, a cultural tour is definitely the best type of vacation for you. The services are not expensive and can turn out to be cheaper than expected provided you get the right information on where to stay, best tour companies and just knowledge of what you want. This way, it will save you time and costs as well.
  • There are loads of National Parks for those wanting to watch Tanzania’s wildlife. You can gain entry for around $100 US and benefit from a tour (and perhaps a night’s accommodation). The better parks, though packed with tourists, are found in the north of the country. Ruaha National Park is the best in the south (locals actually say this is the best park, especially if you want to see wild animals as opposed to semi-tame ones in the northern parks). Don’t just be sucked into the tourist circuit in the north; the south offers great parks and towns (base yourself out of Iringa), and you will feel less of a tourist and more of a guest if you travel this way.
  • Scuba diving in and around Pemba and Zanzibar is another good experience.
  • You can also visit numerous historical Slave Trade sites, which could make for an interesting, if a little depressing, excursion.
  • Beaches: Did you know that Tanzania has some of the best, most unspoiled beaches in the world? They are stunning, with their white sand, palm trees, and cool Indian Ocean water!
  • Kayak the beautiful coastal waters with a tour operator.
  • Tanzania has two of the best Stone Age sites in the world: Isimila Gorge (near Iringa) and the earliest known examples of human art among the rock paintings, near Kolo, north of Dodoma — some of which are reckoned to be around 30,000 years old.
  • Kilimanjaro is one of Tanzania’s main attractions. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. Many visitors come to Tanzania to summit this great mountain. The main peak is estimated to be 5895m high making it a real challenge for mountaineers.

What to see. Best top attractions in Tanzania.

  • Tanzania is a country with great national parks, where you can see some of the finest African flora and fauna. Tanzania is home to several national parks and game reserves. Safaris in Tanzania can be put into two categories, the Northern Circuit (Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Manyara and Tarangire) and the Southern Circuit (Selous, Mikumi and Ruaha). This is certainly an oversimplification and does not include other interesting but harder to reach parks such as Katavi and Gombe, just to name two. For tourist, the two first groupings are more accessible.
  • Camping safaris Tanzania: Camping safari is accommodation option preferred by colonialists during Medieval time because at that time Lodges and Hotels were not well developed. Adventure people traveled across the world to discover major Geographical features in Africa like Mount Kilimanjaro, Great Rift Valley, Ngorongoro crater and more used tented camps. Camping safari uses tents as a shelter for outdoor travel and wilderness research. Nowadays camping safari is used as accommodation for wildlife safaris in Tanzania and Africa at Large. There are types of camping safaris such as luxury tented camps, mobile camping safaris and budget camping safaris. Budget camping safari is also known as basic tented camps and low cost safaris Tanzania. Budget camping safari is cheap wildlife safari trips and adventure tours in Africa.

To see places you need to Move, Car hire is a deal.

Car hire in Tanzania will help you move from one place to another for sightseeing tours or wildlife tours. Several car hire agencies offer car rental for varies purposes. You can rent car for Town sightseeing or game park safaris.

Budget camping safaris

This is basic camping safari where tourists visit national parks and game reserves and the accommodation is on budget tented camps. Budget camping safaris differ from one Tour Operator to another.

Wildlife Viewing in Tanzania:

  • Serengeti National Park, made famous by numerous Discovery Channel specials, hosts a wide range of wildlife, including lions, cheetahs, leopards, hippopotamuses, elephants, zebra, buffalo, water buck, crocodiles, gazelle, warthogs, and wildebeest. One major attraction is the wildebeest migration, which occurs continuously between the Serengeti and Masai Mara (Kenya). Park fees are $50/person/day as of July 2008, and a guide with a 4-wheel drive vehicle is required. If the migration is your main purpose for visiting the Serengeti, you should advise your tour company as this may require travel much further afield and could be more costly.
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area also hosts an abundance of wildlife, particularly in the Ngorongoro crater. Formed by the same volcanic activity that generated Kilimanjaro and the Great Rift Valley, Ngorongoro consists of the highlands around the crater (rich in elephants) and the crater itself (similar animals to Serengeti, but at higher densities and with a small population of black rhino). Park fees are $50/day/person as of July 2007, plus $200 per vehicle for a six-hour game drive in the crater.
  • Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve are far less popular but very enjoyable. You will find much greater variety of wildlife than you would in the Serengeti, if you’re looking for a destination with fewer tourists these parks are for you. Ruaha is known for having the largest elephant and giraffe population of any park in Africa and often goes by the name ‘Giraffic Park’, it is also a good place to see large prides of lion and the elusive and rare hunting dogs. Additionally, Selous is the only other place besides Ngorongoro where you may see a rhino. You can also visit the Uduzungwa Mountains Park for a truly wilderness hike through unspoiled and spectacular scenery. There are few places left in the world like this one. With new gates opened up on the Iringa side of the park with great camping it is a great addition to any visit to Tanzania.
  • Tarangire National Park is in the northern circuit of Tanzania and was named after the Tarangire River flowing within the park. The park area is approximately 2,600 sq km. Similar to Serengeti; the park has high concentrations of wildlife during the dry seasons. Also, over 570 bird species have been identified, and the place is surely a birdwatchers’ paradise. Safari accommodation is available in quality safari lodges and campsites.

When visiting wildlife parks be sure to stay as close to the viewing areas (center of the parks) as possible and leave as soon as you can in the morning as animals are typically most active soon after sunrise.

Islands – mountains in Tanzania

Talk

The predominant official language and lingua franca is Swahili, which is spoken by over 90% of the population. English has some official status – it is used in foreign trade, diplomacy, the higher courts, and as a medium of instruction in secondary and higher education, although the Tanzanian government plans to discontinue English as a language of instruction altogether.

Credit Cards can only be used in large hotels, resorts, and with certain travel agents. In short, Tanzania is still a cash society.

Shopping

There are many markets in tourist cities that sell standard “African” goods. Beaded jewelry, carved soapstone, and Masai blankets make interesting gifts. Be aware that most “ebony” wood is fake (shoe polish) – the exception being in the far south-east of the country, where the Makonde tribe of Tanzania and Northern Mozambique create masks and other carvings from ebony and mpingo wood. Be prepared to bargain for everything. Masks are not typical of most East African groups, and the ones you find in the markets are either imported from West Africa or are strange things made just for tourists, with the exception of the Makonde masks.

Tinga Tinga paintings, named after the painter who originated that style, are for sale everywhere. Their distinctive style and colors make for attractive souvenirs. There is a Tinga Tinga school in Dar es Salaam, where you can purchase paintings from the artists themselves.

What to eat – drink in Tanzania

Respect

In general, tourists should wear modest or conservative attire, especially in Zanzibar, which is a conservative Muslim society. Western women should not wear clothing that reveals too much skin. ‘Kangas’, brightly-colored wrap-around cloth, are affordable, available throughout the country, and can serve as a discreet covering.

The Masai people, with their colorful clothing, are tempting targets for any tourist with a camera. However, they expect to be paid for it, and you should always ask before taking pictures.

Contact

Keeping in touch while traveling in Tanzania is rarely a problem. You can get decent mobile phone reception even in some national parks.

Internet

Internet cafés are more and more common throughout Tanzania. They are easy to find in major urban areas, like Dar es Salaam and Arusha.

International telecommunications have low capacity, and can be unreliable.

Official tourism websites of Tanzania

For more information please visit the official government website: 

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