Survey the vast plains of the Serengeti and peer into the caldera of the Ngorongoro, then pause a while on the powder-soft Zanzibari sands, where “earth, sea and sky all seemed wrapped in a soft and sensuous repose.” – Sir Richard Francis Burton, explorer.
Tanzania is a country of extremes. It is home to Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika, Africa’s largest and deepest lakes respectively. While standing on the snow-capped summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest free-standing mountain, you are on the very top of Africa itself – its highest point above sea level. With such geological extremes, climates vary greatly within Tanzania.
More than almost any other destination, Tanzania is the land of safaris. With 22 national parks and forest reserves, it boasts the largest concentration of wildlife in the world. You can watch a bloat of hippos jostling for space in the muddy waterways, herds of elephants trooping along seasonal migration routes, whoops of chimpanzees swinging through the treetops, basks of crocodiles snoozing on the riverbanks, a crash of undisturbed rhinos roaming the savannah, towers of languid giraffes dining on ancient baobab trees and, while you hold your breath, lions padding around your vehicle.
In the Serengeti plains, you can witness the ultimate wildlife spectacle. Upwards of 2 million white-bearded wildebeest, together with zebra, antelope, gazelle and impala, participate in the largest terrestrial annual migration on Earth. Possibly the most memorable, and romantic way, to view this phenomenon is at dawn in a hot air balloon floating upwards as the sun slowly surfaces over the edge of the world illuminating the vast plains below.
Tanzania also boasts a great stretch of magical Indian Ocean coastline, with an archipelago of tranquil islands, rich marine diversity and sleepy coastal villages steeped in centuries of Swahili culture, imbued with Arabian and Indian influence. Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia are the most well-known of these islands, with sparkling turquoise blue waters, white sandy beaches, coral reefs, and pods of playful dolphins. Arriving on these islands brings a new kind of safari – an underwater safari, bursting with countless species of amphibian life. Snorkelling and diving under these warm waters, you can immerse yourself in languid coastal rhythms that seem vastly different to the rest of Africa.
Wherever you go in Tanzania, opportunities abound for getting to know the country’s people and culture. Meet the red-cloaked Maasai warriors, spend time with the semi-nomadic Barabaig people and experience the hospitality of a local meal, accompanied by the vibrant sounds of traditional music and dance. As much as anything else, it is the Tanzanian people that ensure visiting the country is so memorable. Most likely you will yearn to return, to which most Tanzanians will say “Karibu tena” (we will welcome you again).