Tanzania is one of the greatest safari destinations in Africa, covering a diverse selection of landscapes. It's home to the Big Five -- elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, and rhinos -- which used to be the favorite trophies for game hunters but are now some of the more popular animals to watch on a game drive. About 25% of Tanzania is occupied by parks and reserves, and in the ocean aquatic life is protected in a number of marine parks. Most visitors spend the bulk of their time game viewing in Tanzania's popular northern circuit, where the Serengeti National Park has to be one of the most famous wildlife areas in the world. It's here on the grassy undulating plains that the annual migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and other animals takes place -- one of the greatest movements of animals on earth. Equally impressive is the Ngorongoro Crater, a caldera created by collapsed volcano that supports a staggering number of animals. In southern Tanzania, in the vast and untouched Selous National Park, large herds of elephants and buffalo roam in a landscape that's reminiscent of what the whole of East Africa looked a few hundred years ago.
Tanzania is also home to archaeological sites such as the Olduvai Gorge, where traces of early man were discovered, as well as historical coastal towns where the Swahili way of life can be experienced. The highlands boast some impressive mountains, including Kilimanjaro, the tallest in Africa and the only mountain in the world over 5,000m (16,000 ft.) that can be walked. Along the coast are unpolluted beaches; the impossibly atmospheric island of Zanzibar, which is steeped in culture and history; and excellent diving on the reefs around the islands of Pemba and Mafia. In the seldom-visited west of the country is Lake Victoria, the world's second-largest lake and the source of the Nile, and the skinny Lake Tanganyika, on whose shores Stanley uttered those immortal words "Dr. Livingstone, I presume" upon finally finding the great African explorer. Today, it's the location of isolated parks harboring healthy populations of chimpanzees.
Like much of East Africa, Tanzania is home to the fiercely traditional and striking-looking Masai people; seeing an isolated, red-robed warrior stalk the plains is a lasting image of Tanzania. Their beaded jewelry and red checked blankets make good souvenirs to buy. Tanzania also offers other interesting arts and crafts, most notably the Makonde sculptures carved in ebony, and tanzanite, a turquoise-blue semiprecious stone unique to the country.
Top Destinations in Tanzania