A first-timer’s guide to Tanzania
There’s a reason why first-time travellers put Tanzania on their maps. It’s because the country has everything- the spectacular Mount Kilimanjaro, endless stretches of beach, fabulous safari parks and some unbelievable wildlife and vistas. Tanzania has the continent’s highest and lowest points – the Mount Kilimanjaro and the Lake Tanganyika floor. If you’re making a trip for the first time, here’s some help.
When you go is very important. Ideally, January and February are the best times to go. It will be hot which makes it the best time to look at animals that flock to waterholes. But if you can’t handle the heat, then June to August is a good time too. Do not go during the rainy seasons because the roads can be a nightmare and the coast humid and muggy.
Choose light coloured clothes, carry a jacket and scarf and choose natural fabrics. This will help you blend in when you want to see animals without distracting them, as well as not attract biting insects which are attracted to dark colours.
An essential experience for a first-timer is the safari. Tanzania offers such unique and creative ways to spend time that this is something you cannot miss. You’ll find something that fits your requirements- budget, meal, duration etc. Your safari can be a walking one, a cycling safari or a hot balloon one. Get in a vehicle and see more of the wildlife. It’s not just wildlife, it’s also birds- so many of the parks offer you great views of birds and the country has 1000 species of them. Add to that 100 types of snakes and 60000 insect species and you’ll see why the country is so spectacular.
While the wildlife is spectacular, understand that Tanzania has some of the oldest tribes known to man. Make it a point to explore the bush with an experienced guide, get to know the Masai and immerse yourself in the spectacular history of the country.
Tanzania has a whopping seven UNESCO world heritage sites. Easily, the most spectacular is the Ngorongoro crater –the largest caldera in the world. It is 20kms across and 600 meters deep and has the most amount of wildlife in Africa. The crater floor is truly unique and even boasts of a highly alkaline soda lake.
The jewel of the safari circuit is The Serengeti National Park and it has one of the oldest ecosystems on the planet. The Kondoa Rock Art Sites, natural shelters have a widespread display of paintings by ancient hunters and pastoralists. You can also check out The National History Museum of Arusha and The National Museum at Dar es Salaam for more glimpses of culture and history.
There are many festivals that the country hosts. After all, there are over 100 different languages and 125 distinctive ethnic groups in Tanzania. See if you can come for the Karibu Fair or the Mwakakongwa and Serengeti Festivals.
Tanzania is known for its gorgeous marine activities too. Diving, snorkelling and fishing are all popular pastimes that you can indulge in. Mafia has coral reefs and whale sharks, Zanzibar is steeped in spices and the other beaches like Unguja and Nungwi have many other attractions.