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Mount Kilimanjaro

Above the gently rolling hills and plateaux of northern Tanzania rises the snowy peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, it’s slopes and glaciers shimmering above the rising clouds. Kilimanjaro is located near the town of Moshi and is a protected area, carefully regulated for climbers to enjoy without leaving a trace of their presence. The mountain’s ecosystems are as strikingly beautiful as they are varied and diverse. On the lowland slopes, much of the mountain is farmland, with coffee, banana, cassava, and maize crops grown for subsistence and cash sale. A few larger coffee farms still exist on the lower slopes, but much of the area outside the national park has been subdivided into small plots. Once inside the park, thick lowland forest covers the lower altitudes and breaks into alpine meadows once the air begins to thin. Near the peak, the landscape is harsh and barren, with rocks and ice the predominant features above a breathtaking African view.

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highlight of most visitors’ experiences in Tanzania. Few mountains can claim the grandeur, the breathtaking views of Amboseli National Park in Kenya, the Rift Valley, and the Masaai Steppe, that belongs to Kilimanjaro. Hiking on the ‘rooftop of Africa’ — the highest point on the continent at 5896 meters — is the adventure of a lifetime, especially because, if paced well, everyone from seasoned trekkers to first-time enthusiasts can scale the snowy peak. For more information, see the ‘Mountain Climbing’ section under ‘Things to Do.

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Lake Manyara

Situated inside Lake Manyara National Park, the lake is home to millions of flamingos, pelicans, storks and other plentiful bird life, as well as hippos that can be observed at close range. Hot springs trickle into the shallow waters and during the dry season, the lakeshore retreats to leave striking white soda deposits in its wake. For more information, see the ‘Lake Manyara National Park’ section under ‘National Parks and Reserves’.

Lake Manyara National Park is a Tanzanian national park located both in Arusha Region and Manyara Region, Tanzania. The two administrative regions have no jurisdiction over the parks. The park is governed by the Tanzania National Parks Authority.

 

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Zanzibar Island

Portuguese invasion and control of the Swahili Coast in the late 16th century ended the golden age of the archipelago, although the Omani Arabs returned to power less than a century later. Today, many of the winding streets and high townhouses of old Stone Town remain unchanged and visitors can walk between the sultan’s palace, the House of Wonders, the Portuguese fort and gardens, the merchants’ houses, and the Turkish baths of the old city. Day-long spice tours to working plantations offer visitors the chance to observe the cultivation of cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices that have made the island famous.

Zanzibar’s coastline offers some of the best beaches in the world, but sand and surf vary depending on what side of the island you’re on. On the east coast, waves break over coral reefs and sand bars offshore, and low tide reveals small pools of starfish, small minnows, and anemones. Up north, ocean swimming is much less susceptible to the tides, and smooth beaches and white sand make for dazzling days in the sun.

The port city of Stone Town dominates the west coast, and although the beaches of Mangapwani, where slave caves are visible at low tide and nearby Bububu are less than half an hour’s drive away, a night or two spent on the east or north cost is well worth the extra hour it takes to drive there. That said, the Chole Island Marine Park just off Stone Town – and nearby Prison, Grave, and Snake Islands – make a refreshing day-trip and a good break from exploring the winding passageways of the old city.

On the south coast of Zanzibar lies the Menai Bay Conservation Area, a sea turtle protection area for the endangered species that come to breed on the island. Roads to the southeast coast take visitors through the Jozani Forest, home to Zanzibar’s rare Red Colobus monkeys and a number of other primate and small antelope species.

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Arusha

Located in the northern highlands of Tanzania, beneath the twin peaks of Mt. Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha is the safari capital of the country. Guests embarking on the popular northern safari circuit all stop in the ‘Geneva of Africa’ to prepare for their journeys into the African bush. From is two-lane streets, the dramatic crater of Mt. Meru stands over the town like a majestic sentinel, it’s crater strewn with thick clouds, it’s slopes dark with verdant forest. Arusha’s ideal location near the major national parks and it’s highland setting make it a peaceful idyll of relaxation before the start of an exciting journey.

Built by the Germans as a centre of colonial administration administration in the early 20th century, Arusha was a sleepy town with a garrison stationed at the old boma and a few shops around a grassy roundabout. From its backwater status amidst the farmlands and plantations of northern Tanzania, today Arusha is one of the country’s most prosperous towns. The site for the United Nations Criminal Tribunal on the Rwandan genocide and the headquarters for the Tripartite commission for East African Co-operation, Arusha is a major centre of Tanzanian diplomacy and international relations.

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Selous Game Reserve

Located in south-east Tanzania in a remote and little-visited part of the country, the Selous Game Reserve is Africa’s largest protected wildlife reserve and covers more than 5% of Tanzania’s total area. It’s rivers, hills, and plains are home to roaming elephant populations, the area’s famous wild dogs, and some of the last black rhino left in the region. Due to its remote location, and because it is most easily accessible only by small aircraft, the Selous Game Reserve has remained one of the untouched gems of Tanzania’s national parks and game reserves, and offers visitors a chance to see a wild and expansive Africa far from paved roads and curio shops.

One of the more historic protected areas in Tanzania, the Selous Game Reserve was named after Frederick Courteney Selous, a British explorer and hunter in East Africa who wrote a book about the region and his travels, and was tragically killed in land now named after him during the First World War. In 1905, when few people in East Africa thought of land conservation and the preservation of wildlife for posterity, portions of the area were earmarked for a hunting reserve. In 1922, the land area was increased and named after Frederick Selous. From then until 1975, when the current boundaries were delineated, the Selous Game Reserve increased steadily in allocated land. These days, tourists flock to the north of the reserve, while large portions of the south are still reserved for hunting.

The Rufigi River Delta is a striking feature of the game reserve. It connects the Great Ruaha River with the Rufigi River and not far from the park boundaries empties out into the Indian Ocean along the Tanzanian Coast. The Rufigi River is the largest water catchment locations in the region, and as such, is home to a plethora of varied water and bird life. Along its shores, oppulent hippos sleep languidly in the mud and sun themselves, mouths wide open, as the river passes by. Crocodiles are also common along the Rufigi’s riverbanks, their armour plated skins the only rough edges in the rivers incessant flow. Stiggler’s Gorge, where the Great Ruaha River meets the Rufiji River, is a breathtaking example of the diversity and spectacular scenery along the game reserve’s waterways.

The Selous is unique among Tanzania’s more renowned preserved areas because it is a game reserve, not a national park, and therefore a larger range of activities are permitted. Boating safaris are becoming a popular alternative to vehicle-based trips, and offer visitors a chance to see the diverse life along the Rufigi River up close in all its splendour. Hiking safaris and fly camping are also ideal ways to explore the country and add a bit of adventure to your African experience.

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Mkomazi Game Reserve

Located just east of the Pare Mountains in Tanzania’s Eastern Arc range, and situated just south of the border with Kenya, Mkomazi Game Reserve is the focus of an intensive breeding program to save the endangered black rhinos. Adjacent to Tsavo National Park in Kenya, Mkomazi’s tourist facilities are exceedingly sparse and limited, and travel to the area is often neglected in favour of more accessible national parks and reserves.

The savannah and grasslands around Mkomazi Game Reserve may be perfect for black rhinos, but it is dry and dusty for most of the year. When frequented water holes dry up, game becomes elusive and hard to find. Compared to larger and more populated national parks, Mkomazi Game Reserve has its own unique appeal. wild dogs have recently been introduced to the region, and the reserve does have a wide variety of indigenous snakes.

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Kitulo National Park

Kitulo, which has recently become a fully protected National Park, is situated on the Kitulo Plateau, which forms part of Tanzania’s Southern Highlands. It is understood that the area, which is known locally as the “Garden of God,” provides a home for a wide variety of wildflowers such as balsams, bellflowers, honey-peas, irises, lilies and orchids.

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Undzungwa National Park

Located west of Dar es Salaam, the Udzungwa Mountains rise up from the western edge of the Selous Game Reserve. Vervet monkeys play high in the forest canopy, and small forest antelope can be viewed at the right time of day. Botanical diversity is exceptional, and the park is host to a large number of endangered bird species. Views from the peaks of the mountains, towards the Selous Game Reserve and the distant Indian Ocean coast, are incredible and well worth the effort.

The Udzungwa Mountains offer visitors the opportunity to view several species of primates and endangered birds in a beautiful African rain forest. Five distinct trails cover the forests and mountain peaks within the park, and offer varying levels of difficulty for everyone from novices to experienced trekkers. Better yet, there are no roads through the Undzungwa Mountains National Park, so hikers have the area all to themselves.

Tarangire

Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park with Bobby Tours Tanzania

Tarangire National Park has some of the highest population density of elephants anywhere in Tanzania, and its sparse vegetation, strewn with baobab and acacia trees, makes it a beautiful and special location. Located just a few hours’ drive from the town of Arusha, Tarangire is a popular stop for safaris traveling through the northern circuit on their way to Ngorongoro and the Serengeti. The park extends into two game-controlled areas and the wildlife are allowed to move freely throughout.

Before the rains, droves of gazelle, wildebeest, zebra, and giraffes migrate to Tarangire National Park’s scrub plains where the last grazing land still remains. Tarangire offers unparalleled game viewing, and during the dry season, elephants abound. Families of the pachyderms play around the ancient trunks of baobab trees and strip acacia bark from the thorn trees for their afternoon meal. Breathtaking views of the Masaai Steppe and the mountains to the south make a stop at Tarangire a memorable experience.

Serengeti

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park with Bobby Tours Tanzania Safaris

Serengeti is easily Tanzania’s most famous national park, and it’s also the largest, at 14,763 square kilometres of protected area that borders Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Park. Its far-reaching plains of endless grass, tinged with the twisted shadows of acacia trees, have made it the quintessential image of a wild and untarnished Africa.

Its large stone kopjes are home to rich ecosystems, and the sheer magnitude and scale of life that the plains support is staggering. Large prides of lions laze easily in the long grasses, plentiful families of elephants feed on acacia bark and trump to each other across the plains, and giraffes, gazelles, monkeys, eland, and the whole range of African wildlife is in awe-inspiring numbers.

The annual wildebeest migration through the Serengeti and the Masai Mara attract visitors from around the world, who flock to the open plains to witness the largest mass movement of land mammals on the planet. More than a million animals make the seasonal journey to fresh pasture to the north, then the south, after the biannual rains. The sound of their thundering hooves, raising massive clouds of thick red dust, has become one of the legends of the Serengeti plains.

The entire ecosystem thrives from the annual migration, from the lions and birds of prey that gorge themselves on the weak and the faltering to the gamut of hungry crocodiles that lie in patient wait at each river crossing for their annual feed.

But it’s not just the wildebeest who use the Serengeti as a migratory pathway. The adjacent reserves of Maswa and Ikorongo, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya all allow the animals and birds of the area a free range of movement to follow their seasonal migrations. Indeed, in the wake of the wildebeest migration, many of the less attention-grabbing features of the Serengeti are often overlooked. The park has varied zones in which each ecosystem is subtly different . Seronera in the centre of the park is the most popular and most easily visited area.

The Grumeti River in the Western Corridor is the location for the dramatic river crossing during the wildebeest migration. Maswa Game Reserve to the south offers a remote part of the park rewarding in its game-viewing and privacy, and Lobo near the Kenyan border offers a change to see plentiful game during the dry season.

Serengeti Balloon SafariAside from traditional vehicle bound safaris, hot-air ballooning over the Serengeti plains has become a safari rite-of-passage for travel enthusiasts. The flights depart at dawn over the plains and take passengers close over the awakening herds of wildebeest and zebra, gazelle and giraffe. The extra altitude allows guests to witness the striking stretches of plains punctuated only by kopjes. Up in the sky, you have Africa all to yourself.