Home to approximately 120 tribal groups, Tanzania also has an incredibly diverse cultural landscape, and visits to local communities are often a highlight. The Maasai are the best known of Tanzania's tribes and inhabit its northern regions, but the country is home to over 100 tribes and ethnic groups including the fascinating Hadzabe, Datoga and Chagga tribes.
Dar es Salaam is Tanzania's port city, gateway to its southern national parks and reserves and into Zanzibar and northern Mozambique.
A year-round destination, the Serengeti offers some of the best game viewing in Africa with plenty of resident game, making the area a must-visit for anyone who loves all things related to animals, wildlife and nature.
The crown jewel in the Serengeti-Ngorongoro ecosystem is a deep, volcanic crater, and the largest unflooded and unbroken caldera in the world. About 20 kilometres across, 600 metres deep and 300 square kilometres in area, the Ngorongoro Crater is a breathtaking natural wonder and hosts a dense population of around 25,000 large mammals which live on the crater floor all year round. West of the crater, extensive archaeological research has also yielded a long sequence of evidence of human evolution and human-environment dynamics, including early hominid footprints dating back 3.6 million years.
Dotted with giant baobab trees, Tarangire National Park is home to herds of buffaloes, elephants and a plethora of wildlife, which makes it a perfect home for lions and leopards. Neighbouring Lake Manyara along the Rift Valley is famous for its unusual tree-climbing lions and large numbers of flamingos on its shores. With less distance to cover than in the Serengeti, you can easily spend hours observing and photographing the natural world in intricate detail without covering vast expanse of land; this is slow-time safari at its best.
Standing at 5,895 metres, Mount Kilimanjaro is the continent's highest point and often called 'The Roof of Africa'. A climber’s paradise, the mountain offers different routes and difficulty levels for travellers to summit, and many climbers often leave with a sense of accomplishment after the climb. The montane forest belt is also teeming with wildlife, making this one of the premier parks to visit on the continent.
Often overshadowed by the Serengeti, Ruaha’s charms are yet to be discovered by most, and luckily so for the serious safari enthusiast. The Ruaha River provides the lifeblood of this area of amazing biodiversity, sustaining massive numbers of Nile crocodile, pods of hippo, huge herds of elephant, and an abundance of giraffe, zebra, impala and other herbivores, which in turn support a healthy predator population – prides of lion numbering 20 or more are not uncommon.
Over ten percent of the world's lion population lives in the Greater Ruaha ecosystem, which also supports the world's third largest population of wild dog and one of the few sustainable cheetah populations left in East Africa.
Katavi National Park in the far west of Tanzania is a true wilderness, and in the late dry season, there are few places that offer such a raw and wild experience. Hippos in their thousands cram the shrinking watering holes, crocodiles retire to caves in the mud walls of the riverbanks, and buffaloes and elephants are drawn to the fast-drying rivers to drink.
Situated on the banks of Lake Tanganyika, the Mahale Mountains are home to communities of wild chimpanzees, some of which have been studied and habituated by Japanese research teams since the 1960s. Greystoke Mahale's white-sand beach, crystal-clear fresh water, Tarzan-cum-Robinson Crusoe atmosphere and daily trekking in the surrounding forest in search of some of man's closest relatives offers a unique safari experience.
Further along the shores of Lake Tanganyika is Gombe National Park, Tanzania’s smallest national park, made famous by Jane Goodall's books and research projects on the small community of chimpanzees in the park.
Located in the southwestern corner of Lake Victoria, the main island of Rubondo is covered in pristine equatorial rainforest and it has been a haven for species such as chimpanzee, sitatunga antelope, elephant and giraffe. Being lakeside, the park is also known for its game fishing as well as being a birdwatching paradise.
While Zanzibar's main island is at the top of traveller's lists, Tanzania's coast and some of the archipelago's smaller islands are worth considering. From luxurious Ras Kutani on the mainland coast, to private Fanjove island, diving mecca Mafia and Pemba Islands, to the perfect beach hideaway Mnemba Island, one of Africa’s finest private islands - the options are endless.
Staggering wildlife numbers, stunning landscapes, idyllic beaches, fascinating cultures, walking, climbing and trekking adventures for the intrepid - Tanzania is one incredible safari destination.
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