Curators: Endelea Team
“Africa changes you forever like nowhere on earth’’- Brian Jackman Scenic landscapes, rich wildlife areas, turquoise waters and the beating heart of this country - its friendly and kind people: welcome to Tanzania.
Not only one of the most beautiful corners on the planet but also an area with some of the most extensive wildlife diversity on Earth, Tanzania offers unmissable natural beauty such as parks or the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater and exotic beach destinations such as Zanzibar and Pemba. Impossible to properly describe the magic of this multifaceted country, but there are three things a tourist cannot miss: a safari, the Indian Ocean, and the vibrant vibes of the economic capital Dar es Salaam.
When to go for the safari? During the dry season, from mid-May to October, the big fives and all the other animals are easily spotted. The grass is low and waterholes are scarce, so animals will concentrate more around the few remaining. While for bird-watching, the rainy season is the best, from January to April.
The Serengeti National Park, famous for its extraordinary wealth of wildlife, is Tanzania's oldest and best-known park: declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, it is considered the eighth wonder of the world. The Serengeti is known for the "Great Annual Migration", when its vast plains are populated by millions of ungulates: in late October - early November, thousands of wildebeest, zebras, and Thomson's gazelles move in search of new pastures.
The Serengeti offers one of the most fascinating game drives in Africa even during the rest of the year: from predators like lions, cheetahs, and leopards, to large herds of buffalos and small groups of elephants and giraffes, a day out in the savannah is truly unforgettable.
One of the most striking ways to enjoy the beauties of the Serengeti is from above, quietly floating on a hot air balloon with great views above the vast landscapes.
We suggest you try to book the night in one of the tented camps or charming lodges inside the park, such as the Serena Safari Lodge, and set your alarm before dawn, it is the best time to encounter wildlife you wouldn't see during the day.
The Ngorongoro Crater is the world's biggest undivided caldera. With a diameter of 20 km, a depth of 600 m, and an area of 300 sq, it is popularly referred to as "Africa's Garden of Eden". The numbers speak of more than 25,000 animals present in the Ngorongoro crater alone. Mainly wildebeests, zebras, hyenas, elephants, and lions. But there is much more to Ngorongoro than just wildlife: there are thousands of Maasai pastoralists who live in the larger Ngoro Ngoro Conservation Area and can be spotted tending their herds within the crater where they have grazing rights.
Two hours drive from the crater, you’ll find Lake Manyara, the key breeding ground for hundreds of bird species. Thousands of greater and lesser pink flamingos and pink-backed pelicans, yellow-billed storks, grey herons, and hippos gather on its shores between November and April, while Marshlands, grassy plains, and acacia trees surround the lake, which is home to tree-climbing lions and long-tusked elephants. Giraffes strut their stuff across the plains, grazing with herds of buffalos, zebras, and wildebeests.
Ruaha National Park is located in the center of Tanzania, where the Zambezi Miombo forests meet the Tanzanian/Kenyan savannahs. With very few campgrounds, this enormous park provides tourists with an undisturbed sight of unspoiled Africa, complete with a great variety of wildlife, birds, and scenery. The chances of spotting animals at Ruaha are second to none. This, along with the low tourist numbers, makes it an unmissable destination. Elephant lovers should head over to this park as it’s famous for its large elephant population (estimated to be over 10,000).
Ruaha is also a birdwatcher's delight, with over 500 kinds of birds, both seasonal and permanent. The diversity of species is astounding, with waterbirds and raptors from both the south and north making appearances.
Moving on from the savannah and its wildlife, we suggest you spend some time exploring the pristine and turquoise waters of the Zanzibar’s archipelago.
Zanzibar today is part of the United Republic of Tanzania and includes the main island (often misidentified as Zanzibar), Unguja, and other large and small islands surrounding it. It was formerly a sultanate and then a British protectorate. The origins of Zanzibar's name are obscure, with some tracing it to the Persian "land of the blacks" and others linking it to the Arabic "ginger".
The best itinerary for a perfect Zanzibar vacation can start right from its capital – Zanzibar City. Absolutely worth visiting is the wonderful Stone Town, the old city funded by the Arabs in the XIX century from where as early as the 1600s, ships were leaving for Arab countries. Small but charming, rich in culture and exuding traditions from every street corner, small restaurant and colorful bazaar, Stone Town is a great cluster of narrow streets that transport visitors back in time.
Those who wish to get into the thick of Stone Town's daily life will have to pass through the suggestive Darajani Market, the city's primary food market, packed with stalls with fruits, spices, grains, fish and meat. Get lost in the alleys while looking for the market, and don’t miss some remarkable architecture along the way, such as the Sultan's palace, better known as the House of Wonders, the Fort, and the house of Freddy Mercury, now turned into a museum dedicated to Zanzibar’s most famous citizen.
While everything in Stone Town is within walking distance, renting a motorbike is the best way to get around on the rest of the island. Traveling north from Zanzibar City, stop by Mkokotoni fish market, a small traditional village famous for its fresh fish. Make sure you pass by in the morning, when the market’s life is at its peak, with fishermen shouting prices and people hustling to make their offers in what sounds like a very chaotic auction for octopus.
Nungwi in the top north of the island is the only beach that is not particularly affected by tides and in which it is possible to swim at all hours of the day. Pay a visit to the sea turtle nursery at the Nungwi Natural Aquarium, established to preserve and defend them from extinction.
For trekking lovers, the Jozani forest is the place to go. This lush, cool, and shaded region, which is now protected as part of the Jozani- Chwaka Bay National Park, is Zanzibar's longest length of mature forest. Rare monkeys like the red colobus, more than 50 kinds of butterflies, over 40 species of birds, and several other creatures live in the perplexing tangle of climbing plants and branches. A nature route runs through the woodland and takes around 45 minutes to walk, making it perfect for families as well.
If absolute relaxation by the sea is what you’re after, you will surely find it on the East Coast of Unguja. This part of the island counts some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire Indian Ocean, like Matemwe, Kiwengwa, Michamvi, and Jambiani with its crystal Kuza cave.
Kite surfers must book their room in one of Paje’s small bungalows villages, like the recommended Paradise Beach Bungalows.
North of Unguja, only a short flight away you’ll find Pemba, called "the evergreen island" because of its abundant vegetation and the fact that it is still one of the world's least man-made places. There are very few resorts here and traveling from one village to another can be adventurous because of its winding dirt roads.
The island is characterized by the cultivation of clove, and its unmistakable scent fills the air.
The island's best part remains the Ocean: it is surrounded by seabeds which are rich in life and perfect for experienced divers. Tourism is still not very developed on Pemba, so the white sandy beaches remain deserted, and those lucky enough to spend a day there have the impression that they have reached heaven on earth.
A few miles south of Unguja Island there’s Mafia Island, still undiscovered by mass tourism: white beaches, rich seabed, forests, hills, and fishing villages await, just a short flight from Zanzibar City or Dar es Salaam.
Most part of the Mafia archipelago is a natural reserve, with one of the most fascinating marine ecosystems globally and its high biodiversity making it an important habitat for endangered species – think of more than 400 species of fish, 5 species of turtles, and 48 species of corals!
The most beautiful beaches on the island are along the west coast: not to be missed is Ras Kisimani, near the sleepy village of the same name.
Another destination for days wholly dedicated to sea life are the sandbars that surface at low tide, reachable with an excursion by “dhow”, the typical local boat.
If you visit Mafia Island in August and September, you can experience the sighting of humpback whales that come to these waters to raise their pups. These magical creatures can reach a length of 14 meters and weigh 40 tons. They are known for their songs that travel great distances. The best place to spot them is the island's southern waters, part of their annual migration. The biggest thrills are when they come out of the water and dive back in with huge splashes!
Situated only 70 km north of Dar Es Salaam, Bagamoyo has much more to offer than just white sand and turquoise waters: it is home to world-class historical monuments with a rich cultural legacy. This town was formerly a major commercial port on the East African coast as well as the German capital of East Africa. Enslaved people, ivory, copra, and salt arrived here and were then loaded onto ships leaving for Zanzibar and other destinations.
Today, a fish market has replaced the slave market and Bagamoyo is a sleepy fishing town, more known for its stretch of white beach than its colonial past. The beach, which serves as a base for working fishing dhows, is a great spot to watch the moon rise over the Indian Ocean while crabs scurry down the sand. Bagamoyo's Dhow Harbour is where many of the town's fishermen moor their boats, and it is located on the coast closest to Bagamoyo's ancient town conservation area. In order to best appreciate both the relaxing and cultural offer of the town, we recommend staying for 2 days and spending the night at the Firefly Hotel.
Dar es Salaam is Tanzania's largest city and its main economic hub.
It overlooks the Indian Ocean, on a natural bay in front of the stretch of sea between the islands of Zanzibar and Mafia. Although it is the richest and most developed city in the country, Dar still has a very genuine atmosphere far from that of the metropolises as we know them.
It is not a tourist city in the most classic sense: there will be no endless lists of museums and monuments to visit, but dedicating at least 2-3 days to get to know the city is essential if you want to know the modern face of this wonderful country and grasp some of its most fascinating contradictions.
To immediately immerse yourself in the most lively, chaotic, and special place in the city, start your exploration at the Kariakoo market: here you buy and sell everything. The market is extensive, structured by areas that are the size of neighborhoods in a small town. Particularly fascinating is the one dedicated to textiles: get lost among endless stalls featuring the bright colors of wax. If you stay in town for a few days, you can buy a "pagna" of your favorite print and have a dress made by one of the many tailors in the neighborhood.
Beware, though: Kariakoo is vibrant, magical and unforgettable, but it can be really chaotic, with vendors shouting for your attention, music and thousands of passersby. Make sure to keep your eyes wide open.
If you are interested in learning more about Tanzania and its population, you cannot miss the Makumbusho Ethnographic Museum, while architecture lovers should dedicate a couple of hours to the DARCH Dar es Salaam Centre for Architecture Heritage, located in one of the last historical colonial buildings remained in the city, and maybe enjoy the sunset from its rooftop.
Take the time to stroll along the streets of the historic city in Kisutu, with its palaces that tell the story of the city's different dominations, with Indian, Muslim and European influences.
Explore the most artistic and creative soul of the city, starting from the TingaTinga Arts Cooperative Society: a truly unique society of artists, a special and magical place where you can only fall in love with Tingatinga art, a typical Tanzanian style born here in the 60s and deeply naive.
Check on Instagram the program of Nafasi Art Space, a vibrant art centre and platform for artistic exchange where contemporary visual artists and performing artists come together to create, learn, inspire, exhibit and perform.
Looking for some extra activities in town? Immerse yourself in the colors (and smells!) of the lively Kivukoni Fish Market. From there, the ferry to Kigamboni departs every 15 minutes. Kigamboni is one of the main city beaches, also known as South Beach, which is located in a quiet area southeast of downtown.
For those interested in crafts and social impact projects, you can visit Endelea's workshop in the popular district of Magomeni, and browse through Mama Kishimbo's workshop, a small artisanal workshop that produces a traditional Tanzanian fabric, the kikoi, according to tradition.
The best way to end the day is an aperitif at sunset at Level 8 Rooftop and a fancy dinner at Levant, enjoying the nightlife of the Masaki peninsula.
You can have an aperitif with a city view at the Rhapsody Rooftop or with a sea view at the Coral Beach Hotel, and then go for dinner at Hamu's.
You can stop directly here for a dinner by the sea from the Waterfront or, if you already feel a little homesick, go for a romantic dinner at Mediterraneo.
For those in Dar Es Salaam who want to take a day to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, Mbudya and Bongoyo are perfect to enjoy a relaxing day by the beach. Head to North Beach to reach the White Sands Hotel, in Jangwani Beach. From here, you can take the ferry to the small island of Mbudya. Spend the day on a fabulous beach and enjoy freshly caught fish from the Indian Ocean. On the other hand, Bongoyo Island is surrounded by a marine reserve that offers fantastic snorkeling opportunities. Ferries to this area leave from The Slipway shopping center in Dar es Salaam.