Home to Africa’s highest mountain and several famous national parks and game reserves, Tanzania is one of the continent’s most popular destinations. With a rich culture and great diversity in wildlife, there is plenty to see and do. Here are Tourder’s top 5 recommendations:
Climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Standing 5,895 metres above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, which makes it very popular among climbers from all over the world. The mountain consists of three peaks – Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi – with the Uhuru peak on the Kibo crater rim being the highest. Climbing this dormant volcanic mountain isn’t easy. However, there are plenty of tour options, which cater for different climbing abilities. Hiking tours are also available at lower levels of the mountain, where travellers can explore the Shira Plateau, craters and wildlife while admiring plenty of scenic views. The natural park surrounding the mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which can be enjoyed by those who do not wish to climb.
Prison Island. Prison Island is only a 20 -30 minute boat trip from Zanzibar. This island is steeped in history; it was once used as a place where slaves were detained and after this period, it was turned into a camp where people with deadly diseases were sent. Nowadays, however, this stunning little island is a nature reserve for giant tortoises and a place to see the ruins that once functioned as the prison. Prison Island makes for a fun and cheap day trip from Zanzibar.
Beaches of Zanzibar. The island of Zanzibar is bursting with an array of beaches, which provide the ideal setting to relax after a safari. The east coast provides continuous coral reefs with white sandy beaches lined with coconut palms and small coves that offer shelter from the wind. Non-tidal beaches can be found along the northwest coast of the island between Nungwi and Kendwa, allowing for all day swimming, whereas the coral cliffs and lagoon coves of the southwest allow for an escape to a less touristy spot. The southwest islands have secret beaches that make for perfect picnic spots whilst the northeast island of Mnemba is reputed to have some of the finest beaches off the coast of Zanzibar.
Stone Town. It is in Stone Town that myriad narrow streets wind their way through craft shops, art galleries, fabric stalls and quaint coffee shops. It is also the perfect place to explore on foot and getting lost within this maze of ancient streets will give rise to a number of cultural experiences that can appear much more local and authentic than the beach life up north. Turning off Kenyatta Road onto Gizenga street, the precious blue of Tanzanite shines from the counters of several jewelry stalls, while an elderly man shapes a piece of leather in the shop next-door. Further on, a young artist puts the finishing touches to his latest painting as the aroma of fresh Arabica drifts through the air from a quaint coffee shop down another side street. Small children hurry around every corner, while family members hang over a window ledge up above. Whether you are buying or selling, or neither of the two, a walk through these streets is a fascinating encounter. When you finally make your way back near the main street, the majestic House of Wonders is waiting to be explored, a spectacular masterpiece of architecture which is now home to the National Museum of Culture. It is also possible to take a short tour of the slave chambers, which are a haunting, but necessary reminder, for the tragic history of Stone Town. Last but not least, take an evening away from the restaurants and enjoy the ambiance of the famous Night market in Forodhani Gardens on the seafront: with every type of seafood you can imagine, all cooked to perfection, you can be sure to sample some of the finest cuisine in Zanzibar, in the most memorable setting possible.
Snorkelling at Mnemba Atoll. It is quite possibly the best “value for money” tour in the world. This may sound like a sweeping statement, but provided you choose the right boat captain, the return on investment for just fraction is no less than incredible. Departing from one of Zanzibar’s many Northern Beaches, you begin the morning by gliding across crystallised waters in a traditional Dhow sailing boat. Sailing is slow, but as a gentle breeze runs across the deck and you lay down beneath the shade of the mainsail, a distinct feeling of calm will ensure you do not want to reach anywhere fast. An unexpected part of this trip will often take the form of interacting with the boat crew, which can be a real eye opener into the laid back attitude and charming personality of the local Zanzibarian. Expect a lot of laughing, but also understanding, as these guys know exactly when their guests want to rest in peace, sunbathe or even take a nap. Traveling to Mnemba Atoll there is always the chance of spotting dolphins, and reaching the island itself, the colourful coral is no less than mesmerising. Zanzibar is home to many species of fish, with huge trevally, yellow snappers, barracuda, eels and many more. Although the island is private, the boats will drop anchor close to shore, allowing you to stand near the water’s edge, and explore the surrounding reefs. Some guests will take to jumping from the top of the boat into the water, others will disappear with their snorkels and some will just bask in the silence on deck as that gentle wind continues to pass through. After several hours of fun, the boat will then head back toward the mainland, but rather than end the day there, your guides will make one last stop on a remote island to prepare and barbecue a delicious Kingfish or Barracuda to be served with rice and a tasty sauce. It is usually around this point when the tourists begin to wonder how such an incredible day can cost so little and when everything is packed up on the beach, you will commence one last peaceful sailing trip back to the mainland where you can order cocktails to toast a most memorable day.