TANZANIA HAS SEVEN HERITAGE SITES
MORE THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY BORDERING IT, AND MORE THAN MOST ON THE CONTINENT.
Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, the Selous Game Reserve and Zanzibar’s Stone Town.
The remaining Two sites are, on the other hand, little known outside the country and rarely visited by those within it.
Mention that you are going to the rock art sites of Kondoa, or the ruins of Kilwa Kisiwan.
ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK
The often-overlooked Arusha National Park is the closest national park to Arusha in the northern safari circuit.
The 137-km2 Arusha National Park is located between the peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru, rising from 1,500 metres at the Momella Lakes to 4,566 metres at the Summit of Mount Meru. Black and white colobus monkeys, baboons, elephants, giraffes, buffalos, hippos, leopards, hyenas, waterbucks, warthogs and a variety of antelope species live in the Arusha National Park. There are no lions, but if you are lucky you will get to see leopards.
The Arusha National Park is considered as one of the most suitable places for taking awalking safari, accompanied by an armed ranger through the lush forest on the slopes of Mount Meru. You can also take a canoe trip on the Momella Lakes, where you can see thousands of flamingos, with the contours of the giant mountains Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru in the background.
KILIMANJARO NATIONAL PARK
‘Kili’ is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world with an elevation of 5,895 metre.
Kilimanjaro is a mountain of contrasts and extremes. You ascent takes you from tropical rainforest to arctic conditions in just a few days and at higher altitudes, winter drives out summer every night. The rainforest gradually gives way to the heath and moorland, which is covered in giant heather and dotted with giant groundsels. This in turn becomes the surreal alpine dessert where extremes of temperature means only the hardiest can survive. Finally there is snow, glaciers and pure exhilaration of the summit zone.
Treks in Kilimanjaro National Park do not necessarily always lead to Uhuru Peak. There are a number of day and overnight hikes available for those who want to experience some of what this park has to offer, but not the demands of an assault on the summit.
The clearest and warmest conditions for climbing are from December to February, while the driest are from July-September.
TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
Tarangire National Park is best known for its massive herds of elephants.
During the dry season herds of up to three hundred elephant of all ages and sizes converge on Tarangire's permanent water source and can be seen digging in the once full riverbed in search of underground springs.
Tarangire's wildlife is best viewed during the dry months from July to October when zebra, wildebeest, buffalo and the rarer Fringe-eared Oryx and eland gather at the last remaining water holes or shelter from the fierce sun under squat baobab trees. During these months the park boasts the greatest wildlife concentration outside the Serengeti. Also common in Tarangire National Park are pythons, which with patience and keen observance may be spotted coiled in tree branches.
Tarangire is a beautiful area that covers the southeast corner of Lake Manyara and is often a feature of a northern circuit safari. It is located 105km from Arusha and, like Lake Manyara National Park, is possible to view in one day
NGORONGORO NATIONAL PARK
Often referred to as the 'eighth natural wonder of the world'´, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area combines some of the best wildlife and scenery the country has to offer with the culture of its Maasai inhabitants and the history of its archaeological sites.
The conservation area covers 8288 sq km, embracing the eastern half of the Serengeti Plains, highland plateaus, volcanic mountains, craters, gorges and is home to Ngorongoro Crater - the breathing central attraction.
Ngorongoro was a huge active volcano, probably larger than Kilimanjaro when the volcano erupted some 8 million years ago. Its cone collapsed leaving a crater or more appropriately a “caldera” 600m deep, 16km across and 265 sq km in area. Many of Tanzania’s last remaining black rhino can be seen grazing on the open grassland of the crater floor surrounded by some of the 20,000 large animals that occupy the crater, including lion, cheetah, eland, zebra and gazelle.
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
The mere mention of the word ‘Serengeti’ conjures up images of amazing
African wildlife wandering endless, treeless plains. Here you can see untamed Africa at its most beautiful.
The pinnacle of the Serengeti immortality is the wildebeest migration. It is beyond description when the Serengeti plains witness flying hooves and dust as hundreds of thousands of gnus and zebra, race against the skyline in their annual migration that covers over 800km.
It all starts suddenly in late May or early June, depending on weather, when wildebeest move away from the short grass plains between the Ngorongoro highlands and Seronera and spread to the southern plains. This spectacle can be viewed from the ground, but it is an awesome sight from the sky in a hot air balloon. The Serengeti is also famous for its lion population; of which many have been fitted with transmitter collars to record their movements for research projects.
Zebras, cheetahs, giraffes, various gazelles, elands, impalas and warthogs among other animal’s dwell in high populations within the Serengeti – this makes the Serengeti one of the most amazing wildlife observation destinations in the world!
RUAHA NATIONAL PARK
Ruaha is a massive 10,300 sq km after being gazetted in 1964 and extended in 1974.
It is the second largest park after the Serengeti and is home to 456 bird species, 1600 plant species, 50 amphibian species and a myriad of other inhabitants. The actual eco-system embraced by Ruaha, with neighboring game reserves contains four vegetation zones and almost 40,000 sq km of land. One of the most memorable sightings in Ruaha, is the solitary greater kudu – the spiral horns and does of lateral white stripes, allowing the kudu to blend in with its bush surroundings in time of fright.
Elephants are en-masse in Ruaha, as well are giraffe, with over 8000 in population. The elusive and endangered African Hunting Dog is also found in Ruaha, threatened to almost extinction by hunters with the incorrect view that the dogs drove wildlife out of the area and threatened domestic stock.
A visit to Ruaha between January and May make the experience magic. For other visitors, May – November reveal warm temperatures and favorable wildlife migration paths.
SELOUS GAME RESERVE
Covering 45,000 km2 of wilderness, with grassy plains, open woodland, mountains and forests.
The Selous Game Reserve (pronounced 'seloo', and named after the great explorer and hunter, Frederick Courtney Selous) is Africa's largest game reserve. It's about three times the size of South Africa's Kruger National Park, and twice the size of the Serengeti National Park. In a fitting tribute, it is also one of Tanzania's three World Heritage Sites.
At the heart of the Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania’s largest river, the Rufiji, forms a complex network of channels, lakes and swamps that create one of the most outstanding ecological systems in East Africa. This river also splits the reserve into two different sections:
The northern Selous covers only around 5% of the reserve’s total area. No hunting is allowed here; this area is dedicated exclusively to photographic safaris. Virtually all of the small exclusive camps which we offer operate in this area.
The southern Selous, south of the Rufiji, is split up into a number of ‘hunting blocks’ – each of which typically cover about 1,000km². Expert Africa doesn’t offer hunting safaris.
KATAVI NATIONAL PARK
Katavi is about as far away as you can possibly get from the rourist circuit.
Katavi National Park in the far west of Tanzania is somewhere that even today, few people have been lucky enough to visit. Perhaps because of this, it feels untouched, almost like travelling back in time.
The park centers on a series of wide flood plains, blond with waist high grass in the early dry season, green and flooded after the rains. Connecting the main flood plains – Ngolema, Katisunga, Katavi and Chada - is a network of fragile seasonal rivers. It is these rivers that form the focus of the game viewing for which Katavi is renowned during the dry season.
Water rapidly becomes a limited resource in Katavi during the dry so animals of all kinds are drawn to the Katuma, Kavu and Kapapa Rivers. Hippo in their thousands cram the remaining pools, crocodiles retire to caves in the mud walls of the river banks, buffalo and elephant are drawn to the rivers to drink.
The lion, hyenas and other predators know this. In the late dry season, there are few places that offer such a raw and wild experience as Katavi.
THE MAHALE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Mahale isn’t just about chimps, although we appreciate they like to take centre stage.
In the 1,613 square kms of the Mahale Mountains, there are still no roads. All you'll find are forest paths and tracks made by animals over the years. This, and the fact that the only practical way of reaching camp is by boat, add to the sense of seclusion here. Flying in over the northern end of the mountains, you'll see nothing for many many miles and only small villages and local fishermen in dhows dotted along the lakeshore.
As you head down the lake, towards Greystoke, the villages thin out and the forest takes over. It's not long before civilization seems very far behind. Greystoke has one foot in the forest and one in the lake and your days here reflect the mix of both. We can think of nothing better than a gentle hike in the forest up to one of the many waterfalls, before cooling off for a dip in one of the ice-cold rock pools.