Tanzania’s wilderness defies the imagination, its sweeping plains alive with giant creatures – and perhaps the closest thing on Earth to a true Garden of Eden. Snowcapped Kilimanjaro towers above dusty red savanna, flamingo-carpeted lakes abut thick green forests, and lush grass plains seemingly stretch on forever. First-time visitors are invariably awed by the scale and color, before being bewitched by the diversity. You’ll find hidden waterholes, dazzling white sands, teeming volcanic craters, and ice-capped mountain peaks – all within a few hours of each other. These are landscapes that have inspired countless wildlife documentaries and Disney movies – evocative spectacles that remain indelibly raw and rugged.
No great landscape is complete without an inimitable cast of characters. During the great wildebeest migration, an estimated 1.5 million large mammals march across the Serengeti, while big cats roam freely through parks and reserves, and spotting hippos and elephants is an almost daily routine. No country can match the diversity of Tanzania’s national parks and the mind-boggling concentrations of its wildlife. First-timers are always wowed, while regulars return year after year because there is always somewhere new to explore, something new to see. Safaris in Tanzania aren’t about spotting a few animals – they’re a sublime immersion in an ancient and astonishing animal world.
Yet peel yourself away from the captivating wildlife, and the landscapes hold countless new experiences. Trek up the world’s highest free-standing mountain and stand at 5,895 meters on the roof of Africa. Or be lulled into hibernation on the idyllic beaches of the mystical Zanzibar Archipelago. And don’t forget one other resident. Tanzanians are famously relaxed and friendly – unsurprising, given that they also coined the phrase “Hakuna matata”.
For all its vast beauty and monumental scale, Tanzania always offers a very personal experience. Everybody leaves with different memories, unique snapshots that symbolize their vacation: a baby elephant being tenderly mothered, mellifluous taarab music wafting through Zanzibar’s Stone Town, a ferocious growl from a black-maned lion, or the incredible procession of wildlife wandering past your private veranda. While Tanzania can monopolize superlatives, a trip here is always an enthralling journey, full of iconic experiences and surprises.
- Customize a multi-day safari journey and explore a beautiful collection of national parks and private concessions, where you’ll have miles of untamed Africa to yourself. Go in search of magnificent leopards and lions, and marvel at some of the best bird-watching on the planet. Discover hippos and crocodiles in the northern rivers, marvel at chimpanzees in the western forests, and swim with dolphins and whale sharks at the coast. Experience it on a game drive, on guided bush walks, on horseback, or from the air. In the original land of safari, the options are endless.
- Marvel at the singular magnitude of the Great Migration, one of the world’s most dramatic natural spectacles, as upwards of 1.5 million wildebeest, Burchell’s zebra and Thomson’s gazelle sweep across the Serengeti in their age-old search for pasture and water. This ancient ritual delivers a variety of stunning wildlife-viewing opportunities: in February and March, when the wildebeest are calving on the Southern Serengeti Plains (with plenty of opportunistic predators in attendance); in April and May, when feisty mating bulls compete on the Central Plains; and in August and September, when the herds dodge giant Nile crocodiles on their dramatic crossings of the Mara River.
- The Serengeti plains are also celebrated as the “Cradle of Mankind” – the location where some of our earliest ancestors started to settle on the land. Tools and human remains unearthed at Olduvai Gorge, in the eastern Serengeti, show the site was occupied by Homo habilis about 1.8 million years ago and Homo erectus 1.2 million years ago – while footprints uncovered at nearby Laetoli date back nearly 3.6 million years. Fascinating guided tours of both sites, and the informative visitor center at Olduvai, offer a unique trip back in time.
- Drift away on the pristine Indian Ocean beaches of the Zanzibar Archipelago, where palm trees and turquoise waters combine in postcard-perfect harmony. Dive or snorkel on the spectacular marine worlds off Nungwi and Pemba Island, tour the 19th century palaces and bustling markets of Stone Town, sample exotic fruits and spices on a visit to the island’s legendary spice farms – or simply stroll on miles and miles of deserted white sand that squeaks beneath your feet.
- Immerse yourself in the stunning lost world of Ngorongoro Crater, an ancient volcanic caldera bursting with animals, which is regularly described (by seasoned guides as well as awestruck travelers) as “the 8th wonder of the world”. An astonishing concentration of wildlife lives in this lush prehistoric landscape, and all of the Big Five – elephants, rhinos, buffalos, lions and leopards – can be seen, sometimes with a single sweep of the binoculars. Lions lounge in the shade of your safari vehicle, hippo pods cover lake shores, while fearless black rhino stop and return your gaze.
- Be inspired by the unforgettable challenge of Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest free-standing mountain, which can be conquered on an epic (although non-technical) five- to seven-day hike. Traverse numerous ecosystems and relish stupendous beauty as you climb to the 5,895-meter summit of Uhuru Peak on Kibo – the youngest and highest of Kilimanjaro’s three volcanic cones. Then enjoy the indescribable feeling and the incredible views that accompany every journey to “the roof of Africa”.
- Witness huge herds of up to 300 elephants wandering through Tarangire National Park, then smile at the playful interactions within these giant herds. Babies and mothers endearingly share a moment, youngsters chase warthogs away from a waterhole, and quarrelsome males test out their strength. This large, well-watered park is renowned for its diversity of wildlife, including long-necked gerenuk antelopes and tree-climbing lions – often spotted in the branches of its bulbous baobab trees.