Whether you’re looking for epic landscapes and thrilling safaris or ancient history and culture, Tanzania will exceed your wildest expectations. This East African country is a traveller’s dream come true, from the sweeping Serengeti to the soaring peak of Kilimanjaro. Here are a few of its can’t miss attractions – and best-kept secrets – to inspire your next adventure.
1. Marvel at the Great Migration
Witnessing the striking spectacle of the Great Migration is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is the world’s largest mammal migration, involving around two million wildebeest as they move through the Serengeti each year. They’re joined by zebras, gazelles and other animals in massive herds that you have to see to believe.
If you want to make the Great Migration part of your trip, you’ll need to carefully plan it to coincide with the animals’ movements. Whether you visit during the green season (April and May typically see the most rainfall) or are lucky enough to catch an exhilarating river crossing (July to August are good months for this), just one glimpse of this incredible phenomena will make your whole journey worth it.
2. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
The highest mountain in Africa is certainly a sight to behold from the ground – so just imagine what you’ll see from its summit. Climbing Kilimanjaro is a challenging trek, but with proper guidance and some dedicated training, even inexperienced mountaineers can make it to the top.
Follow the lead of an expert guide as you leave the savannah behind, trek through verdant forests and eventually reach the snow-capped peak of this sleeping volcano. Along with the unparalleled pride of completing the climb, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views.
3. Meet Chimpanzees in Mahale
Mahale Mountains National Park is set on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, and is home to one of Tanzania’s most beloved species: chimpanzees. Channel your inner Jane Goodall as you observe these fascinating creatures up close. They’re used to humans being around, thanks to the studies that Goodall herself conducted and inspired.
As you watch the chimps play, communicate and interact with each other, you’ll see why scientists and travellers alike have been enamoured by these animals for decades – and why the country has gone to great lengths to protect them.
4. Soar Over Elephants in Selous
Most people have heard of the Serengeti, but far fewer know about the Selous Game Reserve. It’s almost four times larger and much more remote, making it an unbeatable spot to immerse yourself in the Tanzanian wilderness. Here you’re likely to see all kinds of animals, from antelope and wild dogs to crocodiles and hippos in the Rufiji River.
If you’re an elephant lover, this is an essential stop; Selous is home to half of all the elephants in the country. You can see their enormous herds from above on a peaceful, scenic hot air balloon ride.
5. Enjoy Idyllic Zanzibar
Just 36 kilometres off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar Island is an oasis of beauty and intriguing history. Here you can lounge on pristine beaches, gaze out at the sparkling sea and explore vibrant coral reefs on a snorkelling or scuba diving expedition.
Apart from its natural wonders, Zanzibar also has a fascinating legacy as one of the Spice Islands. Wander through the streets of Stone Town, admiring its eclectic architecture and worldly spirit. The influences of Islamic, Indian and Indonesian cultures are evident everywhere you look, and the city’s spice markets infuse the air with fragrant aromas.
6. Explore the Ngorongoro Crater
Imagine a natural paradise of plains, savannah, forests and lakes, enclosed by towering hills that rise hundreds of metres into the sky. Now picture yourself atop one of those hills, gazing out at the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera. This is exactly what you’ll experience at the Ngorongoro Crater: one of Tanzania’s most popular attractions, and rightly so.
Beyond the sheer beauty of the crater itself, this is also one of the best places for an epic safari in Tanzania. Here you can spot flamingos in the freshwater lakes, look for leopards hiding in the treetops, and check off a few of the Big Five from your list.
7. Discover the Coffee Plantations of Arusha
The city of Arusha is a common starting point for many Tanzanian safaris, but it’s also an interesting destination in itself. On the edge of the city you’ll find some of the country’s largest coffee plantations, which provide a welcome respite from the urban hustle and bustle.
Tour the plantations to learn about their history and techniques, or explore the extensive grounds on your own. You can sit back and relax with a steaming cup of locally grown, roasted and brewed coffee, and breathe in the intoxicating scent of the harvest.
8. Visit the Legendary Serengeti
If you want to step inside a postcard of the East African landscape, look no further than Serengeti National Park. Its endless expanses of savannah and grassy plains are home to the continent’s most sought-after species, from lions and cheetahs to giraffes and elephants.
Make your base a luxury lodge and embark on excursions to the most remote parts of the park. Whether you’re here to see the dramatic rush of the Great Migration or experience the Serengeti’s quieter corners, you’re sure to make some lifelong memories.
9. Experience the Exclusivity of Grumeti
Take your trip to Tanzania to the next level with a stint in the private Singita Grumeti Game Reserve. This exclusive reserve offers a similar environment to the Serengeti, but with fewer people and elevated luxury.
Choose from elegant lodges of various styles, and sink into the simultaneously calming and exhilarating wilderness around you. This is an incredibly unique and privileged place to experience the magic of Tanzania.
10. Get Off the Beaten Track in Ruaha and Mwiba
Among Tanzania’s lesser-known marvels are Ruaha National Park and Mwiba Wildlife Reserve. Right in the heart of the country, Ruaha is a massive wilderness area brimming with spectacular scenery and wildlife. Mwiba, a privately managed reserve, is equally enthralling and secluded, making it the perfect complement to the nearby Serengeti.
Both Ruaha and Mwiba are ideal for anyone seeking untrodden paths that lead to mind-boggling beauty – something that Tanzania offers in abundance.