Did you know that in 2022, the United Republic of Tanzania recorded 1.4 million tourist arrivals? As a result, the East African country’s tourism revenue exceeded $2.5 billion that year. That’s welcome news, considering it’s nearly twice what the sector generated in 2021.
So if you’re part of the 31% of Americans who plan to travel abroad this 2023, consider visiting Tanzania. It houses some of Africa’s most incredible nature-made masterpieces, all sights to behold.
But what exactly are the most popular tourist attractions and things to do in Tanzania? What makes this country one of the best travel destinations to include on your bucket list?
Below, we’ve enumerated the top activities and places to visit on this untamed side of Africa, so read on.
1. Hike Africa’s Highest Mountain
We’re talking about none other than the dormant volcano known as Mount Kilimanjaro. It stands proud at 19,340 feet above sea level.
That makes Mount Kilimanjaro the highest volcano in Africa and the Eastern Hemisphere. It’s also Earth’s fourth-most topographically prominent peak. However, compared to the world’s other free-standing mountain rises, it’s the largest.
All that makes hiking the mountain a unique, record-breaking experience for any hiker. Reaching its summit allows you to look down from above the clouds. Experienced Kilimanjaro guides will be with you throughout, even cooking hot meals.
If you’re not an avid climber, worry not; special excursions for short hikes are available. You can even have a picnic lunch on its slopes.
If, for any reason, you can’t hike Kili; you can still enjoy it from its base, lower slopes, or the Kilimanjaro region. You can visit other popular tourist attractions, such as the coffee plantations. You can also head to the region’s famed Kikuletwa Hot Spring for a relaxing dip.
2. Marvel at Zanzibar’s Beautiful Beaches
Tanzania is home to some of the world’s most beautiful islands with white sand beaches. The largest is Zanzibar, also known as Unguja and Spice Island. It boasts super-fine sands and clear shallow waters.
As one of Africa’s most popular beach destinations, Unguja has its fair share of resorts. So you won’t have problems finding accommodations here, from budget to luxury hotels.
Snorkeling, diving, parasailing, fishing, and paddle sports are a few of what you can do in Zanzibar. Surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and boat tours are other options. You can also go on a boat tour, wherein dolphins may swim alongside and show off their playful nature.
Aside from its incredible beaches, Zanzibar is also home to Stone Town. It’s a historical city full of majestic architecture of various cultural influences. Like Kilimanjaro, it’s one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in Tanzania.
3. Island Hop to Mafia Island
If you’d like a more serene and calm me-time at the beach, hop on a plane from Zanzibar City to Mafia Island. It’s one of the best travel destinations for unspoiled beaches in Tanzania.
The plane ride from Zanzibar alone is a treat, offering views of the African bush and coastline.
The name “Mafia” may bring to mind images of Italian gangsters, but they have nothing to do with this heaven on Earth. On the contrary, it comes from either the Arabic for “group” or the Swahili for “healthy dwelling place.”
It’s undoubtedly healthy, as Mafia Island boasts miles of pure, unspoiled beaches. Their sands are so soft and white that they’d make you think you’re stepping (or rolling) on some icing.
The island is also home to a conversation park with over 380 fish species. Among them is the world’s largest fish, the whale shark. You may also see marine mammals, including dugongs, dolphins, and whales, if you’re lucky.
Mafia Island’s beaches are always swimmable, regardless of the tidal changes. It’s best to wander around the coastline during low tide, as this is when you’ll see other gems: the sandbars.
As for accommodations, you have several options, from guesthouses to luxury hotels. However, they are fewer than Zanzibar’s, so it’s best to book early.
4. Experience a Serengeti Safari
Have you seen those images of elephants, trees, and orange-red skylines? If so, those were likely from the Serengeti National Park. It’s another World Heritage Site in Tanzania, where the sun rises and sets in all its burning fire of glory.
But the awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets here are just the tip of the icing. Serengeti is a haven for over 2 million ungulates (large hoofed mammals). It’s also home to thousands of leopards, lions, cheetahs, and hundreds of bird species.
Another excellent reason to visit Serengeti is to witness the Great Migration. It’s when the Serengeti wildebeests, accompanied by zebras, gazelles, impalas, and elands, migrate. It’s an incredible sight to behold as you’ll see millions of wildebeests on their journey.
You can do all that by going on a Serengeti Safari with one of Tanzania’s licensed tour operators. They can also organize your accommodations and other wildlife-sighting activities. For example, they can take you to Moru Kopjes or Retina Hippo Pool to see rhinos in action.
5. Let the Rift Valley Take Your Breath Away
Another rugged yet must-see sight in Tanzania is the Great Rift Valley. It’s on a fault line that starts from Mozambique and runs through Tanzania and Kenya, all the way to Lebanon.
Most of the Great Rift Valley is in Kenya, but you can still see some of its glory while in Tanzania. And you should, as it can be one of the most unforgettable scenes you’d ever set sight on.
Cliffs, hot springs, geysers, and lakes are some of the natural wonders you can see here. There are also volcanoes, some of which are still active. It’s also teeming with wildlife, including tree-climbing lions and Lake Manyara’s pink flamingoes.
Try All These Things to Do in Tanzania
From hiking Kilimanjaro to swimming and safaris, these are all the top things to do in Tanzania. They’re all worth it because of the incredible experiences they can give you.
So if you’re planning to go all out on your holiday this year, consider taking that flight to Tanzania. You won’t regret it, and you’ll be happy you spent your hard-earned money on this one-of-a-kind vacay.
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