There are plenty of activities in Tanzania besides seeing the wildlife, even if the Serengeti is the main draw. One of the favorite nations in all of Africa is Tanzania. Everyone seems to be wearing a big smile, and they all greet you with outstretched arms and shout “Jambo.” There is no comparison to the fauna, which is abundant and breathtaking, with lively energy, and stunning scenery. Arguably, Tanzania is one of the best places to visit in Africa if you are looking to enjoy a vacation in Africa.
Embarking on a journey to Tanzania is like stepping into a vibrant tapestry woven with the threads of breathtaking landscapes, rich cultures, and unforgettable experiences. Nestled in East Africa, this enchanting land offers a treasure trove of activities that cater to every traveler’s whims and fancies. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast craving encounters with majestic wildlife in Africa or a culture aficionado yearning to immerse yourself in the traditions of indigenous tribes, Tanzania has something magical in store for you.
In this article, Mrpocu.com will list some of the best things to do in Tanzania while planning to visit. From places you can get close to wildlife to instagrammable islands or beaches, there is something for everyone.
Best Things To Do In Tanzania
Safari In The Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park holds the title of Africa’s top wildlife destination and for valid reasons. Annually, more than a million wildebeest traverse its vast plains, accompanied by thousands of other herbivores, in the phenomenon known as the Great Migration. Alongside the wildebeest, one can observe impalas, gazelles, and zebras roaming freely amidst the Big Five as they migrate between the Serengeti and the neighboring Masai Mara in Kenya.
Don’t confine yourself solely to the migration season. Exploring the Serengeti presents incredible wildlife sightings throughout the year, where you can observe lions, cheetahs, elephants, and leopards thriving in their natural environments across the expansive African plains. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Serengeti stands as one of the premier destinations globally for witnessing wildlife in their native habitats.
Swim With Turtles In Zanzibar
Ever dreamed about going swimming with sea turtles? At Zanzibar’s Baraka Natural Aquarium, you can finally cross that dream off your bucket list if it is your dream. Sea turtles frequently visit the shallow, rocky beach region of Baraka Natural Aquarium to eat seaweed. Local tourists frequently go there and swim with them. More than a dozen sea turtles can be seen swimming around this small pool. The water, which comes from the Indian Ocean through fissures in the nearby coastal cliffs, is so transparent that you can see these stunning creatures even from above the surface.
If you want to experience it in a more private setting, arrive as soon as the gate opens at 8 AM, as the location gets packed very early. Although snorkeling goggles are optional and cost USD 10, the water is quite clear without them.
Scuba Dive In Zanzibar
No journey reaches fulfillment without embracing some island time, and Zanzibar emerges as a true paradise on earth. Nestled in the Indian Ocean, this stunning island is enveloped by turquoise waters eagerly awaiting your arrival. Not only does this spice island boast picturesque white sand beaches above the crystalline waters, but its underwater realm is equally captivating. Renowned for offering the finest diving experiences along the entire east coast of Africa, snorkelers will also find immense satisfaction in what lies beneath the surface. Head towards the northern part of the island to Nungwi, where you can snorkel just 800 meters off the coast at the Kendwa Reef.
Swim At The Beaches Of Zanzibar
The Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, alternatively known as Unguja, stands as a favored vacation destination celebrated for its breathtaking beaches. Forming a part of the Zanzibar archipelago, which also encompasses Pemba, it proudly hosts some of the world’s most exquisite beaches. Travelers are greeted with pristine white sands, crystal-clear shallow waters, and traditional boats adorning the coastline. The quality of the surf fluctuates depending on the specific side of the island you explore.
Climb To The Top Of Mount Kilimanjaro
Tanzania’s most iconic landmark is Mount Kilimanjaro, standing tall at 5,895 meters, making it the tallest mountain in Africa. Unlike other parks in northern Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro National Park attracts visitors primarily for the opportunity to admire the majestic snow-capped peak and, for many adventurers, to attempt the challenging ascent. While Mount Kilimanjaro can be climbed throughout the year, the best time to undertake the journey is typically from late June to October, when the weather conditions are drier.
The formation of Kilimanjaro dates back over a million years ago when volcanic activity in the Rift Valley gave rise to this natural wonder, now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Three volcanic cones—Shira, Kibo, and Mawenzi—emerged approximately 750,000 years ago, each contributing to the mountain’s distinctive landscape. Uhuru Peak, situated atop Kibo, stands as the highest point, earning its place as one of the Seven Summits of the world.
Experience Wildlife At Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Tanzania, the renowned Ngorongoro Crater stands as a beacon for wildlife enthusiasts. Positioned midway between the Serengeti and Lake Manyara, this colossal volcanic crater serves as a magnet for myriad creatures owing to its perennial water sources, obviating the necessity for seasonal migrations.
Visitors flock to this destination primarily to witness the grandeur of large mammals and marvel at the avian diversity. The crater floor teems with thousands of species, including iconic animals such as lions, elephants, rhinos, Thomson’s gazelles, and buffalo. Notably, wildebeests and zebras constitute over half of the crater’s resident wildlife population.
The finest spots to see birds are those that are close to Lake Magadi, where flamingos gather in the shallows in groups. Hippos enjoy spending the day underwater and the nighttime feeding on the nearby grass. The largest surviving ancient caldera in the world is the three million-year-old Ngorongoro Crater.
Diving At Mafia Island
From all over the world, divers and snorkelers come to Mafia Island to discover the underwater ecosystem that is protected by the Mafia Island Marine Park. The best diving conditions are from October to March, whereas Mafia Island’s best weather occurs from May to October. Amazing coral gardens, a peaceful diving environment, and a vast range of creatures may all be found in Mafia Island Marine Park.
Numerous bird species and about 400 different species of fish can be found in the area. Furthermore, Mafia Island is home to the historical nesting sites of the green turtle, a species that is tragically in danger of being extinct. Deep-sea fishing is very popular in Mafia, especially for big game species like sailfish, tuna, and marlin.
Get Close To Wildlife At Tarangire National Park
Established in 1970, Tarangire National Park offers exceptional opportunities for wildlife viewing. The prime season to visit is during the dry months spanning from July to September when animals gather around the riverbanks. During this time, a plethora of migratory species such as wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest, and eland congregate in the park’s lagoons.
Aside from its diverse wildlife, the park is renowned for its abundant elephant population and the majestic baobab trees that adorn its lush landscapes. With over 300 documented bird species, Tarangire National Park is also a haven for bird enthusiasts. Among the avian species found here are buzzards, vultures, herons, storks, kites, falcons, and eagles, making it an excellent destination for birdwatching.
Enjoy A Meal At The Rock In Zanzibar
Nestled upon a sturdy foundation of stone amidst the tranquil depths of the ocean at Michamvi’s Pingwe Beach in Zanzibar, The Rock stands as a charming restaurant. When the tide retreats, a simple stroll up the stairs grants access to this cozy culinary gem, where a myriad of delightful flavors and scents await. Yet, as the tide swells, transforming the surroundings into a secluded islet, one must rely on a boat to ferry them to its entrance, earning it the moniker of Tidal Island.
Beyond merely satisfying hunger pangs, dining at The Rock is an experience that transcends the mundane. While drawing inspiration from European cuisine, each dish on the menu embodies a harmonious fusion of indigenous ingredients – seafood, fruits, and vegetables – intertwined with tantalizing spices, showcasing a seamless blend of Asian and African influences. Indulge in the divine pleasure of their grilled lobster paired with scarab potatoes and a refreshing salad, a culinary masterpiece fit for the gods themselves.
Explore The Forodhani Night Market In Zanzibar
As the sun gracefully descends beyond the horizon, casting a warm glow over the Forodhani Gardens, the bustling rhythm of daily life in Zanzibar gradually slows its pace. In this tranquil twilight, adorned with their iconic white jackets and distinguished top hats, chefs assemble their stalls, transforming the scene into a vibrant tapestry of Tanzania’s culinary delights.
The tables become adorned with an array of tempting offerings: fragrant falafel, succulent tandoori chicken cutlets, savory nyama choma (roasted meat), and tantalizing skewers laden with octopus, fish, and various seafood delicacies. Spicy samosas and delectable coconut bread complete the spread, inviting exploration of Zanzibar’s diverse street food culture. Among the standout dishes is the famed Zanzibar pizza, a savory amalgamation of fried eggs, dough, and diced vegetables, offering a unique culinary experience. Quench your thirst with a refreshing sip of cool sugarcane juice, rounding off the evening with flavors that linger on the palate long after the sun has set.
Climb Ol Doinyo Lengai For An Active Volcano Experience
In Tanzania’s Arusha region, Ol Doinyo Lengai is an active volcano situated in a zone of continental rift. There have been sixteen eruptions with continuous thermal activity in the past century. This volcano continues to captivate geologists because it spews the world’s coldest black lava (510°C/950°F), which cools to become white rock. On clear days, you can see the Serengeti, Mount Meru, and Mount Kilimanjaro from the crater rim.
It takes roughly six hours to climb this extremely steep peak, so be warned—many experienced mountaineers have attempted it, and some have not made it up.
See Chimps At Gombe Stream National Park
Stretching across a hilly expanse from Lake Tanganyika to the eastern edge of the Western Rift Valley, Gombe Stream National Park is intersected by thirteen untamed river valleys. Gaining renown through the work of Jane Goodall, Gombe’s ecosystem serves as a haven for primates, hosting olive baboons, red colobus, redtail, and blue monkeys. While these species might steal the spotlight elsewhere, in Gombe, they play supporting roles to the true stars — chimpanzees.
While embarking on chimp-tracking adventures amidst Gombe’s lush riverine forests, you have the opportunity to hike to the summit of the Rift Valley ridge or partake in night walks to catch glimpses of nocturnal wildlife. On the other hand, nestled as one of Tanzania’s most secluded parks with no road access, Mahale Mountains National Park stands as one of the few remaining sanctuaries for wild chimpanzees on the planet.
Visit Kilwa Kisiwani, A UNESCO Heritage Site
The stunning remnants of Kilwa Kisiwani, known as “Kilwa of the Island,” rest on the mangrove-fringed island bearing the same name, just 2km away from the port of Kilwa Masoko. During its zenith, this island state stood as the paramount trading hub along the East African shoreline, initially flourishing from the gold trade, and subsequently embracing ivory and the slave trade. The site is one of the best places to visit in Tanzania for history.
Among its ruins stands a majestic fourteenth-century palace, once the largest stone edifice in sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, there are numerous mosques, clusters of Shirazi graves nestled amidst colossal baobab trees, and a remarkably preserved Omani fortress. This amalgamation of historical remnants culminates in a distinctive locale, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For enthusiasts of history, exploring this site ranks among the top experiences in Tanzania.
Hike the Udzungwa And Usambara Mountains
Hiking Tanzania’s Usambara and Udzungwa highlands is one of the best things to do, offering views of ancient rainforests, uncommon plant and animal species, and opportunities to interact with primates. Udzungwa Mountains National Park is a pristine wilderness covered in forests, spanning 1900 square kilometers, and home to some of the planet’s most diversified ecosystems. The good news is that there is a vast network of well-maintained paths for those who want to escape to nature.
While it’s common to find new species of rare flora and insects here, Udzungwa is renowned for finding new mammals. These include a new genus of monkeys and the largest shrew in the world. There are many chameleons and some of Tanzania’s most breathtaking hiking trails in the rocky, frequently mist-covered Usambara Mountains. Famed for the monsoon-fed rainforests of the Amani Nature Reserve, East Usambara is divided from the western range by the Lwengera Valley.
Spend A Night In A Tented Camp In Serengeti
An overnight stay in the Serengeti is an unforgettable experience. You will be able to select where to stay the night in Serengeti National Park if you are traveling through the Serengeti with a tour group. Either a luxury tented camp or a camping site will do; nonetheless, the experience will be very similar since you will be surrounded by nature and wildlife, including giraffes, gazelles, and hyenas, who prowl around the camp at night.
Every time you travel from your tent to the main eating area at night, a ranger will accompany you because it’s not unusual to come across a hyena (complete with glowing eyes) prowling the area in search of prey. Starting them off is the last thing you want to do. After a tiring day of safari, a luxurious tented camp like Angaata Seronera Camp is a great place to unwind. Alternatively, you can choose to stay at a full-blown luxury resort like the Four Season Safari Lodge, where you can swim in the pool and watch giraffes and elephants pass by—the epitome of Serengeti luxury.
Visit Lake Manyara And Tarangire
Tarangire and Lake Manyara are two of Tanzania’s greatest national parks if you have a few more days to spend there and want to see some places that aren’t a part of the Serengeti ecosystem. While you are here, I strongly suggest that you visit them. Tarangire and Lake Manyara are both worth visiting because they provide various kinds of landscapes and animals from the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. The Tarangire region is renowned for its profusion of baobab trees and elephants, and it has a hillier landscape than the Serengeti.
Conversely, Lake Manyara is renowned for having a large population of monkeys and baboons in addition to a wide variety of vibrant bird species. Large predators are a little more difficult to track in this slightly more wooded area because they are usually concealed high in the trees.
A young baboon perched on a limb near Tanzania’s Lake Manyara
To mix things up a bit, I strongly suggest spending time in the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, in addition to one of these national parks. If you’re interested in visiting one of these national parks, make sure to look into the various 4-day tour itineraries that provide such visits.
Stroll Around Stone Town
One of the best parts of traveling to Tanzania is undoubtedly exploring the winding lanes of Stone Town, which are encircled by colonial structures. Stone Town has a long history of being the spice capital of East Africa, so you’ll find a diverse range of foreign influences here that are unique to the nation. Spoken throughout Stone Town, ready for your exploration, you might find hints of Arab/Persian, Portuguese/British, and even some Indian influences from one corner to the next.
The town’s narrow pathways connect and occasionally even conceal a plethora of hidden gems, such as the 17th-century Old Fort constructed by the Omani Arabs, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, a French-built Catholic church modeled after the Marseille Cathedral in France, and many more. The town is packed into a small area. These small touches make Stone Town such a fascinating destination to see and something you really must do when in Tanzania. I strongly advise you to spend at least half a day at Stone Town and the other half on a boat tour to some nearby islands to fully explore Stone Town.