Karibu Tanzania – Welcome
Tanzania was recently voted the best safari country in Africa by both international visitors and by specialised safari operators. Even more recently, and after a four year worldwide search, it now also boasts the top three ‘Natural Wonders of Africa’. The Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Ngorongoro Crater outvoting the River Nile, the Red Sea Reef, the Sahara Desert and Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
Tanzania has also been named as one of the world’s top five ‘most stunningly beautiful countries’ by Fox TV News. The country’s 16 national parks, which protect more than 25% of its land, are home to 20% of the African continent’s larger mammals so it is little wonder game viewing experiences are the best in Africa.
It is the place to see seemingly endless herds of wildebeest and zebra trekking across the plains on their annual migration – followed by lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena. It is elephant country, boasting some of the largest populations in the world. While Gombe and Mahale National Parks are home to groups of chimpanzees rarely seen in the wild.
In Tanzania visitors can enjoy authentic African wilderness without paved roads and fencing. And a wildlife safari can be enhanced by a wide choice of beach holidays or various other activities. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – the ‘Roof of Africa’ and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. Deep-sea Fishing, Hot-air Ballooning, Scuba Diving, Swimming with Dolphins, visits to the numerous archaeological sites, Whale Watching, and perhaps most valuable of all, participating in one or more of the many Cultural Tourism Programmes to gain an insight into the history and culture of the people.
Tanzania’s Swahili Coast, Mafia and, of course, Zanzibar and Pemba share beautiful beaches, hundreds of miles of palm-fringed sands overlooking the Indian Ocean. Its huge lakes – Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa – are bountiful with fish. Its mountains are massive and mysterious. Its cities relaxed and friendly. And travel is easy, with many flights to and from neighbouring countries and around Tanzania. It was in Tanzania that Stanley uttered those famous words – “Dr Livingstone I presume” – when he tracked down the Scottish missionary and explorer after a long trek into the interior. Indeed Tanzania was a magnet for several Victorian explorers who made epic journeys of discovery in search of the source of the Nile.
Today’s visitors are able to explore the country, and see Tanzania’s remarkable seven UNESCO World Heritage sites with none of the hardship but all of the adventure of those early, intrepid pioneers:
- Kilimanjaro National Park
- Kilwa Kisiwani Ruins
- Kondoa Rock-Art Sites
- Ngorongoro Conservation Area
- Selous Game Reserve
- Serengeti National Park
- Stone Town, Zanzibar
It is with good reason that Tanzania has been called the “cradle of mankind” for it was here, in 1960, that Dr Louis Leakey and his wife Mary discovered the fossilised remains of homo habilis, or “handy man”, calculated to be 1.75 million years old. Since then, in 1976, hominin footprints found at Laetoli have been dated back an incredible 3.5 million years.
Tanzania was originally occupied by various African tribes, particularly the Masai with their proud traditions. Arab merchants visited the coast some 2,000 years ago and settled in Zanzibar around the eighth century establishing trade routes into the interior. The inter- marriage of Arabs and local people created a new race with their own language – Kiswahili, or Swahili whose word for a journey – safari – has become the international description of a trip into the wild. The Portuguese established temporary settlements in the 16th century but in 17th century were supplanted by the Omanis who developed the infamous slave trade.
The scramble for Africa by the European powers at the end of the 19th century led to occupation of the mainland by Germany although Zanzibar became a British protectorate. After World War I, Germany was forced to surrender its territory to the British. Tanganyika, as the mainland was then known, achieved independence from Great Britain in December 1961. Zanzibar becoming independent two years later, in December 1963, and shortly afterwards, in April 1964, joining the mainland to become the United Republic of Tanzania.
Tanzania covers 937,062 sq km making it the largest country in Eastern Africa. Just south of the equator, it borders Kenya and Uganda to the north; the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi to the west; and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south It is therefore an ideal centre from which to explore eastern, central and southern Africa.
The Great Rift Valley, the vast fault- line that runs down the spine of Africa, has created many fascinating topographical features in Tanzania including the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Tangayika, and Mount Kilimanjaro, the continent’s tallest mountain. The central plateau is a huge expanse of savannah and sparse woodland and while the interior is largely arid the 800 kilometre coastline, and the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia, are lush and palm- fringed.
The coastal areas are hot and humid with an average day time temperature of 30°C. Sea breezes make the climate very pleasant from June to September. The central plateau experiences hot days and cool nights. The hilly country between the coast and the northern highlands has a pleasant climate from January to September, with temperatures averaging around 20°C. Temperatures vary around Kilimanjaro according to the season registering a low 15°C during May to August rising to 22°C during December to March.
For the whole country the hottest months are from October to February. The long rainy season is from mid- March to late May.
Agriculture plays a vital part in the economy of Tanzania and tourists will see evidence of this as they are driven past huge coffee, tea and cotton plantations and witness the processing of cashew nuts, sisal, cloves and other spices. The country also has large mineral deposits that include gold, diamonds, a wide variety of other gemstones and natural gas. Of particular interest is tanzanite, a brilliant gemstone found only in Tanzania. It is mined in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and is one thousand times rarer than diamonds. Geological research indicates that this source will be depleted in the next 10 to 20 years and that the chances of finding tanzanite in any other part of the world are ‘less than one in a million’.
Located in the north of Tanzania, in the shadow of Mount Meru, Arusha is the safari capital of the country. Tourists usually overnight here before their safari around the Northern Circuit. Built by the Germans as a centre of colonial administration, Arusha is now one of the country’s most prosperous towns. The site for the United Nations Criminal Tribunal and the headquarters for the tripartite Commission for East African co-operation, Arusha is also the centre for the trading of Tanzanite, a rare gemstone only found in Tanzania. The National Natural History Museum, with its collection of antiquities demonstrating Tanzania’s natural heritage, is housed in an old German Fort in the centre of Arusha while the nearby Cultural Heritage centre and its adjacent, four storey Art Gallery are also well worth a visit.
Some 70 km north of Dar es Salaam, on the coast opposite Zanzibar, Bagamoyo was once one of the most important trading ports on the East African coast. The former capital of German East Africa, it is a centre for dhow building. Saadani National Park is 45 km to the north and the Kaole ruins five km to the south.
DAR ES SALAAM
Dar es Salaam, which means “Haven of Peace” in Swahili, boasts one of the world’s finest natural harbours but, while it has grown to become a prosperous centre of the East African region, it remains a place of fascination with many reminders of its colourful past. Dhows still ply its waters while dug-outs, piled with fish, bob by the harbour side. The city displays the many influences of its history. There is an Asian district with its speciality shops, restaurants and temples, while the German colonisation has left behind a Bavarian-style railway station, the Roman Catholic St. Joseph’s Cathedral and the Lutheran Azania Front Church. The Botanical Gardens and Gymkana Club are evidence of British occupation. Dar es Salaam’s 60,000 seater, multi- purpose National Stadium has been built to both FIFA and Olympic standards at a cost of US$56 million.
Located in the heart of Tanzania, Dodoma is the nation’s official political capital and its seat of government. Smaller and less developed than the country’s commercial centre, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, is also the centre of Tanzania’s expanding wine industry.
Located in the Southern Highlands, Iringa overlooks the Ruaha River and is a popular stopover for visitors to both the Ruaha and Udzungwa Mountains National Parks. During their occupation, the German military built the town as a fortified defence against marauding tribal warriors. Iringa was also the site of several battles during the First and Second World wars, and Commonwealth war graves can be found just outside the town. The Isimila Stone Age Site lies about 15 km from the town and is easily accessible. This is one of the most interesting stone age sites in East Africa and, with its pillars of limestone left standing after years of erosion, is well worth a visit.
Kigoma, is located on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika. It is a particularly good base for chimpanzee safaris to both Gombe and Mahale Mountains National Parks while Ujiji, the village where Stanley met Livingstone, is nearby.
Near the Zambian border, Mbeya is a major agricultural centre. Coffee, tea, bananas and cocoa are all grown in the area. It is the main gateway to Kitulo National Park and the site of the Mbozi meteorite.
Nestled at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, Moshi is the coffee producing centre of the country and vast plantations blanket the area. Sugar plantations are also of central importance to the region’s economy but the main reason visitors come to Moshi is to climb Kilimanjaro.
Located on the south-eastern coast, near the border with Mozambique, Mtwara is a good base for exploring the Mnazi Bay Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park and nearby Mikandani.
Situated on the southern shores of Lake Victoria, in the north west of the country, Tanzania’s second city is the perfect base from which to visit nearby Rubondo National Park, Saanane Island and the Bujora Sukuma and Nyerere museums. It also offers easy access to the Serengeti being only a 2 ½ hour drive from the Western Grumeti. Other attractions include lake cruises, canoeing safaris and fishing for tilapia or giant nile perch. Mwanza is also known as Rock City because of the gigantic rock outcrops jutting out of the lake and strewn around the city.
The most famous of these are the Bismarck Rocks, named after the German chancellor under whom this originally small town was established as the administration centre of German East Africa.
In the hinterland of western Tanzania, Tabora is a key transit point as the main railway line from Dar es Salaam branches here for both Kigoma and Mwanza.
The country’s second and most northerly port, Tanga is a natural gateway to the Amani Forest Nature Reserve, the Amboni Caves, Tongoni Ruins and both Mkomazi and Saadani National Parks.
The Tanzania Cultural Programme was launched in 1997 to give local communities the opportunity to improve their economic livelihood by participating in tourism activities.
Co-ordinated by the Tanzania Tourist Board, supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources & Tourism, there are currently some 60 initiatives operating in various parts of the country. Tanzania is endowed with the rich heritage of 120 ethnic tribes and the Cultural Tourism Programme provides visitors with an authentic cultural experience and a unique insight into the daily lives of the local people.
The Cultural Tourism Enterprises offer visitors the opportunity to leave the safari vehicle behind and spend time in local villages interacting with the people. The activities offered are as diverse as the villages, and include preparing local cuisine, making wine, helping to process coffee beans, learning how to make local handcrafts, and learning traditional games and dances. The cultural enterprises also host a number of music and dance festivals that attract many visitors because of their authenticity.
Leave your vehicle behind and walk through the tropical slopes of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro. Meet the Maasai and learn of their almost forgotten traditions and a way of life that is so closely linked to nature and wildlife. Listen to drumbeats and interpret music and dances inherited from ancient ancestors.
Learn the history of the Swahili Coast. Explore the savannahs on camelback. Boat down a river, or row on one of the many lakes. Paddle between mangroves, learn about traditional plants and medicines, experience a camel ride, or sail to pristine sandy islands. Climb a holy mountain and benefit from the diagnostic methods of a traditional healer.
Taste the local cuisine
Tanzania has a unique and varied cuisine. There is an extensive use of coconut milk and spicy foods. Other distinctive foods include Kisamvu (cassava leaves), Maharange (beans), Nyama choma (grilled meat), Wali (rice), Ugali (maize porridge) and Goats Meat.
In Zanzibar take a Swahili Cooking course and shop for ingredients at the local markets. Here you can find all types of bananas, mangoes, and countless other fruits and spices. And then, in the evening, listen to ancient legendary tales around an open fire. An experience you will never forget. And sample the local brew!
In one of the newly opened cultural enterprises, Lyamungo Sinde, a village in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, tourists can enjoy the scenery of the highest mountain in Africa while staying with villagers to make handcrafts out of banana leaves or fish in the Weruweru River. In Kahawa Shambani, visitors are hosted by local families at coffee plantations and learn the entire coffee process from the coffee growers’ co-operative, their history and fair trade, to picking, grinding, roasting and making their own fresh coffee.
Tourism to these villages directly supports the local community. Over 4,000 Tanzanian people benefited from a direct income in 2016 due to the success of the Cultural Tourism Program. A portion of the income from tourism for each enterprise is used for community development such as renovating schools, providing books for students, tree planting projects, and water tap project.
Visit the people of Tanzania!
Nine New Cultural Tourism Enterprises Include:
- Bujora Cultural Tourism Enterprise (Mwanza Region)
- Kiliman Cultural Tourism Enterprise (Moshi Rural-Kilimanjaro Region)
- Kisesa Cultural Tourism Enterprise (Mwanza Region)
- Liuli-Pomonda Cultural Tourism Enterprise (Mbamba Bay-Ruvuma Region)
- Rau Eco & Cultural Tourism Enterprise (Moshi-Kilimanjaro region)
- Ukerewe Cultural Tourism Enterprise (Ukerewe-Mwanza Region)
- Lyamungo (Hai-Kilimanjaro Region)
- Meru Forest Eco-Tourism (Arumeru- Arusha Region)
- Momela Cultural Tourism & Campsite (Arumeru-Arusha Region)
Rundugai Cultural Tourism
Welcome to the land of astonishing hot springs.
Spend a day at Rundugai Village and learn about the socio – economic activities of the village. Visit the Maasai market, sample and prepare traditional foods and swim in the warm blue waters of Chemka hot springs. Located between Moshi and Kilimanjaro Airport.
Ifulong Cultural Tourism
The people of Njoro and Poli Villages welcome visitors to experience real African rural life. Activities include a cultural walk, a Coffee experience, local beer brewing and a banana experience Tours. Overnight stays are also possible at the homes of local families when can learn Swahili. Located near Usa River between Arusha & Kilimanjaro Airport.
Ilkiding ‘a Village
Learn about Maasai culture. Visit different families and experience the real lifestyle of the Maasai. Great views of Engaro Narok river valley. Activities include a visit to a traditional healer; Hiking; mountain bike riding; bird watching and a visit to a handicrafts centre.
6 Kms from Arusha in the South West Mount Meru area.
Engaresero Eramatare Cultural Tourism Experience- Lake Natron
An area rich in Maasai culture where they continue to practice their age old pastoral ways. Activities include Hot springs and Waterfall tours, visit the Flamingo breeding sites at Lake Natron, learn how to herd cattle and the Oldonyo Lengai Trekking tour.
Located 220kms north west of Arusha at Lake Natron.
Ilkurot Village Maasai Cultural Tourism Enterprise
Activities include Camel riding, visit to a Maasai boma, meet the Maasai mid wife; learn about Maasai dances, weddings and their history. Ilkurot also offers a Volunteer programme for visitors interested to work in the health and educational sectors.
Situated 28 kms north of Arusha on the road to Nairobi.