Zanzibar and Pemba
The islands of Zanzibar and Pemba off the coast of mainland Tanzania offers white sand beaches, coral reefs and crashing surf. A good place to consider is Zanzibar which, not only offers beaches and water sports but also history and a quaint old town. Another resort is Pemba surrounded by clove plantations and spice fields with some of the best diving in the Indian Ocean.
Tanzania has some of the most extensive game parks and reserves in the world. In fact it has the largest percentage of land reserved for wildlife parks. Approximately 10% of the land is dedicated to wildlife. With its wide plains, dense forests, majestic mountains and shimmering lakes, the visitor will be spoiled for choice in both animal and bird life viewing. In northern Tanzania, there is the Ngorongoro Crater is just that – a crater 18 kilometers/11 miles across.
Enclosed in walls over 600 meters high – it surrounds a spectacular wildlife hotspot of over 25,000 large mammals. Looking down from the edge, it appears to be just a dense green canopy but down there, a whole animal kingdom awaits among the grassland, swamps, lakes and rivers. Popularly known as the eighth wonder of the world, the remarkable Ngorongoro Crater is the largest intact crater in the world. Hemmed in by the forested walls, the crater floor has a combination of soda lakes, acacia forests, lush marshes, and dry savannah. These diverse habitats support the full cast of East Africa’s brilliant animal and bird life; lions, cheetah, hippo, buffalo, leopard, ostriches, flamingos and elephants… to name but a few.
Lake Manyara National Park
Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”. Lake Manyara National Park, with its wonderful scenery hosts incredible birdlife including pink flamingos, yellow- tailed storks and herons. It is here that you can see the famous tree-climbing lions and the world’s largest concentration of baboons. The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience.
From the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle-like groundwater forest where hundred-strong baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside, blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees, dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows, and outsized forest hornbills honk cacophonously in the high canopy.
Serengeti National Park
World renowned Serengeti National Park contains over 3 million animals. The most popular and spectacular Serengeti safari experience is the annual wildebeest migration that thunders its way across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in a constant cycle of survival and rebirth. The Serengeti region encompasses the Serengeti National Park itself, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, the Loliondo, Grumeti and Ikorongo Controlled Areas and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Over 90,000 tourists visit the Park each year.
The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.
It is the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous. Over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras flow south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back.
But the Serengeti holds more than just the migration, and some of the rewarding safaris are found by not focussing solely on the migration but understanding the serengeti national park in entirety.
Most safaris are undertaken in vehicles with around 8 passengers and an experienced game tracker/guide who is also the driver. There are several types of accommodation to choose from – lodges, tented camps and resorts.
Nearby Lake Manyara is the Olduvai Gorge, made famous by its archaeological discovery of remains dating back hundreds of thousands of years and known as “The Cradle of Modern Man”.
The name itself is a mystery wreathed in clouds. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans. Or it might not. The local people, the Wachagga, don't even have a name for the whole massif, only Kipoo (now known as Kibo) for the familiar snowy peak that stands imperious, overseer of the continent, the summit of Africa.
Kilimanjaro, by any name, is a metaphor for the compelling beauty of East Africa. When you see it, you understand why. Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 metres – to an imperious 5,895 metres (19,336 feet).
Kilimanjaro is one of the world's most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman's Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates.