Located in south eastern Africa, bordered by Kenya, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Burundi, Tanzania is a very fascinating safari destination. Tanzania is home to a good number of Africa’s most popular safari destinations, including Mount Kilimanjaro – the continent’s highest mountain, Ngorongoro Crater – the world’s largest undamaged caldera, Serengeti and Ruaha national parks among many others.
Mount Kilimanjaro, a UNESCO World Heritage Site rises 5, 895 m above sea level and is the highest peak in Africa. The mountain is believed to have been formed about 3 million years ago and is made up of three extinct volcanoes – Kibo 5895 m, Mawenzi 5149 m, and Shira 3962 m. Uhuru is the highest point on the Mt Kilimanjaro’s summit crater, Kibo, and is also the highest summit in Africa. It measures about 1. 8 km across and was first accessed by Hans Meyer (Germany), Ludwig Purtscheller (Austria) and Yohanas K. Lauwo (Marangu army) on October 6, 1889.
Mount Kilimanjaro is unique in that its summit can be reached with relative ease even by individuals with no mountain climbing experience. In deed, Mt Kilimanjaro is said to be the highest ‘walkable’ mountain in the world. The best time for climbing Kilimanjaro is during the dry seasons, June to August and December to March.
Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located towards the north of Tanzania is also a popular tourist attraction – drawing more than 360, 000 visitors yearly. Formed about 3 million years ago, Ngorongoro is recognized as the biggest unbroken caldera in the world. The crater covers an area of 264sq km and its summit is enclosed by 600 meter high walls.
The two most stunning view points of the crater are from up above where you can see the floor of the crater, and from down below where you can look up at the steep walls of the crater. The floor of the Ngorongoro crater is home to many animal species including the Big 5 – lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino.
Close to Ngorongoro crater is the popular Olduvai Gorge, a canyon measuring 50 km long and 100metres deep. Three different species of hominid fossils have been discovered at the gorge – the oldest dating back about 3 million years.
The Olduvai Gorge is still undergoing excavation and more evidence supporting the evolution theory is being sought. A small museum has been built a short distance from the gorge where you can view some of the fossils including the remains of a giant giraffe.
A trip to Tanzania is never complete without touring the Serengeti and Ruaha national parks – two of the country’s best game safari destinations. Sitting on a 14, 763 sq km piece of land, the habitat of the Serengeti enables it to support a huge population of wildlife (over 3 million large animals) including the feared tree-climbing lions. The Serengeti is regarded as one of the best national parks in Africa and it makes for excellent game viewing safari all year round.
Serengeti National Park is popular for the annual migration of animals across to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. Dubbed the Great Wildebeest Migration, the dramatic annual event sees more than 2. 5 million wildebeest, zebras and several other species of hoofed animals crossing over from Serengeti Tanzania to the Masai Mara Kenya in search of greener pastures as seasons change.
Quite larger than Serengeti, Ruaha National Park is the world’s largest elephant sanctuary. The 12, 950 sq km park is also home to a wide range of wild animals including giraffe, zebra, sable, Lesser Kudu, Impala and roan antelope which can be found on the plains.
Ruaha’s topography is favourable for hiking and walking safaris. In the rainy season between March to April and October to November, the bird population peaks to a high of more than 350 bird species – including some Eurasian migrants.
Tanzania safari can be taken at any time of the year, although the hot, dry weather in January and February draws the highest number of visitors. The heavy rains that fall from March to June can make dirt roads impassable, so it is advisable not to schedule your safari during this period.