Tanzania is a vast East African country packed to the rafters with wildlife including the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino, and leopard) and an array of native and migratory bird species. Large, winding, roads lead out of the countries capital, Dar es Salam, and seem to endlessly wind their way through roadside villages to more substantial towns. Bus services run regularly across the country and, though the rides are tough, they save you plenty of pennies. For those with a bigger budget, make use of the small passenger planes that make crossing the country a doddle. To help you discover this epic countries culture, people and history we’ve listed seven must see places to visit on your Tanzanian adventure. Sit back, relax and keep reading.
Dar es Salaam
First stop is Dar es Salaam, after landing in the capital city you’re going to be hit by the overwhelming heat. Make sure you’ve packed light weight clothes, but nothing too revealing as it’s a heavily Muslim culture and dressing inappropriately will be considered offensive. From the airport take a taxi to Oyster Bay, this affluent expat area is the best and safest place to stay in the city. Make sure you visit the beachside Black Tomato café for a filling lunch before heading to the local shop to stock up on spiced banana chips. These little deliciously spiced slices of yellow fruit will blow your mind. Honestly, stock up on them.
Before embarking on any cross country trip, you should always begin with a little rest and relaxation and where better to do so than on Zanzibar Island. If you have a spare few days, catch the two-hour ferry over to the home of spices for a culture filled break. A whole day can be spent in Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, jumping from museum to coffee shop to quaint cafe. The town used to be a slave trade site back in the day and, as such, there are many a monuments and museums dedicated to remembering the lives of slaves. Head to the Old Slave Market and Cathedral to read up on the islands dark history. After a historical morning, head to the Tea House Restaurant for panoramic rooftop views over the island. After a good dose of culture, it’s time to head to the beach. The east coast is lapped by the hot Indian Ocean and is a tranquil escape from the hubbub of Stone Town. It’s also a great place for beginners and pros alike to clock in some scuba diving hours if you’re that way inclined.
After Zanzibar, catch the ferry back to Dar and get ready to hit the open road. A four hour bus ride west takes you across many a potholes but you’ll eventually reach Morogoro. This little town is home to local bars and fried meat restaurants galore. The main attraction here is Simbamwenni Tented Camp; a luxury camp set back from the river with a resident crocodile. The camp owners are a sweet Irish couple, and they’ve installed an outdoor stone oven which cooks the best pizzas. Spend the evening dining around the communal table learning of others traveler’s tales.
Mikumi National Park
The next stop is Mikumi National Park. Climb back aboard the bus and head further west along the A7. The road runs right through the middle of the National Park, so you don’t need to pay an entry fee, just keep your eyes peeled and, if you’re lucky, there might be animals right at the side of the road but keep an eye out on the horizon for a distant pride of lions. For those who simply can’t wait to get to Ruaha National Park for a safari then feel free to hop off the bus here and take a guided tour of the park. Watch out for the hippos.
A further four hour drive down the road takes you to the developed town of Iringa. The town is home to the Isimila Festival a real celebration of East African culture, music, and cuisine; check online before visiting to see if you’ve landed on the festival weekend (the dates jump from September to May each year). Spend time walking around the centre of town, hopping from local bars to restaurants, before visiting the vegetable market. Neema Crafts is a cool café come craft store that’s more than worth a visit and, for sundowners, head to Sunset Hotel. If you’re here on a Thursday, head to Mamma Siyovelwa’s, an expat led pub that runs a great open mic night.
Up next is Kisolanza Farms, located just an hours drive south of Iringa. Continue winding south down the highway until you see signs for the farm and swing off down a dirt track. If you’re looking for a luxurious night under the stars, this is truly the place to be. There’s an array of accommodation ranging from budget camping to luxury cottages, and each are set amongst the gardens of the farm. The farmhouse serves incredible food too so you can dine like Kings and Queens on goat meat, delicious sauces, and curry dishes before spending the evening star gazing. There’s also a lake just around the corner too which is the perfect spot for a quick cool down before continuing on the road.
Ruaha National Park
The final leg of the journey is the three-hour ride back north to Ruaha National Park. Make sure you hit a supermarket en route and stock up on the infamous Kilimanjaro beers and some more banana snacks before you head into the wilderness. Spend a minimum of two days here on safari amidst giraffe, elephant, lion, warthog, buffalo, greater kudu and lesser kudu to name a few. Head out early, before the sun heats the plains, on a leopard search to up your chances of meeting one of these majestic beasts. If you’ve never been on Safari, it’s best to take a guide, and when it comes to accommodation, you can sleep in the tin Banda’s or camp out with the animals for a real safari experience. Being on Safari quickly becomes exhausting thanks to the combination of soaring heat and pumping adrenaline, make sure you keep hydrated and well rested. Once your time here is done, it’s time to reverse the route back to Dar. Alternatively, you can fly back to the capital from both Ruaha and Iringa airports for a pretty penny.