Must see attractions in Tanzania

  • Sights in Ngorongoro Conservation Area

    Ngorongoro Crater

    At 19km wide and with a surface of 264 sq km, Ngorongoro is one of the largest unbroken calderas in the world that isn’t a lake. Its steep walls soar 400m to 610m and provide the setting for an incredible natural drama, as prey and predators graze and stalk their way around the open grasslands, swamps and acacia woodland on the crater floor. It's such an impressive sight that, other vehicles aside, you'll wonder whether you've descended into a wildlife paradise.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Western Tanzania

    Katavi National Park

    Katavi National Park, 35km southwest of Mpanda, is Tanzania’s third-largest national park (together with two contiguous game reserves the conservation area encompasses 12,500 sq km) and one of its most unspoiled wilderness areas. Though it’s an isolated alternative to more popular destinations elsewhere in Tanzania, the lodges are just as luxurious as anywhere else, and for backpackers it’s one of the cheapest and easiest parks to visit, if you’re willing to take the time and effort to get there.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Northern Tanzania

    Serengeti National Park

    Few people forget their first encounter with the Serengeti. Perhaps it's the view from the summit of Naabi Hill at the park's entrance, from where the Serengeti's grasslands stretch out like a vision of eternity. Or maybe it's a coalition of male lions stalking across open plains. Or it could be the epic migration of animals in their millions, following the ancient rhythm of Africa's seasons. Whatever it is, welcome to one of the greatest wildlife-watching destinations on earth.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Northern Tanzania

    Tarangire National Park

    Welcome to one of Africa's most underrated parks. Thanks to its proximity to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro, Tarangire is usually assigned only a day visit as part of a larger northern-circuit itinerary. But it deserves a whole lot more, at least in the dry season. This is a place where elephants dot the plains like cattle, and where lion roars and zebra barks fill the night, all set against a backdrop of constantly changing scenery.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Northern Tanzania

    Mt Kilimanjaro National Park

    Since its official opening in 1977, Mt Kilimanjaro National Park has become one of Tanzania’s most visited parks. Unlike the other northern parks, this isn’t a place to come for the wildlife, although it’s there. Rather, you come here to gaze in awe at a snowcapped mountain on the equator, and to climb to the top of Africa. At the heart of the park is the 5896m Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and one of the continent’s most magnificent sights.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Western Tanzania

    Mahale Mountains National Park

    It’s difficult to imagine a more idyllic combination: clear, blue waters and white-sand beaches backed by lushly forested mountains soaring straight out of Lake Tanganyika, and some of the continent’s most intriguing wildlife watching. Mahale Mountains park (1613 sq km) is most notable as a chimpanzee sanctuary – there are about 700 of our primate relatives split into 14 groups residing in and around the park – with leopards, blue duikers, red-tailed monkeys and red colobus monkeys keeping them company.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Southern Highlands

    Ruaha National Park

    At approximately 22,000 sq km, Ruaha National Park is Tanzania’s largest. It forms the core of a wild and extended ecosystem covering about 40,000 sq km and providing a home to Tanzania’s largest elephant population. In addition to the elephants, which are estimated to number about 12,000, the park hosts large herds of buffaloes, as well as greater and lesser kudus, Grant’s gazelles, wild dogs, ostriches, cheetahs, roan and sable antelope, and more than 400 different types of birds.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Western Tanzania

    Gombe National Park

    With an area of only 56 sq km, this is Tanzania’s smallest national park, but its famous primate inhabitants and its connection to Jane Goodall have given it worldwide renown. Many of Gombe’s 100-plus chimps are well habituated, and though it can be difficult, sweaty work traversing steep hills and valleys, if you head out early in the morning, sightings are nearly guaranteed.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Southeastern Tanzania

    Selous Game Reserve

    The Selous is Africa's largest wildlife reserve, and Tanzania’s most extensive protected area. It’s home to large herds of elephants, plus buffaloes, crocodiles, hippos, wild dogs, many bird species and some of Tanzania’s last remaining black rhinos. The Rufiji River is a major feature, and offers the chance for boat safaris, which are a Selous highlight. Visit soon, however, before the Rufiji is dammed as part of the massive Stiegler's Gorge hydroelectric project.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Northern Tanzania

    Ngorongoro Conservation Area

    This astounding conservation area and Unesco World Heritage Site encompasses the Ngorongoro Crater, Oldupai Gorge and much of the Crater Highlands. It can be experienced in many ways – from a vehicle safari to the floor of the wildlife-packed Ngorongoro Crater to a rugged trek in the Crater Highlands to a foray into the past at Oldupai Gorge. However you choose to visit, it's an essential part of any Northern Tanzania journey.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Crater Highlands

    Ol Doinyo Lengai

    The northernmost (and youngest) volcano in the Crater Highlands, Ol Doinyo Lengai (2878m), ‘Mountain of God’ in the Maasai language, is an almost perfect cone with steep sides rising to a small, flat-topped peak. It’s still active, last erupting in 2008. At the peak, you can see hot steam vents and growing ash cones in the north crater. Climbing the mountain is possible, but it's a serious undertaking – you'll need a guide, stamina and a head for heights.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    House of Wonders

    An icon of Stone Town, the House of Wonders rises in impressive tiers of slender steel pillars and balconies overlooking the waterfront. Its enormous carved doors are said to be the largest in East Africa, fronted by two bronze cannon with Portuguese inscriptions dating them to the 16th century. Inside, the National Museum of History & Culture has exhibits on Swahili civilisation and the peoples of the Indian Ocean.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Island

    ZALA Park

    ZALA (Zanzibar Land Animals) Park was founded as a project to help local people appreciate the value of wildlife, with funds raised by tourist visits. The park itself appears forlorn today, as more energy and emphasis goes into tours exploring local woodland, mangrove shoreline and nearby villages, by foot, bike or kayak.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    Forodhani Gardens

    One of the best ways to ease into Zanzibar life is to stop by this waterfront public space. It's a social hub for tourists and locals alike; there's a large restaurant jutting into the sea, two small cafes with outside seating, benches under shady trees, a children's play park, and food stalls in the evening.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    Old Dispensary

    With its peppermint-green latticework balconies and sculpted clock tower, this 19th-century charitable dispensary is one of the most attractive landmarks on the waterfront. It was built by Tharia Topan, a prominent Ismaili Indian merchant who also acted as financial adviser to the sultan and as banker to Tippu Tip, Zanzibar’s most notorious slave trader. You’re free to wander through the interior, which now accommodates offices. In the airy courtyard on the ground floor is the Abyssinian's Steakhouse restaurant.

  • Sights in Kilwa Kisiwani

    Songo Mnara

    The tiny island of Songo Mnara, about 8km south of Kilwa Kisiwani, contains ruins at its northern end – including of a palace, several mosques and numerous houses – that are believed to date from the 14th and 15th centuries. They are considered in some respects to be more significant architecturally than those at Kilwa Kisiwani, with one of the most complete town layouts along the coast, although they’re less visually impressive.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Crater Highlands

    Empakaai Crater

    Lake-filled Empakaai Crater, 23km northeast of Olmoti Crater, may not be as famous as Ngorongoro, but many travellers consider it to be its match in beauty. The lake, which draws flamingos and other waterbirds, fills most of the crater floor, which is surrounded by steep-sided, forested cliffs at least 300m high. The view from the crater rim is one of the most appealing in northern Tanzania, but hiking down into the crater is a wonderful experience as well.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lake Victoria

    Rubondo Island National Park

    Rubondo Island National Park, alluring for its tranquillity and sublime lakeshore scenery, is one of Tanzania’s best-kept secrets and there may be days when you’re the only guests on the 240-sq-km island. Birdwatching, particularly for shore birds (there are many migrants in November and December), brings the most visitors, but walking safaris (half-day walks US$11.80 per group), bush camping (adult/child US$59/6) and sport fishing (per day US$59) can also be rewarding.

  • Sights in Tunduru

    Selous-Niassa Wildlife Corridor

    The Selous-Niassa Wildlife Corridor ('Ushoroba' in Swahili) joins the Selous Game Reserve with Mozambique’s Niassa Reserve, forming a vast conservation area of about 120,000 sq km, and ensuring protection of one of the world’s largest elephant ranges. In addition to the elephants, estimated to number about 85,000, the area is home to one of the continent’s largest buffalo herds, more than half of its remaining wild dog population, a substantial number of lions, and resting and nesting migratory birds.

  • Sights in Zanzibar Town

    Princess Salme Museum

    Carefully curated by the renowned historian Said al Gheithy, this delightful little museum tells the story of Princess Salme, a sultan's daughter who eloped with a German merchant in the late 19th century and later wrote Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar. If Said is on duty, his guided tour of the museum adds depth to the story.