Group of zebras running across the water of the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

The Best 17 Things to do in Tanzania

Tanzania's incredible highlights
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Written by
James Harris

Published on: May 8th, 2024

Last modified: May 9th, 2024

Tanzania is a country of outstanding natural beauty, brimming with incredible things to do. It’s home to abundant wildlife, many strong cultural traditions and beautiful, varied landscapes: the sweeping Serengeti, soaring Kilimanjaro, tropical Zanzibar and lush forests of Mahale Mountains, to mention just a few.

When visiting Tanzania you’ll be amazed at how many things to do there are. You can go on game drives, fly in a hot air balloon, try a walking safari, find the Great Migration, track chimpanzees, go bird watching, take boat trips and make a positive impact, as well as a host of other wildlife, cultural and activity based activities.

To help you decide what to do and what to see in Tanzania we’ve asked our team of expert travel designers to help. Below, they’ve listed their favourite experiences and added their valuable insights, to help you choose the best things to do on your adventure in Tanzania.

The great migration of wildebeest.

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.

 

Climbing Kilimanjaro

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.

Chimpanzees in Mahale Mountains, Tanzania

3. Observe chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains

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.

Tanzania, Zanzibar, achiote seed pod

5. Follow the spice route in Zanzibar

Just 36 kilometres off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar 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.

Safari in Ngorongoro Crater National park.

6. Game drive in 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. 

Coffee in tanzania

7. Taste delicious coffee in the 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.

Group of young lions lying on rocks with safari jeep

8. Safari in the legendary Serengeti National Park

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.

 

Singita Sabora

9. Experience the exclusivity of Singita 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.

giraffe in Ruaha national park, Tanzania.

10. Get off the beaten track in Ruaha and Nyerere

Among Tanzania’s lesser-known marvels are Ruaha National Park and Nyerere National Park. Right in the heart of the country, Ruaha is a massive wilderness area brimming with spectacular scenery and wildlife.

Nyerere, which was previously known as Selous Game Reserve, is almost four times larger than the Serengeti, and much more remote. Here you’re likely to see all kinds of animals, from antelope and wild dogs to crocodiles and hippos in the Rufiji River.  Both Ruaha and Nyerere are ideal for anyone seeking untrodden paths that lead to mind-boggling beauty – something that Tanzania offers in abundance.

Walking safari at Wilderness Usawa

11. Go on a walking safari in the Serengeti

One of the best ways to experience the magic of Serengeti National Park is on foot. Take a classic walking safari to truly immerse yourself in this legendary landscape and discover details that often go unnoticed. 

The Serengeti is home to many of the most iconic animals in Africa, including lions, zebras, elephants, giraffes and of course the wildebeests of the Great Migration. We love Wilderness Usawa Camp, which follows their annual path around the park.

A hot air balloon at Wilderness Usawa Serengeti

12. Float high above the Serengeti National Park in a hot air balloon

In a way the opposite of an intimate walking safari, a hot air balloon ride provides a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the Serengeti’s endless grasslands and forests. This unique perspective allows you to take in the entire landscape at once.

We highly recommend rising early for this experience. You’ll awake before dawn, step into the soaring vessel and ascend towards the clouds just in time to see the sunrise over the plains.

Flock of pink flamingos at Lake Manyara, Tanzania

13. Spot brilliant birdlife at Lake Manyara

Lake Manyara is a relatively small national park, which makes its vast array of birdlife even more impressive. Much of it is covered by an alkaline lake that attracts pelicans, storks and many other waterbirds.

Among Lake Manyara’s essential sights are its famous pink flamingos, which migrate here during the wet season from November to June. This is the best time to visit if you’re interested in the area’s hundreds of bird species.

Thanda Island, Zanzibar

14. Find a paradisiacal private island

Part of the Shungimbili Island Marine Reserve, Thanda Island is a real-life desert isle equipped with modern comforts and luxurious accommodation. Staying in its stunning villa and open-air bandas is an entirely exclusive and customisable experience. 

You can explore the surrounding marine environment by snorkelling or diving, set out on a boat trip with your personal guide or enjoy the villa’s indoor aquarium, lovely library and sport facilities. The island welcomes children of all ages, making it ideal for a family getaway.

hadzabe man, tanzania

15. Learn about Indigenous cultures in the Mwiba Wildlife Reserve

The privately managed Mwiba Wildlife Reserve is one of the best places to learn about local cultures while visiting Tanzania. Here you can meet the Hadzabe – nomadic hunter-gatherers who have lived here for 10,000 years – and the Datoga, who are nomadic herders and skilled warriors.

Interacting with members of these groups (with the help of a translator) offers invaluable insight into Tanzania’s Indigenous cultures, traditions and ways of life.

Hippo at Katavi National Park

15. Discover the waters of Katavi National Park

Katavi National Park is one of the most remote and least visited destinations in Tanzania, with a vast expanse of land and waterways that are home to hippos and crocodiles (as well as lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes and other land-dwelling species). 

The park is especially spectacular during the dry season (May to October) when animals congregate at the remaining water sources. Stay at Chada Katavi for an incredibly isolated and authentic safari experience.

Zanzibar snorkeling

16. Snorkel and scuba dive on Zanzibar

Zanzibar‘s tropical warm waters are home to an incredible amount of marine diversity, there’s over 500 fish species and vibrant coral reefs. Taking boat trips out to the many dive sites, or simply snorkelling from the beach or from relaxing dhow cruises, will open a whole world of underwater-life. Look out for colourful fish, hawksbill turtles, dolphins and whale sharks. 

Snorkelling and scuba diving are year-round activities on Zanzibar but our experts recommend your underwater activities take place in the morning, while the waters are at their most clear. For snorkelers it’s good to remember that most of Zanzibar is tidal, to plan your beachfront swims accordingly.

bush walk with Maasai

17. Make a positive impact

Making a positive impact when we travel has never been more important. Protecting the places we travel to, uplifting communities and helping to conserve wildlife are just a few of the considerations when deciding what activities to take part in.

Jacada’s positive impact collection can mean that simply staying in a particular camp or lodge will contribute to your positive impact. For example at Chem Chem Lodge you can take part in sunrise hill climbs, bush walks led by Maasai guides, meet with local leaders, all the while safe in the knowledge that your stay contributes to supporting people and wildlife in the Kwa Kuchinja Corridor and surrounding areas.

Trip Inspiration

Get inspired with our Tanzania example trips and then get in touch to plan your adventure

Whatever you want from your trip to Tanzania, our expert travel designers are ready to help: