Tanzania – that is Africa in one country. With over 150 cultures, Tanzania reflects the cultural richness of the continent as well as the exciting change between the savannas and dense forests, the seductive metropolises and small villages, the long beaches and dry semi-deserts, the high mountains and wide open spaces.
All united in one country in East Africa. With its varied sights, Tanzania is not just a symbol for the continent. It is, so to speak, an “Africa of superlatives”: with Dar Es Salaam the most populous city in East Africa, with Kilimanjaro the highest mountain, with Lake Victoria the largest and with Lake Taganyika the deepest.
In addition, there is Zanzibar, the most popular holiday island, and the Serengeti, the most famous national park in Africa. We haven’t even started to talk about the Ruaha National Park, the largest park in East Africa, or the Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania as the largest dry caldera in the world.
1. Kilimanjaro – the king of Africa
Kilimanjaro (also Germanized Kilimanjaro) is the highest mountain in Africa at 5895 meters and is one of the most coveted peaks in the world. Climbing the mountain range is literally one of the highlights in Tanzania. Professional mountaineering equipment or years of training are usually not necessary. Guided tours usually start in Moshi.
Nevertheless, climbing the Kibo (as the actual mountain is called) should not be taken lightly. Visitors should bring at least five days of time and a good fitness level. For this you will be rewarded with a unique experience, changeful nature and breathtaking views. The guided tours start in the town of Moshi, located at the foot of the attraction.
2. Endless expanses of the Serengeti
‘Far country’ means Serengeti in the Maasai language and with that they have aptly summed up this unique region. The grassy areas, which are inhabited by millions of mammals, birds and reptiles, stretch to the horizon. Every year the great wildebeest migration takes place here, hundreds of thousands migrate between southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.
They are only too happy to be hunted by lions, cheetahs, hyenas, leopards but also crocodiles. Bernhard Grzimek was so touched by the unbelievable abundance of animals in the national park that he created a cinematic monument for him with “Serengeti mustn’t die”. The Serengeti is not only an important sight, but the safari destination in general!
3. Dream beaches and oriental flair on Zanzibar
Tanzania first got its name through the island archipelago of Zanzibar: it is a combination of the mainland Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Zanzibar is definitely worth a vacation trip of its own and is literally bubbling with breathtaking sights. The cultural boiling point is the old capital Stone Town.
It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and reveals a moving past from rule by the Sultanate of Oman, a lively slave trade, exciting spices and unique, tropical beaches. The merging of African and Arab influences make Zanzibar the most popular vacation island in Africa.
4. Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Park
The Tarangire National Park is surely in the shadow of the Serengeti: It is smaller, has fewer animals and is much less well known. And yet it is worth more than just a visit and is rightly included in our list of top sights in Tanzania. Because the park is smaller, it can be better monitored by rangers and is more difficult for poachers to reach.
The best proof are the large herds of elephants in the Tarangire, which you can meet up close. Safaris usually combine Tarangire with Lake Manyara National Park, which is also of extraordinary beauty and diversity. The most popular attractions in Lake Manyara are (with a bit of luck) the pride of lions climbing trees!
5. Natural wonder Ngorongoro crater
In the middle of a volcanic crater lies the Ngorongoro, which borders directly on the southern Serengeti. Due to the high mountains that demarcate the area, herbivores and carnivores live close together in the gigantic caldera. The Ngorongoro Crater has the highest density of predators in Africa and is a breathtaking natural spectacle in the middle of the crater walls, which are up to 600 meters high.
Coming from Arusha or Karatu, the descent into the crater is a sight in itself. The view over the entire area with all the small forests and lakes looks like paradise on earth that you have found. In addition to lions, elephants, hippos and giraffes, some of the last rhinos in East Africa, which are seriously threatened by poaching, are waiting in the crater itself.
6. Bukoba on Lake Victoria
The small town of Bukoba is located on Lake Victoria in northwestern Tanzania, near the borders with Rwanda and Uganda. It is the ideal starting point to visit the neighboring countries, go on long hikes by the lake or experience life in a small East African town far away from the tourist routes.
In addition to many hikes between waterfalls and forests, the small island of Musila in the lake is ideal for a boat trip. Numerous birds fish here as well as the small fishing boats that turn Lake Victoria into a romantic sea of lights at night with their lamps.
7. Rubondo Island
In the middle of Lake Victoria is a national park on the island of Rubondo. Only a few visitors come here, as it is between Mwanza and Bukoba and thus a little away from the large parks in the north-east of the country. And they’re all missing out. Boat tours are offered from the coast, which are best booked in Mwanza. With a simple but safe boat it goes to the island.
The adventure begins on the crossing, crocodiles often swim past the boat. But don’t worry, the boat is too big for them to consider prey. You can spend two or three days on the island observing the numerous birds, monitor lizards and hippos. Some large terrestrial mammals such as giraffes also live on Rubondo Island.
8. Mount Meru
A little smaller than Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru near Arusha is often neglected. But even he cannot wrongly call himself an attractive sight in this land of endless attractive sights.
Multi-day tours of around three days lead through the various vegetation zones and parks up to the summit, which at 4565 meters is still high enough to know about snow. From the top there is the longed-for view over northern Tanzania with the mountains of the Ngorongoro massif, Kilimanjaro, the cities of Arusha and Moshi and the many national parks.
9. Ruaha National Park
Actually, we wanted to recommend the coastal town of Dar Es Salam at this point, but the Ruaha National Park would be wronged not to include it among the most important sights in Tanzania. Because while the parks in the north of the country are world-famous, the reserves in the south are still an insider tip:
Since its last expansion, Ruaha is even larger than the Serengeti and the largest national park in East Africa. Not only do more than 10,000 elephants live here, but also, for example, several packs of the threatened African wild dogs. Popular combinations mostly include Ruaha and the Selous Game Reserve.
10. The Usambara Mountains, a hiking paradise
The dense forests with their rivers and streams along the slopes and valleys of the Usambara Mountains are a paradise for hikers. Lushoto is the ideal base for exploring the sights of Usambara. Visitors will find numerous tour offers from day hikes, cultural excursions or mountain bike trips in the city center.
But the mountains with their viewing platforms and interesting villages also invite you to go on long hikes individually. The mild climate is particularly refreshing between the hot coastal cities and savannahs. The region is therefore the perfect stopover to experience another part of Tanzania with its sights.