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If spotting a pride of lions on Africa’s endless plains has been a lifelong dream, then Tanzania, one of the best wildlife-viewing spots in the world, is the destination for you. While a visit to the Serengeti during the annual Great Migration is an unforgettable experience, this East African country has so much more to offer beyond game drives: undeveloped beaches, the fascinating Maasai tribe, and the world’s tallest freestanding mountain—Mount Kilimanjaro. If you're seeking the trip of a lifetime, here are our picks for unforgettable adventures in Tanzania.
While it borders Kenya, Mount Kilimanjaro falls completely in Tanzania, making it the country’s biggest tourist draw. About 35,000 climbers from all over the world attempt to reach the top of Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak and the world’s tallest freestanding mountain, every year. With five unique climates to hike through, including spectacular glaciers at the summit, climbing Kilimanjaro is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for those seeking a challenge.
Serengeti comes from a word meaning “endless plains” in the traditional Maasai language, and with more than 12,000 square-feet of wilderness, its never-ending landscape is just as awe-inspiring as the numerous animals that call it home. The yearly crossing of giant herds—more than 1.5 million wildebeest and zebras—to greener pastures is one of the most spectacular wildlife wonders to witness.
Outside of the Serengeti, Tarangire National Park holds the greatest concentration of wildlife. The landscape is full of ancient baobab trees that offer refuge for herds of elephants and the park’s legendary tree-climbing lions and pythons. Bird enthusiasts will also be enthralled with more than 550 species that call the park home.
While the famed Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest unbroken caldera, is only about twelve miles across and 102 square-miles of open grassland, it’s home to a high concentration of wildlife year-round—30,000 animals, including the densest population of lions the world, the rare black rhino, and flocks of pink flamingos. This is the one place in Africa where if lucky, you can spot the “Big 5”—a lion, a leopard, a rhino, an elephant, and a buffalo.
A visit to Tanzania wouldn’t be complete without meeting its traditional people—the Maasai tribe. Predominately known as a warrior tribe, the Maasai’s lives are centered on herding cattle. Today, you’ll often see a Maasai carrying a traditional herding spear in one hand and a cell phone (most often used for making cattle sales) in the other hand, symbolizing the struggle tribes go through in modern times.
Stone Town, the historic part of Zanzibar City and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a cultural fusion of Arab, Indian, African, and European influences, as evidenced in its architecture and cuisine. See how this island became a cultural melting pot with visits to historical sites like the House of Wonders, which houses a museum on Swahili culture, the Arab Fort, and the Old Anglican Church.
Disconnect from civilization in your own private paradise on Pemba. A remote island off Tanzania, Pemba is part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, but it's not as developed, with its unspoiled powder-white beaches and lush green coastline. On the island’s far north end, Manta Resort offers all-inclusive luxuries, while embracing traditional Swahili culture and offering close encounters with nature.
Everyone knows about “Big 5” game drives, but taking a walking safari to spot the “Little 5”—a rhinoceros beetle, a buffalo weaver, an elephant shrew, a leopard tortoise, and an ant lion—is an underrated and intimate game-viewing experience. Exploring the vast conservation area (22,000 square miles and four times the size of the Serengeti) of Selous Game Reserve by foot allows you to follow the tracks of these fascinating animals, while learning about the reserve’s unique flora and fauna used for medicinal purposes.
While Zanzibar draws in tourists from all over the world, neighboring Mafia Island falls under the radar. It's the perfect spot for travelers looking for a quiet sanctuary on miles of unspoiled beaches. With some of the richest and most diverse reefs in the world—more than fifty genera of coral and 400 species of fish so far identified—Mafia Island Marine Park is a scuba diver’s paradise.