All You Ever Wanted To Know About Tanzania

by Julia on November 18, 2009

Stunning Ngorongoro Crater

Tanzania is well known for its most famous locations; Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar, and there is also a whole lot more waiting to be discovered;

Arusha National Park – The Arusha National Park lies 37km east of Arusha and is approximately 45 minutes drive. The park is 137 sq km and is home to the black and white colobus monkey, and is indeed the only place on the northern safari circuit where it can be seen. Arusha National Park is the perfect location for an active safari canoeing on the Momela Lake. Arusha Park is home to the other famous mountain; Mount Meru, which is the fifth highest mountain in Africa at 4,566 meters, (14,990 feet). Also within Arusha Park are the Momela Lakes, Ngurdoto Crater, scenic waterfalls and the Montane forest. It’s a rich tapestry of habitats, teeming with animals and birds and in fact more than 400 species of birds have been recorded. You can also spot zebra, leopard, antelope, giraffe, buffalo, warthog, waterbucks, dik-dik and spotted hyenas, just to name a few!

Read the full Tanzania Travel Guide and then search for a Tanzania Tour to suit you, where all of these destinations are featured.

Tarangire National Park – The Tarangire National Park is situated 118km (75 miles) south west of Arusha and is a 2-2:30 hour drive from Arusha town. The park is 2,600 sq km (1,005 sq miles) and its name is taken from the Tarangire River. Home to more than 550 bird species, Tarangire has the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world. In fact, it is the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem, with herds of up to 300 elephant, wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartbeest, eland, antelope and warthog. The occasional Tarangire python climbs into the shade of the trees that line the huge southern swamps and coils itself around the branches like a giant fruit.

Lake Manyara National Park – The Lake Manyara National Park lies 130km (80 miles) west of Arusha and is about 2.30 hours drive from Arusha and about 1-1.30 hours drive from Tarangire. The Park is about 330 sq km (127 sq miles) of which up to 200 sq km (77 sq miles) is actually lake, when the water levels are high. Acacia woodland shelters the park’s famous tree-climbing lions, which lie languidly amongst the branches during the heat of the day. Manyara has a dazzling variety of birds and more than 400 different species have been recorded, including thousands of red-billed quelea, pelicans and the pink streak of thousands of flamingos. Manyara is a great location for mountain biking and abseiling and the Park is well-renowned for having one of the highest animal counts (per area) in the world including impressive numbers of elephant and buffalo. The ground water forest is another attraction as well as a series of hot water sulphur springs, where temperature can reach up to 70 degrees centigrade, which is high enough to boil an egg! Spot hippo, blue monkey, bushbuch, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe and dik-dik.

Ngorongoro Crater – The famous Ngorongoro Crater lies 190km from Arusha and is a 3-3.30 hours drive. Ngorongoro is a massive ‘caldera’ (collapsed volcano) and is 264 sq km in size and 610meters deep. The rich pasture and permanent water of the crater floor supports a large resident population of wildlife of up to 25,000 predominantly grazing-animals, including wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, buffalo, eland, kongoni, warthog, hippo, elephant, waterbuck, reedbuck, bushbuck, baboons, vervet monkey, dik-dik, jackal, lion, leopard, cheetah and hyenas. If you’re lucky, you may also spot one of Tanzania’s last remaining black rhino. The mixture of forest, canyons, grassland plains, lakes and marshes provide habitats for a wide range of birdlife. The most numerous and recent inhabitants of the Ngorongoro area are the Maasai who insist on traditional customs and costumes. There are around 42,000 Maasai pastoralists living in Ngorongoro with their cattle, goats and sheep. Their presence is the main difference between the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Tanzania’s National Parks, which do not allow human habitation. Cultural ‘bomas’ or Maasai villages give travelers the chance to meet Maasai people and learn more about this complex and interesting culture.

Olduvai Gorge – The earliest signs of mankind are at Laetoli, where hominid footprints are preserved in volcanic rock and are 3.6 million years old! Excavations have shown four different kinds of hominids, with a gradual increase in brain size and in the complexity of their stone tools. The first scull of Zinjanthropus commonly known as ‘Nutcracker man’, who lived about 1.75 million years ago, was at Olduvai Gorge.

Serengeti National Park – Probably the most famous of all Tanzania’s National Parks, the Serengeti is situated 350km (208 miles) from Arusha and is a 6-7 hour drive. Serengeti stretches north to Kenya and borders Lake Victoria to the west .Serengeti is a huge 14,763 sq km (5,700 sq miles) and is the country’s oldest and most popular National Park. Serengeti is also a World Heritage Site and is famous for its annual migration, when some six million hooves pound the open plains as more than 200,000 zebras, 300,000 Thomson’s gazelle join the wildebeest’s trek for fresh grazing. Even without the excitement of the migration, Serengeti offers arguably the most scintillating game viewing in Africa. Spot great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant, giraffe, eland, topi, kongoni, impala, gazelle, lion prides, leopard, cheetah and hyena. Serengeti is also home to many small animals such as gaudy agama lizards and rock hyraxes, which scuttle around the surface of the isolated granite kopjes.

Usambara Mountains - The Mountains include Lushoto (West Usambara) and Amani (East Usambara) and are part of the Eastern Arc chain in the north east of the country. The western and eastern ranges are divided by a 4km wide valley of small villages and farms and hiking trails cover the foothills and larger peaks. Day walks and overnight trek take visitors through some of the most concentrated areas of biodiversity in Africa. Bird watching is especially rewarding and the views from the mountaintops stretch over the Maasai steppe and on a clear day, as far as the Indian Ocean.

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