18 Top Attractions & Things to Do in Tanzania

One of the most exceptional safari travel spots on the planet, Tanzania is home to some of the world’s richest landscapes and prosperous wildlife. Bordering Kenya and Zambia, the country is the largest in East Africa. More than 120 ethnic groups live in the country.

For example, near the Serengeti National Park are the Massai people. This semi-nomadic tribe is one of the most well-known for its elaborate clothing designs and followings of tradition.

Tanzania is famous for many tourist attractions, including homing the tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the world’s largest migration of mammals, the Great Migration.

Grand safaris take you up close and personal with some of the largest mammals on earth, including lions, elephants, giraffes, and hippos. Hikes through the numerous national parks are among the most fun things to do in Tanzania and present the opportunity to glimpse endemic and endangered species.

A trip to Tanzania guarantees a unique and memorable experience you’ll never forget!

18. Katavi National Park

An extension of the Rift Valley, Katavi National Park is notorious for its thriving herds of buffalo. In fact, the park is home to one of the largest in the world.

Katavi National Park is home to more than buffaloes. Throughout the gloriously untouched remote park are hippo and crocodile-dotted rivers, luscious forests, and sprawling grasslands. People travel from all over the world to experience nature’s impactfulness in Katavi National Park and to find the iconic tamarind tree.

Legends say that the tamarind tree houses the spirit of Katabi, a great huntsman. So today, locals give offerings to the tree in honor of the hunter.

One of the most popular things to do in Katavi National Park is game viewing to catch sight of some of the world’s largest land animals. And at Katavi Wildlife Camp, a unique lodging within the park which blends seamlessly into the plains, you can join the buffalos and lions as they traverse the Katuma Plains. It’s an experience that can never be competed with!

17. Udzungwa Mountains National Park

Located between the Morogoro and Iringa regions, Udzungwa Mountains National Park is part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, offering up thriving ecosystems with diverse species.

Within the park are a miombo forest, a mountain forest, a tropical rainforest, a steppe, and grasslands that make Udzungwa Mountains National Park incredibly popular for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. The ecosystems feature rushing waterfalls, tall mountain peaks, dense forests, and numerous plant and animal species.

Udzungwa Mountains National Park is famous for having the most significant population of rare monkey species, including the highly endangered Sanje-Crested Mangabey monkey.

Mountaineers can take the challenge of hiking the highest peaks of Mwanihana and Luhomero. Park guides encourage guests to bring swimsuits to dip into the pools beneath the waterfalls. You can also experience traditional dances, learn native arming, and bird watch for native species like the endemic Rufous Winged Sunbird and Udzungwa Forest Patridge.

One of the most popular waterfalls is the Sonje Waterfalls. The hike to the waterfalls is one of the most sought-out by travelers. The trail is conveniently less steep than some of the other waterfalls, though its length can be challenging. Thankfully, a swim in the waters, gazing upon these glorious falls, makes it all worthwhile!

16. Lake Victoria

One of the African Great Lakes, Lake Victoria is the world’s largest tropical lake and second-largest freshwater lake by surface area.

Lake Victoria stretches across the borders of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, near Serengeti National Park. This expansive lake makes up a collection of archipelagos dotted between the three countries, with one of the lake’s top attractions being the Rubondo Island National Park.

Rubondo Island National Park is Africa’s largest island national park, boasting a prosperous environment for giraffes, elephants, wild chimpanzees, and more fascinating animals.

These attributes make Rubondo Island National Park popular for walking, canoeing, and jungle safaris.

15. Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre

Part of the Great Rift Valley, the city of Arusha is famously known as the safari capital, and within this bustling city is the Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre.

The first of its kind in Africa, the centre has become reputedly known for its impressive collection of artifacts and unique architecture, one of its buildings made to resemble the Uhuru Peak of Kilimanjaro.

Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre’s expansive exhibits feature Verdite carvings, renowned African sculptures, antiques, cultural masks, and the rare gemstone, Tanzanite. One of the sections in the centre includes art specialized by the Makonde tribe, known for their distinguished wood pieces carved from ebony.

Nearby Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre is the famous market, Soko Mujinja, the perfect stop afterwards to purchase fresh local goods and produce.

14. Mikumi National Park

The fourth largest national park in Tanzania, the Mikumi National Park, is renowned for its large Eland and African Wild Dog population.

Near Morogoro, the park is a favored tourist attraction that connects the largest and busiest city in Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, to the town of Iringa, world-famous for its award-winning Neema Crafts Centre and woven baskets.

The Mkata Floodplain is a proud centerpiece of Mikumi National Park, full of scenic horizons and grazing wildlife species like zebras and giraffes. The waterholes are often flooded with hippos and herds of water buffalo and elephants looking to cool off and grab a drink.

There may not be any rhinos in Mikumi National Park, but that doesn’t stop the park from being one of the best safari spots in the country.

13. Gombe Stream National Park

Less than an hour from Kigoma, the capital of the Kigoma region, Gombe Stream National Park is one of the smallest national parks in the country–though just as popular as the bigger ones!

It’s here, at Gombe Stream National Park, that Jane Goodall worked with chimpanzees and other primates to complete scientific research. Jane Goodall began her studies at the park, her work becoming some of the most well-known in her craft. So it’s not hard to guess what the main attraction of Gombe Stream National Park is.

Gombe Stream National Park boasts one of Africa’s highest populations of primates. The diverse array of primates attracts visitors worldwide to the park to glimpse the different species, including chimpanzees, vervet monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, and olive baboons.

On a safari, you can see these spectacular creatures in person, observe as they communicate with one another, and watch as some of them swing through the trees!

12. Stone Town

The historic Stone Town is found on the island of Zanzibar, nicknamed the “Spice Island” for its spice farming which plays a significant role in the island’s economy.

Stone Town preserves the rich historical past of the ancient city that dates back more than a thousand years. Numerous cultures have influenced the architecture and design of Stone Town, including Persian, Arabian, and European.

However, more modern notes can be seen throughout Stone Town due to the Sultan of Oman transitioning to Zanzibar in the 19th century.

Explore Stone Town by foot (don’t worry, the town isn’t exceptionally large!) to marvel at the exceptional designs, such as the wood-carved Zanzibari doors. Then, visit the Palace Museum, a massive white palace that once acted as the sultan’s home in the 19th century, at Stone Town’s waterfront.

Strolling through the cobbled streets is truly a unique experience made complete by heading to the harbor to watch as the different ships, tiny and large, come and go.

11. Arusha National Park

Spanning across a volcano and the second-highest mountain in the country, Mount Meru, Arusha National Park is known for being the home of the world’s largest giraffe population.

Much of its ecosystem features wildlife species not found in the northern circuit of national parks, thanks to Arusha National Park’s diverse alpine, savannah, and rainforest ecosystems. Some superior wildlife sightings found at Arusha National Park include the African fish eagle, white colobus monkeys, leopards, red duikers, bushbucks, and blue monkeys.

Arusha National Park attracts mountaineers and hikers looking for a challenge to hike to the summit of Mount Meru, which generally takes about three to four days on the Momella route. Canoeing the waters of the numerous lakes, big and small, are popular for visitors wishing to adventure the park by the water and see wildlife in action.

10. Ruaha National Park

West of Iringa, Ruaha National Park was once the largest national park in Tanzania. It’s now the second largest after Nyerere National Park expanded. And compared to the other parks, Ruaha National Park has fewer herds of tourists, making it more pleasant and rewarding to see the wildlife that isn’t being scared away!

Ruaha National Park is famous for hosting 10% of the world’s lion population and the largest population of elephants in East Africa. It also boasts rare animals with different antelope species, such as Lichtenstein’s hartebeest and sable antelope. Game viewing is widely popular in the park, with sightings of black-backed jackals, cheetahs, lions, bat-eared foxes, and elephants throughout Ruaha National Park.

Cultural tours are a unique attraction of the park that allows visitors to experience local culture, traditions, and history with the Hehe people. The tour opens the door to the stories and history of the Hehe people from watching them craft items to farming the land for resources.

9. Selous Game Reserve

Previously called the Selous Game Reserve, Nyerere National Park is Tanzania’s new largest national park. It is also one of the world’s biggest national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The reserve is reached by plane from Dar es Salaam, by a 6-7 hour long drive, or by a 4-5 hour train ride on the popular TAZARA (Tanzania Zambia Railway). The train from Sar es Salaam offers awe-inspiring sights of Tanzania’s thriving wilderness.

Carved from the Selous Game Reserve, the park has one of the biggest concentrations and diverse wildlife species. Lions and cheetahs are some of the big cats found stalking the park’s grounds.

Visitors can peer at these big cats and other big game animals across Nyerere National Park, such as rhinos, elephants, wildebeests, and Elands, for an unrivaled experience in Tanzania. Take your pick of the boat, game, hot balloon, and walking safaris. For a more personal, invigorating touch for thrill seekers, the walking safari makes for a one-of-a-kind experience through the Selous Game Reserve!

Join a nature hike with a professional tour guide to relish the beauty of Nyerere National Park. Then, experience the life of the local nomadic tribe with a traditional visit to the village.

8. Pemba Island

Part of the Zanzibar archipelago, Pemba Island is a dominant producer of cloves, with more than 70% coming from the island.

Pemba Island is adored for its stunning beaches and pristine natural beauty. The island isn’t overrun by tourists, making it the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of more crowded tourist spots. Thanks to the island’s crystal-clear waters and thriving marine ecosystems, you will find some of the best diving and swimming spots here.

The coral reef that wraps around the island is full of clownfish, sea anemones, and other marine animals that call the reef home.

Barracuda, marlins, sharks, whales, and dolphins scour the waters of the Pemba Channel, making sunset cruises another excellent opportunity to see these large species from above the surface!

7. Tarangire National Park

South of Lake Manyara in northern Tanzania, Tarangire National Park is named after the Tarangire River that intertwines through the park to provide resources to the local ecosystem.

A short journey from Arusha, the park is an excellent option for those looking to avoid fellow tourists and stick to seeing the magnificent landscapes and wild animals that call Tanzania home.

First, trek through Tarangire National Park on a walking safari to peer at ancient baobabs, learn about the ancient rock paintings near Kolo, and get a chance to see herds of elephants up close. Then, join a luxurious safari retreat within Tarangire National Park, like Sanctuary Swala Camp.

Bask in the majestic beauty of nature in the flat savannah surrounded by the shade of giant acacia trees with wildlife sighting opportunities within the camp.

6. Mafia Island

Largely protected by the Mafia Island Marine Park and part of an archipelago of its namesake, Mafia Island is widely favored for its prosperous marine life. As a result, the island is the first to be labeled a marine park in Tanzania.

This tropical island paradise is the perfect getaway from the more crowded tourist spots in Tanzania. It offers some of the best diving in the country thanks to its coral reefs, schools of tropical fish, and marine animals such as sea turtles and whale sharks.

Deep sea fishing is a popular activity on Mafia Island, with opportunities to catch yellowfin tuna, kingfish, and great barracudas. Fun fact! The author of the Sherlock Holmes novels, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, visited Mafia Island in 1950 and broke the African record for the heaviest caught dorado at 75 pounds.

5. Lake Manyara

Near the town of Mto Wa Mbu, Lake Manyara is home to the smallest national park in Tanzania, Lake Manyara National Park. It is also considered one of the best parks in the country, constructed to preserve and protect elephants from the threat of poaching.

The ecosystem thrives off Lake Manyara, helping nourish the park’s large herds of elephants, wildebeests, waterbucks, impalas, warthogs, zebras, and pink flamingos. Birdwatching around Lake Manyara is a prevalent activity thanks to the 400+ bird species that frequent the area.

Birdwatching around Lake Manyara is a prevalent activity thanks to the 400+ bird species that frequent the area.

Around Lake Manyara, you’ll find tree-climbing lions, one of the many species the park is famous for. These lions are notorious for lazing and snoozing in the acacia and other trees rather than on the ground, like most other lions in Africa.

Meeting the local Maasai people is one of the most fascinating things to do in Tanzania. The Maasai people that live on the plains have been building the huts of their homestead for thousands of years. Warriors of the Maasai people dress in red shuka, holding a spear. Don’t miss out on joining a Maasai warrior for a run, sharing a traditional meal of corn polenta, and watching the Maasai and fellow tourists participate in a leaping dance!

4. Zanzibar Beaches

The famous Zanzibar island is notorious for more than its historic Stone Town. The beaches in Zanzibar draw in crowds of tourists every year!

One of the best beaches in Zanzibar is on the island’s south coast. Here, you’ll find Kizimkazi Beach. This site is favored for its frequent bottlenose dolphin sightings, paired with the optimal location for diving and snorkeling to swimming beside other native marine species.

Kendwa Beach and Nungwi Beach are popular options in Zanzibar. Both offer prime settings for water activities. Nungwi Beach has a relaxing atmosphere for those looking to spend time soaking in the sun and exploring the water. Kendwa Beach is more upbeat, thanks to bars and resorts scattered along the beach, including Bravo Kendway Beach Resort, where you can fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean.

3. Mount Kilimanjaro

A dormant volcano and the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro is also the world’s highest free-standing mountain.

Near Moshi, Arusha, the mountain draws in mountaineers from all over the world. The snow-covered summit towers in the sky, its base surrounded by grasslands. The challenge of hiking to the peak is a hefty one, but that doesn’t stop people from traveling to Mount Kilimanjaro to take up the task!

Whether a hiker, nature lover, outdoor enthusiast, or mountaineer, Mount Kilimanjaro draws them in. As one of the Seven Summits, meaning the mountain is classified as the highest peak in its continent, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an experience you’ll never forget, with the thrill and rewarding accomplishment of reaching its peak.

The youngest person to reach Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit was six years old, and the oldest was 89. If they can do it, so can you!

2. Ngorongoro Crater

Previously a massive volcano, the Ngorongoro Crater is now the world’s largest intact caldera. Many believe the crater was higher than the highest peak in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, before it erupted and collapsed.

Close to the town of Karatu, in the Eastern Great Rift Valley, the crater is estimated to be almost three million years old! It establishes one of the most luscious wildlife habitats on the planet.

Ngorongoro Crater’s wall soars into the sky, taller than many of the biggest skyscrapers, and stretches out to a vast expanse of thriving forests, rushing waterfalls, and marshlands.

One of the most spectacular attractions in Tanzania, the steep sides of the crater have become a natural enclosure for a wide variety of wild animals. It is also presently one of the most likely areas in Africa to see the endangered Black Rhino.

Initially, the view from above may appear as if Ngorongoro Crater is empty, but the wildlife is overflowing within, sheltering elephants and other local wildlife like baboons and leopards.

1. Serengeti National Park

Home to the iconic Serengeti featured in numerous documentaries, the Serengeti National Park is a natural wonder in the Mara region where the Great Migration finds its home. During the annual migration, millions of herbivores, including gazelles and zebras, travel to the Serengeti, their predator counterparts following along.

The ecosystem of the Serengeti is one of the oldest on the planet. People travel worldwide to witness the Great Migration to the Serengeti as impalas, elands, ostrich, and wildebeest flock to the thriving plains.

The best time of year to visit Serengeti National Park to see the migration is debatable as the herds follow the grass, frequently chasing better places to graze. However, peak season tends to the dry season (from late June to October) when the grass becomes dry and exhausted and the wildebeest and zebra start to mass in huge armies offering a spectacular wildlife show.

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