Queen of the Jungle: 7 Ways Conquer the Natural Wonders of Tanzania
The hidden gem of Eastern Africa, Tanzania, delivers nothing short of wonders with all of its natural beauty. It is the largest country in East Africa and home to the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro; it also dedicates 25% of its land to wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. This underrated country has so much to offer, for adventure seekers looking to have fun or those looking for a relaxing getaway as well. So if Tanzania isn’t already on your bucket list, it’s time to add it.
The country has incredible mountains, national parks & resorts, and some of the best beaches in the world on its East Coast. It is the number-one safari destination but other outdoor activities can also be done like mountain climbing, hiking, snorkeling, and diving. We’ve put together a list of all the unforgettable outdoorsy activities you need to experience when visiting Tanzania!
1. Take a hot air balloon ride over Serengeti National Park
This world heritage site is the oldest and the second largest national park in the country. This park is famous for its breathtaking scenery, with never-ending grasslands, savannah, forests, and its annual wildlife migration of wildebeests and zebras. You can witness over a million wildebeests and thousands of zebras migrate in unison, and it is one of the most impressive natural experiences you can ever have. The migration usually takes place in late May or early June, and the best time to visit the park is between December and June for the warm climate. This park is also home to thousands of other animals and offers spectacular wildlife views like cheetahs on a hunt, elephant herds, the hippo pool, and over 500 species of birds so bird watching here is a blast! And during dawn, a hot-air balloon ride above the national park is a mesmerizing experience. You get to spot rare animals, experience the beautiful sunrise in all its glory, and marvel at the wonders of the park. However, it is an expensive trip, around $600 per person with breakfast (and champagne) included; it is a 5-hour ride and definitely worth every penny!
2. Hike the highest free standing mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world, reaching a height of 19,340 ft. (5896m). Mount Kilimanjaro National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the mountain starts with grasslands, rises to rain forests, and then the snow-capped alpine zone. It is a major attraction for mountain climbers, trekkers, and adventure seekers looking to climb to the summit! The best part is, there is no special equipment or experience needed to do this – anyone willing to, can do the climb. It takes around 6 days to climb the mountain and it has multiple routes, the Marangu Route, the Machame Route, and the Lemosho Route. The Lemosho Route is the newest and most recommended, for its high success rate and convenience. You can find trips with travel agencies like Mojhi, Suricata Safaris, or TrekkingHero that offer 8-day trekking expeditions for around $2000, including meals and campsites. If you’re only interested in the beautiful scenery without the climbing effort, there are also short tours that include a one-hour hike to the Materuni Falls for $40!
3. Take a safari through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The Ngorongoro crater is one of the largest and most ancient calderas in the world; it was formed 3 million years ago when the Ngorongoro volcano erupted and created the crater that is now a natural enclosure for wild animals. It is located between the Serengeti and Lake Manyara, you can spot various animals here like flamingos, elephants, wildebeests, and if you’re lucky – rare black rhinos. It is a natural haven for photographers and an amazing safari destination. You can find 4-day safari tours of the Serengeti-Ngorongoro-Manyara region for around $1000 with Zicasso or SafariBookings, including everything like a tour guide, transportation, meals, and accommodation.
4. Get your life on Zanzibar's beautiful beaches
Located in the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar Island is Tanzania’s top tourist destination for its magnificent soft, white sandy beaches with crystal turquoise blue waters. You can take a walk in the island’s capital, Stone Town, and take in the cultural richness of the Arabian houses, visit the Forodhani Gardens, and shop at Darajani Market. Nungwi, one of Zanzibar’s beaches is popular for its serene environment, where all you hear are the gentle crashes of waves as you relax in the shade of a palm tree. You can also visit the Nungwi Natural Aquarium, and check its key attraction, the sea turtles conservation pond, where you can swim with friendly turtles, of all sizes! You should also visit the Cheetah’s Rock, a conservation center for cheetahs and other wild animals where you can have face-to-face interactions with the animals and play with them – definitely one of the most fun things to do in Zanzibar!
Other islands on the coast include Mnemba Island, a heart-shaped island, perfect for a romantic getaway with its luxury accommodation options – Mafia Island, Misali Island, and Pemba Island, where you can go scuba diving or snorkeling and enjoy the underwater treasures of marine creatures and beautiful coral gardens.
5. Take a walk in the wild at Selous Game Reserve
Selous Game Reserve is the largest in Africa and a world heritage site; it is a less-crowded safari destination than the Serengeti which makes it perfect. You can do a walking safari, boat safari, or by car – I personally prefer the boat safari because you get to witness water-based wildlife but a walking safari near the Rufiji River is also a fulfilling experience. You'll see elephants, rhinos, crocodiles, buffalo, and more. This is also a great destination for bird watchers, with over 350 different bird species.
6. Get off the grid in Ruaha National Park
Experience the Tanzanian wilderness in all its glory with the largest national park in the country as well as the largest park in East Africa. What makes this park different than the others is that its massive, remote location makes it easy for tourists to get a real-life safari experience – without being interrupted by other tourists. The park has the highest concentration of elephants and unique bird species you can’t find in the Northern parks. Named after the Ruaha River, in this park, you can catch exciting game viewing on the riverbank. Safari trips usually take 3 to 4 days to fully experience the beauty of this park and enjoy an unspoiled wildlife experience.
7. Tarangire National Park, North Tanzania
You know that image you see on TV with the baobab trees dotting vast grasslands and animals everywhere? That’s Tarangire! This park is known for having the highest concentration of wildlife, meaning you can see it all from lions, elephants, and buffalo to birds, impala, and giraffes. It has both walking and driving safaris and offers accommodations across various campsites, even some luxury options. But beware of the tsetse flies because there many and they bite! You should probably spray on some repellent before this trip.