Things to see
Tanzania is a country with great national parks, where you can see some of the finest African flora and fauna. Tanzania is home to several national parks and game reserves. Safaris in Tanzania can be put into two categories, the Northern Circuit (Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Manyara and Tarangire) and the Southern Circuit (Selous, Mikumi and Ruaha). This is certainly an oversimplification and does not include other interesting but harder to reach parks such as Katavi and Gombe, just to name two. For tourist, the two first groupings are more accessible as several tour companies offer a variety a packages for these.
The cost of a safari can range from the basics (fly-tents, self-catering and guides with vehicles) to smaller parks like Manyara and Tarangire, to luxury lodges and tented camps in the Serengeti which can cost anywhere from US$250 to US$1,500 per person per night. You can use your own vehicle, provided it's a 4x4 with adequate clearance. There is a benefit to hiring a guide and a vehicle as safari vehicles are equipped with open rooftops which provide a much better vantage point for animal viewing. Also, many park will require that you hire a certified guide before you enter the park, even if you're using your own vehicle. Guides can cost around US$35 a day plus tip. Guides are good to have since they know the park and can help you locate some of the more sought after animals such as lions, leopards, rhinos, cheetahs and hyenas.
Park fees for Manyara and Tarangire are as of July 2008 US$35 per person and US$10,- for vehicle/driver fees. For Ngorongoro there is a US$200 vehicle fee as well, a $50 per person park fee as well as a $10,- vehicle/driver fee. For the Serengeti it's US$100 per person with and a $10,- vehicle/driver fee. These fees are valid for 24 hours. If you arrive in the afternoon, you can return in the morning the next day and not pay again.
Some of the more popular safari companies are Warrior Trails, Ranger tours & Leopard tours. Other popular companies rated by the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators include Ajabu Adventures, Bush2Beach Safaris, Bushmen Expeditions, Fay Safaris and Tanzania Tour Company. Serena and Sopa are popular lodging spots and have facilities throughout the Northern Circuit. However, don't discount using smaller tours and lesser known lodging facilities which are just as good if not better than the larger tours and lodges.
For better prices and some of the most beautiful parks avoiding the traffic jams of safari vehicles, head for the southern circuit, particularly Ruaha National Park where fees are still only $20 per person and the range of wildlife is much greater and the scenery spectacular. Iringa is a great place to base yourself to explore this area and sort out your safari trips.
For any of the following tours looking online you will find reputable companies such as Worldlink Travel and tours, who are reasonably priced and make the trip enjoyable and stress free.
- Serengeti National Park, made famous by numerous Discovery Channel specials, hosts a wide range of wildlife, including lions, cheetahs, leopards, hippopotamuses, elephants, zebra, buffalo, water buck, crocodiles, gazelle, warthogs, and wildebeest. One major attraction is the wildebeest migration, which occurs continuously between the Serengeti and Masai Mara (Kenya). Park fees are $50/person/day as of July 2008, and a guide with a 4-wheel drive vehicle is required. If the migration is your main purpose for visiting the Serengeti, you should advise your tour company as this may require travel much further afield and could be more costly.
- Ngorongoro Conservation Area also hosts an abundance of wildlife, particularly in the Ngorongoro crater. Formed by the same volcanic activity that generated Kilimanjaro and the Great Rift Valley, Ngorongoro consists of the highlands around the crater (rich in elephants) and the crater itself (similar animals to Serengeti, but at higher densities and with a small population of black rhino). Park fees are $50/day/person as of July 2007, plus $200 per vehicle for a six-hour game drive in the crater.
- Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve are far less popular but very enjoyable. You will find much greater variety of wildlife than you would in the Serengeti, if you're looking for a destination with fewer tourists these parks are for you. Ruaha is known for having the largest elephant and giraffe population of any park in Africa and often goes by the name 'Giraffic Park', it is also a good place to see large prides of lion and the elusive and rare hunting dogs. Additionally, Selous is the only other place besides Ngorongoro where you may see a rhino. You can also visit the Uduzungwa Mountains Park for a truly wilderness hike through unspoiled and spectacular scenery. There are few places left in the world like this one. With new gates opened up on the Iringa side of the park with great camping it is a great addition to any visit to Tanzania.
- Tarangire National Park is in the northern circuit of Tanzania and was named after the Tarangire river flowing within the park. The park area is approximately 2,600 sq km. Similar to Serengeti, the park has a high concentrations of wildlife during the dry seasons. Also, over 570 bird species have been identified, and the place is surely a birdwatchers' paradise. Safari accommodation is available in quality safari lodges and campsites.
When visiting wildlife parks be sure to stay as close to the viewing areas (center of the parks) as possible and leave as soon as you can in the morning as animals are typically most active soon after sunrise.
- Zanzibar is an island off the coast of Tanzania; it includes both Zanzibar and Pemba. Zanzibar has beautiful beaches and a historical Stone Town. Zanzibar is great for scuba diving, snorkeling, and swimming with dolphins. Other attractions include spice tours and the Jozani Forest, which shelters a small population of red Colobus monkeys.
- Mafia Island Marine Park is south of Zanzibar and boasts some fantastic scuba diving and snorkeling. You may also get to swim with whale sharks, as this is one of the few areas in the world where they congregate annually.
- Bongoyo Island is easy to get to with a boat from Slipway. It is has a remarkable beach with excellent snorkeling in clear water, although you may be better off taking your own snorkels as renting is costly. The island is not tide dependent, therefore you can swim at any time. There is a resident price and a 'muzungu' price' but still quite reasonable.
- Sinda Island is a small uninhabited island of ínner sinder' and outer sinder'.
- Mbudya Island can be accessed from Silver Sands hotel. The water is amazing although it looks clear you cannot snorkel in it as it is surprisingly murky underneath the surface.
- Lazy Lagoon There are just 12 rooms on the private 9 km long white sandy island with deserted beaches. It boasts swimming at all tides in clear azure blue water, ideal for snorkelling to be mesmerized by the shoals of iridescent tropical fish hiding among the pristine coral gardens that protect the island. The island is accessed from the mainland, just south of Bagamoyo town 70km north of Dar es Salaam. It is home to bushbabies, wild pigs, genets, baboons, duiker, and Suni antelope. The bandas were well appointed and have solar-powered hot water, a large shady verandah with spacious rooms and big windows.
- Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa and one of the highest freestanding mountains in the world. Many people travel to Tanzania just to climb this mountain. Does tend to be crowded with tourists. You can either organize your trek up the mountain from your home country through a travel agency, but you'll pay a lot more for this convenience, or, if you've got a bit of time, hop on plane and save some money by organizing it in Arusha or in Dar. Be advised that there are as many incompetent and dishonest trek organizers as there are good ones. Ask around to make sure your guide will deliver on his promises.
- Mt Meru is an active stratovolcano located 70 kilometres (43 mi) west of Mount Kilimanjaro in the nation of Tanzania. At a height of 4,565 metres (14,977 ft), it is visible from Mt Kilimanjaro on a clear day, and is the ninth or tenth highest mountain in Africa, dependent on definition. Much of its bulk was lost about 8,000 years ago due to an eastward volcanic blast, similar to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in the U.S. state of Washington. Mount Meru most recently had a minor eruption in 1910. The several small cones and craters seen in the vicinity probably reflect numerous episodes of volcanic activity.