Tanzania Travel Guide
If there is one moniker that fits Tanzania, it’s diversity. Home to the highest and the lowest places on the African continent, tropical lowlands and snow-capped peaks, game reserves and the most significant fossil trove depicting early humans, Christian churches and Islamic mosques, you will have plenty of attractions to plan an awesome trip around here.
Currency: Tanzanian shillings
Languages: Swahili, English
What To Do
Dive head-first into the culture of Tanzania by visiting the island of Zanzibar. Located just off the Tanzanian mainland, this stunning isle in the Indian Ocean served as an international trading post from the 5th century onwards (though some historians believe foreigner settlements were present here earlier than that).
It was from that point in history that Persians really began to build up Stone Town as their trading base off the coast of East Africa. One can get the best sense of this place by simply walking its streets, or by strolling through its exotic markets.
As far as major attractions go, be sure to see the former Slave Market. It may not be the most pleasant aspect of Zanzibar’s past, but it was one of this port’s main exports during the height of the slave trade.
Back on the Tanzanian mainland, make sure that Serengeti National Park occupies a prime position in your travel itinerary here. Famous for its savannah landscapes and its massive annual migrations of zebras and wildebeests, it also contains a number of other famed African animals such as lions, leopards, Nile crocodiles, elephants, and rhinos.
Suffice to say, it is one of the best venues in all of Africa to go on a safari, so if you are coming here to see other attractions like Zanzibar or Mount Kilimanjaro, make room for this on your trip.
While wildlife and its scenery are big draws for those visiting Serengeti National Park, try to work in a stop at the Olduvai Gorge while you are there. This geographical feature is home to one of the most significant archeological sites on Earth, as it was here where various incarnations of early humanoids (homo habilis, homo erectus) eventually evolved into homo sapiens, the form of human we are today.
While visiting the pits where ongoing archeological work is occurring is not permitted, most tours of Serengeti National Park will allow you to view the spot where our species was born.
Ngorongoro Crater is another unmissable place for safari lovers, as it is here where the floor of an extinct volcanoes’ caldera creates a unique environment for a wide variety of wildlife. Carpeted by forests on the wet side of the rim, and grasslands on the dry side of the crater, the climate here varies greatly within.
While Ngorongoro’s crater walls don’t trap in wildlife like some think they do, they have shaped the development of populations inside the crater over the eons, making this place a top-tier destination for visitors to Tanzania.
Finally, there is nowhere in Africa that calls out more to adventurous travelers than the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. The highest point on the continent at 19,341 feet above sea level, it lords mightily over lands beneath it, as its base elevation sits at a mere 3,300 feet.
While being one of the Big Seven peaks makes it a mountain that is not to be taken lightly, it is generally considered to be the easiest of the bunch to climb. If you choose to do so, take your preparations seriously, as altitude sickness often befalls those that fail to prepare; with Tanzania having a developing world health system, it may be a while before you will be able to be looked by an adequately-trained physician.
What to Eat
Like many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania has adopted maize-based porridge as a major dish. According to many in this East African country, Ugali is so ubiquitous, it is the closest thing it has to a national dish.
Also made from millet and sorghum, it is the starch of choice for Tanzanians residing in the Great Lakes region, although it is well-liked wherever you go here. It is widely available as a side in local restaurants, so be sure to give it a try at some point in your visit.
With so much big game wandering around its wild lands, it is no surprise that Nyama Choma is so popular among locals in Tanzania. These days, the meat for this feast comes primarily from goats, though beef and chicken versions of this dish are available as well.
Slow roasted for hours over a wood charcoal grill, the smells coming off it will drive you crazy (in a good way) as you wait for dinner to be served.
There are several sweets that Tanzanians love, but they have a special place in their heart reserved for a slab of Kashata. A candy made with coconut and/or peanuts, it takes on the form of a brittle when ready, thereby making for a sweet and crunchy experience.