As a continent, Africa is a true experience, something that changes your life profoundly once you visit it. It is also a huge continent that would take a lifetime to explore properly, even as a mere tourist. One of the African countries that everyone should make time for is Tanzania, a country in East Africa which is located in the African Great Lakes region.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, as you might already know, but this is in no way a reason for not visiting it. If you do, you will encounter places and people that will wow you and it is guaranteed that you will remember your visit to Tanzania for the rest of your life. So, where to start?
Dar es Salaam – Tanzania’s Largest City
Unless you arrive to Tanzania in a particularly unorthodox way, you will most likely be touching down in Dar es Salaam, the biggest city in the country and one of the most vibrant and fastest growing cities in Africa.
There are quite a few things to do in Dar es Salaam before you start heading out and exploring the rest of the country. For instance, there is the National Museum where you can learn tons about the history of the country and its culture. It is somewhat old-school in its setup, but the exhibits are thrilling and you can really learn a lot. It would also be a good idea to check out the Temple Road, a street which is lined with all kinds of different religious temples. You can even go inside some of them.
In addition to checking out the main attractions, Dar es Salaam offers a lot to a visitor who just wants to explore and “live” in the city. Its markets are incredibly lively and there are amazing things you can buy. If you are looking for traditional Tanzanian souvenirs, you should head out to the Mwenge Wood Carvers’ Village. Alternatively, you can check out Kupatana, an online marketplace where you can find great deals on souvenirs, among other things. Also, do not forget to pick up some street food while in Dar es Salaam.
Jump to Zanzibar
Off the coast of Tanzania, you will find Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous region which also happens to be a major tourist destination. It is probably most famous as the birth place of Queen’s Freddie Mercury, but it also happens to be one of the most gorgeous parts of the world. It is an archipelago consisting of a few islands, all of which boast some of the most beautiful sandy beaches you will see in your life.
You can get to Zanzibar by plane or by sea. If you do not handle choppy seas well and you suffer from seasickness, it might be a good idea to go by air, as it can get rough. Once you are there, you should definitely check out the Stone Town in Zanzibar City, a historic town that has seen rulers come and go and which still boasts plenty of that atmosphere.
Once you have had your share of history, it is time to head out to the beaches and the best thing is wherever you turn, you cannot make a mistake. The following are just some of the beaches you should check out – Nungwi, Kendwa, Kiwengwa and Pongwe, Kizimkazi, Matemwe, Bwejuu and Dongwe.
National Parks to Blow your Mind
If you are a fan of Lion King, Tanzania will be your kind of a country. It boasts so many national parks that you will have no chance of visiting them all in a single visit. That being said, you should definitely find the time to visit at least one or two of Tanzania’s stunning and mind0blowing national parks.
The most famous of them is definitely Serengeti National Park. It is the national park that you see on TV when you watch nature shows, with endless plains filled with all kinds of wildlife, doing their thing. The best time to visit Serengeti is in May and early June when wildebeest and zebra have their annual migrations which are truly a sight for the ages.
Another national park to experience is the Ngorongoro conservation area. The area offers year-long supply of water and because of this, it is always packed full of all kinds of animals, from zebras to rhinos and everything in between. Birdwatchers will lose their mind over the abundance of bird species that reside in the area. In addition to this, you can also check out the Ngorongoro Crater, a remainder of once gigantic volcano that exploded at one point and left behind one of the most majestic craters in the world.
If you have the time, you should also check out the Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire National Park and Selous Game Reserve, all with their unique atmosphere and life-changing vistas.
Witness the Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is definitely one of those experiences that you remember for as long as you live. It is a majestic mountain, the highest free-standing mountain and a sight that will make your head explode. There are two ways to experience the Kilimanjaro. For one, you can simply stand in its awe and spend hours just looking at its majesty and force.
Alternatively, you can take one of the trekking and climbing tours and try to scale this incredible mountain. It is an undertaking that requires time and effort, but once you reach the snowy peaks of Kilimanjaro, it will be more than worth it.
The best part of it all is that at the foots of Kilimanjaro you will also see abundance of wildlife, completing your experience of Tanzania and Africa in the best fashion possible.
And there you have it, the perfect first trip to Tanzania. Once you visit this incredible country, you will want to come back and back again. And you should. Its rich history, amazing natural attractions and some of the best people you will ever meet truly make for a destination that is worthy of coming back.
Oscar Waterworth is a writer from Sydney, Australia. A father of two and a working man, he somehow manages to find the time to write up an occasional blog post. In his free time he likes to travel, play futsal and build stuff with his kids.