Tanzania — Things to Do
Tanzania is mostly given over to reserves populated by big game animals, making safaris and wilderness tours first and foremost among visitors. Serengeti National Park sees the annual migration of wildebeest, with all inclusive packages providing transportation, food and accommodation.
Tanzania also has enviable hiking country, most notably up Mount Kilimanjaro, and a long coastline of azure seas pocketed by tropical islands. The waters are teeming with fish and coral, making fishing and diving hugely popular things to do.
A safari is the main reason for most visits to Tanzania and the Serengeti is the crux of it all. See wildlife in their natural habitat, from the plains of the Serengeti—where millions of animals trek to lush pastures every year—to the vast Selous Game Reserve and the heights of the Ngorongoro Crater rim. Along with jeeps, visitors can journey by horseback, hot air balloon, or on foot (in parts). Warrior Trails and Bushmen Expeditions are popular safari operators.
Seeing the vast plains of the Serengeti from a hot air balloon is the best way to get perspective on this gigantic region. It is best done during the annual migration November through May, when the winds and weather are milder. Trips leave at dawn to catch the sunrise and see the animals wake from their slumber. Serengeti Balloon Safaris offers daily sightseeing flights around Tanzania with champagne toasts.
For hiking, Mount Kilimanjaro provides unrivaled views anywhere else in Africa, with the possible exception of Table Mountain in Cape Town. In a land of mostly flat, featureless plains, it towers over 19,000 feet with several trails. Guides are obligatory and treks can be organized through Kilimanjaro Travel, among others. It takes a good four to five days to reach the summit, though you don’t need to be super fit. Alternatively, see the chimps on a hike to Lake Tanganyika in Mahale National Park.
Most people don’t equate Tanzania with tropical beaches, but it actually boasts hundreds of miles of stunning Indian Ocean coast, the kind you’d expect to find in the Seychelles. Beaches are within reach of Dar es Salaam, while the Zanzibar archipelago has plenty where water sports and partying.
The scuba diving off Zanzibar is particularly good, with shallow reefs, steep walls, clear, warm waters, and many shipwrecks to explore. The northeastern coast is the best, especially near the Mnemba Island atoll (just off Zanzibar Island) and around Pemba Island farther north. There is also diving and snorkeling near Stone Town. Bahari Divers and Embrace Tanzania in Zanzibar can help organize your excursions.
Big-game fishing is a huge business off the coast of Tanzania, with snapper, marlin, barracuda, and even sharks all possible catches. Fishing charters are so confident they guarantee a big catch. Trips are best done September through March from Mafia, a large island to the south of Dar es Salaam. Zanzibar Big Game Fishing offers charters out to Mafia Island, as well as to Pemba and Latham Islands, providing quality boats, equipment and instruction.