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The best things to do in Tanzania, the largest and most vibrant country in East Africa

By LLM Reporters on 28th June 2021

The vibrant East African nation of Tanzania is known for its vast wilderness areas and national parks, and is fast becoming a popular destination for luxury tourism seekers looking for a wild experience and the chance to connect with nature. Bordering both Kenya and Uganda, and just a stone’s throw from the paradise island of Zanzibar, there’s a lot to love about this beautiful and culturally rich nation – and with must-see sights including Mount Kilimanjaro and the famous Serengeti National Park, this is one destination where adventure is guaranteed.

With a welcoming attitude to tourists, the reasons to add Tanzania to your travel bucket list are plentiful – and while it might not have made it onto the UK’s green list quite yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning ahead for 2022.

Here, we take a look at some of the best things to add to your itinerary when visiting Tanzania – including some once-in-a-lifetime experiences you definitely won’t want to miss.

Visit the Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti is one of the most famous parks in Africa and is synonymous with wildlife and classic African scenery

When visiting this picturesque African nation, if there’s one thing you won’t want to miss above all else then it’s a Tanzania safari. There are many destinations across the country in which to engage in this exciting pursuit, and Serengeti National Park is just one of them – and it also happens to be one of the best.  The Serengeti is fairly well-known by travellers, famed for its treeless plains and impressive wildlife populations, from prides of lions to herds of zebras and gazelles.

Perhaps one of the most notable reasons an increasing number of tourists have been flocking to the Serengeti in recent years is the ‘Wildebeest Migration’ – an annual event that sees the wildebeest of the Serengeti plains all come together at once and move in a pattern as they migrate to find fresher grass to graze on and cleaner water to drink. They’re typically accompanied by smaller though still grand numbers of zebras and gazelles, who join in with the annual migration – which all adds to this rather impressive spectacle.

Taking place between May and June of each year,  if you’re a fan of grandiose displays of wildlife then you’ll want to mark it in your calendar. And, with a good chance of spotting the ‘Big Five’ while you’re there, it’s an experience that ticks all the right boxes.

Hike Mount Kilimanjaro

mount Kilimanjaro

You won’t find any top ‘to-do’ lists pertaining to Tanzania that don’t in some way mention the tallest mountain in all of Africa. Famed for being one of the seven summits, Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895m) is a climb for the truly dedicated, taking over a week to both climb and descend – but given that it’s such an iconic sight, and the breath-taking views from the top, it’s more than worth the effort.

It’s a long journey, but it will reward you handsomely along the way with 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside, and the satisfaction you’re certain to feel at having conquered one of the world’s toughest climbs will likely be quite something. The best time of year to try and hike Kilimanjaro is typically between June and October, which is when the climate is best for trekking, as the humid weather becomes a little more bearable, and it’s also outside of the rainy season.

It’s important to know that a climb like this will require a minimum of two months’ training and preparation beforehand, and all bookings will need to be made well in advance in order to secure your spot.

Snorkel at Mafia Island

This underwater diving and snorkelling hotspot is exactly what the majority of visiting tourists come for, and all are under the protection of the Mafia Island Marine Park

Belonging to the territories of Tanzania, Mafia Island is part of the country’s Mafia Archipelago, in the Indian Ocean. This underwater diving and snorkelling hot spot is exactly what the majority of visiting tourists come for, and all are under the protection of the Mafia Island Marine Park.

Offering the chance to spot some spectacularly colourful fish and marine species, the coral gardens beneath the waters of Mafia Island have drawn divers from far and wide, yet it still remains unspoilt and relatively peaceful. It definitely ranks within the most beautiful sights to see in Tanzania, so if you’re up for enjoying the Mafia Island’s sandy beaches and the submerged paradise that comes with it, then make sure to add it to your itinerary.

The months between October and March are usually considered the best for diving at Mafia Island, as the months of March and April are partial to heavy rain that might, somewhat, dampen the experience.

Explore Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park covers Mount Meru, a prominent volcano with an elevation of 4566 m, in the Arusha Region of north eastern Tanzania

Though Arusha National Park may be one of the smaller wildlife parks in Tanzania, it is still more than worth a visit, and features a range of awe-inspiring sights – the chief of which is the second tallest mountain in the country, the stunning Mount Meru.

The park has a variety of habitats pertaining to all sorts of animals, from warthogs to Colobus monkeys, which are typically found in the Mount Meru forests. These lush, fertile green areas along the mountainous crater slope play host to over 400 species of birds, as well as the monkeys and occasional leopards, with zebras often seen grazing in the surrounding marshy plains, too.

If you’re not quite ready for a climb as challenging as Kilimanjaro, you might find Meru to be an excellent alternative that offers just as many memorable moments and stunning sights without the need for excessive preparation.

Relax near Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria is the world’s largest tropical lake and the largest lake in the African Great Lakes region

Along the borders of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya you’ll come across the largest freshwater lake in all of Africa, Lake Victoria. The reasons for the lake’s fame go beyond its size alone, as it is also known to be the source of the ‘White Nile’.

You won’t be able to go around the entirety of the lake, given the separating borders, but one definite and interesting plus is that the Tanzanian part of the lakeside is the least visited out of all three of the territories. This means fewer crowds of loud tourists, and fewer examples of environmental degradation too – assuring a more genuine experience of the lake than those visiting within the neighbouring countries will get to enjoy.

The nearby towns of Bukoba, Musoma and Mwanza offer plenty of culture to explore as well if the lake doesn’t quite sate your need for adventure – some even near small lake islands that duly serve as wildlife sanctuaries!

The bottom line

There are plenty of things to do in Tanzania that we couldn’t possibly pack them all into one shortlist – but if you’re a first-timer to the country then these sights make for some great starting points and offer unique experiences you won’t want to miss.

Tanzania is a country just ripe with adventure and opportunity – so there’s almost zero chance of getting bored. Once you’ve ticked off one activity, you’ll always find another waiting to tempt you – which is why no matter what your interests or preferences are when it comes to adventurous luxury travel, you’ll be sure to find them all sated in a country brimming with safaris, running wild with a variety of wildlife, and sitting on top of the world with one of the world’s most well-known mountains.