Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York. She's worked with clients like Instacart, Tailwind, Columbia, Esurance, and LifeLock.
Tanzania is home to the highest free-standing mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro, and it also boasts having the largest and most delicious crab in the world: the coconut crab. It’s even home to the world’s only tree-climbing lions, which reside at Lake Manyara National Park.
The East African country has a fascinating history as some of the oldest hominid fossils have been found there dating back millions of years! The country of some 63 million residents is diverse, the main languages being Swahili and English, as the UK ruled the land up until the early 1960s.
There is an array of parks, landscapes, and museums that are well worth taking the time to explore. Planning a family vacation to Tanzania surely won’t disappoint if you hit at least some of these hot spots while visiting.
1. Mount Kilimanjaro
As the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro stands at 5,895 meters (or 19,340 feet) and brings in about 40,000 visitors per year.
You’ll need to sign up with an agency, according to the Mt. Kilimanjaro Visitor’s site, in order to climb the mountains. And children under 10 aren’t permitted to climb the mountain, but children between 10 and 16 get some pretty significant discounts.
It takes about 5 days to climb unless you opt for the day trip (in which case you won’t be able to go as high on the mountain). The mountains are available for climbing between January to mid-March and June to October.
2. Mount Meru
If you’re not feeling ambitious enough to attempt the tallest mountain in Africa, head about 24 miles southeast to Mount Meru, situated east of the Great Rift Valley.
Although it’s not the highest mountain in Africa, it is considered the fourth highest.
As part of Tanzania’s Arusha National Park, Mount Meru is usually just a pit stop on the way to Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya or the Ngorongoro Crater.
However, there are several reasons you should make Mount Meru another of your primary destinations. You can see an amazing view of Mount Kilimanjaro (so you can at least say you saw it!), remarkable views into the summit crater and ash core, and the wildlife—one thing you can’t see on Mount Kilimanjaro!
Expect to see animals such as blue monkeys, spotted hyenas, leopards, water buffalos, giraffes, warthogs, colobus monkeys and bushbuck. You might even be lucky enough to spot an elephant.
3. Serengeti National Park
What would a trip to Africa be without a visit to at least one national park where you can observe hundreds of species of animals in their natural habitats?
Serengeti National Park offers the ultimate chance to see animals like the olive baboon, the bat-eared fox, the African Buffalo and the African Wildcat.
The Serengeti is also full of amazing plant life, not to mention the big five: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and the Cape buffalo. These five animals are the reason most people even go on Safari, so you can’t go wrong here.
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4. Pemba Island
Travel the Tanzanian sea to Pemba Island, one of the most beautiful islands in the Zanzibar archipelago.
If you’re looking for amazing seaside resorts, mangrove beaches, and crystal blue waters, Pemba Island just might be your perfect paradise!
Just 20 minutes from Unguja, the lush green hills and refreshing scent of cloves will usher in ultimate relaxation.
Many visitors claim the island is a gem, untouched by the tourism industry as of yet. So, get while the getting is good.
5. Lake Manyara National Park
If you’re not looking to spend the day driving around a huge safari looking for obscure animals, then try Lake Manyara National Park.
Although it’s one of the smaller national parks in Tanzania, Lake Manyara National Park boasts 11 different ecosystems and it supports one of the highest biomass densities of large mammals in the world, according to Lonely Planet.
You may be lucky enough to spot hyenas, leopards, elephants, zebras, giraffes, hippos, buffalos and wildebeest.
6. Zanzibar Beaches/Unguja
If you’re just looking to kick back and relax, try another island in the Zanzibar archipelago, the Island of Zanzibar, or Unguja.
A holiday destination favorite, the island is also known for its beautiful beaches.
According to Planet Ware, you’ll find clear shallow water and soft white sand. Expect the usual beach-time activities, such as scuba diving and swimming.
Craving seafood? You'll get fresh seafood like no other here.
For those who aren’t exactly beach bums, there’s a small forest in the interior called Jozani, which houses red colobus monkeys. And just outside of Zanzibar Town, there are spice tours that explore what makes the island so famous.
7. Mafia Island
Mafia Island offers plenty of adventure with its guided excursions, picnic day trips, biking, bird watching and hiking.
Scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking and sailing are also among the activities just waiting in the beautiful Indian Ocean.
Fishing and windsurfing are also popular activities on Mafia Island.
8. Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is located between the Serengeti and Lake Manyara.
Featuring the famous volcanic Ngorongoro Crater, this area is one of Tanzania’s most popular to view wildlife, such as flamingoes, gazelles, black rhinos, wildebeest, elephants, leopards, buffalos, spotted hyenas, rare wild dogs, cheetahs, jackals, and mountain reedbuck.
This conservation area also has plenty of lush green vegetation, not to mention desert plants. Expect to see fresh and brackish water lakes, marshes, swamps, and two patches of Acacia woodland.
You can also get a taste of Massai culture and learn about their 200-year history in the area.
Visit the Massai Cultural bomas in the NCA to learn more about their culture.
9. National Museum of Tanzania
The National Museum of Tanzania offers a unique experience to discover the rich cultural history of Tanzania through ethnographic collections, featuring the Shirazi civilization of Kilwa, the Zanzibar slave trade and the German and British colonial periods.
Located in Shabban on Robert Street next to the botanical gardens, the museum was established in 1934 and opened to the public in 1940 and actually consists of five different museums:
- The Dar es Salaam National Museum
- The Village Museum
- The National Natural History Museum
- The Arusha Declaration Museum
- The Nyerere Museum
Check out any one of them while you're visiting Tanzania.
10. Tarangire National Park
Established in 1970, Tarangire National Park has one of the highest concentrations of wildlife during the dry season spanning July to October.
During that time animals, such as the zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, wildebeest, hartebeest and eland, gather along the river. With more than 300 species, this park is also the perfect place for bird watching. Just some of the species you may notice include vultures, buzzards, storks, herons, kites, eagles and falcons, according to Planet Ware.
Oliver’s Camp offers fly camping trips and walking safaris.
There are also lodges surrounding the border of Tarangire for overnight stays, but you can’t beat staying inside the park! Swala and Oliver’s Camp are the most high-end choices in the park.
What stops will you make on your trip to Tanzania? Let me know in the comments.
© 2022 Shanea Patterson