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Tanzania is a country famous for its expansive wilderness areas in East Africa. They include the plains of Serengeti National Park, a safari mecca inhabited by the “big five” game (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino), and Kilimanjaro National Park,home to Africa’s highest mountain. The tropical islands of Zanzibar lies offshore, with Arabic influences, and Mafia, with a marine park home to whale sharks and coral reefs. Tanzania, East African country situated just south of the Equator. Tanzania was formed as a sovereign state in 1964 through the union of the separate states of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Mainland Tanganyika covers more than 99 percent of the combined territories’ total area.
Mafia Island is administered from the mainland, while Zanzibar and Pemba islands have a separate government administration. Dodoma, since 1974 the designated official capital of Tanzania, is centrally located on the mainland. Dar es Salaam, however, remains the seat of most government administration, as well as being the largest city and port in the country.
1.The Ngorongoro Crater is stunning and certainly unique. The crater has an instant and mind-blowing initial impact on all ones senses. Designated as a World Heritage Site, the crater has one of the most substantial concentrations of wildlife any where in Africa. An estimated 25,000 large mammals in a relatively small area make it a ‘must’ destination when on safari on the Northern Tanzanian Safari Circuit. This natural amphitheater is as diverse as the immense Serengeti with a cross-section of wildlife and habitats all contained in the collapsed volcanic crater. Ngorongoro is home to one of the few remaining populations of black rhino in Tanzania.
Tanzania Ngorongoro Crater
2.The Serengeti National Park has so much to offer for it is vast and every season is special in this amazing National Park. However, for most safari itineraries the main focus of any trip to the Serengeti is the migration, depending on the long rains from February to May, where up to two million herbivores take advantage of the short grass of the southern Serengeti to calve and feed, before moving north westerly to eventually arrive at the dramatic crossing of the Grumeti river, home to some of Africa's biggest crocodiles. Large numbers of lion, hyena and cheetah follow these massive herds producing some of the finest game viewing on earth.
3.The Zanzibar archipelago consists of fifty or so islands the main island is called Unquia but usually referred to as Zanzibar Island. Stone Town is the capital of Zanzibar being the port and entrance to these spiced islands. As you step off the ferry onto the quay, the smell of cloves is carried on the breeze to greet you and immediately you are transported into this tropical paradise. Dhows sails, shaped like the crescent moon, sail out of the harbor and pass along the miles of palm fringed beaches – this is heaven on earth.
Tanzania - Zanzibar
4.Tarangire National Park is probably Tanzania’s most underrated park. This park is used as a stop over point on the way to or from the Serengeti. It is a special area, a bird watchers paradise and in the dry season many animals are attracted to the area as it has a year round water supply along the River Tarangire. There are some wonderful camps here such as Swala Camp and then the magnificent Oliver’s Camp in the wilderness area of the Park. The park is most legendary for the large concentration of elephants and the huge baobab Trees that dominate the park.
5.Lake Manyara National Park is a small but scenic safari park. The wooded parts of this park get so humid that the only escape from the heat is to climb the trees. Although it is most unusual for lions to climb trees, this park is famed for its tree climbing lions. The park also offers canoeing on the lake and this is a fabulous way to get out of the safari vehicle burn off a few calories and see the game from an unusual perspective.
6.Mt. Kilimanjaro, sitting on the Tanzania- Kenyan border, is remote, alluring and simply put, awe inspiring. Part of the adventure of climbing this mountain is to begin on the dusty plains of equatorial Africa and experience the non technical climb to near arctic conditions at the summit, passing through tropical rain forest, moorland and alpine desert onto snow and ice. Located in Northern Tanzania, Kilimanjaro dominates the landscape. This is Africa’s highest point.
7.The Selous Game Reserve is huge and wild, roughly the same size as Belgium. This park is on the Southern Circuit and has much to offer. Although it is not as popular as the national Parks in the North of Tanzania, in recent years visitors have begun to realize this park has much to offer the tourist looking for the remote wilderness experience. The northern section of the park has a handful of luxury camps. This area is one of the few places in Africa where wild dogs are found. As the animals here are not as habituated to humans they are much more difficult to spot. However this park truly offers the Out of Africa experience.
8.Ruaha is probably the most arid of Tanzania’s parks. It is on the Southern Circuit and is sometimes know as Giraffe Park as it has in excess of 8,000 Maasai giraffe. The Kudu is also prolific in this park and when surprised this animal will stand as a statue, blending perfectly into the background. The rare and endangered African hunting dog are fairly common in Ruaha. As is the case in most areas of Tanzania, bird life here is spectacular. From December to January the park enjoys a large number of the rare Eleanor’s falcons.
9.Mafia Island is set off the coast of central Tanzania, twenty kilometers from the Rufiji River Delta, making this remote island an ideal place for relaxing after a safari in the Selous. A small island, fifty kilometers long and fifteen kilometers wide and completely surrounded by a barrier reef, entry by light aircraft is required. The reef is teaming with marine life. There are over 460 species of tropical fish in these reefs as well as five species of turtles. The diver, either beginner or more experienced, has a profusion of underwater habitats to explore.
Tanzania Mafia Island
10.Arusha National Park is a lovely park is set between the peaks of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro. It is a tiny park - only 53 square miles. The Park is an area of outstanding beauty and can be visited easily for a few hours from the nearby town of Arusha. The highlands are forested, with the peak of Mount Meru rising above the forests to dominate the park. The forests are populated by a thriving and varied bird life and climbing in the ancient cedar trees is the dramatically marked black and white colubus monkey, barking its haunting call through the quiet forest.