Introducing Northern Tanzania
With snow-capped Mt Kilimanjaro, the wildlife-packed Ngorongoro Crater and the vast plains of the Serengeti, northern Tanzania embodies what is for many quintessential Africa. While the main attractions are trekking to the top of Africa and wildlife watching on the northern safari circuit, there’s much more: haunting calls of water birds fill the air at serene Lake Eyasi; beautiful Mt Meru beckons with unforgettable sunrise panoramas from its summit; the barren landscapes of the Crater Highlands offer rugged but satisfying hiking; and lively rural markets draw traders from miles around to haggle over everything from a head of cattle to a kilo of maize. Enjoy delightful highland lodges amid the coffee plantations around Karatu, take in the Rift Valley vistas around Lake Manyara, experience the subtleties of the Tarangire ecosystem or simply take in all the contrasts, as world-class safari lodges jostle for space with mud-thatch houses, and red-cloaked Maasai warriors follow centuries-old traditions while office workers brush by in Western dress.
Exploring northern Tanzania is relatively easy. Tourist infrastructure is good, with many accommodation and dining options in major towns. There’s direct air access from Europe and elsewhere in East Africa via Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), a major hub. The main caveat is price – the north is Tanzania’s most costly region, especially if you do an organised safari. If you don’t mind roughing things a bit, there are some inexpensive alternatives, including an array of Cultural Tourism Programs.