Choose from 16 Fun Things to Do in Tanzania
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Located in southeastern Tanzania, Udzungwa Mountains National Park is a lush area that's rich with wildlife. It is near both Mikumi National Park and Selous Game Reserve, the largest game reserve in Africa, and has one of the highest rates of biodiversity anywhere in Africa, with several different landscapes inside the park's borders that serve as home to hundreds of species.
Two of the six primate species in Udzungwa are only found there – the Iringa Red Colobus and Sanje Crested Mangabey. The park sustains more than 400 bird species, including four that occur nowhere else in the world.
There are no roads in Udzungwa Mountains National Park, but it's a prime location for hiking and trekking. Because of this, it's advisable to visit during the dry season (usually June-October).
Address: Kidayi, Tanzania
Admission: Fees based on activity
From $ 710
Ernest Hemingway called Lake Manyara National Park the most beautiful place in all of Africa. Today, the same winding roads, lush jungles, grassy floodplains and blue volcanic mountaintops that left this famous author with lasting memories, make it one of the most picturesque destinations in all of Tanzania.
Hundreds of species of birds glide through the air above Lake Manyara National Park, making it the ideal stop for international birders looking to check the rare and exotic off their life list. Travelers in search of bigger beasts will find wild buffalo, zebra and other African mammals wandering the grounds of this concentrated safari wonderland. Its compact size and close proximity to the Rift Valley escarpment mean Lake Manyara National Park offers plenty of wildlife for time-crunched travelers.
Dry season runs from July to October. The scarcity of water makes it ideal for viewing large mammals. Travelers who venture to Lake Manyara between November and June will have the best chance of spotting rare birds and enjoying the waterfalls and canoeing during rainy season.
Hours: Camping: Daily 24/7
Admission: Fees vary
From $ 305
On a continent known for its wildlife and safaris, few national parks hold the same iconic status as the Serengeti, Tanzania’s oldest and most popular reserve. Home to all of Africa’s Big Five, this massive park spans some 12,000 square miles of savannah, open plains and rugged cliffs that some one million wildebeests, 200,000 zebra and 300,000 gazelle call home.
Each year, these animals make a three-week pilgrimage from the Serengeti to Maasai Mara in search of better grazing and more plentiful water. This incredible event, commonly referred to as “the great migration,” is unlike any other game viewing experience on earth. The sheer volume of animals can make passing in safari trucks nearly impossible, as thousands of zebras and wildebeests fan out over the plains. Regardless of the time of year, travelers will likely spot prides of lions, giraffes, rhinos, and maybe even a cheetah.
Travelers looking to witness the migration should plan to visit the park between May and August and from October to December. While the concentration of animals is less impressive between June and October, visitors can still find an impressive array of wildlife and will likely catch predators on the hunt. The Serengeti has four lodges and six tented camps within its borders that offer travelers a variety of accommodations. Visitors can hire 4x4 safari trucks, participate in morning, day and evening game drives, or embark on a pricey—but impressive—hot air balloon safari.
From $ 1,400
Famed for its natural beauty, as well as the evidence it has produced about human evolution, Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge is also a popular stop for tourists. Also called Oldupai, the official name since 2005, the gorge is where Mary and Louis Leakey discovered evidence some of the oldest known human species here, and excavations continue to this day. In fact, it was one of the Leakey sons who would find a fossil fragment of the first human species in Olduvai Gorge in 1960.
Olduvai Gorge is known by some as the “cradle of humankind,” with evidence of human species inhabiting the area roughly 1.9 million years ago.
While excavations are ongoing, particularly during the dry seasons, it's possible to see the areas where digs are happening. You can't access the site without an official guide, but tours are available year-round.
Address: Ngorongoro, Tanzania
From $ 880
House of Wonders, which is home to the Museum of History and Culture, is not only the largest—but also the tallest building in Stone Town. Built in 1883, the palace was the first building on the island to have electricity and the first in the region to have a working elevator. Since the early 2000s, House of Wonders has showcased a permanent collection of artifacts related to Swahili and Zanzibari culture.
Travelers can explore the grounds, which include a traditional Swahili boat, old-world fishing tools and famous ships, or wander the halls that offer an up close look at traditional garments, historic portraits of royalty and ancient furniture taken from former sultans’ homes. A visit to House of Wonders provides travelers with a window into the local culture and the island’s rich history.
House of Wonders is located just south of the Zanzibar port and ferry terminal near the Maru Maru Hotel on Sokoku Street. The building faces the Forodhani Gardens and is stationed between the Old Fort and Palace Museum. Entry to the museum costs about 6,000 Tanzanian Shillings for adults.
Address: Sokoku St, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Admission: 6,000 Tanzanian Shillings
From $ 75
Often referred to as Mji Mkongwe—the Swahili word for old town—Stone Town is the oldest part of the Zanzibar and a popular destination for visitors to this incredible island. Pastel-colored mosques and ancient Persian, Indian and European-style stone buildings line the cobbled streets of lively place that was once a hub for spice and slave trade, but today, has become a hub for tourism and travel. Trans-continental influences can be seen in the culture and community of crowded city street corners and are also evident in the richly-spiced food available throughout Stone Town.
Visitors can navigate the maze of narrow passes that connect major city streets to the rest of this lively destination on foot or aboard bikes or motos. It’s the perfect way to explore the island’s unique architecture, which includes former palaces, churches and mosques that date back as far as the early 1800s.
In addition to the traditional Mwanakwerekwe Market, travelers should explore the Forodhani Gardens, the Darajani Market bazaar and the Peace Memorial Museum. And no trip to the Spice Island is complete without one of Zanzibar’s famous spice tours, which takes visitors straight to the forests and plantations where some of the nation’s most precious items are harvested and sold to the rest of the world.
Stone Town is located on the western coast of Zanzibar. It has a tiny airport where time-crunched travelers can get flights to the mainland without much hassle. Local ferries, which depart about every hour, provide the most popular access to Stone Town from Tanzania.
Address: Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania
From $ 41
This untouched island off the coast of Zanzibar offers travelers the perfect beachfront escape. Commonly referred to by locals as the “Green Island” because of its lush forests and tropical vibe, it’s Pemba’s incredible stretches of white sandy beach and turquoise blue waters that make it a destination for visitors from around the globe.
Chake-chake, Mikoani and Wete are some of the most popular cities on the island, and small-scale farms in the rural inland produce cloves, coconuts, bananas and cassava that are common in local cuisine. But it’s Pemba’s unspoiled beaches that draw travelers to this tropical getaway, where a history of (now resolved) political unrest and inaccessibility has left the island mostly untouched for decades.
Pemba is located 50 kilometers north of Ungunja—Zanzibar Archipelago’s largest island. The island has its own airport that easily connects travelers to Arusha, Zanzibar and the capital city.
Address: Pemba Island, Tanzania
From $ 1,115
Travelers looking for an authentic East African experience need look no further than the crowded stalls and narrow passes of Darajani Market. From early morning until late at night locals and visitors alike wander between merchants selling tree-ripened fruits, freshly caught fish, savory stews and spicy local delights.
While Darajani is mostly a food-lovers paradise, with plenty of vendors selling fresh ingredients and homemade delights, visitors can also find some random items, like brand new electronics, spare tires and modern clothing shipped in from overseas. Travelers should be prepared to haggle for the best price—particularly on fragrant spices—one of the best souvenirs from a trip to Zanzibar.
The market is also known as Estella Market and Marikiti Kuu. It is located on Darajani Road near the Anglican Cathedral of Christ, just off Creek Road. It’s best to visit during the early morning, when items are at their freshest and shops are fully stocked.
Address: Market Street, Zanzibar Town, Tanzania
Hours: Daily sunrise to sunset
From $ 40
Built in the 17th Century, Old Fort is one of the main attractions in Stone Town and perfect starting out point for first-time visitors to Zanzibar. Its giant stone fortress once protected the city from an outside attack, and it was later used as a prison to house local lawbreakers. Today, the Old Fort has been transformed into a cultural center that caters to tourists interested in exploring the history of the place and purchasing souvenirs like popular paintings and handmade jewelry.
The open-air theater is the perfect spot for travelers to catch a live dance performance or experience the local live music scene. The Old Fort also provides space for major festivals and even has an information desk for travelers in search of tips, advice and guidance from residents in the know.
The Old Fort is located on Mizingani Road, adjacent to the House of Wonders and facing the Forodhani Gardens. Old Fort houses the Zanzibar International Film Festival, which takes place each July.
Address: Mizingani Rd, Zanzibar Town, Tanzania
From $ 40
This national park, stationed in the northeastern region of Tanzania, is located an easy drive from the center of Arusha, making it a popular stop for travelers to this beautiful and diverse city. Despite its relatively small size, Arusha National Park offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore some of East Africa’s diverse environments, as well as gain access to many of the continent’s most famous mammals.
Visitors can explore the Meru Crater funnels in the Jekukumia River, hike to the apex of Mount Meru and enjoy breathtaking views, or embark on a wildlife adventure to grasslands of the Ngorongoro Crater. Though travelers won’t find the same number of animals in Arusha National Park as some of Tanzania’s bigger reserves, they’ll still get a taste of what makes this one of the country’s most popular destinations. The park may be lion free, but plenty of wild buffalo, giraffe, zebra and monkeys roam the land, as well as an impressive number of indigenous birds. Lucky adventurers may even spot one of the rare African elephants known to graze on grassy plains.
Arusha National Park is home to Mount Meru, the second highest mountain in Tanzania. The park is located northeast of Arusha and less than 60 kilometers from Moshi.
Hours: Park: 24/7, Mt Climbing Permit duration: 12 Hours
Admission: Adults $45
From $ 230
Mount Meru, Kilimanjaro’s more accessible cousin, is located east of the Great Rift Valley in the small but beautiful Arusha National Park. Recognized as the second tallest mountain in Tanzania and the fourth highest on the continent, its towering peak and fertile soil attract avid hikers because of the easy trails and diverse wildlife.
Travelers agree that Mount Meru offers incredible views of the summit crater and Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as access to numerous African animals. (The fertile soil surrounding this still active volcano is home to some 400 species of indigenous birds, several types of monkeys and a handful of Tanzanian leopards.) A trip to this less-traveled peak is typically done in conjunction with an excursion to one of Tanzania’s more popular destinations: Mount Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater or Mount Kenya. But this just means travelers looking to get back to nature can escape the congestion on the trails of Mount Meru.
Mount Meru is located 70 kilometers west of Mount Kilimanjaro. It last erupted in 1910 and is nearly 15,000 feet tall. Entry fee to the park is $25 a day. Mandatory guides are available for around $20 and costs should be paid in US dollars. Hikes from Momella Gate begin between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Peak hiking season is from June to February, with the best views of Kilimanjaro between December and February.
Address: Arusha National Park, Tanzania
Hours: Daily 9am-3pm
Admission: Park entry fee ($25) applies
From $ 382
There are few mountains more iconic than Africa’s tallest peak. Mount Kilimanjaro has attracted authors, adventurers, travelers and thrill seekers for hundreds of year, promising a challenging climb and unprecedented views. With a summit that measures an impressive 19,341 feet and transitions through some five different climate zones, the snow-capped peak offers travelers a serious sense of accomplishment and an incredibly memorable African experience.
A network of seven official trekking routes wind up and down Kilimanjaro. Travelers agree that Machame—one of the most challenging routes—is the most scenic. Rongai, a less scenic but much easier pass, is accessible to hikers of all levels. Still, steep climbs, changing elevation and unpredictable weather can make reaching the summit a test for almost anyone. Those tight on time may not be able to climb Kilimanjaro’s peak, but they can still visit the base camp in the municipality of Moshi.
Though Kilimanjaro is famed as one of the world’s tallest walkable mountains its difficulty level still ranks as challenging. Travelers should allow seven to ten days to climb and properly acclimate to the change in elevation. It’s necessary to hire a trek operator and guide for the excursion. Most of these organized groups include camping, food, a guide, park fees and transport. They can cost anywhere from $2,400 to $5,000 per person. High season is between January and March and September and October.
From $ 2,860
One of Tanzania's largest parks is Mikumi National Park, located in the southeastern part of the country. On its own, Mikumi National Park covers roughly 1,250 square miles spread across the floodplain of the Mkata River. Just to the south of Mikumi is Africa's largest game reserve, the Selous, making this a particularly interesting place to see abundant wildlife.
Animals you might see during a visit to Mikumi include lions, zebras, impala, buffalo, wildebeest, kudu, giraffe, elephants, baboons, and elands – the biggest antelope in the world. There have also been more than 400 bird species seen in the park, including lilac-breasted rollers, bateleur eagles, and yellow-throated longclaws.
Mikumi National Park is 175 miles from Dar es Salaam. The park is accessible year-round, but it's typically better to visit during the dry season (typically May-November).
Address: A 7, Kikiboga, Tanzania
Admission: Fee based on activities
From $ 190
Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest in Tanzania and covers some 2,850 square kilometers of the Manyara Region. While smaller in size than Serengeti or Ngorongoro, Tarangire is still known for its impressive population of elephants and lions. Travelers to this protected area will certainly see zebra, wildebeest, giraffe and baboons, as well as some of the 550 species of indigenous birds that call Tarangire home.
Because the park has only one major water source—the Tarangire River—it’s the perfect place for spotting all of Tanzania’s wildlife, particularly during dry season. Between June and October, animals from across the park flock to the river—a scene that makes for spectacular photo ops.
Tarangire National Park is four hours south of Arusha and accessible via a tarred road. It is about 43 kilometers from Lake Manyara National Park. Heavy rains between March and April can make spotting wildlife a challenge, so travelers looking for a safari experience should avoid the park during these two months.
From $ 400
Few places in Tanzania are as beautiful or diverse as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This unique destination offers travelers a one-of-a-kind experience with unfettered access to the nature, wildlife and people that make this country an incredible destination. Its volcanic craters, vast savannah, thick forests and rugged bush cover some 8,300 square kilometers of protected land, making it the perfect place to spot high concentrations of African wildlife.
While the Olduvai Gorge and Maasai people make a visit to the Conservation Area memorable, it’s the Ngorongoro Crater that draws travelers to this natural wonder. Covering some 260 square kilometers, this sunken crater formed by a volcanic explosion is home to more than 25,000 animals. Black rhinos, thousands of wildebeests, zebras and gazelles graze on this fertile plain. The crater is also home to the densest population of lions in the world.
Travelers who visit the crater in December or June will also catch part of the legendary migration, when 1.7 million wildebeests, 260,000 zebras and 470,000 gazelles make the trip between the Serengeti and Maasai Mara. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that is not to be missed.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is accessible by both land and air. Travelers can fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport at Moshi and take a charter flight, shuttle or taxi the 55 kilometers to Arusha. For those traveling overland, the road between Arusha and the Lodoare gate is about 160 kilometers and takes about two hours. Though this path is paved a 4x4 vehicle is necessary inside the Conservation Area. Gates open at 6 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. All visitors must be accompanied by a guide.
Address: Arusha, Tanzania
From $ 346
Traveler to Meserani Snake Park can feed baboons, hold wild tortoises and get up close with dozens of slithering snakes. Expert guides explain the difference between each of the species protected at Meserani and explore the necessary steps to protect people from their poison.
In addition to lethal black mamba, spitting cobras and the impressive African python, Meserani Snake Park is also home to monitor lizards, crocodiles and other reptiles. Travelers can wander the grounds, explore the exhibits, and even venture to the nearby clinic that provides free medical services to the Maasai people. A popular cultural museum offers an opportunity to learn more about this iconic culture and the festive Snake Park Bar is a perfect spot to sip a cool drink and catch some serious shade after a day under the African sun.
Meserani is located 25 kilometers west of Arusha, heading towards the Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater. Travelers recommend spending at least an hour on the grounds, though campsites, food and other services are available for those looking to have a longer stay.
Address: Arusha, Tanzania
Hours: Daily 7:30am-6pm
From $ 250