Places to go while you are in Tanzania

Places to go while you are in Tanzania

August 21, 2018

Islands and Beaches

Tanzania has a number of Tanzania than just Zanzibar at in the India Ocean. Throughout the archipelago, deserted islands and sandbars beckon and abound. Some have slave caves and colonial graves, others have the ruins of sultan’s palaces and stately plantations. In Pemba, villages steeped in culture and traditions which preserve the Swahili way of life, almost oblivious to the world around them. The Mafia island, old trading towns line the walkway to abandoned ports and the gentle sea. Also there are other famous Island in Victoria Lake like Saa Nane "The Park" which is located 2km Southwest of Mwanza city centre, which lies in the Gulf of Lake Victoria (Latitude 2.5 S and Longitude 32 E). Robondo Island, an important breeding ground for both migratory birds and fish species (especially Tilapia and Nile perch) as for a long time it stood to be the only area in the waters of Lake Victoria which was well protected and preserved. There are also Ukerewe and Ukara Island.

The coast of Tanzania is perhaps most famous for the Zanzibar Archipelago, a cluster of islands that saw the growth and survival of Swahili civilisation and trade until the mid-twentieth century. Zanzibar enchants and beguiles with its oriental mystique and forgotten exoticism — the very name evokes the Spice Islands and the dhow trade, sultans and palaces built of limestone and corals against the palm trees and the crashing surf. But there’s more to the islands of Tanzania than just Zanzibar. Throughout the archipelago, deserted islands and sandbars beckon and abound. Some have slave caves and colonial graves, others have the ruins of sultan’s palaces and stately plantations. In Pemba, villages steeped in culture and traditions which preserve the Swahili way of life, almost oblivious to the world around them. On the islands of Mafia, old trading towns line the walkway to abandoned ports and the gentle sea. Throughout the Swahili Coast, diving, swimming, and snorkeling offer superb vistas of thriving coral and marine life. Whether you’re content to stay on the mainland coast, or want to venture off into the atolls and islands of the Indian Ocean, the Tanzanian coast is a place of untouched beauty and enchantment.

In its mainland, Tanzania has also a number of Islands which some has been protected as National Parks. Among them are Rubondo National Park, an important breeding ground for both migratory birds and fish species (especially Tilapia and Nile perch) as for a long time it stood to be the only area in the waters of Lake Victoria which was well protected and preserved, Saa Nane “The Park” which is located 2km Southwest of Mwanza city centre, which lies in the Gulf of Lake Victoria (Latitude 2.5 S and Longitude 32 E) and Ukerewe island.


Conservation Areas

Conservation areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognised natural, ecological and/or cultural values. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area covers 8,292 square kilometers. It is one of the three divisions that comprise Ngorongoro District in Arusha Region.

NCA was established in 1959 by the NCA Ordinance No 413 of 1959 as a multiple land use area, designated to promote the conservation of natural resources, safeguard the interests of NCA indigenous residents and promote tourism. NCA is a unique protected area in the whole of Africa where conservation of natural resources in integrated with human development.

The main feature of the NCA include the Ngorongoro Crater, The Serengeti Plains that support about 2.0 millions migratory wildlife species of the Serengeti Mara-ecosystem (TAWIRI, 2003) and the catchment forest; the Northern Highland Forest Reserve (NHFR) known as ‘Entim Olturot’ in Maa language. Other important features found in the NCA are the archaeological and palaeontological site located at Oldupai Gorge and the early human foot-prints that were discovered at Alaitole in Ngarusi area. Because of these particular features and the harmonious co-existence between wildlife and people that has existed for many years, NCA was accorded the status of a World Heritage Site and listed as one of the International Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme.

World Heritage Sites

Among African countries, Tanzania’s tally of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites is exceeded only by Ethiopia and South Africa. Five of these - Ngorongoro, Kilimanjaro, Selous, Serengeti and Zanzibar Stone Town - are household names, but two lesser-known sites on this prestigious global roll call deserve greater recognition.

Kilwa Kisiwani, an offshore island south of Dar es Salaam, supports the haunting ruins of the most important of the Swahili city-states that flourished as a result of the medieval gold trade between Africa and Arabia - indeed, the 14th century globetrotter Ibn Buttata called Kilwa ‘one of the most beautiful and well-constructed towns in the world’.

The Kondoa Rock Art Site, inscribed as recently as 2006, consists of 150-plus painted rock shelters in the vicinity of Kolo in the central Rift Valley. Some of these exquisitely crafted panels are thousands of years old, and several can be visited as an extension to the Northern TZ safari circuit.

National Parks

The Tanganyika National Parks Ordinance CAP [412] of 1959 established the organization now known as Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), and Serengeti became the first National Park. Conservation in Tanzania is governed by the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1974, which allows the Government to establish protected areas and outlines how these are to be organized and managed.

National Parks represent the highest level of resource protection that can be provided. By February 2008, TANAPA had grown to 16 national parks, with plans to expand existing parks. Conservation of eco-systems in all areas designated as national parks is the core business of the organisation.

Nature-based or wildlife tourism is the main source of income that is ploughed back for management, regulation, and fulfilment of all organisational mandates in the national parks.

The primary role of Tanzania’ national parks is conservation. The 16 national parks, many of which form the core of a much larger protected ecosystem, have been set aside to preserve the country’s rich natural heritage, and to provide secure breeding grounds where its fauna and flora can thrive, safe from the conflicting interests of a growing human population.

The existing park system protects a number of internationally recognised bastions of biodiversity and World Heritage sites, thereby redressing the balance for those areas of the country affected by deforestation, agriculture and urbanisation. The gazetting of Saadani and Kitulo National Parks in 2002 expanded this network to include coastal and montane habitats formerly accorded a lower level of protection.

Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) is also currently acquiring further land to expand certain parks, and to raise the status of traditional migration corridors connecting protected areas.

By choosing to visit Tanzania you are supporting a developing country’s extraordinary investment in the future. In spite of population pressures, Tanzania has dedicated more than 46,348.9 square kilometres to national parks. Including other reserves, conservation areas and marine parks, Tanzania has accorded some form of formal protection to more than one-third of its territory – a far higher proportion than most of the world’s wealthier nations.


Boating and Canoeing

Boating and canoeing through the rivers, ocean bays and waterways of Tanzania can be an exhilarating experience. River boating can take you past sleeping crocodiles and hippos sunning themselves with their mouths wide open, gathered in half-submerged herds.


Taking to the water is also a welcome break from the all-day enclosure of a traditional vehicle safari, allowing visitors to experience the sights and sounds of Africa’s waterways up-close and unhindered. On Tanzania’s large freshwater lakes, boats are a popular means of transport and offer visitors the chance to see life in and around the waters — the fishermen bringing in their catch, the bustling colours of the lake shore towns and the sharp movements of small fish in shallow waters. On the Indian Ocean coast, boating takes visitors deep into the fish-filled waters of the Pemba Channel, and through the hundreds of islets strewn across the Zanzibar Archipelago and Mafia Island. Along the coast, boating offers visitors a chance to travel the way the Swahili people do — by wooden dhow sailboats, the wind slowly filling the boat’s sails, the smell of the surf and the swell of ocean waves drifting over the horizon.


Boating safaris are fast becoming a popular alternative for safari-goers adventurous enough to venture off the beaten track. Water-safaris are on offer as a break from longer game-viewing and give visitors the opportunity to get out in the open and see tremendous amounts of bird-life and water species up close. At present, boating safaris for game-viewing are only permitted in the Selous Game Reserve, where the Rufiji River, the Great Ruaha River, and numerous lakes give visitors a choice of many expeditions to choose from. Despite the proximity of crocodiles and hippos during water safaris, the expeditions are extremely safe and the animals react with puzzled curiosity to the sight of boats on water!


Canoeing excursions in Tanzania are an active option for visitors with a few days to spend exploring the northern lakes. Adventure excursions on the soda-coloured shores of Lake Manyara involve canoeing past thousands of pink flamingos in the shallow waters. In Arusha National Park, the freshwater crater lakes of the Momela Lakes make a spectacular canoeing trip, with the forests, highland games, and the imposing crater of Mt. Meru looming nearby. Canoeing excursions allow visitors to get out and explore their surroundings, getting exercised in some of the most beautiful locations in the country.

Boating on the Tanzanian coast, whether on the mainland’s quiet bays or the palm-spotted islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia, is a fun-filled adventure for visitors who want to experience the vibrant underwater life of the Swahili Coast. Day trips to small deserted islands, swimming off sandbars at low-tide, sailing to nearby reefs, or even just tacking back and forth across the bay are all pleasurable options for visitors who want to experience life on the Indian Ocean, and get another view of life on the Swahili Coast.

Shopping and Nightlife

Pick up African crafts and curios at the most popular tourist centres. Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Stone Town on Zanzibar are dotted with curio shops, markets and bazaars, as well as main roads near parks and reserves, and the coast roads behind beach resorts, all have plenty of roadside stalls.

Items to buy include African drums, batiks, basket-ware, soapstone knick-knacks, handmade chess sets, paintings of Maasai tribes and Serengeti landscapes in the popular Tingatinga style, and large wooden carvings of animals or salad bowls fashioned from a single piece of teak, mninga or ebony.

Maasai items such as beaded jewellery, decorated gourds and the distinctive red-checked blankets worn by all Maasai men make good souvenirs. Kangas and kikois are sarongs worn by women and men respectively and are often in bright colours and patterns. These are made into other items including clothes, cushion covers and bags. In Zanzibar, find old tiles, antique bowls and the famous carved wooden Zanzibar chests (once used by the Sultans to store their possessions, but today ornate replicas), and pick up packets of Zanzibar’s famous spices in Stone Town, as well as on a spice tour.

A Tanzanian specialty is the semi-precious stone called tanzanite, which ranges from deep blue to light purple and it is only found around Arusha. Tanzanite jewellery can be seen in upmarket curio and jewellery shops in Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar’s Stone Town.

Whilst most prices in shops are set, the exception include the curio shops where a little good-natured bargaining is possible, especially if it’s quiet or you are buying a number of things. Bargaining is very much expected in the street markets.

Shopping hours:
Mon-Fri 0800-1730; Sat 0830-1230. Some tourist shops open on Sunday, while some Muslim-owned supermarkets and other businesses close on Friday afternoons but may also be open on Sunday. In Zanzibar, some shops close for a siesta from around 1200-1500 but stay open later until around 1900. In the larger cities markets are open daily 0800-1800.

Online Shopping
Books and Travellers Highlights -

CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) was established to prevent trading in endangered species. Attempts to smuggle controlled products can result in confiscation, fines and even imprisonment. International trade in elephant ivory, rhino horn, sea turtle products and the skins of wild cats, such as leopard, is illegal.
Nightlife in Tanzania

Nightlife is limited in Tanzania, but Dar es Salaam does have several nightclubs, cabaret venues and cinemas. Generally, nightlife is centred on the top tourist hotels and restaurants. All along the coast, and particularly on Zanzibar, hotels and beach bars often feature bands during the weekends with dance floors right on the beach. Quite often, traditional tribal dancing and drumming is performed in the safari lodges and beach resorts. Rowdy full moon parties have become popular on Zanzibar’s backpacker-focused northern beaches.



There are various options for enjoying good fishing in Tanzania, mostly sea fishing along the incredibly rich East African Coast.

Deep Sea Fishing 
The deep waters of the Indian Ocean along Tanzania’s coast are rich in big-game fish, from marlin and tuna to swordfish and biting barracudas. All the same, the waters of Tanzania are only just beginning to gain the world-wide fame of the Kenyan coast, so the waters are less populated and fishing is at its most pristine. Tuna and other pelagic migrate through the Pemba Channel on a yearly basis, but can be found in smaller numbers throughout the year. Besides the big-game fish, grouper, red snapper, and other local species are populous along the coastal waters. Deep sea fishing in Tanzania is best organized by private companies that are specialized in boating and ocean trips; or through lodges and hotel properties that offer day excursions throughout the coast.

Along the mainland coast, Pangani and Dar es Salaam are the most popular areas for deep-sea fishing. Trips from Pangani and Tanga offer easy access to the Pemba Channel, a main migratory route for big-game pelagic. Outfitted charters are best arranged from local lodges and the guides know where to look best for the big-game catch. Around Dar es Salaam, fishing boats can be chartered and trips arranged around the areas of Msasani Bay, as well as the larger hotels and lodges. Excursions usually take the form of day trips and although the area is not so much populated with large game fish, smaller species are in plentiful supply.

In the Zanzibar Archipelago, resorts and lodges along the northern and eastern parts of Unguja and   the island of Pemba offer fishing charters that venture into deep waters. Fishing is becoming a popular alternative to snorkelling and dive trips along the reefs. Boats take clients out into the Pemba Channel and surrounding waters.

Pelagic and big-game fish are abundant in the isolated waters around Pemba and Unguja, and reward the adventurous fishermen with their size and bounty.

Inland Fishing

Fishing is an economic mainstay of many parts of rural Tanzania and it is quickly becoming a popular activity for visitors along the country’s rivers and lakes. Although not permitted in national parks, fly and lake fishing in remote areas is a rewarding and peaceful way to experience the beauty of African scenery and enjoy the country at a leisurely pace. Private companies, tour operators and lodges can arrange for day trips to nearby lakes and rivers, and longer fishing safaris around the region can be organized with travel specialists if one desires to participate. In addition to planned day excursions, local fishermen in the region will often gladly take you with them on their daily fishing trips and show you the best places to get started.

The freshwater lakes of Tanzania offer fishing opportunities for visitors willing to venture off the beaten track. Fishing along Lake Victoria offers an opportunity to experience freshwater lake fishing and observe life around the lakes of Tanzania. Fishing trips can be organised from surrounding villages, as well as the larger ports of Mwanza and Musoma, where boatmen will gladly arrange for you to accompany them on their daily trips to net the Nile Perch and Tilapia in the offshore waters. Trips to Rubondo Island National Park also offer fishermen a base from which to embark on trips around the Lake Victoria and its tributaries.

Fly fishing along the many rivers and large streams Tanzania is another rewarding experience for sportsmen wanting to experience remote areas at a leisurely pace. During the rainy seasons, rivers and their tributaries swell with fish and river life, and any time after the short and long rains is a good time to plan a fishing safari. Many adventure safari companies cater for international fishermen looking for the best fishing waters in East Africa, and everything from trolling through flood plains to fly fishing in mountain streams is possible.

Museum and Monuments

The National Museum of Tanzania is a consortium of five Tanzanian museums whose purpose is to preserve and show exhibits about the history and natural environment of Tanzania.

The consortium developed from the National Museum of Dar es Salaam, established in 1934 by Tanganyika governor Harold MacMichael. Four more museums later joined the consortium, namely the Village Museum in Dar es Salaam, the National History Museum and the Arusha Declaration Museum in Arusha, and the Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere Memorial Museum in Butiama.

Dar es Salaam National Museum
The Dar es Salaam National Museum is located in Shabban Robert Street, next to the botanical gardens. Established in 1934 and open to the public since 1940, it was originally a memorial museum dedicated to King George V; one of the cars of the King is still on display. The museum was expanded in 1963, with the addition of a second building. It is now dedicated to the history of Tanzania. Its most famous exhibits include some bones of Paranthropus boisei that were among the findings of Louis Leakey at Olduvai. The museum also has a large section dedicated to the Shirazi city-state of Kilwa. More historical miscellaneous material is related to the German and British rule, and ancient Chinese pottery. The museum also has ethnographic collections on Tanzanian cultures.

Village Museum - A traditional hut in the Village Museum
The Kijiji cha Makumbusho, or Village Museum, established in 1996, is an open-air ethnographical museum located in the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, on the road to Mwenge and Bagamoyo. It showcases traditional huts from 16 different Tanzanian ethnic groups. There are also examples of traditional cultivations, and traditional music and dance shows are held daily.

National History Museum
The National History Museum in Arusha, open since 1987, is located in Arusha, in Boma Road. It has two permanent exhibits, respectively on human evolution and entomology.

Arusha Declaration Museum
The Arusha Declaration Museum, open since 1977, is located in Arusha, in Kaloleni Road. It displays documents on the colonial history of Tanzania, the fight for independence, and the Arusha Declaration where the first Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere outlined his political vision.

Nyerere Museum
The Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere Memorial Museum, or Nyerere Museum for short, was established in 1999. It is located in Butiama, where Tanzania’s first president Julius Nyerere was born and was buried. The museum display items related to Nyerere’s personal and political life.
“Mwalimu” is the swahili word for “teacher”, a common epithet for President Julius Nyerere.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.