Must see attractions in Northern Tanzania

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lake Manyara National Park

    Lake Manyara Treetop Walkway

    Enjoy a guided bird's-eye view of Manyara on Tanzania's first treetop walkway (370m). It begins at ground level and climbs gently into the canopy, reaching a maximum height of 18m above the forest floor. Given the importance of the trees in Lake Manyara (and the lions that famously climb them), there's a certain magic in climbing up into the canopy. That said, it's best to enjoy the different perspective on the park without expecting to see any wildlife up high – birds are plentiful, and you may be fortunate enough to encounter baboons, silvery-cheeked hornbills and blue monkeys, but no one's been known to see lions up here. If you spot an elephant moving through the forest down below, you've hit the jackpot. The whole experience is highly recommended.

  • Sights in Ngorongoro Conservation Area

    Oldupai Museum

    The small Oldupai Museum on the rim of Oldupai Gorge stands on one of the most significant archaeological sites on earth. It was here in 1959 that Mary Leakey discovered a 1.8-million-year-old ape-like skull from an early hominin (human-like being) now known as Australopithecus boisei. This discovery, along with that of fossils of over 60 early hominids (including Homo habilis and Homo erectus) forever changed the way we understood the dawn of human history. Sadly, the museum is a work in progress. An EU-funded museum has been under construction at the site for years, but work seems to have stalled – 2018 is the latest official estimate of when the new museum will open. Despite this, admission fees have risen massively in recent years, prompting some safari companies to encourage their guests to boycott the museum until the new museum is completed. Don't join the boycott, though: admission is indeed overpriced for what you get, but the site is still hugely significant and, unless you're likely to have the chance to return, it's a must-see. In its unrenovated form, the small, two-room museum documents the foundation of the gorge, fossil finds and the legacy of Mary Leakey and her husband, Louis. One room is dedicated to Oldupai, the other to Laetoli. It's a fascinating collection, if poorly presented. You can then walk (or drive) into the gorge (where a small stone signpost marks the place where the fossils were discovered). You can also head out to the shifting sands, a 9m-high, 100m-long black dune of volcanic ash that has blown across the plain from Ol Doinyo Lengai. If you wish to take a guide it will, naturally, cost extra. The turn-off to the museum is 27km northwest of Ngorongoro Crater's Seneto descent road, and from the turn-off it's a further 5.5km along a rutted track to the museum.

  • Sights in Tarangire National Park

    Poachers' Hide

    Southwest of Tarangire Hill, a couple of hundred metres west of the main north–south track through the park, Poacher's Hide is a marvellous old baobab with a slightly concealed entrance and an internal cavern once used as a hideout by poachers. Beware of bees, which had taken a liking to the hide at the time of research. Check for lions in these parts before getting out of your vehicle.

  • Sights in Arusha

    Natural History Museum

    This museum inside the old German boma (fortified compound), completed in 1900, has three parts. The best is the wing dedicated to human evolution, since much of what we know about the topic came from fossils unearthed in Tanzania. There are also displays on insects, the history of Arusha during the German colonial era, and wildlife photos and mounts.

  • Sights in Arusha

    Arusha Declaration Museum

    Despite the promising subject matter – the museum celebrates the groundbreaking 1967 declaration by then-president Julius Nyerere calling for African self-reliance, socialism and ujamaa (familyhood) – you'd have to be pretty bored to come to this unfocused little museum. Half the space is filled with photos of government officials. It improves slightly after that, with some photos from the colonial era and a handful of ethnographic artefacts. At a time when newly independent African countries were struggling for direction, the Arusha Declaration took the continent by storm.

  • Sights in Arusha

    Meserani Snake Park

    The collection of snakes and other reptiles here is the main draw, but there’s also a corny yet informative Maasai cultural museum with mock-ups of home and bush life, which you’ll visit with a Maasai warrior. You can also take a 30-minute camel ride (per person Tsh15,000) to a Maasai village. It’s 25km west of Arusha along the Dodoma road. Dalla-dallas to Monduli can drop you at the gate (Tsh1500, 45 minutes).