National Parks and Reserves
Tanzania boasts some of the world’s most famous natural attractions, three of
which are national parks in a country that offers outstanding opportunities for
viewing wildlife in their natural habitat. Almost a quarter of the country is
protected within a park or reserve and of these most tourists visit the ‘big
three’ in the north: the plains of the Serengeti, famous for the annual
migration of about two million wildebeest; the adjacent Ngorongoro Conservation
Area with the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater; and Mt Kilimanjaro National Park
encompassing Africa’s highest mountain. Other attractions, including the massive
Selous Game Reserve in the south, can be difficult or expensive to get to, and
are less visited as a result.
The word ‘safari’ had its origins in Tanzania, a Kiswahili word meaning
‘journey’, and there are unlimited safari options that can be tailor-made by any
tour operator, with accommodation ranging from luxury lodges to camping. A
journey by vehicle, foot, horseback or hot air balloon into prime game-viewing
country is an experience not to be missed. The attractive town of Arusha is the
main gateway to the parks and reserves in the north and is the best place from
which to arrange a safari.
Located about 22 miles (35km) off the east coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is an
archipelago consisting of the main island of Unguja (commonly known as
Zanzibar), Pemba Island famous for its deep-sea fishing, and about 50 smaller
surrounding islands and coral reefs.
Also known as ‘Spice Island’, Zanzibar evokes images of an exotic paradise with
white palm-fringed beaches and turquoise coves, dreamy dhows with billowing
white sails, and ancient Islamic ruins. It combines Arabic alleyways and
historic monuments with coral reefs and excellent diving and snorkeling
opportunities. Today’s idyllic beach resorts belie the island’s haunting history
The island’s varied history has brought with it seafarers, explorers and
traders, and it became a major center for the slave industry. Its heyday was
during the 19th century, when the island became the world’s leading producer of
cloves; its plantations still produce more than 50 different spices and fruit,
and guided spice tours are a Zanzibar specialty.
Stone Town, Zanzibar’s capital, is a captivating place built by Arab and Indian
merchants in the 19th century from the island’s coral stone. A walk through the
disordered twisting alleys, past intricately-carved wooden doors and beneath
ornate balconies, and with the lingering scent of spices in the air, takes one
back in time to the days of a prosperous slave and spice industry. Decaying
architecture, numerous mosques, a bathhouse and old fort, cool interior
courtyards and lively markets are the remaining influence of the Persians and
the Omani Arabs who established themselves as the ruling power here.
For centuries Zanzibar has enticed those in search of business; today it remains
an irresistible attraction for those seeking a heavenly beach holiday or an
exploration into its exotic heritage – or a bit of both.
Climate: Zanzibar is warm throughout the year with 7-8 hours of sunshine a day.
The coastal resorts on the north and east coast are tempered by sea breezes.
Stonetown and the center of Zanzibar Island have showers throughout the year.
There are heavy showers throughout the island in April and May when most
tourists avoid the island and hotels close.